We speak to the Marc Jacobs make-up artist about her love of Tim Burton and post-lockdown beauty trends
From digital artists to photographers, body sculptors and hair stylists to make-up and nail artists, in our Spotlight series, we profile the creatives tearing up the rulebook in their respective industries.
Brimming with dreamy glowy skin, rich colours lavishly applied across the face, and bold, structured shapes, make-up artist Morgane Martini’s portfolio is a treasure trove of fantasy and old school glamour. Taking inspiration from the high glam of the 70s and 80s, there’s a vintage spirit that lies at the heart of Martini’s work. Her genius is that it still feels fresh and modern, always relevant to today’s beauty landscape.
Born and raised in Paris, Martini was a naturally creative child, always painting and drawing, skills which she seamlessly transferred into her work with make-up. After a short stint at beauty school she began assisting some of the best make-up artists in the business – think Pat McGrath and Lloyd Simmonds – before catching the eye of Marc Jacobs Beauty who brought her in as its global artistry ambassador, a dream role for her since she was a huge fan of the brand and its ethos of colour and creative self-expression.
Since then she has travelled the world spreading the gospel of Marc Jacobs Beauty, doing masterclasses and creating campaigns for the brand – the most recent of which she not only did the make-up for but also shot. We spoke to Martini about her love of Tim Burton, the differences between French and American make-up and what beauty trends we’ll be seeing post-pandemic.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you grew up? How has your background shaped who you are as a person?
Morgane Martini: I was born and raised in Paris, but my family is originally from Corsica where I spent most of my holidays as a kid and still do now. I am sort of a hybrid because I’m a city girl, but I also love to spend my time in nature and alone in the Corsican mountains. I love the craziness of New York and the simplicity of my little village in Corsica.
Do you remember the first time you were conscious of your appearance?
Morgane Martini: Unfortunately, quite young! I have always been the insecure type but somehow, I never showed it to the world, people usually see me as very confident which is funny to me. As a teenager, I explored a lot of phases to find myself. But I would say that, despite my insecurities, I always dared to do things that were against ‘the trend’ and played a lot with my hair colour and looks.
Growing up, what informed your understanding of beauty and identity and the way you presented yourself visually?
Morgane Martini: I think most of my inspiration originally came from art in general, not just fashion and magazines, I was a big fan of Andy Warhol, Tamara de Lempicka, Enki Bilal, and Frank Frazetta. They all have such different aesthetics, but they have inspired me a lot as a teenager. I always loved glamour and fantasy. I love Blade Runner, The Hunger, and any Tim Burton movies. Later, I got really inspired by Antonio Lopez, Guy Bourdin, and Helmut Newton (just to name a few) and in terms of models; definitely Veruschka, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones...
Why are you a make-up artist?
Morgane Martini: I’ve always been into any form of artistic expression, I was a very creative kid, I was always painting, drawing, sculpting, building things, knitting, and sewing – I would spend most of my weekends in my room just creating stuff while listening to music. Make-up wasn’t really something I thought of myself, the suggestion actually came from my aunt one day randomly and it really resonated with me. I’ve always been obsessed with art, and make-up was the first thing that just made sense in my head once it became an option. The idea of creating art everyday while meeting new people constantly and always being able to share creativity and learn from each other is something that I will never get tired of!
How did you actually get into it? Where did you hone your craft?
Morgane Martini: I did go to a make-up school for a three month course to learn the basics. I got obsessed with it instantly, and started to do a lot of my own research. In the first year, I worked at Sephora to make some money and I would do tons of test shoots on the side. I was practicing on everyone around me. I was eventually able to start assisting, and this is where I really learned how to be a real make-up artist. But I guess I always had a natural ability, since I was painting and drawing a lot as a kid. I am obsessed with details and I’m a real perfectionist, which is something I have honed over the years, but I’ve always created my makeup looks in an instinctive way.
Can you tell us about your creative process, from initial idea to final image?
