New York based makeup artist Tawni Michelle has been in the industry for “20 years now” and is well on her way to launching her own makeup line. Beginning as a singer and dancer in musical theatre, she developed her makeup skills stating “I learned how to do it on myself” throughout her performance career. Starting her makeup journey at 18, she went on to study a 3-month course at The Couture School of Makeup before being introduced to beauty retail. She was scouted by a leading cosmetics company who “loved” her makeup and began working on the counter. After juggling the two roles for a while Tawni found that auditioning for performances became “harder and harder to handle”, eventually deciding to become a full time freelance makeup artist. Although Tawni is still a singer and dancer, she hopes one day she will “return to the stage and work with makeup at the same time.”
Entering the freelance world was where Tawni’s craft made a breakthrough, unlike in the retail industry where “the company really doesn’t care about your artistry”. Her first challenge to face as a newly freelancer came in the form of New York Fashion Week shows. “I wanted to be backstage so bad and work on a makeup team. After finally meeting friends of friends and basically sneaking my way backstage, I was able to work my way up to being a key artist.” She has now produced makeup looks for several New York Fashion Week shows, working amongst “some amazing designers”. As a Key Artist managing a whole team backstage in such a hectic environment must be daunting. Tawni enjoys the challenge though, loving “the fast paced” nature of catwalk shows and the exciting chances to “meet top models and celebrities.” Working in fashion and film enabled her creativity to finally be “immortalised”, the moto throughout her career being “creating drama all over your face.” The idea behind this is the fact when applying makeup, you are always “enhancing different parts of yourself”, so “no matter how much makeup is on the face there is always a hint of drama.”
Given her performing arts experience, Tawni Michelle finds herself particularly drawn to “avant-garde, fantasy and over the top” makeup, executing these “dramatic looks” whenever she can. Horror makeup is an interesting genre that Tawni loves to dive into. During Halloween, she likes to do a makeup look called “sexy scary” booking a gorgeous model and making her into a zombie, whilst still maintaining elements of beauty within the makeup such as a “smokey eye or a juicy red lip”. In her personal life, Tawni is passionate about vintage fashion and makeup from the 1940’s and 1950’s considering herself as an “ultra-femme woman” Tawni’s style is interesting and fresh bringing a past reflection to the modern day whilst still keeping her own edge.
I was intrigued to see that Tawni Michelle will be bringing out two eyeshadow palettes for her makeup line Dramatizon. They will feature neutral and bright colours as it was important for her to “be inclusive to as many people as possible”. The neutral toned palette is for everyday use as you can do both a “subtle and a smoky dramatic look”. The “fearless and luxurious colourful palette” is set to draw in makeup artists and enthusiasts. Tawni decided to start with eyeshadows, because “people are drawn to colour; a large percentage of women will either do their eyes or lips”, therefore the natural progression from eyeshadows for Dramatizon will be some “amazing” lipsticks. Tawni’s new brand moto is “when you use Dramatizon eyeshadow you are turning the drama on!”
I am really inspired by Tawni’s story through the journey she went on to become such a successful makeup artist. I relate to her as I myself am still trying to find a balance between my acting and new-found love of makeup, but Tawni shows you can take past creative influences and build unique makeup styles all on your own. It’s so important as a freelance artist to be your own brand and have the confidence to put yourself out there.
Words By Lily Hollingworth