In Celebration of Kevyn Aucoin's life on the !0th Anniversary of his death - A letter for Kevyn

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Kevyn Aucoin was a genius. He Inspired me on many levels. Even though we never met, I always felt a connection to him. Obviously we are both makeup artist, but for me it was more than that. We were both from a small Southern Towns, we both ran away to new York City in search of ourselves, artistic freedom and fame. As a young, struggling makeup artist, I wouldrush to the newstand every month to look for Kevyn's work in Vogue. I would stand at a newsstand and stare at images and study the makeup in total awe and wonderment.

I was always amazed with the choices he made, the colors he chose and how he used them, and of course how he painted and transformed faces. I never studied makeup or assisted a makeup artist. Kevyn Aucoin was my teacher. I couldn't wait to try to recreate his amazing work. It was never the same and I was constantly dissappointed in myself but nonetheless, seeing his artistry drove me to perfect my craft, and kept me studying and practicing, but more importantly, the success he had built for himself validated this incredibly insecure gay boy from Mississippi. I would look at this giant of a man, with a GIANT Career and I saw myself. I didn't see myself as a Brilliant Makeup artist, but I saw this self taught, southern gay person that had found his way, and "had made it", based on his passion, hard work and raw talent, Kevyn Aucoin not only became a working makeup artist, he Re - Defined it, he set the bar, he was the BEST, and for me he was my "Wizard Of OZ.
The greatest thing Kevyn did for me that he never knew, was because of his success, was his existence as a makeup artist, gave me no excuse. I had no valid excuse like " but I'm just a Hillbilly from Aberdeen Mississippi", or "I don't have formal training" or "I've never assisted" or"I don't know anyone to get my foot int he door".....
His success, left me with no choice but to never give up. Because I knew if I didn't make it, If I ended up back in Aberdeen Ms. it was no ones fault but my own.
Over time, as I became more successful, I would see Kevyn at Red Carpet events and even though sometimes were literally inches from one another, I never had the nerve to say hello. One day I was on a shoot and I was working with one of my favorite assistants at that time, (who is now one of my favorite people of all time) Brian Duprey. Brian said OMG, Can you believe that Kevyn Aucoin thanked you in his new book. I looked hom right in the face and said Fuck Off, That is IMPOSSIBLE. He said Oh no, I swear he did. I ran out of that studio like it was engulfed in Raging Flames (besides Brian and myself ;) ) and literally RAN to the nearest Barnes and Noble. I can tell you to this day which one I ran to (Park and 23rd street).
I picked up the book "Making Faces" and frantically thumbed my way though the pages to the dedication page.
And, there it was....

"To all of the makeup artists, past and present, who had taught and inspired me"

My name listed with the most talented makeup artists in the world. That sentence was and still is the single most validatiing thing that has ever happened to me. In that instant I went from a insecure, unsure, insignificant, to I am here, I am valid, and If he says I am talented, then I have to start owning it myself. That sentence gave me permission to get the fuck out of my own way, so I that I might a shot to succeed.
I sent Kevyn a Huge Bouquet of White Casablanca Lilys and a Thank you Letter. He replied with a Thank you note to me.

"Dear Billy, The Beautiful Flowers made me smile and your letter made me cry. You are the only person that Ive heard from, so Thank you so much."

Best of luck always,
Love Kevyn


I can't believe it has been 10 years. It seems like yesterday and 100 years ago all at the same time since Kevyn has been gone. I miss his work. I miss that feeling of inspiration that his work made me feel. I miss the excitement and passion his work caused me to have about my craft and career. I have 2 clients that I LOVE and Love working with. Not only because they are gorgeous, Iconic women, but because they were kevyn's clients and friends, and when I work with them, I feel that feeling again. I am inspired. To this day when I work with Sharon Stone or Cindy Crawford it is surreal. And Although I have worked with both women many , many times, every time to this day, when I am booked to work with either of them, I feel challenged, and inspired.
I think to myself, I have to bring my A game. I think to myself as I am painting them, " I wonder what Kevyn would do?"....."Would he approve", and that drives me to be better.
So even now 10 Years after Kevyn left this world, he remains a teacher, a mentor, a Hero and Wizard in mine.
I am forever grateful.

Thank you Kevyn!
Thank you so much.
Love,
billy b .

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