Paula Heckenast of Chicago – Make-up Artist interview


Q: Do you think going to school for make-up artistry is important to excel in the business later on?
I personally do not think school is important, I attended a large school in Chicago and did not find it helpful at all. I think you should put your money towards your kit and intern for a professional artist in your area.

Q: Did you always want to be an artist, or did you stumble upon your talent by chance? Who or what inspired you to become a makeup artist?
I always knew it was what I wanted to do in the back of my head. I was always doing everyone’s make-up I came into contact with! One day, a friend of mine asked me to go the a make-up school open house and I ended up signing up along with her.. The rest is history!

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Q: What is your favorite or most exciting aspect about your job?
I love to travel. Especially with musicians and celebrities! I was once on an international tour with a band. It was an amazing experience and the pay wasn’t bad either. ;)

Q: What surprises you most about working as a makeup artist?
At this point in my career it is hard to surprise me. *laughs* However, I still do not understand the jealous make-up artists in the industry. I understand the concept that “everyone is competition”, but I believe in karma.
If you are true to yourself and everyone around you, working as an artist with a fire burning passion in your heart, great things will come to you. You can’t be oblivious or let others walk all over you, but to be out right mean and hateful is completely unnecessary. Don’t expect to excel with an attitude like that.

Q: Describe your “Classic Approach to Beauty.” how do you define beauty?
When working on print, with agency models, less is more. I know that saying is old as time, but it’s true. Models are models for a reason. They most likely have great skin and features. Smooth out the skin, lightly outline the eyes with a shadow, not a harsh line, comb the brows, define the cheek bones, highlight, apply lip conditioner & call it a day. Unless it’s a make-up ad, we want to see the model, not the make-up.

Q: What are some of the most basic but effective skin care tips in general that you have, that are really important?
wash, tone, exfoliate and moisturize. Try to find an organic skin care line.

Q: What do you think are best/worst trends in the makeup / skin care industry right now?
Best: bright lip color! Worst: pale concealer on the lips.

Q: Do teenage girls need to splurge on high-priced makeup products, or are drugstore items are just as satisfactory?
Teenage girls can certainly go to the drug store. I was recently on CBS News Chicago for an interview about inexpensive products that work as well as the high end brands.

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Q: What feature(s) do you love to accentuate and why?
I love to accentuate a models collar bones with a shimmery white highlight. It brings depth and texture to the photo.

Q: What is a really quick way to change a day look to a special occasion or nighttime face?
Add a deeper blush, bronzer, black liner and a darker tone lipstick/stain/gloss.

Q: In terms of eyeliner, if you had to choose between a pencil, liquid, or crème/gel based, which one would you choose? Why?
I use a gel pot and angle brush on the top of the eyelid because it’s not as runny and will not smudge. I prefer a pencil on the waterline. Using a liquid or gel liner inside your eye can irritate your eyes, destroy your contacts and leave you looking like something from 28 Days Later.

Q: Lip gloss or Lipstick. Which product is best? Why?
I prefer to use a lip pencil and gloss. Using a pencil and then blending onto the lips with a lip brush creates a fabulous color that will last. Simply apply gloss on top!

Q: What brand/type of concealer is your favorite for covering up the after effects of a late night out i.e. under-eye circles, blemishes?
I use Urban Decay shadow primer in Eden. It’s a bright skin like color that isn’t going anywhere!

Q: How about airbrush spray makeup trend? Are these products better or easier to use than standard sponge or finger application? If yes when would you recommend using them?
The only make-up I have found suitable is Kett Cosmetics. It is truly amazing, gluten free and will stay in place until you wash your face!

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Q: What do your clients think of you? What are some individual testimonials?
“Hi Paula, I just had to drop a note and say Thank You, Thank you for the awesome Job making all of us look outstanding for Kylie’s wedding. I highly recommend you to everyone that wants to look “Flawless”!!”

“Paula was the 3rd trial session I had. I was starting to lose hope that I would find a make-up person that can style me as I had envisioned. She took her time asking me questions the entire time she applied my make-up. She never applied something like, eye liner, blush, without confirming with me first that it was okay. I love her and City Lights!!”

“Paula did a wonderful job at my wedding last spring!!! Our makeup was flawless, and she was great to work with. She came to my home super early, and my whole bridal party was done on time. I would definitely recommend her to anyone!!! Thanks for the great makeup =)”

“Paula came out to my condo a few days ago to provide makeup for my birthday. She did a beautiful job!! I was shocked at the diff airbrushing made. I will be using her again very soon!”

Q: What tips and advice do you have for aspiring makeup artists just starting out?
Practice on anyone you can get your hands on! Invest in a professional kit. Try checking out Sign up on
Most importantly, DO NOT GET A BIG HEAD! Remember that there is always someone out there who is better than you, at what you do. Stay on top of your game. Test, research and network!

Connect with Paula via her: make-up artist homepage and blog.

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