Cool places New York | Interview Celebrity Make-up Artist Ricky Wilson

. Posted in New York

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RICKY WILSON
CELEBRITY MAKE-UP ARTIST DIOR
NEW YORK

From cheerleaders to Sharon Stone, Ricky Wilson has seen it all, including the make-up trends for fall 2012

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Starting off doing make-up on cheerleaders in school to eventually becoming a Dior Make-up Artist, Ricky Wilson has come a long way from his California roots to the bright lights and big city known as New York. It was during fashion week nearly ten years ago that Wilson caught the city bug and moved a month later with hardly anything to call his own, except a job. After the allure of the runway shows, models and parties lost it's luster, he found himself working harder than ever and eventually landed steady celebrity clientele such as Sharon Stone and Emmy Rossum. Now, a Celebrity Make-up Artist for Dior, Wilson celebrates his ninth year with the fashion and beauty brand legacy, helping to educate and inspire with dreams that will lead him to opening up his own make-up school in the future.

We caught up with Ricky, literally, as he was catching a cab in NY jetting across town. Enjoy!


GROWING UP IN LA, WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER YOUR LOVE FOR THE WORLD OF MAKE-UP AND BEAUTY?
I wish I could have the story saying—oh, when I was three years old I played in my mom’s make-up, but the only memories that I have of make-up and the beauty process is... I remember [my mom] would be getting ready to go to the club and she would start putting this stuff on her face and I asked, 'Why are you putting crayons on your face?' And at the end of [her putting on make-up], she would take this translucent powder out and create this dust cloud. It was fascinating to me.  

[In school] I became this little make-up artist for cheerleaders with a Kaboodle full of Wet and Wild and Cover Girl eyeshadows because it was the only thing I would do—I was the eye guy.  

THEN FROM THERE, YOU CAUGHT THE BUG AND MOVED TO NEW YORK?
I worked in make-up for about six years. I was shopping so much at the MAC counter and the girl that I used to buy stuff from said, 'You should work here'. I said, 'I have so many friends who do really cool make-up and look like they work for you guys and you guys didn't hire them, so why would you hire me?'

I got an interview and I was hired on the first try. I was quickly promoted through the chains of MAC up to a position that was like the number one trainer with the company. And it's funny that the boy who didn't even know what concealer was ended up training make-up artists and a lot of these make-up artists have really cool careers in make-up right now. So that makes me feel great.joy-bryant-rickywilsonRicky Wilson with Joy Bryantsharon-stoneSharon Stone (left) and Ricky Wilson with Emmy Rossum (right) TINSLEY-mortimerRicky Wilson with Tinsley Mortimer

WHAT WOULD BE ONE OF THE CHALLENGES YOU HAD TO OVERCOME TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?
We work in an industry just like modeling and you're going to have people that are going to talk about you, you’re going to have people that aren’t going to like what you do but basically I feel that make-up art is just like art and art is based on perception. I might do something or look at something that I don't find aesthetically pleasing at all but I can appreciate it for what it is just because it's whoever created it—it's their vision.

YOU'VE WORKED WITH A LOT OF CELEBRITY CLIENTELE, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT "IT" MOMENT WHEN YOU MADE THE JUMP UP TOWARDS BEING A CELEBRITY MAKE-UP ARTIST?
I think working with Sharon Stone kind of started the wheels going for me. She started calling me back multiple times. It was definitely a learning curve for me because she was teaching me stuff from working with other make-up artists that I idolized in the artistry world from Kevyn Aucoin who had done Sharon’s make-up for years to Billy B, who is my make-up idol and Pat McGrath. And then I got Emmy Rossum years ago after I was already working with Sharon. She's become one of my clients that I've worked on for the longest amount of time and I like to stick with the same people.  

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH DIOR?
I’m starting my ninth year - it's definitely been a long time but it's a brand that I have no reservations promoting. I love how the fashion is directly linked to the make-up and the seasonal color is inspired from what you see on the runway. It's fashion forward, it's a little funky but it's still elegant. It's pretty much me, so I love working with Dior.

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK WITH DIOR AS OPPOSED TO THE OTHER HEAVY HITTER COSMETIC BRANDS OUT THERE?
I think when it comes to Dior—the Dior brand philosophies are what I love. They tell a lot of stories about how Christian Dior just wanted to make women not only beautiful but more happy. One of my greatest thrills as a make-up artist is to have somebody just keep looking at themselves in the mirror where they do the sexy lip pout and they feel so great about themselves and beautiful. I think that's something that I share with Dior himself and the great thing about Dior is that Christian Dior passed away such a long time ago but the brand still has his values and he was just a really great guy.  

