Make-up artist Alex Box showcases ground-breaking talent with a strong alternative voice. Since her degree show at the Chelsea College of Art where she exhibited installation art exploring the relationship between the body and the environment and later explored make-up’s relationship with art, science, nature and the magical. She has gone on to become one of the most influential make-up artists of our time. She creates looks for designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, McQ, Peter Jensen and Gareth Pugh. She was also the lead artist at last year’s Fashion Rocks event and her work has featured around the globe in iconic fashion publication Vogue. Here she gives Flavour an insight into her world.
How did you get into the industry?
After studying for 5 years I graduated and started to make my work and have exhibitions, my work was complicated and cost money to make, and I needed to fund my projects. I started to work part time in Shu Uemura in Harvey Nichols makeup department to earn that money, my installation art work was already taking shape as art that was based in iconic advertising imagery and the make up and the art started to blur. An artist friend introduced me to a fashion designer who was known to push boundaries and that was my first nudge towards what I do now.
When was your first big break?
I.D magazine ran an article on me saying I was the one to watch in avant guarde makeup, and that they hadn’t seen anything like what I was doing. This was great because for years every one told me to calm my makeup down and that I wouldn’t get anywhere if I didn’t change my ideas, they backed me up!
Do you have a style of work?
I think the idea of styles comes more from when other people try to describe your work and need to say ‘oh it’s like…..’I don’t feel I have a style only in as much as it feels so much like painting with passion and from my heart.
Are there any occupational hazards?
Extremely heavy kits!!! Mine is a beast and has toppled me into the road and pulled my back out many times!
Which picture do you feel primarily represents you’re most satisfying work to date?
One of the ones in my present book Alex Box by Rankin…its black and white full face and body pattern, it took 8 hours , the image is so beautiful and haunting and I have never seen anything look like that before. Like all the other makeup’s I’ve done I know I will never get to repeat exactly the same thing again, I love that, each one unique.
What guidance can you provide when getting started in the make-up industry?
The advice I was given; ‘It’s a stayers race’…meaning you have to hang on in, even when you feel like the end of the world is round the corner, the same person told me it takes at least 7 years work to get really noticed and she was absolutely right!.It’s an extremely competitive industry. Also being in the right place really helps for example be around where it is you would like to be, so assisting existing people you admire or working in that environment even if it just means being able to watch .
Fast track courses are a great way to obtain an insight into the make-up industry, fine tune fashion/photographic techniques or simply brush up on your existing skills. On the contrary if you want to go into film and theater, a longer term investment is desirable to provide precision skills in charter make-up
There are numerous courses available in London, here are just a few
Words by Lea James
Imagery from Illamasqua’s AW09 Collection – Dystopia