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10 Questions for James Vincent

Makeup Artist, Education Director, Beauty Editor

James Vincent is a multi-talented and visionary leader in the world of makeup. As Director of Education and Artistry for The Makeup Show and The Powder Group, he’s shared his extensive knowledge and creative talents with makeup artists and cosmetics brands at all levels of the industry. His unbridled passion for the art of makeup has driven an accomplished career across all genres of makeup artistry including film, theatre, television, celebrity work, editorial and runway. He’s also served in training and product development roles for multiple beauty brands such as MAC, Stila, Armani, YSL and Make Up For Ever. A lover of music, James’ work in the music industry also spans genres and includes legendary musicians like Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine, Courtney Love, Joan Jett and the Foo Fighters. When he’s not traveling the globe to work with an impressive list of clients, he acts as sitting beauty editor for On Makeup magazine and contributes to countless blogs and publications. Nylon magazine, The New York Times and WWD have named James as a “Makeup Artist to Watch.”  We also like to call him an inspiration, mentor and friend. Here are his 10 Questions.

Two amazing cats. Both of them rescues that now, apparently,
own me. Thackery Binx is a handsome short-haired grey who was found by a fellow makeup artist on the streets of Bushwick. Even though he lives a life of luxury now, he still maintains his gutter punk attitude. Richard Starkey is a black cat with crazy yellow
eyes. He grew up in a cat cafe and shelters. He was returned twice for his bad attitude, but we appreciate any animal with a strong sense of self. When we got him he was named Ringo, but I felt that nickname had too much connotation. He is a supermodel. He has been featured in the book “All Black Cats are Not Alike” by Amy Goldwasser.

What was the last concert you went to and how did you do your hair and makeup. What did you wear?
I think the last show I saw was Stevie Nicks and Joan Jett and I am sure I wore red or black eyeliner. The last show I saw where I really wore makeup was Peaches and it was pure brilliance. I wore a glitter black eye and glitter bloody nose to fit the occasion.

Guilty Pleasure?

What is the most non-traditional tool or product you’ve used on a job (any job)?
When I was coming up with the makeup for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” I had to figure out how to make the birthing scene look realistic. I used glycerin and KY Jelly. The scene was not initially in my script, so I had to send an assistant out into Williamsburg at 2am to buy glycerin suppositories and lube. My husband found the receipt in my pocket and wanted to know what kind of party I was having in Brooklyn at that late hour.

If you won the lottery, how would you like to spend most of your time, excluding travel?
I think I would really love to teach and take art classes and spend more time on giving back. I used to be such a part of my community and volunteer so much time, but as my career has grown those commitments have taken a back seat.

What was your worst faux pas on a job and how did you recover? 
My assistant once asked Chrissie Hynde if she ever wore eyeliner. I had to have them leave the room and then school them after on how important research is to making clients feel taken care of and appreciated.

App that changed your life?
I would probably say Instagram or some social media app because they have changed the way people communicate, but the truth is probably Seamless and Lyft because I no longer have to walk anywhere and am lazier than ever.

What would be your dream job or client and why?
I have had such an opportunity to work with so many of my idols and people I admire. I wish I had an answer, but I have always pushed to work with the people I wanted. I think Kristen McMenamy is a face I would still like to makeup. I love the women who have changed the way we define beauty.

Have you ever had an “only in New York experience”– what was it?
I was meeting up with the singer Regina Spektor before the premiere of Lord of the Rings for which she sang the theme song. We were just grabbing coffee and she told me she was going to throw on her dress in the bathroom and go. She had no plan for hair and makeup. We walked over to Sephora in Union Square and I managed to do her whole face using tester product and what was available in the shop. My friend, Ashton Michael who designed the dress, got her dressed and did her hair with some stuff we found in Sephora and she went off on her way. She said as a New Yorker, she always stopped into Sephora to get ready before events and just did her makeup going from product display to product display.

Do you have a hidden talent / superpower?
It’s a ridiculous one, but yes. I believe everyone has three superpowers. The one I will share here is that I always know if someone is a Nun/ Sister. It’s probably not so helpful, but something always lets me know this woman is married to God. It’s probably too many years in Catholic school and working in social services, but in or out of habit, I always know.