Thursday, July 3, 2014

Interview with Chris Milone on How to Apply the Top 5 Ingredients

When thinking this week on who I would want to interview when considering someone who embodies and practices all the key ingredients to developing an enriched career in our industry, there were a few names that came to mind.  But there was only one person who I have seen do it not only in a short amount of time, but with such positive energetic commitment and grace.   
I met Chris Milone when he had just graduated from MUD, and he was on my team for my first full blown production of Cirque du Maquillage: Temptu’s 25th Anniversary Party in 2005.  He was super sweet, reserved, but ridiculously talented and authentic. Since then I have asked him to join me for countless projects like Marc Jacobs, Fashion Week, my Monster Mash Salon, and even took him with me to work with Gaga. He is someone I always can count on whether there is a big budget or small budget.  He is one of the most unassuming, humble makeup artists I know, and with the credentials he has built he has the right to brag loudly, but doesn’t. Chris has gone on tour with Madonna, done fashion week with Dick Paige, worked on popular TV shows such as The Americans , was head of department for movies starring Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgard...and that is just a few of the great accomplishments. I asked him to answer some of my questions because he does in fact do a lot of work to be where he is, while being married to a beautiful partner, owning a house, and having a blast.
Chris Milone
Make Up Artist
New York City

Age: 32
Current years working in the industry: 13+ Chris, you are one of the few artists I can count on to hire for ANY job.  You are proficient in beauty, airbrush, special fx, and body art.  How important do you think it is to be as well rounded as you in our industry? 

As someone who is so passionate about makeup, I wanted to learn all I could. I also have an art background so a lot of it came to me very easily. But I look at it this way: the more you know how to do, the more jobs you can do, and the more you get hired. Now does this scenario work for everyone? Absolutely not! If you are going to do it all you have to be GREAT at it all. That said you should learn as much as you can about all mediums, which can help in other aspects of your work: learning FX can help you see beauty makeup in a different way, learning body paint will introduce you to new products you can then work into a beauty or FX makeup. It goes on and on.

You are a graduate of a pretty expensive makeup school.  In your opinion how important is it to continue your education as a makeup artist? If someone couldn't afford a big makeup school what are other alternatives? Do you continue your education? 

Education is important BUT! You MUST research! Know who you are being taught by, are they/have they worked in the field which you want to work in? I have mixed feeling about makeup schools. I think for someone who knows nothing and needs to know the basics then I feel it is necessary. If you want to learn FX it is absolutely necessary to learn from someone else, you can learn on your own from books and videos, but as visual artists we need to see it done in person and how to remove it properly in person. If you already have a grasp of how to do makeup maybe makeup school isn’t for you, maybe a few seminars or workshops would be more beneficial. There is tons of education out there - some of it great, some not so great. The key: do your research. Know who you are learning from. And you should constantly educate yourself; technology is constantly changing as are the products we use on a daily basis, you must keep up to date on the latest techniques. The day you stop educating yourself should be the day you throw in the towel. I am always learning new things everyday.

How frequently do you test and is that something you consider important even after you have built a decent resume? 

You should never stop testing, just as you build a better resume and portfolio you can become more selective with your test shoots. And always “TEST UP”. Test with better people and teams every time. Make the test work for you; everyone should walk away from a test happy with something usable for their portfolio. If a test will not benefit you or the direction your port is going, just say no or ask for a rate.

Being someone who works in film AND fashion, how important a part do you think that research and knowing references plays when working as an artist? 

SUPER important. YOU MUST research and research some more. You can be on a job and they will throw references at you. Examples of some I have gotten: Jerri hall, Guy Bourdin, Carol lombard .. you need to be able to say "got it, that’s easy, done"…and emulate that look . We always look to the past for inspiration so research the past, people , artist, models, celebrities, photographers.

As I have mentioned before you are one of the most modest, and humble people I know.  It doesn’t matter what celebrity you work with, or what high profile job you do, you would never know because you are so giving in your craft, and open to share your knowledge with less experienced artists.  Not to mention working with you is like a breeze because of your flexible nature.  Yet you have stood your ground on many occasions to get where you are. What would you say to artists about the line between being humble and being assertive in this industry? How do you balance the two, and how important is it? 

Yes! I get that a lot. I haven’t really thought about it. Humility is always a great virtue, though I catch myself sometimes name dropping but very rare, and it’s usually provoked. I’d say you should be humble about your body of work - I hate talking about myself - but assertive about the conditions of your work. By that I mean your rates, the hours you work, the working conditions (when, where, what, why, who). Also know when to speak up on a job. When you know deep down what they are asking won’t work, say so, but know how to express your ideas calmly so they understand fully why it won’t work. We are the experts and they hired us for our expertise, show them you know what you are talking about. Again, this is where knowing your references comes into play. People always tell me I have such a calming demeanor on set, which I bet has gotten me hired more times than my actual work.

Why in your opinion is important to cultivate relationships in this industry, and what is your philosophy around that? Can you share a story? 

This is a competitive industry, so they say. I am not in the business of competing, I hope we all make it. You get the jobs the universe gives you, if I am up for a the same job as a friend I’d probably talk them up instead of me, HA. But the relationships you build as you grow should be lasting ones, that goes for photographers, stylists, hair stylists...a lot of work you get will be from referrals from your peers. Its a word of mouth industry. Sadly when you do bad word travels quickly so to quote mother RU “ Dont’ F*** it up !” . We all have to start somewhere, and the relationships you build when you are starting out will benefit you in your future. Patrick Demarchelier, wasn’t always Patrick Demarchelier. And who knows the photographer you worked with last week in 10 years maybe be the next big thing, so it is important to keep on the radars of the the good ones and the ones climbing the ladder just like you. I have countless stories I can share about opportunities I have been given from the relationships I have made. I got the call to tour with Madonna from a hairstylist I worked with in the past on music videos, who was referred to me by a photographer I worked with on numerous shoots, so you never know!!! Work hard and be nice to people and you will build lasting relationships that will refer you for work!

I know just like me, even though you have accomplished what you have, you are far from your “ceiling” of goals. What is next for you, personally or career-wise? 

There are a few things I have yet to check off my list, though when I look back I am in awe of what I have already accomplished, and am so grateful for. And all without an agent! I have yet to do Paris and Milan fashion weeks. An award would be awesome...Emmy, Oscar, we’ll see.

Is there anything else that you would like to add that you think would benefit any makeup artist in enriching their position in the industry? 

Keep it simple. It’s only makeup, it comes off, don’t stress too much about it. There will be pressure and stress, learn to turn that into creative energy. Do great work always, on the high profile jobs and on the jobs you don’t care about, every job leads to the next. Peace and love.

Chris applying final touches to my favorite Alexander Skarsgard on the the set of "What Maisie Knew".

1 comment:

  1. Amazing work and a very inspiring interview. I am so glad I have found rhis blog ��