Whew! Coming in right under the gun for March’s Vendor of the Month! Several out of state trips and some key scheduling conflicts meant I had to skip February’s VOTM, but I promise I’ll make it up with this amazing interview, TWO VOTMs in an upcoming month, and an awesome surprise at the end of this post! As a recurring disclaimer, I must stress these are real colleagues in the wedding industry and we’ve worked on real weddings and projects together. No one is being paid or applies to be chosen for this coveted spot.
So enough with the introductory chit chat and on to all the pretty work from one of my favorite makeup artists, the fabulous Andrea Carter of Andrea Carter Artistry! I met up with Andrea last month at the gorgeous Seed Studio and watched her work her magic during a real bridal makeup trial. Special thanks to Andrea’s bride Allyson – who is now a happy newlywed!!! – for allowing me to photograph the before, during, and after!
First, tell me a little about yourself outside of the wedding world. Who is Andrea Carter? What are some things you love?
I’m a writer and artist who lives in Inman Park with my husband of seven years and our two precious pups. I love interior design, remodeling (we’re currently renovating an early 1900s bungalow across the street from Krog Street Market!), history, sketching, traveling, poetry, therapy, comedy, meditation and nearly any form of creativity.
How did you get into this business? I’d love to know the story that led you to makeup and how long you’ve been in business. Do you only work on weddings?
I’m actually a Journalism graduate from the University of Georgia, so I’ve had a roundabout route in finding the career I have; I moved out to Los Angeles immediately after graduating thanks to winning a screenwriting fellowship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I returned to Atlanta a couple years later and got married – after that I worked as a tutor and teacher (kindergarten and special needs pre-K) until I was essentially discovered by a fantastic photographer (Nadia D) at a wedding I attended as a guest. She loved my makeup and asked me to collaborate with her on some photo sessions. Until then I’d always considered makeup a hobby (one I’d loved since 4th grade), but that was the first time I’d considered it as a source of income. It’s been almost six years since that meeting and I’ve been working as a makeup artist ever since.
Weddings are definitely my primary source of income, but I also absolutely love working on editorial shoots and boudoir gigs.
Take me through the process of what you do. When should brides first contact you? What happens after they’ve hired you?
Hah – I’m one of the easy vendors to deal with because the process isn’t too involved! Ideally brides get in touch about 6-9 months before their big day; I allow bookings up to 365 days in advance, but no farther than that! I draft up a contract for each bride’s specific number of services required and once they’ve paid their 50% deposit, their date’s officially reserved! Then it’s just a matter of scheduling a trial and coming up with the service timeframe on the big day.
What are some of the things a bride can do ahead of her wedding to perfect her skin and prepare it for the wedding day?
I mean, I don’t want to say “don’t stress” because if a bride’s already stressing then that advice will only stress her out MORE. Stress can definitely leave its mark on a complexion, but really – that’s exactly why I’m hired in the first place, to erase evidence of things like that. Rest and hydration are always a good plan, and vitamin E supplements don’t hurt. I’ve also got a wizard of a dermatologist whom I love to refer to brides.
Why would you recommend a bride NOT doing her own makeup?
Ah, geez. I feel like the rise of youtube makeup artistry has contributed to a much wider acceptance of the DIY route, and I want to tread pretty lightly here because of that . . . so I’ll focus on the psychological aspects as opposed to skill or technique. I definitely believe that a makeup artist can see past any bias a bride might have when it comes to her skin or features; you might fixate on the belief that your eyes are small and end up overcompensating for that somehow in makeup application – which can then broadcast the sensitivity you’re trying to mask. I also just think it’s a therapeutic choice to make; our mood and self-esteem can already hinge far too much on our appearance, and being the center of attention on a wedding day just heightens the emotions surrounding our looks. To let all of that rest in someone else’s hands – someone who has seen plenty of faces, plenty of skin types, someone who can reassure us and offer compliments with credibility – that can do all kinds of wonderful things for a bride’s outlook.
Do makeup artists have any special certifications that might set them apart from others? Wedding association(s) memberships, yearly education requirements, etc.?
A makeup artist’s training can run the gamut – self-taught, retail, courses from the smallest program to the largest, most renowned school – but really the best benchmark is experience. Takes a lot of time and faces to create a seasoned, knowledgeable artist.
What are your thoughts on the Pinterest world we live in these days? How has it helped/hurt the wedding industry and brides’ expectations of their wedding day makeup?
