Wedding Makeup Artist

Michele Bell New Yorker’s Celebrity Wedding Makeup Artist

Craft:  Hair and Makeup Artist
In New York:  Born and raised
Why we think she’s cool: Has a couple of ideas for Ms. Liberty and the men love her.
Where to find her:
Interview by: José

Jose:  I’ve heard so much about you and I knew I had to interview you.  How are you?
Michele: Thank you. I’m really good.

J:  So I saw that you were born and raised in New York.  That’s rare, because people here are so transient.
M: Most people are. I truly love New York.  It’s given me a lot of successful opportunities. This state has taught me a lot and has given me even more.  Recently I’ve been traveling to allover for work, including Sint Marten and St. Barths but I always come back to New York. It’s my home.

J:  How did you get into the beauty industry?
M: Well enhancing people’s beauty has always been my true passion. I began doing hair and makeup in middle school and never looked back. Having been trained in prestigious schools and teaching novice makeup artist the craft of perfecting people’s beauty really makes me fall in love with my career over and over again.

J: How did you start your company?
M: When I was married at 20 years old, there were no make up artists that would come on site to do hair and makeup for weddings and brides getting married. I had to drive to the local salon in rainy weather and after many consultations, I didn’t look the way I expected too. I wished that somebody could have come to my house and assisted me on my special day while I felt stress-free and beautiful. My rainy wedding day inspired the concept of brides-to-be, a service which provided hair and makeup for the bride on the day of her wedding.  When I started the company in 1990, I would go on site to the bride’s home or hotel and give them what I always desired: Beautiful hair and makeup in a stress-free environment.

J: That’s amazing. I can’t imagine that there was a lot of that going on in 1990.
M: There was no professionals in 1990 who would go on site to accommodate a bride on her wedding day.  I was the only artist in NYC and the suburbs that would travel onsite to a brides location  Word got out and I was busy every weekend and continue to evolve to travel allover the world and work my magic.

J: I did some research and found a lot of unlicensed individuals posing as makeup and hair artists. How does that make you feel?
M: It’s very disappointing to me that there are so many advertising themselves as hair and makeup artists when in fact they work in a retail capacity selling cosmetics with no professional training as an artist, however some in this capacity either have the artistic gift or do not. When they offer their services for much less money they become competition, yet the client has no clue of their credentials which is key to gain to become successful. When you are not licensed, experienced within the realm of what a true artist represents it sets a trust tone for the artist that have worked hard to build their brand. It’s unethical and it could very well demean the character of passionate artist, such as myself, to respect our career. Clients should know that inexpensive is not the way to go, credentials and intuition when you are seeking a professional hair or makeup artist, is crucial to the end results. I have no sympathy for clients who come to me after several consultations with a less expensive artist, what do you expect when you know in your heart of hearts that the lowball rate is that of an inexperienced artist, hello!

J: Now with what’s happening with TV it seems like everybody thinks they can do what you do. Do you think reality tv is giving people false information about your line of work?
M:  Everyone that really puts their mind to becoming a hair and makeup artist, can do it. As long as they are really and truly honest with themselves. I was just in LA this past week and I was talking to one of the producers out there who said, “We’ve got to work together on a reality show,” I told him “Yeah, we should get a reality show on the portrayal of a passionate, experienced makeup artist!”

J: That’s funny.
M: Yeah, I’m so sick of seeing David Tutera (My Fair Wedding), Bridezillas,  and Platinum Weddings. The reality is that when a bride looks at her photos in 30 years and sees the foo-foo up-do and the shiny-looking blush and foundation, she’s gonna say “OH MY GOD, I should’ve called Michele Bell!”

J: I believe you.
M: Seriously. Listen, your hair and make-up has to flow with who you are.  You can’t put an over the top hair style on a simple girl next door. It just doesn’t work.  I am the Feng Shui of hair and makeup! By accentuating one’s features I  can prove that everyone is beautiful. My motto is “behind my brush, you are the celebrity.”

J: Are you predominantly working in the wedding industry right now?
M: Brides are where my heart is, but I do everything, including TV, editorial and boudoir makeup. I use to work at Bryant Park during Fashion Week many moons ago, I have taken a step back to enjoy all of lives pleasures and to assist with new and up and coming make up artist..

J: Do you have a preference?  Brides, celebrities, models?
M: I don’t have a preference when I do hair and makeup.  Working with film, commercials or TV work is much different than weddings or fashion shoots. At the end of the day though, it’s all about  just enhancing the look and the beauty of already beautiful individuals.

J: What has been the hardest part in the last couple years in New York?
M: Unless you are with an established agency, a lot of jobs are on a “barter” basis. People offer prints, credits, or just connections. Unfortunately the no-pay atmosphere does not pay my bills and there is a lot of competition for paid projects.

J: If you had to choose somebody to do your own hair and makeup, who would it be?
M: Johnny Lavoy. He’s a big hair and makeup guru on the Northeast.  He’s amazing!

J: What products do you use?
M: I use Make Up For Ever, Smashbox, and some of Mac.  For hair I use Bumble and Bumble and Warren Tricomi.  People’s skin and hair is valuable, therefore I only use high end quality products on my clients.

J: Do you think Ms. Liberty needs a make-over or does she still look good?
M: [smiles] She is still stunning but can use a little color on her lips, cheeks and eyes.  Maybe she can use a bit of modernization. I can give her a Bohemian hair style and make her pop.

J: Haha. I think it’s time to let her hair down.  People you meet must love what you do.
M: They LOVE IT! They’re like “OH MY GOD” – they want to be my best friend and know my little secrets.  My secrets are like a magician’s though. A true magician never reveals their secrets. Not even to their friends most of the time.

J: Looks like I’m going to have to take you out for coffee and be your best friend!
M: NO! Champagne and Chambord please!

J: Fancy! That’s a deal. It was great talking to you.
M: Great talking to you, too.  We’ll talk soon.

Michele answers our 5 ‘Outsider’ Questions:

1. List 5 things you have in your fridge:
M: Activia Yogurt, hazelnut cream, Kale, Italian ice & edamame

2. What freaks you out most about NY?
M:  The ridiculous parking situation and the tickets.

3. Describe a good NY cheap date:
M: Going to Carnegie Club on a Saturday night listening to Steve Maglio and his 11-piece orchestra do a Sinatra tribute or Gianni Russo at Four Seasons Grill.

4. What’s your favorite NY Icon?
M: Lady Liberty it is. You know what they say, “it ain’t easy being green,” and her green just transcends timeless beauty.

5.  Where do you go to escape NY?
M: St Maarten. I love the beautiful sunsets.