Photo: Daniel Purvis All Creative
Mandy Nash is an Adelaide makeup artist and body painter, behind Mandy’s Makeup. I was privileged to be granted time to pick her brain recently in the name of novel research. (My current work-in-progress aptly features a dreamy makeup artist/body painter heroine!) After heading to Mandy’s office in a chic shared space in the city and being handed a glass of cucumber water, I switched on my phone’s voice recorder and we got down to the nitty-gritty…
Hi, Mandy. How’d you come to be who you are today? What were you like as a child?
As a kid, I was always really arty. I always had a pen or a paintbrush in my hand. I was a really crafty kind of kid. There was a troop of little kids who lived next door; they’d come around and I’d make them up and we would make funny home videos. So, when I look back, I guess without realising it, [being creative] was always kind of ingrained in who I am. And then obviously I did a lot of art at school.
Did you go to art school?
I wanted to go to an art school after high school but my mum convinced me to take the traditional, conditioned route of going to uni. So I enrolled in a Bachelor of Media at the University of Adelaide, and after my first year, I was starting to get a bit antsy.
I also worked in this café, and on Saturdays, I’d do a split shift and in between [the lunch and dinner shifts], I’d do makeup in the bathroom to go out to town afterwards. One day, my bosses there followed me in and said, "What are you doing in here?" So I showed them, and did one’s makeup and the other’s hair with my crappy little bag of products. That was when one of them suggested, "Why don’t you do a makeup course?" And it had never actually crossed my mind, ever. I never thought of it as a job at all, because [the profession] wasn’t very prominent then.
I’m 26 now, but I was 18 then and it was before Instagram; [makeup artistry] wasn’t so accessible. Though I recalled seeing girls walking around town with their little bags and cases. I kind of thought of it like Frenchie from Grease. So I decided to give it a whirl. I deferred uni for six months and did a Certificate II in Makeup Services [over three months] at Media Makeup in the city.
How’d you get work to begin with?
My first job was at a photographic studio. I was there for about a year-and-a-half and that was really beneficial because they also gave me a crash course in basic hairstyles. And then you really learn on the job. It’s just from experiences and repetition. You’d get clients every hour on the hour for a seven-hour shift and that could be a family or a guy and girl. If you’re doing that quite a few times a week, you’re really getting the experience, not only in your skillset, but how to consult with people and different demographics.
Through that, I was able to connect with quite a few photographers and start my freelance work. You develop this collaborative relationship where you’ll do makeup for them for whatever project they want to do or vice versa.
So one day I went out and bought some face paints for my own project and that started the body painting. I didn’t study how to do that, I just started doing it.
At the photographic studio, I was then given the opportunity to leave the studio and head out to malls and body-paint the promo team to create a bit of a spectacle!
How different is it painting a canvas to a human?
With body painting, your canvas is live, so you need to take into account things like that the model is hydrated, that they’ve had a wiggle every now and then, that they’re keeping their energy levels up because they’re taking positions for a long time. You also want to make sure that they’re warm. My recent exhibition pieces [photos of head-and-shoulders body art] took about two hours to create.
Personally, I like to focalise on the face. The face is my hero and the body just assists. I call my work, like, a fusion. I use face paint, makeup and ‘fabrication’, where I adhere parts on like feathers.
Your go-to makeup products?
I predominantly use MAC. It’s just good quality and it’s a good price-point. I also used to work there so I have in-depth product knowledge! I’d highly recommend MAC’s ‘Vanilla’ pigment for highlights in the inner corner of the eye and the brow bone. You can also mix it with foundation if you want that to be more iridescent, use it on your cheekbone or do a wash over your eye. It’s my all-time favourite!
[MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in] ‘Soft and Gentle’ is similar. It’s a highlight but in a compact version. MAC Painterly Paint Pot is another key product—it’s an eye base that neutralises the lid and brow bone and gives your makeup a 16-plus-hour wear.
Oh, and there’s Strobe Cream, another of my true loves. MAC’s actually patented it. It’s the best for a really fresh, hydrated, dewy skin. Very popular on runway models, it’s a moisturiser with a beautiful iridescence to it. If you can’t tell, I am a big fan of highlighting!
Photos (above and below): Haley Renee Photographer
Photo, above: Sven Kovac
Photo, above: Gee Greenslade
Finding my inner peasant...