Morgane Martini: I usually go with the flow. I do like to have a vague idea and a theme to work with, but I never plan exactly what I will do. When I do plan, it always ends up being totally different than what I intended to do because my idea might change as I’m doing it. I like to feel free when I do make-up, the most freedom I get, the better the result. But I like to have some kind of mood board in my head or on my phone to help me keep a consistency in the story.
Is beauty something you try to capture in your work or something that you reject? What is your relationship to ‘beauty’ (whatever that word means to you)?
Morgane Martini: I love beauty! It’s so subjective though, what is ‘beauty’ to me might not be to someone else. I do have a quite glamorous approach and overall aesthetic, but I also am very inspired by more ‘alternative’ styles and less obvious beauty looks. Anything and everything can be interesting in beauty, it really just depends on what your mindset and what you want to see.
Since you have been living in New York, do you notice a difference between attitudes towards beauty and make-up between there and France?
Morgane Martini: For sure! We’re definitely low maintenance in France, I got my first facial in NYC. American women seem to have more of an elaborate beauty routine than French women. ‘Natural make-up’ in America is considered heavy make-up in France, so here when I’m being asked to do natural make-up I always ask: ‘American natural or French natural?’ The French approach of doing skin is lighter and more minimal. You can go anywhere here to buy fake lashes for instance, which isn’t the case in France. I like both ways, some days I’m more low maintenance and some days I want a full face of make-up. A happy medium is the way to go I think.
Why was Marc Jacobs a brand you wanted to be involved with?
Morgane Martini: I was using the products long before being in touch with the brand and they were already a staple in my kit, especially the Highliner pencils and Velvet Noir Mascara. To me, it’s a brand that is all about colour and creative self-expression which I love. When I met them, they told me that they wanted me to be free and create looks as bold as I want them to be and that is pretty much the dream for any makeup artist! I have also a huge admiration and respect for Marc himself, so I’m very proud and lucky to be a part of the team!
What does Marc Jacobs Beauty stand for, to you?
Morgane Martini: Marc Jacobs Beauty is all about being shameless and embracing who you are. It’s about having fun with makeup, being bold and expressing yourself without taking anything too seriously. MJB’s support for the LGBTQ+ community meant a lot to me, and that everyone can feel represented by the brand.
How have you been finding this current period of isolation? Are you finding it hard to stay inspired and creative?
Morgane Martini: It’s definitely not easy to focus on creation in this weird time of isolation. It comes and goes, some days I feel creative and some days I really don’t. I’m trying to be kind to myself and not putting pressure on being productive everyday.
How do you think isolation is going to affect beauty trends?
Morgane Martini: I hope that people will be more daring and have more fun with make-up. It’s hard to tell if this historic moment will have a direct impact on beauty trends or not. If any, it will most likely be a big focus on eyes since we might have to be wearing a mask for a little while. I would love to see some cool colorful eyeliners and graphic shapes, MJB has a whole line of Highliner pencils with a great colour range, I hope people dare to play with that more.
What is your dream project to work on?
Morgane Martini: There's so many! I think any project where I get creative freedom is a dream. I’ve always fantasised on working on a Tim Burton movie, it would be so fun to be able to participate to the creation of a character through make-up.
What advice would you give to young artists hoping to get into the industry?
Morgane Martini: Work hard and never give up! Also, be as creative and try as many things as possible. Make-up is one of the tools but sometimes playing with different mediums can also help you develop your creativity more and give you a new perspective. Then try to assist a bunch of make-up artists you admire so you can get a first foot in the door and see how things really work backstage. Persistency, patience, and dedication is key.
What is the future of beauty?
Morgane Martini: It seems that the digital era is evolving quickly. I have seen a lot of digital work in fashion lately and I have to say it’s a bit weird for me because I am so old school when it’s about beauty. I am a lover of my craft and I hope I will get to do make up for a very long time and get that physical contact and creating amongst a team is very important for me. Instagram opened a lot of doors to artists and gave them an opportunity to show their skill, that I think is actually quite amazing! We all have to adapt and evolve with our time, not sure exactly what it will be but ready to keep evolving and learning new things!