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Life and Work with Emilie Vukovich

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emilie Vukovich.

Emilie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
People always ask me, “What made you want to get into makeup?” The bigger question for me is, what didn’t? My passion for makeup goes all the way back to my childhood, when I would steal my mother’s eye shadow, lipstick, and blush and apply it without her ever even teaching me. I had my Barbie bags filled with both, Bonne Bell and Maybelline. The love for it followed me to the teen years, and it only escalated from there, By that, I mean I spent nearly an hour every morning doing it just to go to school; this was obviously very inconvenient when I had gym first period for an entire semester, and I was far from being a morning person. But, I never missed a day of putting makeup on, regardless of how many times those 7 alarms had been snoozed. One morning, in photography, I realized that I could use my projects are opportunities to practice makeup on my best friend, and use it to start building my portfolio. Unknowingly, later on, I was able to continue this in college.

In 2010, I found one of the greatest inspirations in the beauty industry: Kandee Johnson. I saw that she was holding one of her final “Glaminar” classes in Chicago, and begged my parents to buy me on of the tickets. I told them it was a chance of a lifetime, and, let me tell you, it truly was. I learned so much in that one day alone; about makeup as an art, makeup as a business, and how to use makeup to express yourself for the rest of your life. Kandee chose me as the full face model for the final demonstration, and it was one the greatest hands on experiences I’ve had to this day. I left the class feeling hopeful, knowing that she was right when she said that you can achieve anything, as long as you give it your all. Because of that, I also left with more confidence–which is how I finally realized why I was obsessing over my makeup growing up as a teenager. I realized that it helped my self-esteem — I could gain some control over my appearance, most importantly, during a period of my life when that appearance was constantly growing and changing.

So, I did what everyone has ever been told to do regardless of their passion or occupation: keep practicing, and learning. After leaving the Glaminar, I knew that I had to take more classes. So, I worked even more on my portfolio with friends, and was able to work on some friends and family for paid work. This allowed me to check one box on my makeup dream bucket list: sign up for MAC Cosmetics Pro. I had the privilege of being taught by some of the greatest senior MAC artists in the country. Each workshop included demos, tips, and the ability to talk one-on-one with the artist(s) about products, techniques, and personalized tips. Just like the Glaminar, I left each and every one of those workshops with the reminder that learning and perfecting your craft is an endless journey, and that you can find lessons in any experience.

Because of the joy that each makeup class brought me, in January of 2017, I took the next step of my education and practice by enrolling at Make Up First School of Makeup Artistry. This school, like any other, included practice outside of school. In October, I was lucky enough to work a fashion show that was held in a beautiful art gallery in the heart of downtown Chicago. It was an amazing opportunity to see what it’s like behind the scenes of both the stage, and the camera. In March of 2018, I graduated and became a certified freelance makeup artist. The certification program is approved through the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and contains credit hours towards the Illinois Barber Act. From there, I finalized my kit, and searched for more jobs to work.

In April of 2018, I accepted an offer to become the primary makeup artist for a production through The Chicago Actors Studio. The production is a talk show series, “Late Night Chicago”, that focuses on the entertainment industry here in Chicago. The job requires me to do the makeup for anyone on camera, especially the host, co-host and any guests. With that, I am on set during production for touch-ups, and there is minimal editing done after taping, as it is video and not photography. Therefore, the makeup must be done in a precise and clean manner, quickly, and there isn’t much room for error. It’s a project that I am very proud to be a part of, and it’s an excellent experience with fellow colleagues in the art industry.

Now, as a certified, freelance makeup artist, my purpose is to help one feel like the most beautiful version of oneself. One of my favorite quotes on makeup is, “Makeup is not a tool meant to make an ugly thing beautiful. It is meant only to magnify the beauty that already exists.” I believe that wholeheartedly, and have used this as a guide for my job as an artist. That being said, this is so much more than just a job to me; it’s a dream come true.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think that it takes a lot to go after a job that you truly love, because it shows that you’re willing to give it your all, and not just a 9-5 salary. The “struggling artist” image is definitely real. But, so is the reward of knowing that you’re being credited for something you’re genuinely proud of. Chicago is a big city, and this is a very competitive industry. However, it’s also an industry with plenty of room for everyone that is passionate about it. Art is not limited in terms of quantity, and like they say with friends, sometimes you can never have enough makeup artists — especially for a large event/job! It’s an industry where being open-minded is critical, not only when it comes to your work, but who you network with. Everyone knows someone that wants or needs their makeup done, and everyone has their own unique talent to bring to the table. I think it’s really important to remember that, especially when you’re down, or feeling inferior to others in the industry.

Please tell us about Emilie Vukovich Makeup.
As a freelance makeup artist, I really do it all. I do bridal makeup, airbrush makeup, editorial, and theatrical. There is also a difference between theatrical (such as Cirque Du Soleil or Broadway) and costume (such as Halloween and Special FX) makeup. Because I’m a freelance artist, and I work on the schedule of my clients, I absolutely love the flexibility. It never gets boring and you never stop meeting others that may end up influencing your work. Every single job requires the same sanitary practices, education of the facial anatomy, and overall professionalism. As small as it may be, my regard for sanitation is something I want all of my clients to know of because I never want a client to have to question or be concerned with my practice.

While all makeup artists have to take photography into account, I believe that my love for photography is incorporated into a lot of my work. It’s also something that helps inspire the looks I create, especially ones focused on nature, lighting, or other pieces of art. Combining the two, and seeing the look turn out successfully, is a great feeling. Because, like all art, while makeup can be washed off, the photos of it can last forever.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
Whatever it is that you keep telling yourself you “wish” you could do: do it. Everyone is afraid of change. Everyone is afraid of rejection. Everyone has at one point, or maybe many points, in their life secretly questioned if their work — if they — are enough. If you spend enough time learning and practicing and keeping your eyes open for chances to make it work, things will fall into place. It may not be at first, and it’s really never easy.

I like to think of it this way. Everyone is looking to find his/her own gold, whatever it may be. There are two options: Go after the gold or let the fear prevent you from entering the race. So, let’s say you have the courage to enter that race. You could win the gold, and feel proud of yourself immediately. Or, you could “lose”, and win the silver or bronze–or even a participation sticker. Regardless, you’re still going to be thinking about that gold.

Twenty — fifty — years from now, won’t it feel better to still think of that gold with that participation sticker beside you? Even better, won’t you be glad you entered the race in the first place? You have nothing to lose by entering that race, other than your pride. And if you’re willing to risk it, that strive for gold may become the greatest pride of your life.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Darel White Photography, Christopher Meza Photography, Make Up First School, Robert Beczarski Photography

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