In the midst of the whirlwind of Fashion Week that took New York by storm last week, celebrity makeup artist Sir John debuted his very first master class that only a few lucky ladies and gents got the chance to experience. If you’re not well-versed in the world of celebrity makeup artists, SJ is a L’Oréal Paris brand ambassador and worked with top models like Joan Smalls and Naomi Campbell, not to mention his most notorious gig as makeup artist to Beyoncé. Fans of his work lined up bright and early, eager to learn the secrets of the man behind Queen Bey’s beat.
Yes, he has a few coveted products that he keeps in his beauty arsenal, but pristine attention to skincare (he swears by rose oil) combined with a ‘less is more’ approach were the makeup guru’s real gems to getting a flawless face. Not so surprising when you consider Beyoncé’s usual glam — minimalistic but packed with punch.
What’s more alluring was Sir John’s inspiration behind some of Bey’s best beauty moments, i.e. Lemonade, artists Sara Golish, Santiago ‘Santi’ Siguenza, Ya Levy La’ford, John Zylstra and Donald Robertson. Actually, art seemed to be an underlying theme in every aspect of the class, including a technique of using his hands as brushes to paint the faces of his muses which he compared to the likes of Bob Ross (that’s right ladies, no overpriced Sephora brushes over here).
BET Digital was on site to chat with Sir John on about his unconventional methods and what Beyoncé taught him about makeup:
On using your fingers instead of brushes…
I mean, you need brushes every once in a while for the technical stuff, but as far as the areas that use up a lot of real estate on the face, your fingers are so easy to use. It makes it look lived in and gives it this sort of indie rocker vibe.
For minimalist makeup that still packs punch…
As a minimalist, if you have to change or switch up something about your look — tinted liner. Everything else can be stripped bare, especially if you have beautiful skin, but a small little bit of navy liner in the bottom lash line around the holidays or even like a plum or an emerald green will work for someone who has a minimalist persona.
On Beyoncé’s go-to makeup look…
She never has any time and she’s so not patient (laughs), so her thing is a statement lip. She actually taught me about this. I was always about the eyes. What she’ll do if she has like 30 seconds is take a lip liner and color her whole lip in and then put a matte lip on top. And it becomes so impactful. And no foundation. No concealer. No mascara. And her hair in like a messy bun. And that’s modern. That's the future if you think about it. Just the bold lip and nothing else.
On NYFW beauty…
Can I be honest with you? I haven’t seen any shows. I’ve [been] so busy gearing up for this, I haven’t seen any collections but I will say this, what I’m into right now is the reverse smoky eye. So it’s the smudge underneath the last line. Keep the lid completely transparent. And smoke out the bottom with a brown, black or navy.
Keys to take away from his master class…
It would be for the artists that I brought in to get more love than I would. I love that people love what I’m doing, but I’m so inspired by these guys on a day to day basis. They’re impacting the work that I do. Makeup artists and hair stylists weren’t really getting credit because it was all about the celebrity before but now I think we just have to pay it forward and realize, “Hey, listen, I’m not necessarily really looking at other makeup artists. Like I’m looking at the way Sara Golish paints. That’s why I brought her storyboards to Beyoncé for Lemonade.
Golish couldn’t have summed up the class any better, “SJ's belief in his work not being strictly superficial and about makeup alone. Through his talk and the Q & As, he revealed how taking care of your body, your skin and being respectful to the people you work with are of utmost importance.”
Sir John’s class was part of a one-day only beauty gallery that included a panel discussion comprised of industry heavy hitters and an after-party. Although he hasn’t announced plans for next one, we’ll be keeping our beautiful reverse smoky-eyes out for more from the master MUA.
(Photos from top: Abri Photography)
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