November 19th, 2013
Brought to international attention by none other than Mario Testino, Ellis Faas originally dreamed of being a photographer. The most celebrated Dutch artist since Van Gogh and with a love of special effects setting her apart from the pack, she continues to break new ground with her eponymous range based on the universal spectrum, colours that exist in the human body and complement every skin tone, age and style.
WP: Being described as “one of the most influential make-up artists of her time” by Vogue Paris is a lot of pressure. Why do you think they believe this and how do you live up to it?
EF: I do not feel I have to live up to it. It is flattering, but difficult to measure I would say. The only thing I can do is be true to myself and my own taste. Hopefully that will bring something authentic.
WP: Working under contract for the big brands is some MUA’s dream come true. What are the pluses and the minuses of being tied to a big brand?
EF: Lots of plusses in the sense of learning how that side of the business works. The only minus I could think of is that you are not free to build your own brand.
WP: You were asked by L’Oréal to create a make-up line for their skin care brand, Biotherm. What was the brief and the processes you went through to create it?
EF: They told me what they wanted in terms of feeling, in their case something happy, colourful, young and not medical. They told me how may SKUs per product and I started mixing. After the mixing they gave me access to their lab to fine tune everything and play with textures etc. a great experience.
WP: How did Ellis Faas, the brand, happen?
EF: After the contract with Biotherm expired, I decided not to extend it, because I had so many ideas for my own brand. The starting point was that I wanted to create the ultimate make-up portability for regular consumers, and I created the packaging concept of all products coming in pens that can be organised and carried around in a holder or in the clips. Without doing any business plan or marketing research, we simply started – also thanks to a private investor.
WP: How does working in the Netherlands compare with Paris, NYC or London?
EF: I do not freelance in Holland, our headquarters are here. As a freelancer the cities like Paris and London are much more interesting to work in than Amsterdam.
WP: Tell us a little bit about how you got into make-up?
EF: First I wanted to become a photographer. One of the assignments was narcissism, so I did a whole series using myself as a model and transforming my looks using make-up. I then fell in love with the instant result and gratification of make-up, so I did a course, followed by studying special effects in Paris.
WP: You trained at Christian Chauveau’s Technical School of Artistic Make-up. What attracted you to the school and how important is a good grounding/education to be a successful MUA?
EF: It is not important as such. The good thing about an education in make-up is that you get access to all materials and because you can ask anything you are not sure about, you just learn much quicker. But I think make up in the end is a feeling, so being an autodidact is very possible too.
WP: Tell us a little bit about your special effects imitating skin diseases for medical inserts.
EF: That was great fun. I used to do a lot of those for advertising for instance. Sometimes there was a doctor present to tell me exactly what the wounds looked like in terms of colour and texture. I have learned a lot about colour doing that. A black eye looks fake once you use the wrong colours.
WP: The make-up studio combined your two loves: make-up and photography. How easy was it to get off the ground?
EF: It was surprisingly easy to get Face Value off the ground, because it was the first of its kind in the country. I got a lot of press, and was booked months ahead, but it was very tough doing everything myself, plus also acting as the psychiatrist of everyone sitting in my chair.
WP: Tell us a little bit about your work with Mario Testino. How did you meet and what was he like to work with?
EF: He came to Amsterdam for a shoot for l’uomo Vogue and wanted something unusual for make-up. He saw portfolio of each and every make-up artist in town, and he was struck by my special effects book, so he chose me. We hit it off, and he then started to take me all around the world. He’s wonderful to work with: great, funny guy, he works quick and gives freedom to everyone he works with.
WP: What’s the hero product of your range?
EF: My signature colour for the lips is a blood-red that we call Ellis Red – the only shade that is available in three textures. This colour is also the easiest to explain the human colours concept, meaning that most shades are based on colours that already exist in the human body, and are therefore suitable for any kind of skin tone, age or style. A big bestseller is the Skin Veil foundation which we have made in Japan. I believe our concealers are the best ones in the world. The mascara is the number one SKU and my favourite product is actually the creamy eyes range, which is a stunning texture even though some people have to get used to how to use it, but as soon as you have the hang of it…
WP: What’s new from Ellis Faas in terms of both products and projects?
EF: We just launched our fourth texture for the lips, called Hot Lips. It’s a light texture, yet packed with pigment, extremely long wearing, though without drying the lips. We’re still making plans for next year. We’re still a small, private company so we can only do big launches every now and then, but I promise that we’ll create nice things to make ourselves seen and heard, and that will all be built around loving make-up and having fun with it, because to me that the prime reason for all my professional activities.
Ellis Faas is stocked exclusively in the UK at Liberty London
For stockists in other locations click here