The brand speaks for itself in its 20+ years under the title The Art of Beauty by founder and kingpin makeup/stylist, Linda Mason. The bitter reality about our face is that most of us cover it up. The sweet truth is that it really is an art. And the bullseye beauty is that someone fills the passionate role of retaining the raw depth in our facial features while embellishing the goods embedded in places often overlooked. Abandoning all reservations about makeup: looking good is feeling good. And having a palette party on your face with the end result of head-turning visual design, cha-ching.
Leave it to a makeup stylist bred in color and space from her early influences of home decor, fine art and fashion sense to dial in on this beauty milieu. The wow in The Art of Beauty library of shadows and powder elements is not the charm in the high-brow packaging and the A-list clientele (Steven Meisel, Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci, Demi Moore, Claire Danes, the list goes on), rather the pure unabridged art in every handcrafted and mind-toiled material from Betty Blushes and the recent Grafittigels, to the Masquerade Pillows and ecologically correct organizers – and (deep breath), the individual experience that takes place within the glam lounge off the West Side’s Grand St. The other wow is the simple fact that building an intimate relationship with the stuff you put on your face, and being inept to divorce from it, is a lasting investment one walks into when Linda buzzes you in. Consultation, education, and/or simply a little inspiration, The Art of Beauty is a cosmetic boutique with culture.
“I feel that many women are still prisoners to an ideal of beauty, and would like to see them break out of that.” – Linda Mason
In an overtly eat-face world today (and commonly about-face), you may have never imagined the quality of a surface fix. Glamification is just as easily the act of restoring your best natural look – which in turn reciprocates that youthful spirit and energy – as it is the fluffing and feathering of faux features. In other words, makeup is not only skin-deep, and Madame Mason and her powerhouse team of professionals go to great lengths contributing to this concept which she holds expertly as The Art of Beauty.
Having worked with an extensive list of fashion icons – Jean-Paul Gaultier, Theirry Mugler, John Galliano, Armani, you get it – Linda Mason is no secret, and it’s a loaded joy to share her talents with the rest of the makeup mavens and face-interested culture out there in an up-close interview on her work, her joys, and her unwavering dedication to the beauty of art in multiple forms. The painter, writer, stylist, and makeup chemist, answers to some pressing questions about how she makes it all work.
—— Interview with Linda Mason | April 2012, by Angela Gleason ——-
AG: Where to begin. You do so many different things under the Art of Beauty, from product development and application to education and styling, then of course the gamut of performance/commercial use to the artwork you create along the way (fully loaded accessories!). In all of this, where do you relish the most in the work as a makeup artist and connoisseur?
LM: I most relish the interaction and collaboration with people in all that I do, working with them, painting them or making them up. Helping them to discover new things about themselves and their possibilities. Taking them out of their world and comfort zone a little bit.
AG: Your work nearly portrays the human face as a canvas. Do you feel you could put a genre to your style of “painting” so to speak (pop-art, post impressionist…)?
LM: I call it the Linda Mason Freestyle Method.
AG: You note being inspired early on by decor, such as the home decor and fashion presence of your mother back in England. How much of fashion and decor translate through your makeup, and how do you aim capture the two in your work?
LM: Makeup is fashion and decor. I am very much influenced by the colors, atmosphere, and personalities around me and always searching to go further than what I can see or is there at the moment. Watching as my mother would not fall for the it-cannot-be-done syndrome was almost more important than her esthetic sense.
AG: Initially a makeup boutiquespecializing in shadows (am I correct?), at what point did you feel the drive to expand into full blown product lines and training?
LM: I began my cosmetic company Linda Mason Elements first with lots of color kits, and when I began The Art of Beauty by Linda Mason, makeup atelier I knew I had to combine everything I loved in order to survive and thrive as a creative individual. Makeup for me is a means of expression, an accessory an addition to a world. The women who come in here have needs and the line has developed organically to satisfy those needs and bring adventure into their lives.
AG: How much of your work and design is influenced by pop culture, and are you a trend watcher?
