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How Charleen Martinez Went from Total Tomboy to FX Master and Brow Artist

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Makeup artist Charleen Martinez has a pretty interesting life coach: Eleanor Roosevelt. “Her views on growth keep me inspired and willing to take chances. She makes me want to be a better human,” says the 26-year-old of the former First Lady, politician, and human rights activist. It seems Martinez is following in her idol’s footsteps, from her time as vice president of her student body and captain of the softball team to today, when she’s focused on building an already-robust portfolio.

“I’ve always been a headstrong woman. Being ambitious is just who I am,” she says. Right after high school, when she was attending community college and working at a coffee shop in California’s San Fernando Valley, where she grew up, Martinez decided to switch things up. Embarking on an entirely new career, she enrolled at the Elegance International School of Professional Makeup in Hollywood.

“The truth is I never wore makeup growing up—I was a total tomboy. I was more interested in special FX when I first decided to pursue this path,” she admits. Not long after enrolling, a teacher recognized the budding artist’s abilities and referred her to Larry Bones, the key makeup artist for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. She contacted him right away, and brought him some work to look over, and was hired on the spot—three weeks before graduating.

Seven years later, Martinez has a wide range of experience under her belt, having worked on the horror circuit, with celebrity clients at Barneys, and on set with members of Guns N’ Roses. Today, she’s a licensed aesthetician working as a staff brow artist at Kelley Baker Brows in Venice, California.

“I’ve always had a fear of failure, of being average,” Martinez says of her perfectionist nature. “But I’ve also had a vision of being one of the best, and being able to use my talent to spread inspiration. For me, I’m not even close to that point yet.” Read on to learn about Martinez’s most memorable career highlights, her favorite Instagram feeds, and the trend she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.

What are some of your portfolio highlights?

“Barneys New York of Beverly Hills hired me for beauty retail. At 21, I was the youngest on the floor. It was definitely a highlight for me. I recommended prime products to Drew Barrymore and her key artist—that was awesome. In addition to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, I also worked at Six Flags Fright Fest with [FX artist] Scott Ramp. Later I worked with Matt Sorum of Guns N’ Roses on his iTunes app with Mahalo Productions. Lastly, meeting my girl Kelley Baker of Kelley Baker Brows, who I now work for as an artist. I love her.”

How do you find your clients?

“Network, network, network! I can’t stress it enough to young artists. Put your name on everything and anything and sign-up on sites like Beautylish, Facebook, YouTube, Yelp, Model Mayhem, and Instagram.”

What was the first makeup product you bought?

“Clear mascara. I was about 14. I still use it as a brow setting product.”

What trends are you loving?

“I’m loving the retro orange-undertone lip shades right now. My favorite is mixing NYX Lipstick in Hippie Chic with MAC Lipstick in Sensation. Of course, I’m into bold brows that are trending; those should always be a necessity.

Any look wouldn’t be caught dead in?

“The ‘ombre brow,’ yikes!”

Who are your biggest makeup idols?

Rick Baker and Maurice Stein for FX and Scott Barnes for beauty makeup.”

What other creative interests do you have outside of makeup?

“I also love to dabble in graphic design, collage art, and music.”

What’s your favorite decade of makeup?

“I love love love the ’50s. I’m all about the flawless skin, full brow, flirty lashes, and perfect red lip.”

What are you all-time favorite products?

“My all-time favorite is an eyelash curler; it makes all the difference. My everyday products are as follows: for brows: Kelley Baker Brows in Blonde; for face: Cinema Secrets Ultimate Foundation 5-in-1 PRO Palette in #3 and its Setting Powder in Summer Sand; for lashes, Maybelline Mascara and Ardell Ja’maal Buster Lashes; for cheeks: MAC Powder Blush in Blunt; and for lips: Wet ‘n’ Wild Lipstick in Bare It All with Sweetie Pie Lip Gloss.”

Who do you follow online?

“I mostly follow people on Instagram. Some favorites: Samer Khouzami (@samerkhouzami), Haley Buckner (@haleybuckner), Kelley Dawn Baker (@kelleybakerbrows), Tinel Carapia (@say_tinela), Vanessa Ceballos (@vcfacebeauty), and Anthony Andrews (@anthonyandrewsbhbrows).”