Awele Aina is the Artistic Director for Elise Claire Cosmetics USA Nigeria. She is a renowned celebrity makeup artist, global beauty influencer and photographer with over 7 years experience in the makeup industry. Her signature style leaves her special clients feeling exhilarated from the natural glow she gives them. She named her business after her Oriki calling it “Awele” she is a highly sort after makeup artist and has worked on the set of many local and international music videos, editorial spreads, movies, magazine, campaigns, fashion shows and Tv commercials. Over the years, Awele Aina has trained over 10,000 students through various platform: master class, monthly class, one on one class and brush up classes in almost every major city in Nigeria. What earns Awele Aina a spot in the beauty industry is her flawless coverage and finish, her clients can’t get enough of the effortless-looking soft finish she leaves on them. Some of her notable clientele include Director Mattmax (official makeup artist) Clarence Peters, Adasa Cookey, Aje Films, Unlimited LA, Moe Musa, Sesan Ogunro, Patrick Elis, Mex Films, Hg2Films, Adams Gud, AY Live Show, Dynamics Award, Ovation Magazine, Vita Foam Ltd, The Slay Network USA, Tecno Mobile, Stanbic IBTC, Tush Magazine and more
We interview her during the week and she has this to say about her journey so far as a Nigerian makeup artist
1. Tell us how being a makeup artist all started with you?
Answer: I got into makeup professionally in 2012. Since the age of fifteen, my passion and enthusiasm for makeup started, I’m always asking my mum about makeup, what it was and what each thing does. I loved looking at magazines, I started browsing makeup sites every day on the computer and i got to know the products quite well and see many looks, with all my passion for makeup I didn’t think it was possible to have a career in it, I was just doing the regular day job and took makeup more like a hobby. I believe in not just going on YouTube. I believe in going to school before starting any serious business. So I attended the Make-up Designatory Academy (MUD) Makeup School, I did three months professional course. I wanted to learn things like skincare, skin tones, skin correction and everything that has to do with makeup. Then I started networking; that was where I had the most challenge, how to market myself. I started calling directors that I’m a makeup artist and I’ll like to work with them and I remembered the only question they would ask me is that “how did you get my number? And I’ll tell them that my Uncle Dj Jimmy Jatt gave me, I used my uncle name as strategy to market myself as much as possible. Obviously, you have to first work for free when you start out; that’s unavoidable. This is because if you don’t have a portfolio, how will people get to know what you can do? So I paid my dues by doing all the free work that I did like AY Life Concert, Dynamics Awards, Ovation Christmas Carol to mention few. My passion is working on music video set because I’ll get to see my work on tv
2. What are the biggest challenge makeup artist have to face?
Answer: The biggest challenge I think is that makeup artists are required to remain up to date with new trends and fashion. The fashion industry evolves on daily basis and the expertise has to be upgraded accordingly
3. What is your Unique signature style in the makeup industry.
Answer: I like to make a face pop on the music videos. I like skin to sing and look healthy and I rarely send anyone out of my chair without careful and light, appropriate contouring. So, my unique signature style is leaving my clients feeling exhilarated from the natural glow I give them.
4. Can you recall that time when a client didn’t like the work you done.
Answer: Yes of course. It was on a music video set in 2013. I was supposed to make 10 vixen up under 2 hours before the shoot commenced. Frankly speaking, I was really in a rush and at the same time, I was being careful so as to delivery a perfect job as requested by the director. I was on the third vixens when the Record label owner came and he was not satisfied with my work, he said I was doing rubbish. Remarks or feedbacks are good, they help strengthen you to be better but this got to me badly to the point that I thought my effort wasn’t appreciated. I tried explaining to him that I wasn’t given enough time to work. They wanted glamorous makeup on all the vixens and this can’t be achieved at such time. I persuaded him that we should concentrate on the lead vixens and so simple makeup on the extras all to no avail. Sadly, he didn’t buy the idea. Within a twinkling of an eye, he started scouting for another makeup artist here and there. With my years and experience in the makeup industry and has worked with international brands; I felt so embarrassed and ridiculed. It’s a day I’ll never forget. Truth be told, my first job after graduating from makeup school earned me four students because it was a beauty contest. Four of the contestant learned makeup from me. Even before then I remembered I did makeup for Nancy Isime. She happily said I was the first makeup artist that got her foundation shade right. “This is me! I love this; it’s absolutely gorgeous!” That was her remark. So this is not about me not knowing my job, I don’t even know what went wrong that day.
5. You are the second Nigeria professional makeup artist to sign an endorsement with an international brand. How did that come about.
Answer: it was definitely new territory for me. When Elise Claire Cosmetics brand came to Nigeria, they were looking to work with makeup artist whose core competence is in fashion focused and voila, they found me. The journey with them has been amazing and it has allowed me to travel the world further.
6. Unlike other makeup artist you are also known to work on TV commercials, and music videos. Has it helped you in your career.
Answer: Yes, it has given me broader spectrum and the versatility to handle all sorts of people and the authority to handle all manner of jobs. Music videos taught me how to interpret visuals and script. I would encourage any up and coming Makeup artist to broaden their job profile. If you want to increase revenue for your business you would need to venture out into other territories.
7. What are your plans for the future should we be expecting from you in the next 5 years.
Answers: My main focus is on my present project of training both locally and internationally and also in the expansion of the Elise Claire Cosmetics all over Nigeria. I have a lot of followers from Russian so I am looking forward to my summer master class where I will get to teach and share my knowledge.
8. How do you combine being a wife to a famous Music Video Director and a famous Makeup Artist yourself: Answer: I would say I’m an organised person. I plan and organise my routines. Needless to say, I have tutored a lot of students in the past, some are on retainaship and they have mastered my work ethics which makes life a lot easier for me in this aspect.
9. What advice would you give to other makeup artists who are trying to build a career:
Answer: Pursue passion first before anything, with passion comes success. Being a makeup artist is not as easy as it looks on social media. It takes determination, research, understanding of beauty and people. If you are going to do it then invest in it wholeheartedly. Go for a course. I have never been a big fan of not going to a school to learn. I did it and that is what I will advise another person to do. I am not saying they should do a five-year course on makeup, but it is important you earn and get a foundation. Makeup is not just about blue eye shadow and red lips. You are going to work on different people with different skin tones. When I talk about an aspect in editorial makeup like contouring, you cannot do two people the same way. I see a lot of makeup artist makes that mistake. This is one of the things they will teach you in school. So if you are dependent on youtube or Instagram to teach you makeup, then, you will have it all wrong and one day, you will make a costly mistake. Though it’s not like that here in Nigeria but if you make a mistake in USA on a contract, they will sue you. A good foundation is absolutely necessary. Also, getting the right tools is also important. That does not mean you have to break the bank in buying makeup products. You don’t have to go and buy Chanel; You have to buy foundation for so many people with different skin tones but all these are investments. You are investing but your returns will definitely come. You need to also research and find out where your passion lies.
10. You have worked with some amazing music video directors. Tell us what comes to mind when we mention their name.
Answer: Director Mattmax: Creative, reserved, intense, hard working, amazing, fantastic husband, awesome friend and fiercely loyal. Unlimited LA: Fun, happy, creative, energetic, mischievous, driven Aje Films: Stunning, exotic, creative, mysterious, perfectionist.
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