Images c/o Gabriella Floyd
As far as Instagram beauty accounts go, London-based makeup artist Gabriella Floyd's feed is one of our favourites. Her work is varied and always interesting, despite the constant deluge of same-ness that social media can otherwise reproduce; she takes avant-garde concepts and makes them look totally wearable, as seen in editorials she's worked on for Wonderland, Sicky, and Hypebeast. But for Gabriella, makeup is not just her career - it's her passion, and the Central Saint Martins graduate took some time to tell us about how she has made a life out of doing what she loves.
How did you get to be in the place you are now as a makeup artist? What started you on this path and what training did you seek?
At this point I have been freelancing for nearly two years. The only thing I was good at in school was Art (& a bit of Textiles) as I always loved fashion and being creative. I then went on to do a two year foundation degree, then my 2nd & 3rd years of my Fine Art degree at Central Saint Martins. I started freelancing in November 2015.
During my time at university I worked first at a Benefit! counter for a year, then for MAC for another year. I would recommend working in beauty retail to makeup artists starting out, especially for more artistic makeup brands. This is amazing training, as you are learning about makeup, can build a kit with the employee discount, and you are constantly working with new skin (different skin tones, different ages), eye shapes, skin problems etc. During my time in retail I did hundreds (if not thousands) of people’s makeup, whether colour matching, doing a smoky eye - which I didn’t realize at the time was amazing practice for me. I would highly recommend beauty retail for those who are less interested in doing a course, as you’ll earn money at the same time and build a personal kit.
What are your thoughts on becoming a "certified" makeup artist? Do you think artists need it to be successful?
I don’t think it’s necessary to have a “certification” from a school or university as I’m self-taught, but I do think all makeup artists should learn the importance of hygiene when learning/training to do makeup which I learnt at MAC. Also the importance of insurance – insuring yourself and your kit! I [also] suppose success is relative… some makeup artists are fulfilled doing local weddings and private clients, and others will feel success if they head a fashion show for Paris Fashion Week or do the makeup for a cover of a leading fashion magazine… I think everyone should chase their own dreams and goals. Don’t be worried about what other people are doing or achieving. Say you’re driving a car and you’re constantly watching another car, you’ll eventually crash, so stay looking forward and look to those who have gone above and beyond.
How would you describe your approach to or philosophy of beauty? Has this evolved since you first started?
I like to think I do makeup that is in between fashion/editorial looks and classic, glamorous beauty. When I first started, it was at the same time Kim Kardashian West and her makeup artist Mario Devdivanovic were inspiring the mainstream with contouring and highlighting. This was my basis for the first things I learned; I would go sooo heavy with my own makeup, so I like to think my makeup now is a softer version of those heavier looks, but the techniques of concealer under the eyes, contouring/bronzing, baking, defined brows are still a part of the makeup I do now.
After voraciously scrolling through your Instagram feed, I can see your style and aesthetic has changed over time. At this very moment, how would you describe your aesthetic?
I love to enhance people’s natural beauty. I really love creamy, dewy skin and strong details… so I would say something in between red carpet glam and editorial; [mainly] beautiful looks with elements of experimentation.
Where do you find your inspiration?
As previously mentioned I find Mario Dedivanovic [to be] a huge inspiration – I hope to achieve in the future what he has done as a makeup artist. I think Val Garland and Pat McGrath are absolute visionaries of makeup artistry – the looks created by each of them for Alexander McQueen are so iconic; I still love looking at the makeup from those shows.
What are your thoughts on makeup artists becoming more prominent in pop culture (e.g. Jeffree Star, Makeup by Mario)?
I think it’s amazing. These makeup artists rising up through pop culture have inspired so many others, including myself. I don’t know [about] social media “fame” but I hope to be in a similar position to them in the future with a large platform to reach and inspire others around the world.
What are some of your holy grail products? What are some of your new faves?
As of the past three months I have gone cruelty-free and have stopped buying from brands who test on animals, so through this I’m finding a lot of new favourite products [from] brands I hadn’t given enough attention to in the past. I’m loving the Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops - some of the most beautiful highlighters I’ve ever tried, and am a huge fan of concealer so I love the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer; it's quite intense as a concealer so the smallest amount goes so far, but you can also mix them with primer or moisturizer for an all-over sheer-to-medium foundation.
With the creation of the Instagram Explore page, there always seems to be some crazy beauty trend happening. Can you tell us some you hated or loved?
I HATED those crazy Sharpie-looking brows surrounded by a halo of the lightest concealer ever, [I] don’t even know how that trend came about but hopefully it's being phased out. [A] beauty trend that is still thriving and I still love is buttery, dewy, glowing skin!
What is your advice to others starting out as freelance makeup artists?
Be driven by passion, not by money! You’re starting out as a makeup artist and essentially starting a business – so you will have to put in a lot of time, energy, money before you start to see the benefits. Follow your dreams as anything is possible, and no one can make your dreams happen apart from you. I may not be where I want to be in my own idea of “success,” but I always remember I’m a lot closer than when I first started! Be kind to everyone you meet, work hard, be grateful for the opportunities, and never give up!
Follow Gabriella on Instagram @gabriellafloydmakeup