July 29th, 2015
If ever there was a walking encyclopaedia of the make-up industry it would be Julia Townend. She knows everyone and pretty much everything to do with the business, and is certainly our go-to reference guide. Warpaint spent a fascinating couple of hours with the lady herself to find out just why everyone knows her name.
WP: What originally sparked your interest in make-up?
JT: From an early age I used to draw designs over my dolls in biro pen, to my mum’s despair at my artistic interpretations. My realisation that I could have a career in make-up was when I was 14 years old, when I was staying at my grandmother’s house in Cornwall for the summer. My grandmother had a few Vogue magazines and I picked up a recent edition which had the model Margaux Hemingway on the front cover. I thought it was such an impressive photograph; she was so beautiful and I wondered if I could apply the make-up behind the scenes. I researched more and although the information on training was very limited, I identified that it could be possible. I moved to London when I was 18 years old and became a part of the New Romantic scene. This gave me free licence to apply hair and make-up on my group of friends before we went out for a night at the Blitz Club in Covent Garden.
Ironically, when I left my job at West Thames College in 2013, while clearing out my office I came across the same Vogue magazine with Margaux Hemmingway’s cover in a stack of old Vogues given to me by the Art Dept. This Vogue is now framed and hangs in my office.
WP: Where did you originally train? What was the biggest lesson you took away from your training?
JT: My first point of training was at 16 years old when I enrolled on a two year hairdressing course studying at City & Guilds Hairdressing. I had a motivational teacher called Christine Cheeseman who encouraged me with my love of colour and fashion. I was encouraged to enter Hair Competitions, never winning but always coming third for some reason! I used my sister Issie as my model and coloured her hair in countless shades of red, purple, blue/black, and cut her hair in various geometric styles. Then I moved to London and trained in Beauty Therapy, thinking that I would learn about make-up, but in reality you only touch on the basics of day make-up. I worked as a beauty therapist for a few years and eventually re-trained in make-up on the Short Courses at the London College of Fashion when I was employed there as a Make-up Technician.
More recently I’ve undertaken hair courses with Creative Media Skills. They’re a great team and offer a range of hair styling courses for period hair styling with teachers who are highly regarded in the film industry. These courses are aimed at MUAs already working in the industry, and the classes are very small so you are really supported. I was taught by Lou Shepherd, who is so skilful at period hair design.
The biggest lesson I took away was being taught by an exceptional teacher, who for me was Christine Cheeseman. I think Christine saw potential in my abilities and really encouraged me to develop my creative skills. I say to students that you are always learning, especially in an industry which is constantly changing. With the digital age you need to keep updating your knowledge.
WP: You’re very experienced across multiple genres of make-up – do you have a favourite, and why is it your favourite?
JT: My favourite aspects of make-up are bodypainting and period make-up. I was introduced to Bodypainting at LCF in 1992 when I was working there. We hosted a Bodypainting show every year and it became really popular – we learnt new techniques and products with each show we did. I really enjoy the fact that bodypainting is an illusion and should deceive the eye into believing the model is wearing clothing. I am very inspired by a love of legends, myths and fairytale, which plays an influence in my bodypainting.
Period make-up is another big love for me. I have always enjoyed history and am an avid reader of a wide selection of periods, from ancient civilisations to modern day. I am very inspired by make-up designers who have created beautiful looks for a vast array of period film and TV work – artists such as Jenny Shircore, Daniel Phillips, Sharon Martin, Jan Sewell, Spob O’Brien, Christine Allsopp and Carol Cooper.
WP: Education is clearly hugely important to you. What advice do you have for prospective artists who don’t know what kind of course to choose?
JT: I believe in good training, whether it is on a short course or a full-time academic course. Each individual responds to different types of training and I have seen good results in both the state and private school sector. I would advise potential students to visit the colleges they are interested in, to check out the syllabus, the teachers and the facilities. If the potential students take time to research about the make-up industry and identify where they would like to work, this in turn could influence where they study.
All state-based colleges and universities compose of both practical and academic studies and students are required to pass units of study to achieve their full qualification. In my opinion the leading courses at a BA/Fda/HND level in the UK at present are Arts University Bournemouth, London College of Fashion, West Thames College, Swindon College and York College. This is due to course structures, facilities and teaching teams.
Private colleges offer training in a shorter time which is mainly practical taught delivery and often taught by artists who currently work in the make-up industry. For film and TV training I think Delamar, CBMA, Iver Academy, The Make-up Artist Academy, Bath Academy of Media Make-up and DFMA offer good courses. For Fashion Make-up Training I think House of Glam Dolls, Pixiwoo, DFMA, The Session School, Nicci Jackson and Louise Young all offer a wide range of courses. For MUAs wanting to update their skills I would suggest the courses at Creative Media Skills, as they have excellent training and facilities.
