February 5th, 2014
Sarah Brock is the go-to MUA for bridal make-up for UK magazines, celebrities and all the rest of us for that special day. As the designer of the most wanted cover looks and numerous fashion shoots, Warpaint gets the inside track from ‘the woman who’s styled 1,000 brides’.
Known as one of the UK’s leading bridal make-up artists, Sarah Brock has spent years perfecting her craft of exquisite make up. Highly sought after by beauty editors, journalists, celebrities and wedding industry experts, her skills have been put to the test both nationally and internationally. British Vogue calls her “the go-to make-up artist for award winning make-up”, which is no surprise as she has collaborated with the biggest names in bridal fashion to create stunning campaign looks. CondeNast Brides Magazine recognises Sarah as the industry leader in freelance bridal make-up and after working on numerous makeover shoots, she is now the proud creator of 17 cover looks for the title. Most recently she has also been commissioned to write the regular beauty expert’s column for them, where she shares her cosmetic knowledge, snippets from her day-to-day diary and reveals what’s hot, new and gorgeous on the bridal beauty scene. Her blog has also become popular with mainstream brides who are looking for hints, tips, tricks and product recommendations for their big day. Warpaint sat down with this nuptial powerhouse to get the lowdown on her route into the industry.
WP: Tell us about the route you took to become a Bridal Make up Artist. Was it always what you wanted to do?
SB: I’d always had a passion for make-up: it started when I modelled as a teenager I was more interested in the make-up than in the modelling. When I left school in Devon I worked in the press for a few years (which has helped me a lot with regards to writing for publications now and also about business PR) and I also worked in the fitness industry. When I moved away from Devon 18 years ago and moved nearer to London, I then knew I could pursue my passion in the make-up industry. I set up my own business, worked for Daniel Sandler as his Artistic Director which allowed me to work at London Fashion Week and tour with GHD as part of their make-up team and whilst I loved fashion, it was always the bridal side of the industry which I loved most and built up my career from there. As I already had contacts in the fashion and wedding industry and had won some awards, I eventually ended up working for Conde Nast Brides Magazine, which was always my dream. I started working on their makeover fashion shoots 6 years ago to now doing the covers and have just had my 17th published. That led to me working with the major bridal designers, being commissioned to write my own column for Brides Magazine and many national make-up publications and so many other things!
WP: What are some of your career highlights? What is your proudest moment?
SB: There are so many. I’m proud of everything that I do. Winning awards is always special (I won the Professional Beauty Make-up Specialist of the Year Award and the National Wedding Industry Awards for best make-up artist in the UK), working at London Fashion Week with Daniel Sandler, touring with GHD, though I am most proud of my collaborations with Conde Nast Brides Magazine with 24 fashion shoots and 17 covers, being commissioned as a beauty writer and also being quoted in British Vogue as the ‘go-to make-up artist for award winning bridal make-up’. Working alongside Chanel has also been a highlight for me; they are an amazing brand to work with.
WP: Can you tell us about any challenges you have faced over the years and what you did to overcome them?
SB: I haven’t really had any challenges as such. As with so many working mums, it’s always a juggle finding enough time to do all of the things I want to do along with having a family. I thrive on being busy and achieving the goals that I set myself. I am a perfectionist and always want to be the best at whatever I do.
WP: If someone is already a make-up artist in a fashion or general beauty arena, is there anything that they need to know if they wanted to transition to Bridal Make-up?
SB: First of all you really need to know the bridal market. Some people think it’s an easy option, but brides these days are really savvy about the industry. They know all the bridal designers and most know what they want from an MUA on their wedding day, so you need to know about designers too. Buy bridal magazines, look through them and get an idea of what brides these days wear and want. Remember as well that the products you use on shoots may be too heavy or bold for bridal make-up, as the bride won’t be in a studio and their photographs will be taken in daylight. It is also a good idea to have a website specifically for your bridal services, as most brides search online. Research other bridal artists who work in your area so you can see what fees they charge so that you can start to plan your prices. Be aware that sometimes balancing working in fashion AND bridal can be a little difficult, as fashion shoots can sometimes be booked last minute, whereas with weddings, brides like to book sometimes a year in advance so you need to be prepared for this and book holidays and time off much earlier in advance. Test shoot and network with local photographers, hairdressers, florists, hotels and dress shops – anywhere that offers bridal services.
