Reversing perceptions of makeup artistry

Makeup and special effects artist Emily Schubert talks to us about her new manual published by A24, the unlikely influences on her practice, and misconceptions about her profession

“I find people condescend to makeup as women’s work,” says Emily Schubert, a makeup and special effects artist who has worked with everyone from the New York City Ballet to music artists Dev Hynes and Sophie to multidisciplinary artist Laurie Anderson. “I have a theory about that response: it’s a way of coping with something that is actually a bit terrifying. Makeup artists are masters of illusion. They bring about complete transformations, which might seem a threatening power. Could you change who you are? Should you? Makeup work might make you wonder: are you tricking me?”

Beauty of the Beast, her new book published by film studio A24 and edited by Claire Marie Healy, is a useful guide for budding artists in their personal or working lives, which doubles as a challenge to misconceptions about the trade. “I am posing the idea that the difference between beauty makeup and SPFX makeup is mainly a difference in materials and that they can and should be combined, that these techniques benefit each other.

“I’m trying to expand the kit, so to speak, and show that the world of makeup is more extensive, more intense and more useful than is often understood,” she says. “A makeup artist ideally can serve as a weathervane. You know what mood everyone is in at the top of the day and you can communicate between departments for the smoothest outcome.”