August 4th, 2015
Whether she’s working backstage on huge TV shows, designing looks for celebrity clients or campaigns with Collection Cosmetics and Make Up by HD Brows, Francesca Neill is in constant demand. And with her stunning beauty and editorial looks, we can see why! Warpaint caught up with Francesca to talk about making the jump to the big-time, and her must-have products for serious beauty looks.
WP: What first drew you to make-up?
FN: I always loved make-up from a very young age. I used to play with my mum’s and watch her put it on. I was so fascinated by it! When I got a little older I used to go to the MAC counter and stare at the girls and their flawless make-up and I just wanted to learn how to do it.
I also loved looking at the make-up in films and magazines and being amazed at how creative you could be. I just loved experimenting and trying new looks. I definitely knew from a very young age that I had a passion for this.
WP: Were you formally trained? If so, where?
FN: Yes, I trained at the Jemma Kidd make-up school in London and then continued my training on the MAC counter. They were both incredible learning experiences.
WP: What do you love about your job, and what are some of the downsides?
FN: I love pretty much everything about my job. I love the different people I meet and the clients I am lucky enough to work with. I love the creativity, the travelling, the fact that no day is ever the same, the satisfaction you get when you see your work in a magazine or on TV – and when you make your client look and feel incredible. I also love the fact that it’s not limiting; you can work with different brands, develop and design new products, teach… There are so many amazing things about my job and really only a few downsides. The crazy early mornings aren’t exactly fun, or the late finishes, and never really being able to make firm plans as so much changes at the last minute. But I wouldn’t change it for anything!
WP: Do you remember your first job where you went from assistant to designer/head? How did you make that happen?
FN: Yes I do, I was so excited! I had been assisting and testing for a few years whilst working on the MAC counter and doing private clients. I had worked on many shows and assisted on many music videos and shoots. I felt ready and confident, I just needed the right opportunity.
I had just finished assisting on a shoot and I came home to clean my brushes ready for the next day when I got a call from the manager of an artist whom I still work with today. I was asked to do her make-up for a big TV show. I could not believe how happy and excited I was! Thankfully the job went really well and I worked with her more and more, meeting new clients along the way. To this day I am forever grateful that she had the belief in me, and gave me such a great opportunity from which I was able to grow and progress in my career as a make-up artist.
WP: What are your can’t-live-without kit essentials?
FN: HD Brows Eye and Brow Palette, Sisley Confort Extreme Lip Balm, HD Brows Sculpt and Glow Palette, MAC Lip Liners, Collection’s Speedy Blush Sticks (great for lips and cheeks!) Lancôme Hypnôse mascara, NARS eyeshadows and Armani Luminous Silk Foundation.
WP: What is your take on the rise of beauty vloggers and self-trained artists? How have they affected the industry, in your experience?
FN: I think the rise of bloggers, vloggers and self-trained artists is fantastic – it’s great that social media and technology has made it easier for people to learn about the industry and share their new ideas and looks. I think it can only be a positive thing that talented people who are passionate about make-up can break through now – even if they didn’t come into the industry via the traditional channels like the make-up schools.
WP: Do you dabble in prosthetics/hair at all? What are your thoughts on specialising vs. wider variety of skills, but less experience in each?
FN: When I first trained in make-up I trained in all aspects including prosthetics, and I have done several hair courses over the years. However I realised early on where my strengths lie and where my passion is; I love beauty and fashion make-up, making me perfect for TV, music and editorial work.
I think there are arguments for both sides as some budgets only allow for one person to do both hair and make-up, so in this case having a wider variety of skills is more beneficial. However many jobs allow for a creative team each specialised in their own area – hair, make-up, nail tech etc. This is my preference, I personally prefer to do one thing at an extremely high standard than many things quite mediocre.
WP: What has been your favourite project to work on?
FN: Oh wow, that’s tricky… There have been so many! I love the buzz and adrenaline of touring. Being a part of the Girls Aloud Ten Tour, which was their last tour, was incredible. I loved every second and I will never forget that. I also love doing the big TV shows like Britain’s Got Talent. The planning and designing of all the looks is just so much fun.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with Collection Cosmetics as their ambassador. Doing their campaigns and being involved in all of the product launches has been amazing. I also help design the HD Brows make-up range with the incredible Nilam Holmes. This was fantastic as we watched the products go from ideas and sketches to reality, and we were involved in the whole process. I’ve been very lucky to be a part of all these amazing projects, I couldn’t choose between them.
WP: You’ve had a huge variety of work and experiences – is there anything you’re still looking to achieve or do?
FN: Of course, there is so much I am still looking to achieve! I feel that I’ve only scratched the surface of my potential. I’m so passionate about what I do so I know there is still so much more to come. For now, I’m absolutely loving all the projects I have going on and I’m really looking forward to continuing with these. But of course I’m looking forward to growing more as an artist and taking up new opportunities and challenges in the future.