“Be positive, be grateful, make art, and be nice to each other!”
– Nicole Faulkner
MUD: Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from? What did you want to be when you grew up? What led you to MUD?
Nicole: I’m a Cali girl! I grew up in Corona, CA — about an hour and a half south of Los Angeles, actually. I always loved art growing up. I toyed with the idea of fashion school, tattoo artistry, architecture…but I never really considered make-up artistry a real career until probably my junior year. I had to do a project for my Career Choices class on a topic that interested me and that’s when I really dove into the world of make-up, learning about all the different career options and understanding what being a freelance artist meant. I started doing research on schools and fell in love with MUD! Everyone said it was the best so I thought to myself, “this is it, I HAVE to go here!“
Pentatonix at the 2017 Grammys by Nicole Faulkner
MUD: What are you doing now?
Nicole: I graduated from MUD in early 2010, and since then I’ve been a freelance working artist here in LA! I live in the valley, near Sherman Oaks. I have a 2 bedroom so I could turn one room into a little studio for myself! I now work with some of the biggest directors, musicians, social media superstars, celebrities, actors, and make-up brands! I’ve worked with Def Leppard, T.I., 5 Seconds of Summer, French Montana, and toured the world all last year with 3 time Grammy award winners, Pentatonix. I work with TV stars like Leah Remini, Raven Simone, Eddie Griffin, Michelle Visage on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, VMAs, CMAs, Grammy’s…etc. I’ve done make-up on internet superstars like Tyler Oakley, Jeffree Star, Todrick Hall, Joey Graceffa, MannyMUA, Jaclyn Hill, Nicole Guerrero, TheGabbyShow, etc. I work with award winning director, Hannah Lux Davis who is so incredibly in demand — I’m lucky to be her go to girl for every music video she does! I also work closely with different makeup brands like Morphe Brushes, MAC cosmetics, Benefit Cosmetics, and Jeffree Star cosmetics for collaborative video content or campaign ads for new collections!
Jeffree Star by Nicole Faulkner
MUD: What did you do right after you left MUD?
Nicole: Right after I left MUD, I immediately started freelancing. I was actually freelancing while I was still in school at MUD! I started working with students from LA Film School and just networking a lot, taking every job I could even if there was little to no pay. I was also test shooting with different photographers, just trying to get my name out there and build a reputation and I knew that would take years so I wanted to start ASAP! But when I did graduate, I started booking more stuff — music videos with new upcoming artists, short films, and small feature films. I also got a job part-time at MAC Cosmetics.
Todrick Hall by Nicole Faulkner
MUD: What do you remember most vividly about your time at MUD?
Nicole: I remember how clean everything was, the white walls, white countertops, fresh scent. Everything felt clean and new every day, like each day was a fresh slate. I liked that a lot.
By Nicole Faulkner
MUD: Do you/will you stay in touch with the friends you made at MUD? Why do you think that is important in your line of work?
Nicole: My whole class was really cool — we would all hang out after school and on weekends but after that, we all kind of lost touch. Some people moved back to their hometowns or went on to hair school, etc. I did make one life long friend Barbra. She lives in Utah but we talk often and I go visit her about twice a year and that’s cool to have MUD as our memory of where we met and reminisce on that experience with her!
By Nicole Faulkner
MUD: Tell me about your best day at MUD!
Nicole: My best day at MUD was my last day at MUD because I remember reflecting on everything I just learned and that whole experience and just being so proud of myself and feeling READY for whatever, I have always been super ambitious and my MUD experience gave me that extra juice I needed to get out there and hustle.
RuPaul’s Drag Race judges, Michelle Visage and Todrick Hall.
Make-up by Nicole Faulkner
MUD: What are some lessons you learned at MUD that you think will be most beneficial in the “real world?”
Nicole: Sanitation! Number one most important thing you can ever learn in this industry! But also that hands-on experience working on all of my classmates — some with perfect skin and some with not-so-perfect skin. There’s so much variety and each face is different. Everyone’s eye shape, skin texture and skin tone are so different, so it was nice to sort of face everything you’re afraid of in class so when your out there working, you never feel insecure or scared of not being able to manipulate your product to work for a particular client.
Joseph Gordon Levitt with Nicole Faulkner on the set of “Hit Record.”
MUD: Would you have done anything differently?
Nicole: I specialize in avant garde make-ups and “heavy glam” type of looks and in school I would always try and do too much! In beauty class for example, I wanted to bust out all my tricks and crazy colors and big lashes. I thought basic HD beauty make-ups were boring, but when you really get out there, A LOT of jobs require just simple clean beauty make-ups and I didn’t really understand that. Being 18, I just thought “Oh, glitter, cut crease, huge winged liner on everyone!” I would have really taken that section more seriously because I ended up having to really train myself in the art of holding back and just executing clean, camera-ready looks. Just because you can do stuff doesn’t mean you have to do them all the time! There’s plenty of time to do all that fun, wild stuff with crazy colors and flex all of your creative muscles, but it’s also important to really understand and perfect the basics too!
Nicki Minaj at the VMAs. Backup dancer make-up by Nicole Faulkner.
MUD: Do you have any words of encouragement for those considering applying to MUD?
Nicole: You get what you put into the experience. If you come, really come. Like, be there mentally, physically, emotionally, all of it! Soak up all the knowledge you can and then get ready to work your butt off!
Nicole Faulkner and Frankie Grande
MUD: Lastly, what advice to you have for today’s MUD students?
Nicole: Just enjoy the experience! Always come to school with a good attitude, never bring personal life problems or stresses into the classroom — treat it like you’re on a make-up job. Clients look to us for constant good energy, good vibes, and positive words of encouragement and it’s so important that you project that. At the end of the day, it’s make-up. MAKE-UP! How fun is that? I feel lucky and blessed to have been so successful in a career I love so much and I’m so passionate about! Be positive, be grateful, make art, and be nice to each other!