Makeup Artist to the Stars Gregory Arlt Visits our Burbank School for MUD Talks

One might know Gregory Arlt for his pin-up red carpet looks on Dita Von Teese, his vintage doll-like makeup on Katy Perry for her One of the Boys album cover, or his glamorous editorial work with Angelina Jolie for Vanity Fair. Make-up artist Gregory Arlt has had an expansive and successful 25-year career in the makeup industry. Luckily for us, Arlt dropped by our Burbank location for one of our MUD Talks to lend the students some red carpet tips, skin care recommendations, and stories from his work with the industry’s top stars and photographers.

Photography: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott

When asked how he became interested in makeup, Arlt can point to a few distinct moments. Watching Culture Club on MV3 (what he called the “poor man’s MTV”), Arnt says his “whole life changed.” Not only was the star in makeup a man, something Arlt had never seen before, but also this was a moment in which Arlt’s suburban bubble of Westchester exploded to reveal a whole new world at his disposal. Arlt also points to the first time he saw his lipstick-loving mother come home from a department store makeover with eyeshadow for the first time, and flipping through Francesco Scavullo’s book Women. Inspired by the transformative power of makeup, Arlt went on to develop the distinctive glamorous style he is now known for.

But Arlt’s talk was not all about his own biography. Scrolling through a slideshow of his favorite makeup looks, Arlt sprinkled in advice and stories of moments shared with some of his favorite faces. Here are some of his top tips:

  1. First, focus on skin: Looking at a bold-lipped photo of six-year client Gwen Stefani, Arlt draws attention to her clear, glowy skin. “A lot of makeup artists want to go to the fun stuff” he said, but “my brain doesn’t even compute that. You can throw on mascara running down the hallway or a lip whereas if you go on with your skin not being done and there’s imperfections or discoloration, everything gets negated.” Advocating that a makeup artist should never rely on photoshop for anything, achieving perfect, flawless skin is always his primary emphasis for editorial work.

    Photo courtesy of gregoryarlt.com
  2. Know your makeup history: “However important you think it is, it’s nowhere near how important” as it should be, Arlt says. Discussing 60s references in a Katy Perry makeup look, Arlt encourages makeup artists to ask questions, like “Is it Twiggy is it Edie Sedgwick is it Pamela Grier?” or just “where in the 60s are we?” Albeit fun, having good historical knowledge is also a necessity when references are the language of the industry.

    Photo courtesy of gregoryarlt.com
  3. Make your model feel good: Discussing the intricacies of red carpet makeup, Arlt’s bottom line is that he wants the star to feel “like the A+ version of themselves.” When it comes to red carpet, this means doing a makeup that works not only for an image but also when the star is talking to people, or allowing there to be a little more attention on the dress for a change. One specific tip he had for red carpet is to still moisturize the skin: since the client will likely be showing more of it, make sure the skin moisturized and healthy before toning down the shine with foundation and powder

    Photography: Aleksandar Tomovic

Thank you for taking the time to come to campus and speak with our students, Gregory!

MUD Talks: Denika Bedrossian

MUD Talks Denika BedrossianDenika-Bedrossian-01

Photo by Deverill Weeks

Last fall, we were lucky enough to have the very talented and incredibly gracious, Denika Bedrossian come to our LA campus in Burbank. She spoke with us about her career so far, from the ups and downs, to working with Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kelly Osbourne, and many more.

MUD: How did you get into makeup?

I used to paint when I was a kid. It just kind of felt natural, with brushes, paint, colors, blending and stuff. When I was old enough to do my own make-up, I started playing around a lot. I used to watch my mom doing her own make-up, so it kind of made me a little more inspired to not do it on paper anymore. So, I started doing it (make-up) on my friend’s hair for dances at school and all that. Then, when I turned 16, I started working for Aveda, doing make-up demos for them at a salon near my house. When I turned 18, I went straight to MAC.

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Make-up on Kelly Osbourne

MUD: Talk about your career and some of the highlights?

So, I had some amazing years at MAC. They were the greatest, and the best education I could have asked for. From there, I made a lot of great contacts and a lot of great friends. It kind of led me to understand which realm of make up I wanted to go into, because there are so many different departments for it. I ended up transferring to the MAC Pro store on Robertson, which, at the time was the big flagship store. I ended up meeting a lot of industry people there and kind of just got my name out. After 8 great years, I left, got an agent and started working in the freelance world and I’ve been doing it ever since.

MUD: What is your favorite project you ever worked on and why?

I have had a lot of amazing projects. I’m really proud of a lot of things I’ve done. I did one really great one, when I worked at MAC there was an event called Chinese Dress, where they brought different fabrics that were made in all different parts of Asia, and we duplicated on skin. They closed down Robertson Blvd, and put all these great models against these real painted backdrops of art. They just kind of blended in, and one of my girls that I got to work on was covered in lily pads and frogs. It was 16 hours we worked on her, and it was the most gratifying thing to see at the end. Later on in my career, I was working with Miley Cyrus where we got to do some amazing body art. I covered her in 12 different kinds of glitters with different sizes and colors from head to toe. It was probably the most ethereal thing I’ve ever photographed or seen with my own work. So it was really beautiful and dreamy.And then recently I worked with Lady Gaga so that was a great moment. I feel like every day a new project is great memory so I kind of just wait and see what comes next.

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 Above mentioned glitter make-up on Miley Cyrus

MUD: What does an agent do for a makeup artist?

An agent is not only your support team and your number one fan. They book your work, they do all your deal memos, and they pitch you.  They introduce you and your work to different publicists, and artists.  They kind of run your life for you, keep it organized and make sure you get paid. So it’s a nice way to have someone take care of all the stuff you don’t have the time to deal with and get the work you might not be able to get on your own.

MUD: What qualities do you feel are important to have as a make-up artist?

I think that it’s really important that you hold your own, have your own style and our own ethics. For me personally, I was brought up with very strong morals and I don’t like to veer away from them. So I keep jobs very professional but fun and exciting. I always know where to draw the line plus I always bring (to my clients) something that makes them feel good whether it’s a story, a product or it’s just my smile.  I always find a way to be consistent with that and I think that’s what makes people want to see you again. It’s important to have your own thing going on so that people miss it and want it.

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Make-up on Lydia Hearst for Mint magazine

MUD: What kind of things do you think a make-up artist needs to do to stay relevant in todays market?

Well nowadays social media is the number one thing. I know when I was growing up and getting in the business, social media wasn’t even a thought.   We had big leather books we had to mail out to people to get jobs. I think today it’s about incorporating your personal life into your work life and showing a side of you (but not too much of you) in posting your work as well as tagging companies consistently. This includes maintaining relationships with different people and reaching out to photographers. Using the social media platform to get your own work is so important. That’s how work is booked these days.

MUD: What is the best advice you could give to brand new makeup artist?

To always learn, learn, learn and never be done learning.  Stay on top of your knowledge, not only in make-up and beauty, but in fashion, music and film because everything ties together. You never know where a job’s going to bring you, so it’s important that you kind of stay on top of every department there is in this business. Stay true to you and always, always, always be all over everything you see.

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Make-up on Ivy Levan

MUD: Are there any last thoughts that you’d like to leave us with?

I would say being a make up artist is one of the greatest gifts in the world. I wouldn’t change it for anything ever. I am truly blessed to have this job and met every person I’ve worked with. Never give up, because you might have those days where you feel like it’s not going anywhere or maybe didn’t make the right choice for your future, but at the end of the day, if it’s what you love, its going to happen and it’s going to get better.

Photo Credit : Denika Bedrossian’s Agency Portfolio