From Hollywood to Bollywood – luxury brand campaigns to the red carpet – international make up artist Rebecca Butterworth took some time out to catch up with us on the House Of Coco couch.
who and what influenced you to go down the road you are currently on?
The road I’m currently on is Director Of Make Up for special effects company, Millennium FX. It’s been a big shift from my former life as a fashion and beauty make up artist. I’ve always been a ‘behind-the-scenes’ nerd, the first thing I would watch on a DVD (do you remember those?) was the ‘Making Of’ documentaries.
I loved seeing how creatures, monsters and prosthetic make up was created and how it came to life. Eventually in about 2016 I decided to actually do something about my interest and took a few courses with some brilliant SFX artists like Stuart Bray and Neill Gorton.
Who are your inspirations and has anyone told you that you’ve inspired them? and how does that make you feel?
My inspirations are people who create because they have to. Alexander McQueen has been a constant source of inspiration to me since my days as a fashion student. It’s boring to say, because it’s been said so many times but his work seemed to me so much more that just ‘fashion’. It felt really necessary. I love to be inspired by artists that make you go “OH. Of COURSE!”; Terry Barber is one of those artists.
The stories that he tells around make up, whether it’s describing the perfect shade of blush in relation to Princess Di’s ‘shy Di’ cheek flush, or making a Smokey eye look like a greasy spoon breakfast, his way of relating to make up feels so relevant and necessary. I aspire to Terry levels of greatness, he’s really one of the best fashion make up artists you could hope to work with.
A few people have told me I inspire them and it’s always surprising (you know I’m making this career up as I go along, right?) and always a delight! I’m not sure I’m doing anything interesting or different, I’m just doing the things and creating the images that feel right to me at that moment. You should only do the things that you find interesting, not the things you think other people are going to like.
What are your handbags essentials?
Jo Malone Red Roses cologne. A red lipstick. Alright FINE, six red lipsticks. Umbrella. 10 biros, only 3 of which will work.
What is the best country you’ve visited ? and what is on your lust list of travel?
Can I tell you a bit of a secret? I travel quite a lot with my job, and every time I do, I feel especially lucky and acknowledge the privilege of seeing the world…but I actually really like being at home! I also think that the UK is deeply underrated, I love seeing new bits of the UK on my travels. I was in Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast recently and it was magical!
I’ve spent rather a lot of time in India this year and it’s quite an exceptional country to travel in. There’s so much about it that feels familiar if you’re from the UK but there are enough contrasts and unfamiliar customs to really make you feel a jolt of strangeness when exploring it.
I’ve never visited Japan or the Far East. I think I’d love to go and experience that bit of the world.
In a industry which is constantly expanding what piece of advice would you give to a young person trying to get into this tough industry
That’s such a tough question because I think whatever I answer will be out of date before this article gets published, the industry is moving so quickly!
Social Media and the amount of ‘MUAs’ saturating the market is changing the face of this industry and so quickly.
There are so many degree courses now geared towards make up artistry, whether it’s fashion, beauty or special effects. Not all of these courses are worth your time or your money. Being a good make up artist is as much about understanding things like colour theory, form, texture and taste as it is about knowing how to colour match a foundation. Studying art will give you many more transferable skills than simply doing a three week make up diploma.
The best make up artists in any field are the ones who are curious, who seek out answers for themselves, who try stuff out even if it goes wrong. They are not the ones that wait to be told the answers. Do not wait to be spoon-fed the information.
Assisting is one way to get contacts, but it’s difficult and doesn’t pay money. Working on a make up counter can be a brilliant way to get contacts, clients and most importantly experience of applying make up to other people.
I know that Instagram and YouTube look easy and appealing but if you want to be an actual make up artist you have to actually be able to put make up on someone else better than you can do it in yourself (please see the whole first series of Glow Up to witness what happens when your talent for self application exceeds your talent for make up artistry)
What would you have been had you not have done what you do?
I’m not entirely sure, it is know it would have always been something that involves making things, a fashion designer maybe or a textile artist.
What do you do to switch off? and is a social media detox important to you?
I am a lazy bum and I love doing as little as possible in my downtime. I love a history programme or pottering around a National Trust or English Heritage site, thinking about how ace I would have been as a rich Lady of the manor.
I am however almost always on social media, even if I’m not posting, I’m still lurking.
As a businesswoman what key qualities do you think it’s important to possess to balance a hectic life
Haha! If you ever figure this one out, please tell me!
I can only say that I think I’m very lucky that I have a very patient boyfriend and no children. I have no idea how women manage to cope with careers, children and taking on the majority of the mental load of life.
Perhaps the key are the abilities to say no and to value your own worth. Both those things are hard and I’m certainly a work in progress but it seems to me the more I put a value on my skills and my time, the more other people do.
What is your favourite food?
Mashed potato. No, popcorn. No, mash…ARGH I can’t decide! Essentially: carbs.
Can you share one of your go to beauty hacks that our readers would find useful?
Heat your eyelash curlers up with your hairdryer. It’ll transform for your eyelashes!
Also, spend time finding a mascara that really works for your lashes, massive volumising isn’t always the best option.