So, who here has heard of American Horror Story? You may be thinking, "Um, DUH." Well, do you know who's responsible for every single incredible makeup look on that show — not to mention POSE and Nip/Tuck? That would be the one and only Kerry Herta.
Kerry has a long and storied career behind the scenes and characters of all three of these shows — not to mention she's Emmy nominated and also started her own business to teach and mentor young makeup artists, Colour Box Makeup Studios. Read on to find out how Kerry got her start in makeup, the look she's created that stands out as her favorite, the blush she can't live without, and so much more.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I'm originally from Detroit, but early on we moved back and forth to New York before we ended up in Los Angeles. I finished school in California, so I feel a bit like a native Californian, but am very much in touch with my Midwest and East Coast roots. As a matter of fact, the short few years we lived in New York are when I first became intrigued with makeup and art.
How did you first become interested in beauty, and what led you to become a makeup artist?
It will always be clear as day to me. I was just learning to draw and color and was getting frustrated because I could never remember which hand to use, because I'm ambidextrous. At the time, my father was an executive at General Motors on 5th Avenue. He handled all the retail leases in the lobby floor of the building. An ambitious Estée Lauder was looking to lease her first independent retail space. She gave my father a huge box of makeup and perfume to take home to my mother. I will never forget watching my mother take everything out of the box. There was a palette of eyeshadows in the shape of a painter's palette! Watching my mom try these new colors was a defining moment. Painting your face with soft shimmery creams and powders, what???
Even when I got a little older and my parents bought me Barbies, all I wanted to do was cut their hair and give them makeovers. I was also a bookworm and loved horror novels, I wanted to make monsters.
Finally, when it was time for college, I decided to go to cosmetology school first to have a little side hustle. I had clientele in a salon by the time I was 18 — I was a hairdresser, but I still just wanted to do makeup. That's when I really knew my brain processed makeup easier than hair creatively. Basically, I was a pre-med student who wanted to make monsters and give makeovers.
Sadly, Special Effects back then was not a field where females were readily accepted. As time went on, I learned all I could, but ended up doing mostly beauty until my career shifted. I did a lot of beauty and editorial work but never stopped wanting to create characters. I now have fallen into a niche where a lot of the looks I create have a combo of both beauty and special effects. Combining beauty, character and SFX is truly my happy place.
|Some of the looks from the POSE Season 2 campaign.|
You've worked on some of the most iconic TV shows around. What looks have stood out in your career?
The looks that are most special to me are FX's Season 2 POSE campaign print images. We shot the entire case in black and white in these absolutely stunning costumes created by my dear friend and brilliant designer Paula Bradley. The looks were clean and simple, no crazy eyeshadows or fake lashes. Because the cast is of color and we shot in black and white, I got to really utilize the greyscale. The concept was an homage to Richard Avedon and Herb Ritts, who were known for their stunning black and white portrait style photography. This campaign is also special to me because we were able to showcase this beautiful cast in the light they were meant to be seen. Showcasing their beauty and who they are was a powerful experience for me. I also love this campaign because FX prides themselves on shooting everything "In Camera" — meaning they don't shoot things to alter in post, but like to keep their images true to what we see in the lens. I was beyond proud of how pristine and sculpted everything looked.
Let's talk about Colour Box Makeup Studios. What led you to create this company, and how did you bring it from an idea to a reality?
One of the things I am most proud of is founding Colour Box Makeup Studios. My journey becoming an established makeup artist was a twisty, windy road, and many times I wished for better education, more mentorship and guidance. I wanted to create and offer all the things I wish I had starting out, including ongoing support. I was never formally taught politics and protocols, but I did meet an artist who gave me some nuggets of wisdom that went a long way. There are countless self-taught artists out there with extreme talent, but they lack crucial knowledge of sanitation and hygiene practices as well as the proper approach to makeup at a pro level. I became obsessed with creating a program for artists that supported these needs.
I am also a firm believer in offering education in a need-to-know kind of way — instead of a costly program that takes months of your time, I created an a la carte version. I offer these classes around the country in markets where they can thrive.
|Kerry at work behind the scenes.|
What is a typical Boot Camp or seminar experience like?
We have a 5-day Boot Camp that is broken up into 2 parts, with a 1-day Airbrush class at the end. These classes can be taken together or separately, based on your career needs. The idea is that someone with no desire to be in the film business can take a class that teaches beauty, bridal, photography and airbrush makeup. We offer the second part to artists who want to get into film and TV but haven't had formal training. We also offer 2-3 day classes like Hair Styling for the Makeup Artist, Wig Styling Classes, Special Effects and How to Style Natural Hair.
We want you to be able to learn as you go and not invest in classes you don't have a need for. It's truly special to me when we do an advanced class and it's filled with Colour Box alumni! I believe in creating a nurturing environment where students can feel supported and comfortable while learning. I keep class sizes small enough so there's plenty of one-on-one time. We supply everything, including the models they work on — I don't believe in wasting anyone's time by working on each other. This gives them the experience of working on a stranger and many different ethnicities, age groups, etc. — all part of what it takes to be a professional. By being all inclusive, it helps keep the focus solely on the education.
In Boot Camp, each day has a set schedule. We begin with a morning lecture and then after lunch I do a hands-on demo. From there, the rest of the day is spent working on models. We also have a photographer in class so artists can have images for their portfolios and learn how to read their makeup on camera.
Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows they will find at least one of my students on most of my jobs. I'm always giving opportunities to my alumni — it's such a joy for me. We also have a private Facebook forum, where alumni from around the country can connect and support each other. We call this "Keeping in the Colour Box Family."
What are your top 5 makeup essentials?
My essentials will always remain the same, no matter the trends.
1) A good mascara. Having full but natural lashes is a clean, pretty look and adds definition to the eye. One I love is Benefit They're Real! Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara.
2) I believe in cream blushes and always will! Creams have a softness to them that can look either soft or bold if needed. Plus they have great staying power if layered. I love Senna Cheeky Blush, it's a cream to powder formula. I also like Stila Convertible Color Dual Lip & Cheek Cream.
3) A good tweezer! We all know that a clean, groomed brow looks best.
4) Eyeshadow primers. I hate seeing shadows crease or not stay on all day.
5) Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water. It's magic in a bottle! You can take off the most tenacious makeup without rubbing, and since you don't need to rinse it, it's great for the kit and for travel! It also comes in a pack of cleansing cloths — my must have when I travel.
What are your top 3 makeup tips?
1) Always start with a clean prepped face! Skin prep is crucial to a flawless look that lasts.
2) Stop over contouring with too many products! You can use the same product in a slightly darker shade and it will look more natural. It’s also healthier for your skin.
3) Use blot papers instead of powder anytime you can! A blot paper will remove excess oils and most likely are all that’s needed.
What is the most rewarding part about what you do?
There are so many rewarding aspects to my job. I love the creative aspect, but I also love making people feel good. I also love the collaborative side. Coming up with looks for my clients and bouncing ideas off my team is delicious to me! I love being challenged to the point of a meltdown, but then stepping back at the result with pride. I love giving opportunities to others that have the same passion as well. Honestly, I find it all rewarding!
How can The Beauty of Life readers find you on social media?
Facebook: Colour Box Makeup Studios