Toni Collette. Carey Mulligan. Kate Hudson. Evan Rachel Wood. Ryan Reynolds. What do these celebrities (and more!) have in common? They've all been under the talented hands of makeup artist Gita Bass. A native Australian who's now made her home in NYC, Gita's flawless work simply speaks for itself. Read on to discover her favorite foundation, her top skincare tip and so much more.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I was born in South Africa and moved to Sydney, Australia at a young age. I basically grew up on the beach and have a deep love of the ocean! I really thought I was destined for a career in law or medicine and had no concept of the wonderful life I would end up with!
When I was 19, I came to New York for the first time and the city completely seduced me. I landed in JFK and I was overwhelmed by this amazing energy. I spent a week in the city and was utterly smitten. I knew it was a place I had to be -- it's probably the strongest instinct I have ever had. I moved to New York 3 years later, and although my love for JFK may have diminished, my love for NY has only grown and it is now a big part of who I am.
How did you first become interested in makeup, and what led you to become a makeup artist?
I was always obsessed with beauty, fantasy and color, and this led to a deep love of fashion as a teenager. My sister is a photographer, and she was always photographing me and we would copy looks from magazines. We started experimenting on friends as well, and she always complimented my makeup. I continued on my academic path and began my law degree only to wake up on week three unable to breathe and with a deep knowledge that this was not the place for me! My sister and I decided to travel through Japan and Europe, testing models along the way. It was a time I will never forget and my love for makeup was solidified.
Have you worked with any makeup artists who inspired you? What did they teach you?
I think the makeup artists who inspired me the most were the Japanese. I did a bit of modeling while I was there, and their ability to transform me with their unique combination of technique and creativity still amazes me to this day. I also spent a lot of time at a drag bar when I was 18 called The Albury. A couple of my friends were drag queens and I would go backstage and watch them get ready. Although this is not a style that I use today, I still don't think I will ever be as talented as they are! I am still inspired every day in New York by the work of my peers. It just drives me to do better and more beautiful work.
What are some of the moments that have stood out as highlights in your career?
The first time my work made it into a magazine was definitely a highlight! It was a story about freezing your eggs in Cosmo magazine, and the credit ran "makeup by Ceeta Lee" -- but I was so proud! Even now, 14 years later, I still get a small thrill upon seeing my name.
I also consider every time I land in some tropical paradise to be a highlight -- what an amazing job I have!
I'll also never forget my transition into celebrities -- I was so immersed in fashion and just didn't think the celeb world was for me. I suppose I was intimidated. I was sent to do Minnie Driver and we had a really strong connection and she loved her makeup! I consider that day to be a pivotal moment in my career as it sent me on another path -- one which I adore!
What are your top 5 beauty essentials?
AmorePacific Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer SPF 15
Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler
Giorgio Armani foundation
Stila Convertible Color
Lucas' Papaw ointment
What are your top 3 makeup tips?
1) Take really good care of your skin! If your skin is glowing, your makeup is halfway done!
2) Don't pile on the foundation. Keep it light and blend it in, especially along the jaw line. Check it out in the mirror by your window -- clearly, I am a tad obsessed with skin!
3) Have fun and experiment. Take note of trends but don't be a slave to them. Makeup is all about self expression. Use it to make yourself feel good!
Being a makeup artist must be fun – but what do you do in your spare time?
I try and find an ocean whenever I can! I love the water and it's a big part of who I am. I also love to travel and explore. My husband and I went on an adventure to Vietnam and Cambodia last year, but this year we welcomed our little boy Charlie. My spare time is now dedicated to him.