MAKE UP ARTISTRY
For the September issue of Kinetic we had the pleasure of talking to makeup artist and creative director Laila Zakaria about her creative journey so far.
When did you and Olivia start working together, what early career experiences did you share?
We met through a makeup artist casting call, we did an editorial together and the rest is history! The stylist on that shoot was a bit of a nightmare so we trauma bonded over that and since then we’ve worked together on a variety of projects. I’m so lucky to be able to actually have a voice as not only a makeup artist but as a creative partner. That’s very rare for a makeup artist to have and is usually reserved for stylists. I’m very grateful.
"I’m so lucky to be able to actually have a voice as not only a makeup artist but as a creative partner. That’s very rare for a makeup artist to have and is usually reserved for stylists. I’m very grateful."
What experiences and influences led you to become a makeup artist?
Good question! I had zero interest in makeup and never wore it really until 21. At school, I did experiment with lower eyeliner and clear lipgloss but that's all I can recall. I was unemployed after uni and began buying international fashion and cultural magazines from a local market, I guess just to take up some time. I’ve always read magazines since childhood so it was only natural. Then I started to look at the makeup and think how did they do that? Then it morphed into I could do that and then my journey began! A very long and arduous one might I add.
Looking back my sister wore makeup and I would watch her putting it on as a child ( she wouldn’t leave the house without it, not even to buy milk).
My mum used to use Kohl on us (which I hated!) when we went to traditional parties as children, so I guess it’s always been in the background.
How have your experiences on set influenced your wider work in casting and as a podcast host?
In terms of casting, stepping outside of the bubble of the industry and the internet helps inform a more diverse type of casting. A lot of people are out there that can bring understanding, energy and warmth to a story, project or job and they don’t have an agent and they don’t have a huge online following. In terms of my experiences that's why the podcast was created. Myself and Cate Urenas my co host speak about our experiences on set and how the wider issues of society, from sustainability to inclusion intersect.
Do you feel brands are working hard enough when it comes to visibility and representation both in front of and behind the camera?
In front of the camera – yes. Behind? Absolutely not! That’s not to say that representation in front of the camera is all peaches and cream, it isn’t. But it can often obscure what’s going on behind. The next 'diverse' project you see, look up the credits. The truth will be revealed.
Is there a shoot which has informed your practice either in terms of style or approach?
I think my practice has been informed over time from my own work and my observations as an assistant. It all comes together like a magpie, bits and pieces here and there until you have a set style of working. I wouldn’t say it was one particular shoot.
Do you think that art or image-making should have a social or moral purpose?
This is going to surprise you but I’m going to say no. We can definitely view art through a social and moral lens and that informs our understanding of the piece of work but it doesn't have to be the explicit intention of the author. There is also a trend in image-making to latch onto social causes and it can be quite distasteful because it doesn’t ring true.
Do you have a favourite piece of your own work?
My creative direction work for “At Dawn You Leave” was shot by Olivia. That was a piece of art I was trusted with to help come to fruition and it still has a very special place in my heart. It actually blew up a year after we shot it. No one in the UK was interested and then it blew up a year later, it was even projected onto the side of a building in NYC. That was crazy.
"We can definitely view art through a social and moral lens and that informs our understanding of the piece of work but it doesn't have to have been the explicit intention of the author."
How would you like to see your practice develop in the next few years?
I would love to continue to create and be given the space to be a multi-disciplinary artist. Photographers can be directors and stylists can be creative directors and makeup artists don’t get that much space. I want us to be able to. I hope I can keep creating beautiful work without losing myself.
Could you share three things which currently motivate or inspire you?
Watching people and nature. Just walking outside and really looking inspires me.
A great saying from James Baldwin:
“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.”