WP: Walk us through a day on an editorial shoot. Was it easy to make connections with the magazines you regularly work for?
SB: It takes years of hard work to build connections with magazines and it did take me years of hard work and networking. I don’t have an agent, but be aware that many mags will only book artists from top agencies, so if that side of work is what you are most interested in, you may need to search for an agent.
A day in a shoot:
Normally starts with me waking at 4.30am to commute to London, as I have to catch the train and the call times are normally 8-8.30am. After you arrive, you have to set up alongside the hairstylist and then you sit down with the Fashion Director who will give you a brief and show you the mood board for the shoot so you know what is expected. Most of the shoots I do for Brides Magazine have 5-6 models for each shoot, so when each girl arrives, they have their hair set, I do make-up, then they try on several different dresses to see which ones look best on them, their hair is then finished, they then have their shoot on set and each girl will have several different dress, hair and make-up changes. It is non stop all day. On the cover shoots I work on there can be up to 20 people in the shoot crew and approx 2,000 images will be taken in one day – all for one cover image!! They are the longest days, you normally finish around 7pm and then commute home, but I LOVE doing the shoots – they are my favourite thing to do!
WP: Is it any different working on celebrity brides to regular brides to be? Is it more demanding for you?
SB: Actually no, purely because they are used to having hair and make-up done most days. They also tend to have an exact idea of what they want, which makes it easier. Some brides never wear make-up and aren’t used to the whole experience of having it applied – it can be a bit overwhelming for them. Celebrity and VIP brides come to a make-up artist because they know their work and trust what you do, so tend to tell you what they want and then leave you to get on with it!
WP: How important is a trial for you when deciding with a client what their make-up look is going to be on the day?
SB: The trial is the most important thing; not only is it time for you and the bride to decide what look she is going to have, it is also the opportunity for you to both get to know each other. Remember, being part of someone’s wedding day is a very personal thing – you will be around her and her family in the morning, so it is important that your bride feels as ease with you, trusts you and knows no-matter what happens, you are going to make her and her wedding party look totally gorgeous on her big day!
WP: What products are essential in your kit? In your opinion what is the most important component for bridal makeup (e.g. flawless skin, primers, light powders, proper skincare etc)?
SB: My working kit is huge. When you have worked in the industry as long as I have, you do build up quite a collection. However, my passion and one of the most important things in my opinion is to create the most flawless, natural dewy-looking skin. That’s what many brides say when they book me, that they love the way I make the skin look – so, so natural and not heavy. I carry a huge amount of different foundations, concealers, highlighters and powders in my kit so that I can work with any skin type. I always say that if you can get the skin looking fantastic, anything else you put on top of that is going to look better. I take longer to do the skin than any other part of the look. Also remember to keep the skincare light under the make-up. If you apply heavy or greasy moisturisers, what you put on top will slide off the face and it will look greasy within hours.
WP: What would be your advice for aspiring bridal make-up artists? Are there any courses or things you would recommend?
SB: As I mentioned before, study and know the wedding and bridal make-up industry inside out, as it’s all about networking and making connections. Get a good website and research people in the area so that you can get inspiration from them. That doesn’t mean to copy them though. Always be original. With reference to training, do as much research as much as possible and look for schools whose tutors work as jobbing artists and who had a long and successful career before they taught. It is important to not just learn application skills, but also to learn about the industry too.
WP: Where do you see bridal make-up going in the future? What trends have you seen emerge and become steadfast in the wedding industry? What exciting things have you got coming up in your personal career?
SB: It’s evolved so much over the years. Rather than looking like a text book bride on her wedding day, it’s become much more Red Carpet and this will definitely continue. Just as there is in fashion make-up, there are also seasonal trends in bridal, which is why you need to keep up to date with the bridal runway trends and fashion shows. In my personal career, my goals don’t stop. I have more shoots, covers, campaign shoots and weddings planned for 2014 and there will definitely be more to add to the list as the year goes on.