Friday, January 2, 2009

First Look Fridays: Makeup Artist Vanessa Elese

All My Children. Just a little show you may have heard of ... and the fabulous Vanessa Elese is the makeup artist behind all the gorgeousness you see each and every day on TV! This fiery strawberry blonde is the mastermind not only behind All My Children, but celebrities like Kristin Chenoweth and NiCole Robinson as well. Read on to find out more about this inspiring woman!

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I'm a beauty pageant winner and horseback riding gal from Scottsdale who grew up in a great home where the arts were encouraged as well as balanced with the fine expertise of my father. I graduated from Chaparral High School and then from Mary Washington College, where I traveled to New York for portions of my semesters creating a soap opera that was optioned by some top studios creating the makeup looks for characters, acting and executive producing. This was my entrance into television and film and where I continue some of my work today.

How did you first become interested in makeup, and what led you to become a makeup artist?
I think we all have stories of sneaking into mom's makeup cabinet, emulating what we thought our mom's routines were and coming out with our little faces smeared with red lipstick and dotted clown cheeks. That's what I loved to do and continued to press the envelope of self-expression and beauty with makeup growing up both personally and with friends, but this also developed into theater and local television projects. With the guidance of my mom who was interested not only in beauty, but also the key cosmetic enhancements that were being developed, I quickly came to love the ability to not only enhance one's outer beauty, but also understand how to preserve it with informed cosmetic choices.

It also became important for me to allow women to experience their true beauty and how that natural gift emanates from within and dictates the outward appearance much more than makeup can ever create. Once that self-realization is reached, cosmetics come along to help emphasize what I call the final product as the "iconic" woman, a woman of confidence, self-assurance and ease. This is where I find my true reward, not only in makeup artistry but also teaching women to self-discover and grasp their true beauty. After working both behind and in front of the camera, it became clear to me that so many women do not know their true beauty as well as knowing which products to use that will time and time again yield flawless results.

What are some of the shoots and shows you've worked on that have stood out as highlights in your career?
The highlights are many with my extended family over at ABC's All My Children. They have inspired me as a woman and encouraged my talents more than I could ever have anticipated. They are a true blessing.

Working with Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies) and NiCole Robinson (The West Wing) is such a delight. These women understand our professions are meant for more. We continue to work together and support the 3 Angels Fund for infants and expectant mothers.

My favorite client is a wonderful woman who I have had the privilege of working with (her name is left out for confidentiality and respect). She came to me just after having stomach surgery, losing over three-quarters of her stomach, then was rushed into the hospital for emergency brain surgery to remove a tumor. After all this she came to me with her hair shorn and her face with a slim meager smile, and she became one of my greatest triumphs to the incredible strength of the human spirit. After spending some time working together to cover post-surgical bruising and a little girl talk, she emerged with a glow and what a light she holds within, a radiance with her new chance at life. She will always remain to me a triumph.

Have you worked with any makeup artists that inspired you?
I believe my eyes were widened with excitement, which hardly describes my elation when I was invited to join Charlotte Tilbury at the 2007 Donna Karan fashion shows. Here I saw how magnificent an artist she is and how she delicately glides from one incredible event to another. She is a master of the supreme balance between incredible artistry and collaboration. She is one of my role models.

What are the products and brands you simply can't live without?
1) Allison Raffaele Skin Allison True Concealer. It is a cream to powder concealer that covers and will not slide throughout your wear, plus it is packed with Vitamins A, C and E and the free radical fighting antioxidants pomegranate and reservatrol. I use this for spot application all over the face and it's an easy purse popping size.

2) MAKE UP FOR EVER Lift Concealer. Great for those bags and under-eye fine lines, as it won't settle into the creases and has a bit of resilience from the light reflecting pigments to help ward off those dark bags from sneaking through. Plus it has reparative properties to help refine any existing fine lines and prevent others from forming.

3) Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer. There's nothing like it that helps makeup glide on effortlessly, preventing settling into lines and extending the wear of your makeup.

4) CARGO The Big Bronzer Cheek Color. I love the subtle glow this gives. It can also double as a wash over the lids.

5) Chanel Collection Essentielle de Chanel. Combines four fantastic shades of eyeshadow that can either be worn separately, washed over the entire eye or combined in a flash for a more dramatic look. The fabulous blush inside is a rosy dewy color that gives a subtle flush to the cheeks and luminescent glow similar to NARS Orgasm, if you don't want to pack excess for on-the-go touchups. Finally, the compact includes four fantastic lip colors that will match any mood or tone for the day.

What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
The self-discovery I see as each woman realizes just how magnificent she is. It is the, "I don't just like it, I love it, I can't believe this is me" -- that confidence makes it all worth it. It is not just the most rewarding, it is the most important part of what I do.

What is your top makeup tip?
Put foundation and spot concealer on with a brush. It gives a more flawless appearance and is often much more gentle than our hands.

Playing with makeup must be fun -- but what are some things you do for fun outside of being a makeup artist?
I love to ride horses, travel, eat out and find the latest great burger and barbecue finds ... as well as going to the opera. I am in love with it and symphonies, and ... I must admit I am a sucker for a sale, they just make you feel better.

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