Daniel Martin Proves Why Club Kids Are The Best Makeup Artists

"As a makeup artist, one’s truth is the skill and artistry of their work and job."

Looking for a job? The beauty industry couldn’t be better. Whether you’re a YouTube creator or a Sephora employee, the idea of “starting from the bottom” has never seemed so glamorous and there’s something for just about everyone. All it takes is a bit of makeup savvy and Instagram prowess to bolster one’s presence, and before you know it — you’re the CEO of your own brand.

On the contrary, however — as there is in fashion — not everyone cares about banking on beauty. And, at least within the sweet-spot of editorial and celebrity makeup artists, there lies a tier of people who still do it for the thrill. Intro: Daniel Martin, makeup artist to Olivia Palermo and former club kid (more on that later). Though Martin was born in the States, he grew up the child of a father who worked for the government, which meant he’d live in South America until he was 11-years old before moving back to the U.S. His fascination with beauty began at Pike Place Market in Seattle, where he digested beauty editorials of The Face, Paper, i-D, and more.

He’d eventually move to New York and take inspiration from club kids. His next job with Aveda would lead him to Pat McGrath, then came the runway gigs, and now, Martin is a Dior brand ambassador and Honest Beauty’s chief color consultant. In addition to Palermo, he works with Meghan Markle (the artist did her makeup for her historic wedding to Prince Harry), Elisabeth Moss, Gemma Chan, Jessica Biel, Billie Lourd, and more.

So what do you ask the man who does it all then? We sat down with Martin to discuss his illustrious career, plus what — out of everything he’s learned along the way — is his #1 makeup tip. (Hint: It’s actually pretty easy.)

Photo: Courtesy of The Wall Group.

Tell us about yourself and your upbringing. Where are you from? Any early memories of makeup and/or Beauty?
My father worked in government so we moved around as a kid. I grew up in Central America, Asia, and then back in the states. My grandmother’s French and never left the house without lipstick on. My fascination with makeup definitely was inspired by her.

How did you get your start in Beauty? What was your breakthrough moment into the industry?
I started at a MAC counter at Nordstrom in Seattle in the early ‘90s. I honed my craft working at an Aveda Concept salon after that. I would say my break and introduction into the business was assisting Pat McGrath in the beginning of my career in New York.

What inspires you? What’s on your moodboard? Feel free to list specific art, film, fashion, photography, literature, or any type of references — in addition to more broader themes/trends/ideas.
I fell in love with fashion from being a club kid in the late ‘80s early ‘90s, so anything from that time period: Azzedine Alaïa, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nick Knight, Herb Ritts, The Face Magazine, David Lynch films, Isabella Rossellini's Lancôme campaigns!

How has the Beauty industry shifted from when you first started to now?
The beauty industry is saturated beyond belief. There are more brands than ever now. What’s going to make a brand stand out is their understanding of safe ingredients. Consumers are interested and want to understand what's good on, in their skincare and makeup.

What are your thoughts on the YouTube revolution when it comes to Beauty? So many young Beauty influencers are coming out with their own lines. Why do you think so many makeup artists who may not have as intense of social followings don’t do the same?
As a makeup artist, one’s truth is the skill and artistry of their work and job. YouTube has created its own lane within the beauty sphere and their messaging is different than someone who started in editorial or film. The perception of social media is changing and some of the best artists don't have large followings because they don't care.

Porter Edit, May 2019.
Harper's Bazaar Mexico, June/July 2016.
InStyle, March 2019.

What are the main differences between being a celebrity makeup artist and an editorial/runway makeup artist?
This is a great question because there is a difference. When you're working with a celebrity, there's more than just makeup. Its understanding the client, their needs, and knowing longevity of makeup on the skin after they're out of your hands. With editorial or runway, you have time to build, finesse the creativity process, and collaboration. There’s also an etiquette with each domain that you learn on the job that you could never learn on YouTube and you would only understand this through experience.

Like Fashion, when would you say Beauty gets political?
When you wear it to make a statement! 

Tell us your most memorable Beauty moment to date. Whether it be something that happened at a runway show or on an editorial shoot — what comes to mind?
I've been very fortunate that my art has introduced me to some incredible people and experiences in my career, from being a brand ambassador for Christian Dior to shooting campaigns with Olivia! But the wedding of my friend Meghan (Markle) definitely catapulted my exposure to whole different level...

Your #1 makeup tip or trick? Skincare?
Using mascara as eyeliner with a flat paint brush.

Lastly, and in your own words — what does Beauty mean to you?
Beauty is confidence — when you don't need actual makeup to cover up or hide, but rather enhance what you love about your own self. That’s pure beauty to me!

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