I was offered the wonderful opportunity of interviewing celebrity makeup artist Gary Cockerill last week, so naturally I jumped at the chance! I’d prepared a few questions in advance and was poised and ready with pen and paper at hand to jot down his answers. Here’s how things went down.

What inspired you to become a makeup artist?

To be honest, it’s something I fell into. I worked down the coal mines for 6 months just after leaving school. When they shut down I saved and decided to move to London. I studied graphic design and illustration and had a job painting mannequins’ faces, I then realised I’d probably earn more painting real people’s faces so I decided to that!

There are now a huge number of aspiring makeup artists as well as those who are already qualified trying to get their career started. What advice would you give them to help them stand out from the crowd?

I was doing a very pretty look when everyone else was doing a grungy look in the early 90s so I stood out. I got booked for magazines like Loaded and GQ and it all happened overnight. Of course, things are very different now, my advice would be to find your niche. Try and develop your own unique style and don’t copy what other people are doing. Work really hard and don’t give up, it’s a great profession!

What is your favourite makeup brand?

It’s far too difficult to pick one! My kit is a mix of lots of different brands. I think having healthy, well prepped skin is really important, for that I love using the Facacia skincare range which is antibacterial and great for acne as well as using the Silk and Sonic Face Brush which gives skin a deep clean.

If you were restarting your career today, what would you do differently? If anything!

I wouldn’t do anything differently! It just happened for me, it was never planned, but I’m so glad it did!

What/ Who do you look to for inspiration?

Anything and everything, from walking down the street and seeing someone to a magazine, someone’s life story, anything interesting or original.

Who is your favourite celebrity to work with?

I’ve worked with so many great people, it was great working with The Coors when they started out as well as Liberty X and Eva Longoria. One of my highlights was definitely working with David Beckham when he did the speed boat scene for the Olympics opening ceremony. I still get a real buzz from working with stars!

Which is your favourite magazine to work with?

I love working with women’s magazines but I love working with men’s magazines even more. The men’s glossies like GQ and Esquire are favourites. I love doing sexy glamorous makeup and I often get to go to different locations for the shoots.

Who is your favourite photographer to work with?

It was amazing working with David Bailey. it was like working with an artist. The pictures always looked like they would belong more in an art gallery. I loved working with Clive Arrowsmith too, I worked with him solidly for 5 years. I loved working with the old greats, they don’t rely on digital. People are far too reliant on post production now. I miss the days of polaroids and contact sheets.

What inspired you to bring out your own range of lashes?

I always did eyes well, it’s what I’m known for. On shoots I always ended up combining different kinds of lashes to get the look I wanted. I was then approached to design a range of my own, they’re made of natural hair and are very lightweight.

What is the worst thing someone can do when it comes to their makeup?

Not adapting their look to suit them! I see women in their 40s and 50s still wearing their makeup the same way they did when they were 21. Every now and then you should go through your makeup bag, get rid of anything stale or out of date and give the whole thing a refresh. People often think it’s the only look that works for them but that’s not true, they should have a little fun with it and experiment more!

Thanks so much for answering my questions Gary!

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