April 13th, 2020
This week we turn our spotlight on Lan Nguyen-Grealis the award-winning makeup artist and author. Lan studied fashion at Central Saint Martins before teaching herself makeup. She now heads and designs key shows, becoming a regular name at London Fashion Week and in fashion editorial. Known for her creative flair, natural use of colours and textures combined with flawless skin, Lan is always collaborating on creative projects. Her first book Art and Makeup was published in 2015. In 2019 she was a guest judge on BBC’s Glowup.
You started out as an artist – how did you make the move to be a makeup artist? What was the biggest challenge? Do you think your artist training gives you a different perspective?
I made my move to be a makeup artist after about 3 years of assisting a photographer backstage at fashion week. Traveling and being amongst some of the best in the world really inspired me to think about where I wanted to be. While I was working in a photographic makeover studio I learnt and developed my skills and from there decided to branch out and try and see where it took me.
The biggest challenge was knowing where to start and how to survive as an artist and get the work. So once I started developing my portfolio testing word of mouth brought me lots of new opportunities.
I do think my artist training has helped me in hindsight because of my use and love of colour, texture and depth in my designs. I love adding details that you wouldn’t notice but to me I know I put it there because I felt it was necessary at the time. Also it helps me build a story within my work which has contributed to my own ideas of development throughout the years.
Who were your early artistic or makeup influences?
My early artistic influences definitely were Rembrandt and Picasso. Mainly for pleasure and techniques that I was always fascinated by. For makeup it would have been Pat McGrath because I saw her in action and how amazing she was, and an artist based in New York called Linda Mason for her freeness of her art form.
You collaborated with Revolution Pro last year to bring out your Ultimate Artist makeup palette – what were the first steps to making this happen?
I hadn’t really thought about it before I start designing my book Pro Makeup Design which was in essence a smudged chart based workbook of ideas. I wanted to supply a complimentary artistic product that could go with it because of the practical aspect of the book.
Once I designed and pitched my idea I was so happy that Adam from the brand was willing to support and we knuckled down in the design process. It was great to be able to visualize and work with the design team to get what I wanted and test and formulate everything right down to the packaging.
How long did it take to develop the palette and bring it to market?
It took over a year to conceive and bring to market maybe a bit longer as I had to work in line of my new book to so that delayed a bit. There was all sort of issues I had to work with in between both legally and financially.
What’s the one product you can’t live without?
It would have to be a highlighter. I just love how invisible texture and light can transform skin in all different ways.
You recently published your ProMakeup Design Book which helps MUAs with planning and designing a look. How did the book come about?
I decided to create something that was more current and to help a young audience as a follow up to my last book Art and Makeup.
First it was more paint by numbers and then I decided that most face charts look the same and are quite flat but plain white so I wanted to bring an element of skin and diversity which wasn’t around at all. By focusing on this I was able to think about the challenges of design and play so I did a prototype which had a good response so I made it happen with my publishers and also thanks to the support of Revolution Pro it made a great collaboration.
How has your own technique for planning a look developed over time?
I think over time I’ve become more refined in design. I’ve learnt to adapt more for the right clients and not waste time in worrying, but also saving my creative ideas for the right projects. I’ve certainly become a lot faster and trust myself more.
You’ve worked with many high-profile people – is there still a ‘holy grail’ client you would like to work with?
I think my job is never done until I work with everyone at least once!!! This would take many life times over but I’m just glad to be doing just that. It’s such a tough industry I don’t set my sights on anyone in particular but embrace any opportunities that do come and firmly believe what’s meant to be will be. I’ve certainly missed out on considered holy grail clients because I’ve been fully booked but always believe they will come round again.
Did you ever expect your career to be this varied? What is next on the horizon for you?
Certainly did not expect what’s happened but I do believe I’m in a privileged position to have found my way and had so many great experiences. I’m lucky to have been in the industry at the time of the growth of the beauty industry so I got to explore.
I think now I just want to enjoy the collaboration and make the most of the jobs I do get. I definitely would love to develop more products and design a Disney or fashion beauty based blockbuster film! Who knows….
Buy the Revolution Pro X Lan Nguyen Grealis Ultimate Artist Palette (£15) here.
Lan’s ProMakeup Design Book (£14.99) is available at Amazon and other booksellers.