James Vincent—Celebrity Make-up Artist

James Vincent and Cortney Garig

If you aren’t aware of James Vincent’s existence, you should wake up and smell the make-up! He is a self made make-up artist who has came up on his own from rags to riches. A true Cinderella story, that is if Cinderella decided to cut off her long locks, shaved a mohawk, and added some flair and fought for equality while changing the world.

Now if you were expecting some DYI blog explaining how to do a smokey eye, skip this. Instead, this is a life lesson blog about a very inspiring man with some fantastic advice on the industry. Specifically, if you’d like to work in New York creating the latest trends, then read on fellow entrepreneurs!

Who is James Vincent?

Here comes this fuzzy man, covered in tattoos, glam rock, a bandana hanging out of his pocket, shaved head, big beard and completely metal looking to boot, yet when he spoke to the crowd at the Cinta Aveda Institute he introduces himself and gives the warmest smile. Growing up from a punk background myself, I was very excited to hear what this guy had to say.

He grew up in Rhode Island, the tiniest state in the US. Huge family, but surprisingly the first one to go to college. He studied social work. His family was always hard-working, and he never thought he would be a make-up artist, he believed that being stuck in an office was the way to live.

From social work to make-up? Yes. It is truly an odd transition, but as the wise Forest Gump said “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” He started off in the bath and body shop just to make some money through college even though he didn’t know the first thing about make-up. He enjoyed it and moved to Atlanta, Georgia to further his career. He then began writing papers about women of color in the make-up industry. At the time, the women in advertisements were usually Caucasian.

Through these blogs and the passion he had to change the industry from what was the standard to something unique, MAC Cosmetics discovered him and asked him to help launch MAC. At this time MAC was just starting out. He started doing make-up with them.

“Use what you have, make it work. It will work for you.”

At the time, cosmetic companies did not have much variety as far as contours and concealers go, especially for women with darker skin. One fine day, a girl came in to get her make-up done and he decided to use orange lipstick to conceal darker shades under the eyes. This woman got so excited, she offered him a job in the music industry. Little did he know, he would be working for TLC!

Domino Effect to Success

From then on people in the industry where discovering him left and right. Who did he start working for?

  • Special Olympics
  • America’s Next Top Model
  • Puff Daddy, Regina Spektor, Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga, Reece Witherspoon
  • Sex & the City, CNN

He began doing about 12 shows a season for different networks and television series.

Since then James is now a Director of Education for The Makeup Show, runs The Powder Group, and owns his own make-up line.

What are important keys to success in this industry?

  • Build a community of support networks/find a mentor
  • Work freelance work/build a portfolio
  • Buy a domain name, market yourself!

Some Important Key Notes From James Vincent Himself

“You are a small business, education does not end, beauty is 365 days a week.”

If you are unaware of this think to yourself, how dedicated are you to learning, to working hard, and to expanding your network to get your name out there.

“Now is the time to work”

Build a portfolio while in school, get out there, and show the world what you are made of.

“You are dealing with someone at their most venerable, you are there at the moment to help”

Treat everyone with respect!

“Too much information can hurt you.”

People want to know who you are and what you do. They don’t want to know your full novel.

“Your stuff lives forever.”

Be aware of what you post online. Know the limits between a personal social media page and a professional one.

“If you can not name a five people that inspire you, then you are not prepared.”

“Opportunity was mine! That situation becomes the right opportunity when you’re prepared.”