November 20th, 2017
Denise Rabor has been working in the make-up industry for over 15 years and her passion for beauty has never ceased. From working with iconic women including Alex Wek and Naomi Campbell, to creating her own online beauty community WOW Beauty, Denise’s commitment to celebrating everyone’s beauty is evident in her work. We chatted with Denise to discuss how she got started in the industry, her inspirations and her plans for the future.
WP: Did growing up in New York help inspire you to pursue a career in the make-up industry or was there a particular person who inspired you?
DR: I don’t think that growing up in New York inspired me to want to become a make-up artist, in actual fact I am not sure that I actually grew up wanting to be one, at least I wasn’t aware of that intention. One thing that was always in my life was my love of fashion magazines and as a child I did enjoy reading American Vogue, Essence magazine etc. I also loved looking at movies, especially the vintage movies from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.
WP: Where did you train to become and make-up artist and did you find it difficult to get started?
DR: I’m pretty much self-taught and the benefit of that is that I never followed any rules to by about what comes first when applying make-up, I just kind of did what I wanted to do and what felt right for each individual face. To get myself started, I basically tested and tested in my spare time as much as possible, teaching myself make-up as I went along. I also looked at make-up books and magazines like Allure, eventually getting more courageous with the colours and textures that I used. I guess you could say that I was on a bit of a mission and at the end of my first year I managed to get myself my first agent.
WP: Many people are learning make-up skills from Instagram and other social media platforms. Do you feel as a professional and working make-up artist, there needs to be more training for social media influencers trying to teach others as well as showcase their talent?
DR: I don’t necessarily think that you have to go to school to learn make-up, but I do think that you should have a natural affinity for it like with any creative field. There is however a difference between a professional artist who has the ability to work as a part of a creative team, understand a brief and create a look that compliments the work of the rest of the team and someone who loves make-up and can create a great brow or contour.
WP: What has been the most valuable piece of advice that you have been given?
DR: To follow my own path. This is something that I’ve always tried to do, so when I took the decision to get an agent in Paris and some people tried to discourage me, I ignored them and did what felt right, which was a great decision as my career really did.
WP: What are your top tips for people wanting to start a career in make-up artistry?
DR: Firstly be sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons, which is a love of make-up, and not expecting fame fortune and a glamorous life. You also need to make sure that you have a back-up plan side gig to support you because good make-up careers do not necessarily take off overnight, so you need to be prepared for the ups and downs. Another tip I would say is to learn your craft: a good make-up artist should be able to do any skin tone and any skin type; there should be no excuses. Lastly, remember that you never stop learning, so keep an open mind.
WP: When did you start WOW Beauty and what inspired you?
DR: I started WOW Beauty at the end of 2015 and it is the culmination of a lifelong love of beauty, wellbeing and women’s empowerment. I’m very much about a woman being able to see herself in a 360 holistic view, I truly believe that we can only be our best selves when we adopt this way of living. I use WOW Beauty to express that there are no limits on beauty and our expression of beauty. WOW embraces all and makes no judgements.
WP: You’ve worked on many iconic faces. Is there anyone you would love to work with?
DR: I’ve worked with many fabulous women; models like Alek and Naomi Campbell, actresses and musicians. I don’t really have a wish list, I just love doing make-up and I’m happy to do it on any woman, iconic or not.
WP: Are there any make-up trends or work by other artists that have inspired any of your work?
DR: I love celebrating the work of other artists. In the early days I was inspired by the work of Kevin Aucoin and my passion for flawless skin has come from admiring the work of artists like Pat McGrath, Linda Cantello, Sam Fine and other amazing artists.
WP: In a world dominated by social media, do you think your career would be different if you were starting now?
DR: I am sure it would but, of course, these things are subjective so it’s kind of hard to say. One thing is for sure; having portals like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter would be like having a living portfolio of work. I was just saying the other day that I have lots of photographs of some of the amazing locations that I’ve visited on fashion shoots and trips and if Instagram had been around when I was doing all those things, it would have been amazing!
WP: Are there any make-up jobs or campaigns that you are currently working on or coming in the future that you are looking forward to?
DR: You never know what’s around the corner! At the moment my big focus is on developing WOW Beauty, which also includes doing beauty shoots for it and making tutorials for the YouTube channel. The future is bright.