HHave you ever hit a cross road in your life? Or rock bottom? If you have, did it inspire you to make changes you had not considered before? Sometimes, when things get tough, it can be the wake up call we need to re-examine our lives and follow our hearts. Granted following one’s heart is not for the faint of heart, and sticking with one’s dreams can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding. So when makeup artist Christina Nicole lost her job, her guy, and her home—she knew it was time for things to change. Instead of following the medical career path her parents had mapped out for her, Christina decided to pursue what she was really passionate about—makeup artistry. She returned to school, and in 2012 she graduated from Chic Studios NYC with a diploma in Professional Makeup Artistry. Since then Christina has worked on a number of published editorials for Trim Magazine as well as Uptempo Magazine. She also worked on short Film called “MISS 41” and assisted on the Lizzie Post web series. Christina keeps herself busy working on numerous shoots with modeling agencies, photographers, and e-commerce clients across the New York Tri-State area. I had the pleasure of meeting Christina on the set of the shoot I assisted on with Catherine May Taylor. Christina was a joy to work with so I can see why her book is always full. Needless to say, I was over joyed when Christina took some time out of her busy schedule to sit down with me for a leisurely chat to talk about her career, her ups and downs, and how to stay true to your dreams…
You have a degree in Criminal Justice and an interest in forensics what is it about forensics that interests you? Very different from your current career as a makeup artist.I guess the part of forensics that always interested me the most was that you could put together the pieces of a crime/murder that took place without being there during the crime. I’ve always been interested in figuring things out and investigating things. Once I took my forensic lab in college and got to do fingerprinting, blood typing, blood splatter analysis, shoe printing and many other various forensic labs I was instantly hooked.
I love when women pursue their true passions and make a career out of it. Can you speak a little about what led you to decide to go back to school and attend the prestiges Chic Studios NYC?I guess you could say I hit rock bottom. My position at NARS was eliminated so I was laid off, my long term relationship had ended, and my apartment was damaged from Hurricane Sandy — all within a month of each other. I had always spent my life trying to make others happy and never took the time to focus on myself. Once I lost the three main things in my life I didn’t really have a choice — but to reevaluate what I was doing with my life and what I REALLY wanted to do. I guess you can say losing everything gave me the courage to go after what I really wanted. When I decided to go back to school I looked into a bunch of different makeup schools in New York but none of them seemed as personable as Chic Studios NYC, they were all much larger and not so one on one. I’m definitely glad I went with my gut and chose Chic Studios NYC, because I am still very close with many of my instructors, and to this day almost two years later, they still help me with gigs and career choices.
Your first job out of school was with Lancome, where you worked as a beauty advisor. It was here that you met Elmina Soares. Elmina was sort of a mentor to you, do you feel that having a mentor like this helped you in your career?A few of the ladies I worked with at Lancome became very strong people in my life, in addition to Elmina Soares. Lisa Duelly my Account Coordinator at the time and Maria Jimenez, my fellow Beauty Advisor were also a big part of my life and they still are today. Without all of them pushing me, challenging me and encouraging me I don’t think I would’ve stuck with the beauty industry. I think all artists go through a sense of self doubt, I know I still do, it’s good to have people around you that believe in you, challenge you, and believe you can do it. You just need to be reminded of this from time to time.
You also worked for NARS, can you speak a little about that experience and about how you landed the job there?The Resident Makeup Artist position at NARS actually happened pretty randomly. I was still working at Lancome and I had gone on an interview for Bobbi Brown. I was looking to get into a more artistic line which I let the Cosmetics Manager know at the Lord & Taylor I was interviewing at for the Bobbie Brown position. She let me know that a position was opening up at NARS that was not yet posted. She said she would set something up with the Business Manager of NARS the following week. They called me in for an interview and I ended up getting hired on the spot because the Business Manager liked me immediately, which she told me was rare for her. She also loved the way I had done a deep purple smokey eye on myself, not too many people can pull that off! I loved working for NARS because it brought me more into the fashion/artistic side of the industry which I think also helped push me to go back to school and get into the fashion industry on my own after the NARS job ended.
In 2012 after graduating from Chic Studios NYC you started your freelance career, was this scary? And what advice would give someone who is thinking of having a freelance career?After graduating, starting to freelance was probably one of the most scariest things I have ever done and probably ever will do in my life. I was unsure on how much money I would have coming in, I had no experience doing any of this on my own, and I honestly had no clue what I was getting myself into. My very first gig after graduating was assisting one of my instructors on a shoot for Uptempo Magazine. Well, as luck would have it my instructor was over booked and I ended up doing the gig all by myself! Mind you, I had never been on set for a photo shoot before this, let alone one for a magazine! Inside I was totally freaking out the entire time, but once the direction was discussed on what kind of looks were wanted I just stayed focused on what I do best — makeup! I made it through the shoot with flying colors and everyone was happy with the results. Ever since that shoot my nerves have calmed down quite a bit and after assisting many other artists over the past year I have certainly gotten much more comfortable on set. You learn a lot being on set, even if you’re just assisting. For anyone that may be thinking of embarking on a freelance career, don’t be afraid of taking the risk. Everything is always scary at first, but if you are talented and determined you’ll get past it! And assist other artists — it will make you more comfortable, because in the long run there are things you can only learn by being on set. Whatever you do don’t get discouraged if things are not happening fast enough for you. It takes many test shoots, and trial and errors, and lots and LOTS of networking to get things really going for yourself. Even then, you will still have slow times of the year and self doubt, but DON’T give into those feelings, because before you know it you will be so busy you won’t be able to think straight!