Make-Up, A Real Job: An Interview with Makeup Artist Gemma Brusati

Make-Up, A Real Job: An Interview with Makeup Artist Gemma Brusati


Make up can be underestimated, but it is more important than what we may think. What does it mean to be a make-up artist? A lot of stress, creativity and patience, says Gemma Brusati. And she would know- Gemma is a young makeup artist from Milan that has spent the last year working for fashion photographers, celebrities and fashion shows in the Italian fashion capital. We sat down with her to chat.

What does it mean to be a make-up artist for you?

Make-up is not just something that women do every morning to feel better with themselves, it is a really important activity in photography, editorials, fashion shows and more.

For me being a make-up artist means having a huge responsibility. It doesn’t seem like that, but editorials, photoshoots, videos, look-books, and fashion shows depend on it.

If I do something wrong I could change the photographer’s/designer’s/ stylist’s message, and that’s the worst thing that I don’t want to happen. We also help the photographer’s final work, so that in post-production they have to retouch the picture in a minimal way.

How did you start?

I always have been passionate about make-up; my mother was a make-up artist when she was young as well so I grew up with it. I started experimenting on myself, but then I wanted to study it since it’s really different putting make up on other people. I researched different schools around Milan and I found the one that was best for me. There, I learned everything about make-up, from theatre to fashion, from make-up for a picture to a video or for an event.

Which guide-lines do you follow to create a make-up?

Normally, I check the mood-board of the job I’ll do. I try my best to give advice to the person that called me for the job, because once I get the message they want to send, I have to transport it to different models, which means different types of skins, shapes, etc.

We don’t have real guidelines; it is a group work and then I decide what I’ll really do. It’s also important to have taste.

How do you approach a customer?

As first thing, I ask the customer for some pictures to study the personality of him/her. Then it depends on the job I’m called for. If it is for a wedding, I ask the future bride for some pictures of her normal make-up and I ask her what she has in mind, then I’ll give her some different options so that she can choose her ideal style.

How do you deal with difficult customers?

They say that customers are always right, so I try my best to follow what they ask me to do. They are often stressed and sometimes they start getting personal judging the way I work. In that situation, I try my best to keep calm and just finish the job. I always give my opinion to the clients because I want the best for them, so for example if I think that the make-up they want to do is too strong for the message they want to send, I’ll explain this in detail.

What is the most stressful work?

I would say Fashion week and filming video, amazing experiences and also exhausting.

In video, they have to film the same scene many times, so over time the make-up artist has to run to the singer, model or whoever it was to retouch the make-up and wipe the sweat. In video I need to follow many directions from many different people that could be the director, the photographer, the stylist or the singer.

Fashion week is even more stressful, I have a really short time to do a big amount of work, and most of that week I can work 24/7, having movements all around Milan. But as I said, these experiences are the most rewarding.

What’s the main difference between a photoshoot and a fashion show for a make-up artist?

Without any doubt, the time and the stress.

There are many different kind of shoots; look-books, editorials, advertising campaigns, so it depends on the subject the photographer is focused on.

The Show instead is just one make-up concept that needs to fit many people for the day. Once it’s done there’s the need to retouch models when they come back from the runway, and when I say retouch I mean check that the make-up is perfect.

As we can see, working in these scenarios is not as obvious as we may think, but for a young, hard-working individual such as Gemma, it helps to understand the role of makeup in the world of fashion.