Honestly, I’d rather see a bride’s FB profile pic, one that makes her feel beautiful and proud of her looks, than a billion pinned images. I touched on it a little when I mentioned the psychological aspects of hiring a makeup artist (the pressure we put on our looks), but I tend to think that the more time we spend online (especially on Pinterest), the more time we’re engaged in making some form of comparison. I see a lot of makeup or hairstyling pinboards that feature incredibly idealized images that are then internalized into some wacky expectation of how PERFECT we should look on only one day in our (hopefully) long, long lives. There are a few images that are nearly universally pinned – not because they translate well onto someone’s features, but because the model featured is gorgeous to the point of being aspirational. Then makeup becomes a matter of emulating another (altered or stylized) human being instead of looking someone’s own, unique, best. I’m guilty of occasionally contouring my own nose, but the more often that happens, the more I fixate on how much I’m trying to change my features – on actually studying how and why my face isn’t an artificial ideal. That’s not a healthy focus.
What are your thoughts on scheduling a trial session on the same day as a couple’s engagement session?
Ehhhh . . . haha, that’s it. That’s my thought. Ehhh. But to be more articulate: engagement sessions can be on tight timelines. And usually brides have 8 billion things to take care of before that dusky magic hour for shooting. A long to-do list on a day that carries slightly heightened anxiety (unless you loooove being in front of the camera, it’s a little spooky to step in front of a pro’s lens) can translate into feeling distracted or hurried during your trial – blurring an important step on your way to the altar that deserves its own moment of appreciation. And who’s to say you wouldn’t like to try out a different look for your engagement shots? Instead I like to recommend scheduling trials on the same day as a dress fitting – it’s a great way to get the full picture of how you’ll look on your wedding day.
Describe the most challenging wedding you’ve had and how you handled any problems that arose during it.
I’m like a therapist – can’t violate artist-bride privilege, hah. But I’ll always advocate for a calm, happy, loving prep environment and lots of padding built into the schedule.
How many weddings do you take on in a year? Why that number (i.e. do you specifically limit the number and why)?
It’s not an exact, specific limit – in fact, part of the reason I love freelancing is the autonomy it gives me. Last year I topped out at 37 weddings and nearly lost my mind. This year I’m throttling back a little so I can focus on this major renovation of our new home. But typically I’d say I’m happiest working between 20-30 weddings a year.
If you had a “signature” that marks you’ve had a hand on a wedding, what would it be?
Glowy cheekbones. Just – just all the glowing. And I’m a fan of lashes for sure. I cater to many different tastes, but I love making people look red-carpet-ready. Especially mamas – MOBs and MOGs, oh my goodness.
What is the most important question most brides fail to ask you?
“How much espresso can we provide for you during wedding day prep?” That or, “What elements are the most important for having a happy prep experience?” The answer being TONS of natural light, the right people in the room, a roomy schedule and a good wedding day playlist.
What is one trend in wedding makeup you’re loving right now? How about one you wish would fade away already?
Wayne Goss is advocating a return to reality in makeup – no more instagram eyebrows combined with drastic contouring and cut-crease eyeshadow looks, and I’m pretty happy about it. I love dramatic makeup, but there has to be balance in a face. I’d much prefer red carpet to drag. (And drag is an absolute art, no disrespect to performers in any way – but that art deserves to be celebrated on stage, not emulated on the street.) Having said all that, though, I SERIOUSLY don’t want anyone thinking I judge everyone’s makeup – if it makes you happy, if you wear it with confidence, if you don’t denigrate others for choosing a different style, then oh my goodness I probably adore you. I just don’t want girls growing up thinking that in order to be beautiful they have to resort to utterly altering all their features, that’s all.
If you could be the makeup artist for any celebrity wedding, past or present, married or not, who would it be and why?
It’s weird, really weird, but the history nerd in me is screaming Anne Boleyn’s marriage to Henry VIII. And her subsequent coronation. He went all out for those celebrations. When you’re the head of the church as well as head of state, you can do some lavish things. And even though she wasn’t considered beautiful, everyone agreed she had stunning eyes. I wouldn’t want to use lead face paint, gossip about his ex or, y’know, play a part in the most major religious schism in modern history, but. Hampton Court Palace, cloth of gold and cochineal beetle lip gloss!
Who is someone you look up to in this industry?
Kevyn Aucoin had such a clear voice, and he changed lives when he published Making Faces in 1999. I can’t imagine how many careers were forged thanks to his willingness to share his skill and his spirit. By highlighting the transformative aspects of makeup while still emphasizing natural beauty he did so much for so many in his entirely-too-short time here on earth. And aside from being a genius, he was hilarious. He was buddies with Amy Sedaris. Adore.
Anything else you’d like couples to know about you, your business, or makeup artistry in general?
Really I just want to make a confession. I’m terrible with email. I WILL get back to you, but it isn’t instant. If you can handle that, you’ll love me. And more seriously, because this plays on my mind a lot as someone who makes a living off of aesthetics:
We talk too much about the way we look. We care too much about the way we look. We’re so much more than the way we look.
Please be kind to yourself. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes that’s tough, but don’t be dissuaded. If you need practice, then be kind to everyone you meet. Compassion breeds compassion, and that’s what we all need most.