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10 Questions for Mykel Renner: Makeup Artist and Style Icon

Makeup artist Mykel Renner knew from an early age that he was destined for a career in beauty and fashion. Raised in Southern California, he followed his dreams to the ultimate creative mecca – New York City. He’s worked with iconic photographers such as Arthur Elgort, Steven Meisel, and Annie Leibovitz and his work has been featured in several publications including Vogue, Vogue China, 10, L’Officiel Hommes and So Chic, among others. Mykel is a truly gifted artist who is well known for his bold use of color and diverse range of abilities, but he’s also just as well known for his fantastic personal style, sense of humor, super cool mustache and for being one of the nicest guys we’ve ever known! Thank you Mykel for taking a moment between flights to answer our “10 Questions”.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pets, which I really miss. I tend to be more of a cat person, quiet and independent, but I travel too frequently and I don’t think it’s fair to them. I can’t even keep a plant without killing it, I’m gone that much!

What was the last concert you went to and how did you do your hair and makeup. What did you wear?
The last concert I went to see was Janet Jackson. She is one of the only mainstream musicians I’ve ever really followed and admired. I think it’s because she was such an icon as I was going through high school and helped me realize I wanted to become a makeup artist. As far as my look, being from Southern California, I looked more the part of a Homeboy with the long flannel buttoned-up top and painted and sculpted goatee. And of course fierce brows and my hair was slicked to one side.

Guilty Pleasure?
I’ve been collecting Vivienne Westwood for over 23 years and I even have a storage unit for my extra pieces. Anywhere in the world I’ve traveled, if theres a Westwood store, I would acquire a piece or two so I have pieces from all over the world. And last but not least, sleep and Vodka Martinis!

What is the most nontraditional tool or product you used on a job?
I would have to say everything from scotch tape, moulding clay, cheap gel masks and pieces of fabric or materials to create textures on the skin that you would find out in nature.

If you won the lottery, how would you like to spend most of your time, excluding travel?
I think the most selfless and gratifying thing I would do would be to volunteer my time and energy to animal sanctuaries around the world. I have always felt compassionate to all species especially the ones that can’t speak for themselves, so this would be my calling.

What was your worst faux pax on a job and how did you recover?
I was optioned for a job with a huge 80’s pop star. My colleagues had forewarned me about her, so I was ready as I could be. She stormed into the room and asked if I had face tapes, which I didn’t. She then stormed off into her kitchen screaming every obscenity in the book. What was I to do? She wouldn’t let me complete her look because she’d rather do it herself. I was just there to fine-tune and clean up her look. At the end of the day she came over to apologize along with her manager, who then asked if I was available for more dates. I said I’d have to think about it, but never to work with her again. There’s no reason to treat someone with such disrespect, so I just gave it right back to her.

App that changed your life?
Apps that changed my life would have to be Google Maps, because half the time I don’t know where the hell I’m going- either here in New York or in some other country. Any car service app and lastly would be Shazam, because I love being out at a place and hearing some amazing beats coming over the speaker. No matter where I’m at, I gotta find out!

What would be your dream job or client and why?
As far as a dream job, I would have to say that traveling on a music tour around the world with one of my icons would definitely be up there. Or having several loyal clients that take you globetrotting, just to paint their faces. So actually I’ve tasted both of these dream jobs and I loved it!

Have you ever had an “only in New York experience” and what was it?
One of the best New York experiences I’ve had was working with Harvey Fierstein during the height of Hairspray. I did his drag makeup for about 3 years on Broadway and did his makeup as Mrs, Santa Clause for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I had to get onto the float with him for final touch-ups and seeing the throngs of people around taking pictures and smiling was quite a surreal and special moment.  It made the front page of the New York Times, as people were shocked that a man in drag was Mrs. Clause. I LOVED IT!

Do you have a hidden talent or superpower?
I would have to say that my hidden talent is that I really love to teach makeup. I didn’t know how much I would enjoy being able to share my experiences, talent, and techniques with other artists, but it really does satisfy my spirit and soul. We are all of this earth together and getting to meet other creatives around the world is really something special. One big creative family!