LM: I’m not a trend watcher but I do notice things. I’m inspired by everything around me, and strive to be in tune with my own feelings and push boundaries.
AG: Where do you feel the art of makeup is advancing with the demand for quality and originality? And speaking in terms of technological and environmental improvements, are there particular materials or methods of production and application you feel strongly about or adhere to?
LM: I feel that many women are still prisoners to an ideal of beauty, and would like to see them break out of that. There has been an incredible advancement in products and quality of products overall, and my hat goes off to the cosmetic manufacturers for the progress they have made these past few years in spite of all the new rules. Im pretty old school; makeup over the ages has always contained slightly toxic ingredients, even in some of the muds and paints in Africa. The depth of pigments suffers when too many cosmetic regulations are implemented. People are very much into air brushing and I tried my hand at it as far back as the 70s and again more recently. It has its place but I prefer to apply products with fingers and different types of brushes. I am not a fan of too much perfection and things that just sit on the skin. I really want the makeup no matter what style it is done in to become a part of the person it is applied to somehow there is too much of a distance with an Airbrush.
I hate waste and I give a small amount of color in my eye shadows and more product for the base than other companies, 2oz instead of the usual 1oz, as people tend to want to throw away the former more often and use more of the later. If a client would like she can refill her base or her eye makeup remover (not many people take advantage of this service) I have always searched to do recyclable and reusable packaging that people would want to keep around because of its beauty or originality. Everything in the shop is made from recycled materials that we have found in Soho.
AG: When you step back and see this layered side-street boutique on the west side and all of the creativity, culture, and fashion hustle thriving from a makeup/art business, what do you think? And did you see this for yourself? What might you have pursued had the art of makeup not been your calling?
LM: I absolutely didn’t see this for myself; it was something I actually avoided having seen the worries my parents had running a small business. Maybe a film director?
AG: Is there an ideal skin tone, or facial structure that which you model upon in developing new shades and skin products?
LM: Theres no ideal. My clients are all different ethnicities, and coloring. I often do model new products on my interns or daughter, because they are around me most often.
AG: You have extensive work with some exclusive clients and fashion-forward divas out there, how have these experiences or projects impacted your work and/or influenced your business?
LM: It was a huge part of the 90s for me. I still work with incredible fashion-forward divas, today, but its a wider array of celebrity. Not just celebrities in the entertainment limelight, but ones just as important in their own fields. Lawyers, judges, etc. I will always love reconnecting and working again with my fashion colleagues though.
AG: Your makeup lines are layered and forever evolving, can you talk about what your most popular products have been and what your latest work involves?
LM: My new products Graffitigels, which just debuted last month on QVC have changed the way I implement my freestyle method. Before I was using aqua colors which are not really the best for everyday wear, now with the Graffitigels it has made a new level of experimentation more possible for everyday use, they stay on so well, and the colors are brilliant for eyeliner or other parts of your face. I guess that my most popular products are my concealer, translucent powder and liquid bases. My translucent powder must be almost the only one on the market that is totally mat and at the same time extremely lightweight and I sell it in a beautiful handmade compact that is refillable.
AG: When you think of the industry for make-up and its vast avenues (entertainment, political, social), where do you see the highest demand for couture make-up whether inclusive of your products or generally speaking?
LM: You think of high fashion makeup initially, but everyone can make use of the concepts of couture and enhance their daily lives. Couture means personalized for people who think and dont just need to follow the leader. My clients are like that, Im very lucky I have the most wonderful array of clients. Beautiful women of all ages.
AG: The Linda Mason line has a few trademark features, one most recognizable is the chrome/metal case for shadows, where did this idea sprout, and how about the female images repeated throughout your packaging (a muse)?
LM: All women are my muses, and the trademark packaging is more the mini masterpiece compacts which incorporate my artwork. I thought about what is a product I would want to keep, leave out, carry around, a little piece of art.
AG: Best kept secret to reveal about yourself and/or how you approach your daily makeup?
LM: Daylight, a magnifying glass, and dont be afraid to experiment from time to time. •••