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In conversation with make up artist Vanessa Icareg

In conversation with make up artist Vanessa Icareg

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Daring, powerful and super talented, Vanessa Icareg is a Milan-based make up artist. During Art School, a random advertisement in the subway set her on the path of what seems more of a vocation than just a job, as Vanessa conceives make up as a creative mean of expression, an evocative way to reinterpret her inspiration, a form of art.

Vanessa started her career in theatrical make up and only afterwards she landed in the fashion world, after having internalized an important lesson: make up is not really about applying eyeshadows in the correct way or being able to choose the right foundation for your skin tone. It’s actually more about telling a compelling story, building a character that’s believable, stirring up emotions, sharing new perspectives on the world.

If you have a look at her body of work, you’ll be instantly transported in the vivid postcards she paints across the faces of her models, where you can almost feel the crispy air of the mountains or the salty freshness of the sea water. In her portfolio you won’t find just nature: as Vanessa explains, inspiration can come from art, cinema or anywhere really.

Below, Vanessa Icareg talks with Marika Zaramella, Eesome Magazine’s beauty editor, about what make-up means to her and creating during the quarantine: 

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left & right image shot by @Zoe Natale Mannella
center image shot by @Szilveszter Makó

Tell us about how and when you got into make up. My first approach to make up took place when I was a child. I liked to transform my dolls and I would also take old magazines that my mom wanted to throw away to change the make up of the models in the pages by drawing on them. Many years later, in a completely random way, I bumped into an advertising in the subway of a theatrical make up and hairstyling course. It was during my last year of artistic high school and I didn’t know what I would have done next, but that advertisement gradually insinuated itself into my head and everything started from there.

From your works we can see an inclination for face and body painting. What kind of relationship do you have with these types of make up and more generally what does make up mean to you? Make up for me is like a performance and it can work both as a mask and as a mean of revealing. It is something ambivalent according to the use you want to make of it: to conceal or to communicate something about yourself.

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images shot by @Szilveszter Makó

Do you keep up with trends? Where do you get your inspiration from? I like what’s contemporary but I also have a strong link to the past: I get inspired from both, trying to create something timeless. My inspiration can come from a frame of a movie, from nature, it can be found in some naïf drawing (I am a great lover of Art Brut).

I don’t care much about following the latest trends, even though they certainly end up influencing me in some way. I love following my colleagues’ work and the thousands images I see every day definitely take root somewhere in my head.

Can you tell us about your most memorable moment as a make up artist as well as a moment that taught you a lot? Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the artistic duo Fecal Matter for a magazine cover. Being two very well-defined characters with their own strong aesthetic, it was really a challenge to try to create make up for them. I had to reflect their style while still preserving my vision. I am very happy with the result, it was certainly an experience that gave me a lot.

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images shot by @Szilveszter Makó

There’s no make up without contact. How has your job been affected by this “contactless” moment? Not having the possibility to get in touch with other people, I started to connect more with myself, turning into my own “model”.

How are you artistically living this quarantine situation?  Do you feel less inspired or are you getting creative ideas out of it? I am alone during this quarantine and, since day one, it has been vital for me to keep busy, so, as I was saying before, for the very first time in years doing this job I started to do make up on my own body! It has truly been a discovery for me: I thought my face wasn’t suitable for particular make up and instead I’m having so much fun and experimenting a lot!

How do you stay productive during this time? In this period I am very active on social media, as I often publish make up looks that I do on myself. I am doing some make up live-streams as well. A few people, who I am very thankful to, have given me a way and a space to talk about me and my work. In a way, this gave me the opportunity to introduce myself to a much wider audience.

models girls make up colors fashion editorials vanessa icareg

left & right image shot by @Szilveszter Makó
center image shot by @Valerio Nico

How do you imagine make up in the future and what are your thoughts on digital make up? What comes to my mind is a scene from the movie “The Fifth Element” where a very cool Milla Jovovich finds this Chanel tool that “shoots” make up in her face.

I find digital make up very fascinating, even if I am very attached to the artisan-like, manual skills of us make up artists. That is something I hope will never be really replaced.

Three make up artists that inspire you right now? Isamaya Ffrench, Lucy Bridge, Thomas de Kluyver, Madroni Redclock and many others. There are really too many talents to reference.

Your advice for younger generations of make up artists and creatives? My advice would be to arm yourself with a lot of patience. It’s a beautiful job but, especially in the beginning, you have to invest a lot in terms of energy, drive and time. And, above all, don’t be afraid to dare!

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left image shot by @Szilveszter Makó
right image shot by @Marco Imperatore

Text by Francesca Martorelli
Interview by Marika Zaramella