January 28th, 2014
Charles Fox in London’s Covent Garden is a make-up mecca for pro artists and savvy consumers alike. With its 125 year history, and now an integral part of the Kryolan empire, the shelves are stocked every type of product that you might need for every application. With Paul Merchant at its head, the Fox Pro Team is renowned for its creative and educational work. We catch 5 minutes with Paul and discover his typical day.
WP: What were your influences growing up? What inspired you?
PM: Coming from a background in performing arts, theatre has always been a passion of mine. I had a little glimpse into the field of prosthetic make-up during a show I was directing, I loved the idea of being able to change features and create a new character. I also watched a lot of film and noticed how make-up can completely alter perception, not only with elaborate character prosthetics but a simple change of lip colour, there is a new underlying mood change and feeling that’s very apparent. I particularly loved glitz and glamour, anything that had a period feel, especially burlesque style shows. It’s a powerful component in helping to develop a character, personality or celebrity.
WP: You came into the business via an unconventional route. Tell us how this came about.
PM: Yes, I always had creative outlets but not in the make-up world, I majored in Theatre Directing. I actually started my make-up career working on the shop floor in Charles Fox, Covent Garden. I was offered a temporary position, through a friend, while I was waiting for another contract to start and ended up staying for 8 years…. so far. During that time working for Kryolan, I had the privilege of learning every genre of make-up, assisting incredible artists and was offered extraordinary opportunities to practise my skills.
WP: What is your typical day?
PM: What is a typical day? That’s what I love about my work. Every day is different for me. In addition to my work as an artist I also handle Public Relations for Charles Fox and recently Screenface in Monmouth Street. I also have become a member of Kryolan’s global marketing team and help to develop relationships and the brand identity across the world. This can include everything from designing make-up looks for campaigns to helping to develop new products in our labs, testing new products, demonstrations, tutorials and a lot of travelling which I love.
WP: You’re the head of the Fox Pro Team, involved in both creative and education. Which do you prefer and why?
PM: I can’t say that I prefer either, I think the two go hand in hand. In order to be a good teacher, I think, your skills and experiences need to be current. I think it’s extremely important to have first hand experience of what you are teaching on a professional level. I still learn things myself all the time and enjoy passing this experience and techniques onto others. I love both.
WP: You’ve worked with a wide range of artists during your career. What are your highlights? Who is the artist you’d most like to work with?
PM: It’s hard to pick just one highlight from my career as every experience has helped me reach the position that I am in today. If I had to choose a few particular highlights they would be my time spent heading the main team at America’s Next Top Model in Canada and my recent tour of India, both of which were representing Kroylan. Most recently being make up supervisor on the X Factor UK, assisting Julia Carta.
If I would have had the opportunity whilst he was alive I would have loved to work with Kevyn Aucoin. Not to say that this person is secondary to him but I also find Pat McGrath’s work exceptional. Both artists’ styles are so different it is hard to compare the two and both have been a huge inspiration to me and will also continue to be a point of reference. The photographer that I dream of working with one day is David Lachapelle, I’ve admired his work for years and love the way he mixes his genres and medias, it’s similar to the way I work in make-up, using products in different ways other than their intended purpose, SFX in fashion for example.
WP: What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given about work?
PM: The best piece of advice I was given about work was that, you work most of your life, so do something that you love. I now fully appreciate what that means.
WP: Talk us through the contents of your kit. What are your saviour products?
PM: I have hundreds of products In my kit which are all essential dependent on what job I’m working on. It’s so hard to pick my favourites, I love them all equally, like children : ) but…… the products I use every day and could not be without are; Dermacolor, Makeup Blend, HD micro foundation cream, Lip N Cheek and Glamour Glow. My saviour by far, has always and will always be Dermacolor. I realise that these are all Kryolan products, and although I may be a little biased, they were my foundations in training, have never let me down and will never been out of my kit.
WP: Do you have any exciting plans or jobs in 2014 which you are looking forward to? What is the key focus for Kryolan over the next 12 months?
PM: I am honoured and privileged to be the artist behind Kryolan’s global seasonal trend looks this year, which I am excited to see released. I think one of the most exciting things about being a make up artist is not knowing what job will come next and hopefully this year will bring some new challenges. There are of course many plans for 2014 that are in discussion at the moment, which I hope will materialise and I look forward to sharing them with you all very soon. Kryolan’s key focus, which remains unchanged from the moment it began, is to always be innovative in its cosmetic production and support the make-up industry and artists as much as we can.