First, let me clarify: no shade intended here. If you love a cut crease or some winged eyeliner then that's cool, you do you boo! And while - if done right - it can look fierce, I feel like we are inundated with the same makeup looks over and over again, and people are painting themselves to look the same, so for a little palette cleanser I thought I would put together an antithesis to heavy contouring, highlighting, massive false eyelashes etc. Here are some makeup artists that are truly maintaining the artistry in makeup.
Ryan Burke has been a much talked about makeup artist and photographer for a while now. Belonging to the modern day club kid scene in New York under the patron saint of nightlife, Susanne Bartsch, Burke’s painting stood out even in a world of over-the-top looks. As well as being an ambassador for Pat McGrath, Burke’s makeup was originally part of his process as a photographer. Focusing on self-portraits, Burke describes his style as “an aesthetic derived from the use of unusual materials and makeup to create otherworldly personas”. Using a bold colour palette and geometric shapes, Burke really creates walking art.
One of my absolute personal favourites on this list - perhaps due to our mutual love of red eye shadow - is makeup artist Anna Regaldo, better known as Succuvus. Falling on the gothic side, Succuvus tends to use rich or dark tones on the eyes and lips, set against the base of her pale skin, with added drama being achieved by bleached or no eyebrows. The contrast of the light and dark, and the refined subtlety of her work balances perfectly on the line between horror and beauty. Said to be inspired by religious and satanic themes, her muse is Renaissance art: something that can really be seen in not just her colour palette, but also the beautiful drama she achieves.
Not all makeup is extreme; there is an art to well done subtlety, and this is very much the case for Phoebe Walters. Known for her intricate drawing with string and use of curls of hair, Walters is already moving in big fashion circles, from Paris fashion week to the pages of Italian Vogue. Creating reserved looks with splashes of colour, Walters really excels at bringing out the natural beauty of her model, while still maintaining a rawness that is loved within the fashion industry. Youthful and fresh, her makeup isn't overpowering, but rather understated and serves as a perfect antidote to overt contouring and extreme, caked-on makeup looks.
Belonging to the Kat Von D artistry collective, Kelsey Anna Fitzpatrick is known for her diffused lips and her painterly aesthetic, and definitely a makeup artist to keep your eye on. While well rounded as an artist in various makeup styles and even able to turn her hand to special effects, it is in the dreamy, almost ethereal looks that she really excels. With a delicacy to her touch, her work is truly remarkable living art. Her glossy eye looks and diffused lips are re-posted over and over on social media, the most identifiable of which are the diffused lips, which are reminiscent of the K-beauty gradient, with a gothic flair.
London based professional makeup artist Gregory Kara states in his Instagram bio that he is a Kabuki Art lover, and this love informs his very unique aesthetic. Combining geometric shapes with Kabuki-inspired design, Kara creates tribal and mask-like looks. Working within the fashion industry and stating on his website that he aims to "make the realm of the fantasy accessible bringing it into the reality of everyday life", I definitely feel like we will be seeing much, much more of Gregory Kara's incredible work.
Working in fashion, Bea Sweet is probably one of the coolest contemporary makeup artists working in the UK today. From working in fashion, to working with celebrities like Fka Twigs, Charli XCX and Paris Hilton, she is probably most recognised for her editorial work, particularly with photographer Charlotte Rutherford. Having contributed to multiple publications like Wonderland, Novembre, i-D, Hunger, Galore and Nylon magazine, Sweet is interested in promoting a varied vision of femininity, which goes against the ideals put forward by the mainstream media. Interested specifically in the variations of femininity which can be in direct contradiction with conformist ideals presented in our society, she says, 'I am obsessed with women, no matter what form they come in. I think diversity should be celebrated and when I get a chance to show this in my work I go for it. There’s more than one type of beauty.'
Cover image courtesy of Ryan Burke