In the final part of our special Pixiwoo trilogy, makeup artist and YouTube maven Samantha Chapman talks about life as a pro MUA, from how she follows the beauty trends and organizes her stash to her favorite hobby besides beauty.
B: Before YouTube and starting your family, were you constantly traveling for makeup jobs?
"Absolutely, I traveled massively on the MAC pro team for years. We'd always fly to Milan and Paris for fashion week, among other locations, and I met a new city each week. The team assisted the main artists—Val Garland, Charlotte Tilbury—the greats! It set me in really good surroundings and I've made connections with the best of the best."
B: What's your typical work schedule like?
"With kids, I don't maintain the same jet-setting lifestyle I used to. Nic and I still go to London one or two days a week for shoots, but otherwise we spend most of our time shooting and editing YouTube videos at home."
B: What's your favorite kind of makeup to work on: runway, editorial, or advertising?
"Actually, I love doing tests. It enables me to get super experimental—otherwise you're typically doing a natural or smokey makeup. Editorial is great when I have a lot of input, but I don't get to be as creative as I'd like to be. In all honesty, I love jobs that pay the least because I get to innovate and explore the artistry. Advertising definitely pays the most."
B: Have you ever run into diva photographers or rude people to work with? If so, how do you deal with such on-set drama?
"I've definitely run into some interesting characters while shooting, and I've seen my fair share of model-on-model cat fights backstage. My advice? Stay under the radar. I seriously can't stress this enough: Keep to yourself, keep working and stay polite. Never bite! This is a small industry and people talk—your reputation can instantly be ruined with a little gossip."
B: What about counter drama?
"I worked at the counter for many years—mostly everyone hates it, and I did too. Editorial is much more tongue-in-cheek and fun, even if the characters are a little diva—they're artists after all! You're ruled by sales at the counter. Luckily, you see the same colleagues every day and forge valuable friendships with similar commonalities. That's the part I loved about working at a counter, and I still think it's a worthwhile experience to have under your belt. It's a little easier to get away with some gossip at the counter, but you still have to remember how tiny the industry really is."
B: Speaking of friendships, have you cultivated relationships in the YouTube beauty community?
"There's a huge beauty community in the UK—tons of bloggers and vloggers. Nicola and I kind of keep ourselves at home making videos, it's a shame really. We'd like to explore the scene but there's just not enough time. Also, there aren't a lot of working makeup artists on YouTube. I've worked with Lisa Eldridge in the past and she's totally brilliant. I haven't seen her in years but we chat on Twitter a lot. She's a very cool, down to earth, and approachable artist and her work is stunning! I love seeing an artist with such high caliber work on YouTube because it gives makeup artists in the social media scene an extra dose of credibility. We also keep in touch with Wayne (GossMakeupArtist), who's just lovely."
B: With so much time spent on YouTube, how do you find time for hobbies?
"That's a good question—I don't really. Between work and family, I don't have time for 'extra-curriculars.' Luckily, I've always been so immersed in fashion and beauty that it's both a hobby and a career. I do love to read, though. I've got four books on my nightstand right now—the Keith Richards Biography called "Life," Andy Warhol's Diaries, a Marilyn Monroe biography, and "Widow Basquiat" by Jennifer Clement. Clearly, I'm curious about people. The Marianne Faithfull autobiography is definitely my favorite, though."
B: I'm assuming you're a fashion mag devotee as well?
"Absolutely. I never miss an issue of Vogue and I love collecting those glossy, avant-garde magazines as well. Nicola and I have been scrapbooking and collaging magazines for more than 10 years!"
B: Scrapbooking—another hobby! Tell me more.
"It's so important to keep a current pulse on the fashion and beauty industry—the scrapbook serves as a visual history for us to follow and document trends throughout the year. Every season, Nicola and I look at the campaigns in the magazine and online, and archive them into scrapbooks. We mostly just look at Vogue because ALL the designers have ads in it—hello, it's Vogue! We love scouring through the costly high-fashion zines too, and we really tear these things apart—you'd cringe! The flawless skin thing bores me, so I try to search for really innovative designs. We've been scrap-booking since 1997 and have since then accumulated a hefty load of materials. It's great to look back on campaigns and visually chart evolution of beauty. I especially love the '90s Chanel ads with the original supermodels—crazy how things have changed."
B: How do you predict trends, and what are you loving now?
"It's generally easy to predict seasonal trends. You're always going to have some style of bronze skin in summer and a smoky eye during the winter months. It's the slight variations that you have to pay particular attention to. Right now, I'm loving tan, healthy skin with a bright coral lip in a natural texture. I use tinted moisturizer for a clean finish and get a glow with Urban Decay Baked Bronzer. I push MAC Morange Lipstick, a fantastic coral orange shade, onto my cheeks and lightly pat excess product onto the lips with my finger for a sheer-but-bright pout. I've also caught on with the yellow nail polish trend and I'm loving Chanel Mimosa—isn't it a divine shade? I think a model 'accidentally grabbed it' on my last shoot. I have to go chase her for that one."
B: You must have a ridiculous amount of makeup and promotional items sent to you—how do you keep your beauty arsenal organized?
"Nic and I have a simple system: in and out boxes. If we try a product once and we don't adore it, it goes to the outbox for my mum to rummage through (it's like Candyland for her). We keep products we like in the inbox, which occasionally pop up in our videos. I don't vary my pro kit too much unless it's a product I absolutely love.
Since Nicola is pregnant and in 'nesting' mode, she loves organizing and re-organizing everything. Our office is ridiculously full of boxes everywhere, separated by brand."
B: You're trying so new many things, how do you keep your skin from freaking out?
"You're going to hate me for this answer, but my skin hardly reacts to anything—knock on wood. I owe it to my mum's awesome genes. My eyes can water sometimes, but my skin never changes—Nicola and I are definitely lucky. Because we have such a specific skin type, it's hard to give skin care advice on YouTube. Skin is so personal, nobody can predict what works and what doesn't. I don't smoke, I hardly drink, and I wear SPF and moisturizer all the time, so take care of your skin regardless!"
Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our Pixiwoo Interview series!