Hidden behind the scenes in both print and on the runway is someone whose work is often the most visible or striking art in the fashion scene: The Makeup Artist. Anyone who can utilize the human body as a canvas well, much like a tattoo artist, is a remarkable person. Their art is temporary, save for photographical record; it must be a bittersweet pain that any artist would fear. But make up artists like Stacy Leigh, owner and proprietress of Charm City Makeup, press on with their creativity. Through strategic alliances with photographers, models, hair stylists and designers, Stacy is actively increasing her artistic presence and reputation. Baltimore born and raised, Leigh notes that there is no place like it. “There is so much inspiration and talent in this small city! – I love to travel, but Baltimore will always be my home.”
Leigh began her artistic career at an early age as a painter and an actress. Realizing early on that acting was just a hobby and not something she wanted to pursue as a career, Leigh looked for ways to assist artistically with her local college theater’s productions. Another actress helped with all the theater’s makeup needs and as a painter, Leigh says, “I took great interest in painting faces!” After discovering that Von Lee in Pikesville, MD offered makeup licensing, Leigh began to take makeup art seriously as a viable career path. At her teacher’s recommendation, the developing makeup artist took complimentary art classes that would elucidate color technique and human bone structure, expanding understanding of the canvas of skin. Leigh was hungry for knowledge, and with a burning desire to hone her skills; she studied sculpture as well as a Special FX course at Westmoore Academy in Burbank, California. Always looking for new techniques and practices in her realm of art, Leigh believes that the learning process is never complete.
Leigh spent some time managing a makeup store, but felt like she was leaving her creative outlet behind being in the retail world. She studied business in college as well. Combining the knowledge she gained in school with her creativity, Charm City Makeup was born. Leigh’s company was founded on the desire to go above and beyond beauty makeup. “We offer fashion-forward, innovative ideas molded to our clients’ brand to help market a product, to stand out in pictures or on the runway,” explains Leigh. Charm City Makeup is all about the imagination.
Published many times over, Leigh’s work can be seen in local print such as Harford’s Heart and Harford style. Dana Hoiles, a client of Charm City Makeup, has marketing materials at the shop in Camden Yards and Greetings and Readings where Hoiles’ sports jewelry line is sold.
Leigh acknowledges the value of the individual and Charm City Makeup echoes that sentiment, making sure to evaluate the independent needs of each client and come to an understanding of what is expected for any given project. The majority of clients tend to be companies selling a product and Leigh will work side by side with stylists, photographers and models to showcase the product to the customer’s satisfaction. Sometimes the products are the clients themselves, such as a public figure who would require Charm City Makeup’s services for public appearances or other engagements. Leigh also provides makeup for private clients, people who want makeup for a specific occasion or purpose, like dances or bridal needs. “Every client’s experience is different and special attention is provided to all.”
Realizing that charity work is important, giving back to the art community by volunteering is exceptionally important to Leigh. The business is in the early stages of development and is set up with much room to grow. “My main goal is to make a name for my brand, to have my work seen as much as possible,” says Leigh. “I’d love to be seen as a great asset to the fashion industry, though theatre will always be my first love and I have plans to make that a BIG part of my future as well.”
To Leigh, the best part of the business is the stories. Everyone has a story to tell, and interacting with the clients and getting to know them is a highly important part of the job. Doing makeup for a family shooting portraits to include a new addition to the family, or a woman pampering herself after a serious life event, Leigh is always touched by the tales she hears. “A smile captured as a memory is sure to never fade. I’m hired to make these clients look good and all in all, to make them feel good. I have wiped away tears of joy from faces of women I’ve just met! It’s hard to compare because each story is as beautiful as the next.” The only downfall of being a makeup artist, Leigh explains, is having to fight for respect, to be taken seriously. “There are people who believe that my job is easy, that anyone could do it.” Artists are often asked to work for little or no compensation. Artists need to know and stand up for their worth. “This isn’t a hobby of mine, it’s my career, how I make a living,” says Leigh.