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DIOR PRODUCT?
I will say that if I had to choose one product, it would be the mascara, Diorshow mascara, because I can do so much with the mascara. If I get a client and they don't have time to do the whole nine yards when it comes to make-up or a lot of my clients are late or I don’t have time to put lashes on them, I know that I can add a couple of coats of mascara and just curl the lashes. I definitely think that the mascara is not like anything else and a lot of people try to copy Dior’s mascaras but I definitely think that if I had to pick one product, it would be the mascara.

DO YOU HAVE A SECRET WEAPON MAKE-UP TOOL?
I'm a really big fan of clean under eyes and I think a lot of times women, when they have eyeshadow particles or mascara crumbles under their eyes and they just put concealer over it. I use this product that's called Shadow Shields... that and the beauty blender. Those things really save my life when it comes to blending any type of make-up.

WHAT IS THE MOST OVERLOOKED FEATURE ON THE FACE?
I think it's the cheekbone. I think the difference between a celebrity make-up look versus an everyday woman make-up look has lots do with the highlight and contouring of the cheekbone. I feel that a lot of women either don't know how to master this or don't know how to do it. It’s so easy—I think that when you have a nice contour or cheekbone, you're drawing visual interest into the center of the face and that's why we wear make-up.

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE A TYPICAL NEW YORK WOMAN?
The typical New York woman to me—she doesn't wear a lot of makeup. She just throws on a bit of foundation and that was a complete shocker for me coming from LA. I think that she just likes to look pretty and natural but she also knows how to jazz it up for an evening out without ever looking over done.

IN TERMS OF NEW YORK, AFTER A LONG DAY, WHERE DO YOU GO TO UNWIND?  DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SPA?
My boyfriend works at the Exhale spa at the Gansevoort Hotel so I go there and sometimes I just like to go to Central Park. Being from LA, I do miss nature but I do, at the same time, feel that New York has enough for me. I was never the type of person that would go hike but sometimes I just want some water, a little wildlife, maybe a couple trees and then I'm fine.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BRUNCH SPOT?
Yes for brunch I love to go to two places. I love Melba’s which is in Harlem—it has the best sweet potato pancakes on earth and chicken and waffles. They’re so good!  And then when I'm downtown, I go to a spot called Intermezzo.

WHAT WOULD BE ONE UNIQUE THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE MAY NOT KNOW?
I have a cooking show that I do online and it's called "Ricky's Kitchen". I cook meals that are from all over the world and cook basically with stuff that you can find in your local grocery store. I hate it when you go on to these cooking sites and they say you need cream of elephant’s elbow and then you go to the store and can’t find it. You feel like you can’t make the dish because you don’t know how important that ingredient is. I cook with basic ingredients and feel that if you go to the ethnic section in the grocery store, pick-up items like Chinese spices, you can make your own Shrimp Fried Rice at home. I do a lot of recipes like that.  

HOW DO YOU DEFINE BEAUTY?
The definition of beauty is happiness. I feel that it’s something that should be outward as well as inward. If you look in the mirror and you say—okay, this is me, this is what I have to work with, how am I going to make it look it’s best everyday? I think that’s what I try to establish when I’m working as a make-up artist. I ask a ton of questions so that I can identify what’s beautiful to the client that I’m working on.

WHAT KIND OF MAKE-UP TRENDS FROM DIOR CAN WE EXPECT FOR THE FALL?
For Dior, the fall is all about jungle, feline and leopard. For instance, you can see a neutral cat eye but it’s not the typical black cat eye... more like a neutral, elongated eye. Returning to different shades of brown, rusty brown and warm colors which is universally flattering on a lot of people.  Also make-up that isn’t airbrushed and so perfect. That is a really big fall trend this season. The make-up is just kind of on, it doesn’t look like you tried so hard to put it on. It’s just kind of there.

Lighter coverage, not too structured. I think when it comes to fall the only thing that is structured is the brow. It’s a fuller brow but it’s more like a Madonna, like 80’s or Brooke Shields.

WHAT WOULD BE THE ONE PRODUCT YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?  FINISH THIS SENTENCE: I NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT... 
I would have to say—I never leave home without my Beauty Blender. I have ten of them and I can’t not have them with me.

—as told to Lorna Soonhee Umphrey


Images: PR; Sharon Stone via shutterstock.com

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