These are my personal opinions on the colleges I know. I work as a freelance make-up artist and am asked regularly to form part of course validation panels for new and existing make-up courses. This enables me to visit colleges and universities and make a critical observation of what they are offering their students.
WP: What kind of process goes into designing a make-up course/qualification?
JT: I think fundamentally the college has to identify the source of future employment for their students, especially if the students are local to the college. Does the area have theatres, fashion shows, film & TV studio’s where the students could gain employment in the future? If not, what other sources of future employment could there be for the students? The facilities of the college comes into play when designing a course as well. Also checking that you have a make-up team to deliver the studies, ensuring the teachers have worked in industry in the subjects they will teach, and ones who are qualified to teach the academic side of certain courses too.
There are governing bodies for make-up qualifications, ranging from Degree levels (BA Honours) to VTCT, ITEC and City & Guilds. If you’re designing a programme there will be units you select to put into the programme. Ideally you want to have a mix of make-up and hair units for the students to study, as they will need to offer both hair and make-up in their future employment.
WP: How did your own line of glitter etc come about?
JT: It has always been a lifelong plan to do this, but in 2013 I discussed the idea about my own products to support bodypainting and fantasy make-up adornments around a kitchen table with my sisters Deby and Issie. The idea developed further with Deby designing the JT Makeup Studio logo and assisting me to produce the first set of the JT make-up range. My sister Deby has a craft business called Inkylicious and was able to source wholesale suppliers in the UK for cosmetic glitter, sequins, feathers, fuller’s earth and a range of metallic leaf. I was very clear on how I wanted my logo to be with the incorporation of the Union Jack idea. Many people call me JT so this helped to decide on the name of the products! All the colours of the glitters in the range are my personal choice and colours I often use in my own work. It has been a real labour of love and sheer hard work but I am really proud of the range and how it has been received in the industry. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my sisters.
WP: Which is your personal favourite product from your range?
JT: I’m very biased and proud of these products so I would say all of it! But if I were to really choose, I would have to say the Peacock Metallic Leaf and my Purple Glitter. My range of Glitter Discs in Silver and Pearl are also big favourites. I have just introduced a florescent range of glitters which I love too, so it’s really difficult to select just one product!
WP: What are your top five kit essentials?
JT: My brushes, some of which I have had for 15 years or more – particularly my Louise Young brushes, plus the Real Techniques brushes for blending. Skin Base by Illamasqua, would be one, and the Glambase Wheel by House of GlamDolls. The Screenface eyeshadow palette is another essential, and MAC Black Track eyeliner.
WP: Career highlight so far?
JT: I feel so fortunate to have many career highlights but the one that always stands out was an event I worked on in 1997 called ‘To Sense’.
I worked alongside MUA Jenny Jordan at the event which Jenny created to help others and create an awareness of being partially sighted. Jenny wanted to offer an opportunity to teach hair and make-up skills to partially sighted people. The event was supported by the charity Action for Blind, hosted at the London College of Fashion and filmed by the BBC Clothes Show. I helped to organise the event, and selected 80 of the LCF make-up students to assist the freelance make-up artists working on the event. There were products donated from the Body Shop, Estee Lauder, Charles Worthington, Clinique – so many brands. On the day we started at 6am, finishing off final prep, before meeting over 180 MUAs and assistants who were working on the event and briefing them. We helped 100 people who were partially sighted.
We had some amazing artists working with us – Trevor Sorbie, Robert Frampton, Caroline Barnes and many more. The hair stylist Robert Lobetta came in to observe the event and Joy Goodman and her agency team manned the tea and coffee stations. It seemed like the crème de la crème of the industry all came together one sunny Sunday in London to support this event, and it was a big success. To celebrate 100 years of Action for Blind and after the success of the event, Jenny and I were invited to attend a presentation to HRH Princess Alexandra at St James’s Palace. I felt very privileged to have played a role in the organisation of this event.
Then for Education it would be developing the HND Specialist Make-up Course at West Thames College. I am very proud of my graduates, my team and what was achieved during my 10 years of managing the course.
WP: What does the rest of 2015 hold for you?
JT: I’ll be busy working day to day, as a make-up daily on films and shoots. I am booked to work as a Make-up Supervisor for Lisa George at Goodwood Revival in September which is a mad, frantic but great vintage fun with a talented team of 30 hair and make-up artists. I’m did an exciting bodypaint for PAM at IMATS incorporating a metallic leaf called Amazon, a mix of green and gold, which is only sold at PAM. In October I am head judge for the Olympia Beauty “Art of Body Painting” Competition. Then there are lots of developments for my JT Makeup range which are secret at the moment but it’s very exciting!