Spotlight on Rae Morris: Four Times Australian Makeup Artist of the Year
Spanning over 25 years, Rae Morris is one of the most influential makeup artists in the world. Four times Australian Makeup Artist of the Year, and the longest-serving makeup director for L’Oreal Paris, Rae's work has graced the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, illuminating the faces of Naomi Campbell and Cate Blanchett. A go-with-the-flow personality, Rae shares her tips on succeeding in this hugely competitive industry.
How did you get into the world of makeup?
I fell into makeup… well not literally, although I have done that too! I was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, and actually started out as a hairdresser, running my own salon at 19 years of age. It was through that profession that I found myself at the ‘Model of the World’ pageant in Istanbul in 1993. I was attending to a model’s hair whilst on the other side of the room, Naomi Campbell (one of the judges) was having her makeup done. Suddenly, there was a flurry of angry voices and her makeup artist headed for the door. In the stunned silence that followed, Naomi glared around the room and as fate would have it her gaze fell on me.
“Fix my lips”, she said.
I looked at her mouth, then at the lip gloss on the bench, and with a wave of unwarranted confidence thought ‘how hard can it be?!’.
I picked up the lip gloss and got to work, and as I did the door burst open and whole room erupted in a blaze of flashlights… the paparazzi had arrived. Next thing I knew, my picture was plastered all over the tabloids and my makeup career had officially begun.
Since then a LOT has happened. I returned to Australia and was fortunate enough to be trained by the legendary makeup artist Richard Sharah. With his encouragement, I packed my bags and moved to Sydney. Since then I have had the privilege of travelling the world and working with some of the biggest names not only in fashion, but on the planet! From fashion magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie-Claire, to global superstars like P!nk, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Biel, Kylie Minogue, Kelly Roland, and Hugh Jackman. I’ve even worked with supermodels such as Miranda Kerr and Catherine McNeil.
Even with all this success, my main focus is still fashion. As the technical director for L’Oreal Paris (2003-2013) I’ve worked with Australia’s key fashion designers and directed more than 100 shows for L’Oreal Paris.
I am still so passionate about makeup, not just the product and the art but what it can do for your confidence and in turn how your confidence can literally change your life. If I hadn’t had the confidence to pick up that lip gloss in Istanbul where would I be today? With confidence where could you be tomorrow? I know it sounds fanciful, but I have honestly seen makeup make that much of a difference. Even if you just feel better about yourself that’s more than enough.
How important is ongoing education for business owners?
Education is vital, but it’s more important to be picky about where and who you learn from.
Find a makeup artist that inspires you and train on the job. Be careful about who you choose, it has to be someone who rocks your world. Ask them for private lessons and learn to do makeup on a wide variety of faces, not just your own.
You can never ‘overtrain’. Don’t do long courses unless you need to learn discipline. The thing is, you can’t teach taste.
Educate yourself through practice. Take before and after shots, and perfect it time and time again. Practicing on yourself you don’t get the skill. I only ever have had 24 hours of training. I have learned on the job. You have to be dedicated to the craft.
“Never stop learning.”
What are your top tips for up and coming makeup artists?
- A good makeup artist knows when to put the brush down. It is as much about knowing what to do, as knowing what not to do. Before and after photos are a great way to track your progress, and truly see the difference you’ve made on a face.
- The best artists are the slowest.
- Don’t do it for the money, it has to come from passion.
- Treat your skill like a singer’s voice; get the vocals right, the track, the image.
What are some of your proudest moments throughout your career?
One of my proudest moments is when Kelly Rowland asked for my signature. I will never forget working and touring with P!nk. I’ve been in the Hall of Fame twice.
Being dyslexic, one of my proudest achievements has been being the number one beauty bookseller in Australia — that makes me smile every day.
My magnetic brush range has also been considered the best in the world by many distinguished makeup artists. This too is an incredible feeling. Vogue China named them in their top two beauty products, and they have been a hit with celebrities like Lady Gaga and Dita Von Teese.
Can you plan for such success?
I made makeup brushes for myself, my friends and family. I could never have planned for these brushes to become so popular. My husband always says, if you’ve got nothing to lose, then go for it. Don’t expect an outcome. Just do it. What would you do, or attempt to do, if you knew you couldn’t fail?
How does it feel being four times Australian Makeup Artist of the Year?
I still don’t think I am ready to be called a ‘makeup artist’. I have a lot of self-doubts, but I am lucky that people just like what I do. I failed at school, I was a total tomboy, never a girly girl, and I trained as a hairdresser. I’m now working in China and America, and soon am going to be selling my brushes in world-class stores. I can’t really believe it!
What’s next for you?
I have been asked to do books for China and India. I got a callback from the Ellen Show. I do a bit of everything. If new plans don’t work out, I just carry on. I am so happy with what I am doing!