April 27th, 2020
From counter boy in a small, regional Boots store, to Director at leading global brand, MAC, Dean Rudd’s illustrious career in makeup spans over two decades. Who better to interview him than his former colleague – and erstwhile Regional Director of Artist Relations for the UK, Ireland and EMEA – Christina Aristodemou? Catching up virtually, they chatted about his professional journey, what he’s doing now and what’s next.
I’ve been in the industry for 25 years including a two year Makeup Course at The College of West Anglia, which I went on to teach at for five years, eventually taking up the post of Course Director, followed by 18 years at MAC in a variety of roles and I’m now freelancing.
Growing up I had always been into monsters, horror and fantasy but had never really played around with makeup much. I left school at 16 and got a job at my local Boots in Kings Lynn, where I ended up staying for a while and, some years down the line, I found myself at a crossroads and decided to do a Makeup course. I went to the open day at The College of West Anglia and found the Course Tutor, Louise Young, utterly enchanting and enrolled onto the City & Guilds Make up Course.
This was a huge step for me, considering I had the responsibility of a mortgage and I was in my late 20s by that time but it felt right. I continued working two jobs, whilst studying, to keep the money coming in. The course covered everything from Body Painting, to Media Makeup and Special Effects, which I especially excelled at. I was so proud to have passed with flying colours and Louise encouraged me to get into the industry, but I was nervous to take the leap, as I had bills to pay. I was still working at Boots when I got a call from the college asking if I wanted to teach there, which was a dream come true and I eventually went on to be Course Director once Louise had moved on.
Coming in as a young guy, I had this notion that I could revolutionise things and relate to the students with my laid-back attitude but I quickly found that teaching a group of 16+ year olds is both challenging, rewarding and a huge responsibility. You have a duty of care to these students and have to deliver quality material. In my five years at the college I experienced a lot of personal growth and was blessed with some wonderful students who have gone on to do amazing things, such as Kristyan Mallett and Nicola Chapman of the PixiWoos – not that I can take any of the credit for their brilliance; I learnt a lot from them too!
Earliest Makeup Memory
Apart from Frankenstein and Dracula on the telly, the first time I ever physically experienced makeup was when I played a rabbit in our school production of The Wind in the Willows. One of the girls did my makeup and I remember looking in the mirror and being completely blown away by the transformation. The first time I did my own makeup was for our Boots Christmas fancy dress party. I went as The Joker based on the 1960’s Batman character and created my look with some cheap make up from the local joke shop. Another time I went as Boy George, which I got a lot of stick for!
Which makeup counter?
I was too self-conscious to work as an artist at a makeup counter in such a small town and needed a change, so I moved to London and started my job search. I decided to go into retail rather than teaching, as I felt as though London colleges were out of my league and that they wouldn’t take someone from a regional town seriously and I needed a job fast. I started applying to various different make up Brands and there were a lot of Pretty Woman situations until I stumbled across MAC on Carnaby Street, which was a game changer. It was a lovely store and the energy was great, but it was how they spoke to me that made a difference. They listened, with interest, as I told them about my background and I was invited in for an interview. My first position was Retail Artist at the King’s Road store, which was serendipitous, as that was the first ever MAC Store that I had been to years earlier for a masterclass.
My Manager at MAC, Tracey Fairhurst, whom I’m still friends with, was a wonderful Manager and pivotal to my success. What I loved about MAC was that they were saying, “We are Makeup Artists,” and they used different terminology, which made me feel like an Artist. It was one of the most fantastic journeys ever. I learnt so much from the girls that I worked with who also worked as freelancers in all areas of the industry.
I used to take face chart pads home and spend hours working on designs; my brain was wired differently to everyone else’s. My creations were more fantasy-based and beauty was an area that I needed to upskill in. I could do weird things but I was by no means an expert in making a woman look and feel amazing, let alone talk beauty. Working in retail was a big part of my education as I was exposed to different skin types, colours and conditions. I can remember doing the makeup for a lady who was going through cancer treatment and her poor face, bless her, was very red. She told me she’d been everywhere and couldn’t find anything to even out her skin tone and, with my MAC training, I was able to give her the complexion she wanted. 18 years later I can still remember that experience because she looked so happy.
I was determined to draw on my educational background and be a part of the Training Department and eventually got in as a Resident Trainer, which was a new role and I was also accepted onto the Body Art Team. David Horne was my examiner and it was a typical ‘David theme’; I’ll never forget it – Religious Iconography, which I had to Google as I had no idea what that meant! Everyone else went down ‘The Garden of Eden’ route and my mind went to that dark place that it tends to go to and I chose a Devil theme as per usual! The World Bodypainting Festival was one of my first trips with MAC and I was in awe of the works of art being created in the most idyllic setting. I’m always inspired by designs that others create.
