Q&A with Freddie Stopler: Make Up Artist Extraordinaire

Freddie Stopler takes the art of make up to the highest level. With over 30 years in the industry she has reached heights others could only dream of. For starters, she worked with David Bowie for 10+ years, helping him create icon status through his transformative, groundbreaking and gender-bending images and styles.

Besides working with mega stars and celebrities, she has also worked on numerous films, TV, photographic shoots and commercials. She recently worked on an Anoro commercial, directed by Carolyn Chen and cast by Mark Summers that had her age up the lead actress, Lucy Newman-Williams. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from a vast range of sources, all depending on where the job and the brief lead me. Sometimes it’s simply looking at the model or actor’s face, or wardrobe, and feeling instinctively what would work; then when I start to work on their face in the mirror it just all comes together. Sometimes it’s just watching people on the street, looking at what’s current in magazines, films, and I’ve always been strongly influenced by the graphic looks in old black and white movies. My experimentation with colours has always come from looking at how tones and layers seamlessly blend together in nature; in birds’ plumage or flowers’ petals.

Freddie and Bowie

Freddie and David Bowie

Who are the people that have inspired you throughout your career?

David Bowie, Serge Lutens, Pat McGrath, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Tim Walker, Foria Sigismondi, Francoise Nars, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Jackie Onassis, Marianne Faithful, John Galliano and Stevie Nicks.

How long have you been a makeup artist and how did you get your start in the industry? 

I trained as a makeup artist with Greasepaint Make Up School in 1978 when I first moved to London. My boyfriend and I moved into a squat in Clapham Junction, with a punk band, and after working in theatre with wigs and prosthetics, I found myself working with bands that were up and coming. The first band I worked with was Killing Joke, followed by Spandau Ballet, Pete Burns, and then Duran Duran who I ended up on the road with for many fun years.

Which job(s) have been your favourite?

Same answer as above! Collaborating with David Bowie on hair, makeup, stage outfits, videos and photo shoots. Many of the outfits I worked on were shown at the V & A in the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition. Another extremely challenging job that sticks out in my mind is having to come up with over 100 looks on one man’s moustache, in one day, for Martin Parr for a US camera commercial.

What do you love most about makeup? 

Makeup has always been like magic to me. I was fascinated by it’s transformative power and as a little girl I would watch my aunt apply her makeup every night before she went off to perform as a jazz singer. At around the same time, I was glued to the screen when Hammer House of Horror was on TV, desperate to know how they created the werewolves and monsters.

I took out my curiosity on a pile of poor dolls that all ended up with destroyed hair and painted on faces! When makeup is applied well it is an art, whether you are trying to achieve a beatific ideal, or complete metamorphosis.

Lucy Newman-Williams before and after aging

Lucy Newman-Williams before and after aging

If you weren’t a makeup artist, what would you do?

I would probably have become a stylist, or a roadie, or tried to be in a band playing drums as I have strong arms.

How would you describe your signature look and what is it about your style that sets you apart from other makeup artists?

I would like to think my signature look is timeless, fresh but rock n’ roll at the same time. I’m always upbeat and try to have as much fun with models and artists as possible, while still focussing on the best look for every face and brief.

What is the most important beauty advice that you can give to women? 

The best beauty advice I can give to women is find what makes you happy, have fun, laugh, stay up late, drink lots of water and get a miracle concealer.

What are some common beauty mistakes that women make?

The most common mistake that women make is wearing way too much makeup. And not looking after their skin and then covering it up badly with heavy foundation and concealer. I’m also not keen on the sharpie eyebrow.

What products do you think should be a staple in every woman’s makeup bag?

Tweezers, Eyeliner, Kohl Pencil, Lip Balm, Blusher, Lip Colour, Lip Liner, Tinted Moisturiser Or Foundation, Mascara, Brow/Lash Brush, Sun Block, Concealer,  Cotton Buds and Anti-Shine Papers.

What’s your favourite makeup brush? 

When I first started you had to spend a fortune on great make up brushes. I remember once spending over $300 on a brush from Japan which I probably lost within a week! Now my favourite brushes are artist brushes from art shops. For powders and foundation I like Louise Young synthetic brushes. There is no need for animal hair make up brushes.

Freddie Working

Freddie Working

What’s your favourite makeup ‘forever’ product? 

My favourite make up forever product has to be mascara. I have to wear waterproof, otherwise it’s down my face in 10 minutes.

What do you never leave the house without?

I don’t go out of the door without my lippy which is normal red even at 5am going to work, or coming home!

For more info about Freddie Stopler go to www.freddiestopler.com


By Clea Myers @camtweak

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