Gary Cockerill is one of the UK’s most respected, creative and versatile make-up artists of his generation.
Recently, I was lucky enough to work with Gary on an event promoting his new Pro Lashes. What’s infectious about Gary, is his passion for what he does best; making women look incredible and more importantly confident, simply by applying makeup. His creativity and vision are inspiring and with his star-studded career, he is refreshingly grounded. Here, Gary talks about his love for his job, how it all began and what this year has in store for him….
How did it all begin?
My career in makeup was really an accident. I never went to makeup school. I’m self-taught. I worked down a coal mine when I left school but was always very artistic at school. I moved to London with the money I’d saved from working down the mines in Yorkshire and tried to make my dreams of being an artist come true. I loved illustration and tried everything to get a job doing what I loved. However, I had no experience so it was very hard. One day I was walking by a shop window and I saw an advert for painting mannequins. I applied for it thinking I had nothing to lose and got the job. After a few months of painting their faces, I knew I had a real talent for making a woman’s face look beautiful and decided to try it on real women, so that’s what I did.
Where do you draw inspiration from when creating a look?
I draw inspiration from so many things. I love women so I am constantly inspired by everyone I work with and have worked with some amazing people. When creating a look, I listen to my client and draw from life and what’s happening out there. I experiment with colour and tone and push the boundaries to create a look that makes my client feel as fantastic and confident as possible. Often creating my own trend in the process. Experimenting is the key.
What’s the most exciting experience you’ve had as a MUA?
I have had so many amazing moments in my career from working with Hollywood A – listers like Eva Longoria and Reese Witherspoon to sports icons like David Beckham at the opening games of the Olympics. Also, actors and actresses like Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen. My career has spanned 20 years, so I have worked with some pretty wonderful people. Also, I do get great pleasure from working with people who have maybe never had their makeup done before and seeing the joy on their faces when they look in the mirror after and seeing the confidence it gives them.
Do you prefer creating editorial or more wearable looks?
I love creating both editorial looks and wearable looks. It’s really important to make an editorial look accessible to everyone. Even if you borrow a lip colour or eye colour and make it look great in real life. I love doing edgy creative shoots. It’s what it’s all about. I never get bored and think the day you do, It’s time to give up.
How do you prepare the skin before you apply make up?
I prepare skin before makeup by making good of everything before I apply a foundation. Making sure the skin is as hydrated as possible. The area is clean and eyebrows are shaped, framing the face in the correct way. I use primers and make sure I’m on the same page as my client so we can create the best look possible.
If you could give any advice to a budding MUA, what would it be?
My advice to any budding Makeup Artist is if you have a dream: Never give up. There is enough room in the world for everyone and go for it. Don’t give up. Practice makes perfect and experimenting and vision is a must.
What products could you not be without?
I love so many products. Loving Armani foundations right now and of course, my Pro Lashes…
Is there anybody in the industry you admire?
I really admire Pat McGrath. She’s so talented and a visionary. I met her and she’s so nice. I also loved Kevin Aucoin. I think our styles are very similar. He could really make a woman look so beautiful. Billy B, too. I love his diversity and style.
What’s your top tip when applying foundation?
When I apply foundation, I always prime first and then usually use 2 to 3 different tones. I contour with foundation to create a multi dimensional face. I always match up to the skin tone first and then go 2 to 3 shades lighter under the eyes and any areas I want to bring forward on the face. I merge this with the foundation I matched to the skin tone; this creates a flawless finish. I powder and continue to contour with highlighters to accentuate and lift an area and then a matte bronzer to promote any areas that need to recede.
Your lashes are amazing, what makes them different to others out there?
I think my Pro Lashes really are the best out there. They are made from natural hair and are all on invisible strips for really easy application. Most lashes are made from plastic and are hard to apply and look so fake. My Pro Lashes come in double packs containing two sets. One for day and one for evening; Daytime to Playtime! They come in 16 different styles for every eye shape. The feedback has been amazing and I’m going to be doing several new styles later in the year. Have a look online at garycockerill.com to see them in more detail.
Is there anyone’s make you’d love to do?
I would love to work with Madonna. I admire her strength and endurance and I think I could create a look or two for her!
What does this year have in store for you?
This year is a big year for me. I’m working on so many more products. With a full makeup range out towards the end of the year, I also have Beauty Within, a new range I’m working on in conjunction with NRG fuel, the leading sports supplements in the UK. It’s a line of multi nutrients for the hair, nails and skin, helping to promote collagen and boost vitamins to help strengthen our bones and boost our bodies. I’ve just released the first product for women and have several more coming soon at http://www.nrgfuel.co.uk. I think it’s just as important to look after ourselves, so felt like this was the right thing to do for me. I will also continue to do my session work and work very closely with lots of celebrities. I love my job, I’m so lucky. I get to meet the most amazing people, travel the world and do what I love to do the most. Making people look the best they can and make them feel special and confident inside.