"The love of beauty is Taste. The creation of beauty is Art." - Oscar Wilde.
Top Celebrity Make-up Artist - many years....
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PICTURE PERFECT. A look into D'ANDRE MICHAEL. By Wil Walker.
Fashion Affair Magazine (September 2012).
On a Wednesday afternoon inside D’Andre Michael's Toluca Lake studio, you’ll find sketchbooks bearing the names of iconic photographers like Avedon and Newton, piled behind an oversized hardback. Rising from behind a worktable are shelves of reference magazines. The space feels like the reading salon in a London Club, a private play space devoted to art, beauty, and fashion. Except here you create beautiful images.
“Yeah, I’m always looking at a book...to get better, for improvement,” he explained. “To even think about finding perfection, you must be willing to learn more.”
Beauty is fun for him. His first camera—a Nikkon D300—sat on his desk for a year while he toured as the make-up artist for Mary J. Blige. Today he shoots headshots, celebrity portraits, and model portfolios with a Nikkon D4; and is working on a beauty book. There are no moments when his demanding standards do not match up with his reality.
“Everyone is entitled to at least one beautiful picture.”
The gift of creating beauty has been part of D’Andre from the beginning. That pure beauty comes from within is an accepted platitude, but D’Andre, a beauty person, lives it. “My mother, grandmother, and great-grand mother were all beautiful, well-dressed women. I simply wanted to create those moments.”
“When I started, make-up was something to carry me over. I was a manager for an Atlanta shoe store and there was a Glamour Shots next door. I networked and was invited to join the staff the following week. There was a workshop on celebrity make-up; I think it cost $1000. I paid it! I became an apprentice to celebrity make up artist Gweynth Mosby. When I began work she became my adopted god mother and mentor.”
“Today people think that taking a great photo requires you to be a model. I tell them ‘Give me what you want your fans to see. How do you want your lover to see you? Now close your eyes and breathe into your smile. Perfect."
Since landing in Los Angeles he has developed an iconoclastic body of work. His attention to every little detail is anchored by his maxims: work more, push limits more, and criticize your work more. As a makeup artist he’s slain the giants—Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle; He’s done both film and TV. With all that, one would assume he'd step into photography clothed in experience. But D’Andre approaches the subject naked.
“Photography has taught me to pay more attention. Gweynth taught me that I had to be my own editor; I couldn’t depend on anyone else to make my picture look good. That made me a better make up artist. I use the same rules when I take pictures. It’s done when I look through the lens and see the picture I want.”
D'Andre utilizes powerful Apple desktops with cinema screens. But oddly, software plays a tiny role in his photography. He expects a finished photo in camera. “I [only] use PhotoShop to make the image pop.”
Its rare to meet any creative who can aestheticize their sphere so thoroughly yet find the humility to learn from others.
“I’m a bit of a control freak but I don’t want to become neurotic. With photography I try not to micromanage, perhaps the make-up artist, but I’ll always push them to the next level. With collaborations you obtain the best results by sharing a vision, being open to ideas, and then allowing the process to take place. “
When asked what type photographer he classified himself as and what he expects from himself, he remained open.
“I’m still learning, unclassified even. I shoot the result of beauty, fashion, and real life. However, I do not shoot lifestyle. Looking forward I see fashion editorials, campaigns, and covers. Think big, there's no small, there's no average, there's no moderate. There’s only big!”
With the fascination he has for perfection and beauty, he spoke about other projects in development—a personal cosmetics line called UGLY Girl; partner of a new international cosmetics line; and of beauty book. The fact each part of his branding is unified by beauty is what makes the big picture harmonious, if not all together of an accord. His photography without a doubt will succeed in harmonizing his integrating his brand with the realities of the world.
"Now close your eyes, and breath into your smile."
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