The Next Phase
MAC created a special position for me, which was the role of the Pro Trainer because of my affinity with the Pro products. They were the products that were the staples in my kit. Many people didn’t know how to use them as they were quite specialist and I went around the UK educating artists on the range. As MAC expanded, I got to travel and train MAC Artists around the world and showcase the products to freelance artists working across all industries, from Film to Fashion.
I am proud to have created the MAC Pro Team who are a team of Artists that work in MAC stores and are chosen to be a part of the team because of their combined work ethic and artistry. They then get to be part of MAC’s events both locally and globally.
I started working closely with MAC’S Senior Artists, which then lead to me officially representing them as Director of Senior Artists. The role ticked a lot of boxes for me as I was still training people, being an Artist myself and looking after their development, allowing them to flourish and thrive.
Artists who inspire me
There are so many that I had the pleasure of working alongside over the years…
Andrew Gallimore is one of my favourites. He’s jaw-droppingly incredible as a conceptual Artist but also as a Beauty Makeup Artist. Any piece of work that Andrew creates is phenomenal.
The interactions that I had with Rick Baker through MAC’s events were absolutely mind blowing. He’s a genius and I don’t think they make MUAS like that anymore.
Working with Pixie Lott must be one of the biggest moments in my career. I’d always wanted work with a recording Artist and tour with them. This experience taught me a different type of discipline as you have to learn makeup on demand, for speed and for performance of course.
Favourite Piece of Work
Working on a body painting designed by the inimitable British artist, graphic designer and illustrator, Alan Aldridge. The work was an homage to his designs, which we showcased on the opening night of a retrospective celebrating his work at The Design Museum.
I had Carly Utting and Dominic Skinner, my once-upon-a-time protégés, working with me on that day as part of my dream team. If there were a Charlie’s Angels of Makeup, it would be Carly, Dom and me. I’m so proud of their achievements.
The Makeup world exploded and technology played a big part in that and education took a back seat. You could learn so much online and I experienced the change, which made me want to pursue that further and get more involved in marketing and the cosmetics market as a whole, analysing what competitors were doing and the new brands that had launched and ensuring that MAC stayed true to its core values. It was around that time that I took on the role of Director of Creative for the UK and I was responsible for overseeing various creative campaigns and content. It was a tough time as I got to see a lot of brands vying for the top spot and we were trying to stay ahead. My proudest moment was creating a Service Menu for MAC, which was a rewarding challenge.
Biggest change to the industry
Social Media has to be the biggest change. I love it, as you can share your work much more widely and people can comment on whether they like it or not, which I think is a wonderful thing, not from a validation perspective but it’s rewarding to show the world what you’ve done. And the fact that I’m in the process of building my online portfolio via Instagram is super satisfying as it’s a trip down memory lane and I get to share some of the incredible things I’ve been a part of. It doesn’t come naturally to me but I’m learning.
The Impact of Social Media
Social media is a great way of raising awareness and reaching new audiences. I was approached by a charity called The Toy Project who saw one of my murals on social media and I’ve since created two murals for HMS Pentonville Prison and the Whittington Hospital, which was really rewarding work.
COVID has allowed me to get back into sketching, drawing, art and painting. I am doing free online art classes for parents and children, which I’m really enjoying and I now have the time to work on my images and posts. We can still survive and I can still be inspired, despite COVID, as I see what others are posting, which gives me an injection of inspiration every single day.
The future of the industry
I don’t think there will be Super Brands but there will be more cosmetics houses. Every fashion brand and retailer will have its own makeup line, so there will be even more choice for the consumer and I hope to see the rise in specialist shops to support film and TV. I really think that there is a need for this.
I want to continue to build on everything that I’ve experienced and learnt as an educator. I love teaching and passing on my skill and what I’ve learnt about makeup and the industry as a whole and I’d like to go back to my roots and educate in some capacity.
I like the people connection and I want to be in a position to promote and showcase the phenomenal artists that work in the industry, especially TV and Film, bringing them to the forefront as well as working with the online MUA influencers. I’d also love to work in film, which is one of my great passions.
MAC Chromacakes (£23.50) and Paint Sticks (from £16.50) have always delivered for Bodypainting. They don’t go patchy, they glide on, are super opaque with dense pigments and they don’t crack. You get amazing coverage. I also love Julia Townend’s Glitters (from £6.80 and there’s a 30% discount at the moment – use JT30 at the checkout) and the Ben NYE Water based Mixing Medium – Liquiset (from £15.48).
Advice to anyone starting out
Learn and experience as much as you can. It will help with career goals and choices. You never stop learning about makeup artistry and the many arms it has. It’s always evolving as should we.