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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Breaking into Fashion: Sam Fine


So after my last 'Breaking into Fashion' post, reader Michelle wrote the following:
"Fashion encompasses an array of artistic expression, but I am exposed only to the final product of the displayed image- style. Although I like styling, my interests are also held captive in the beauty arenas. Can you feature some make-up artists in the future?"
I'm not typically a beauty girl, so I decided to get in touch with my buddy Desiree...
A Fashion Bomb fanatic and two time Real Style subject, Desiree is also an aspiring makeup artist and beauty writer. She says, "I've been devouring beauty knowledge since I started wearing lipstick! Every time I bump into celebrity makeup artists I think, "I wish I had a blog to share this knowledge with other women."
Well, there's always the Fashion Bomb!
A few weeks ago, Desiree went to the International Beauty Show, and caught up with celebrity makeup artist Sam Fine...
An industry veteran, Sam has worked with everyone from Mary J. Blige, Brandy and Vanessa Williams to models Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, and Iman. Basically, he's the bomb!
He was gracious enough to answer a few questions for you aspiring beauty buffs out there.
When Chicago native Sam Fine moved to New York City, he certainly didn't have makeup artistry in mind. "I moved to New York to become a Fashion Illustrator, " he admits, "I took a job behind the cosmetics counter because I thought it would be easy...It looked really fun and no one there looked like they were doing any real work (laughs)..."
"...My best friend, who was a professional Makeup Artist, helped me tremendously and really taught me makeup. He helped me to translate my one-dimensional understanding of art into the three-dimensional world of beauty. I just practiced, and got into it, and really decided that I was going to take it seriously...Eighteen years later, you see where I am. "
An industry go-to, Fine has worked with everyone from Oprah to Gabrielle Union, Beyonce, and Tyra Banks, and has painted faces for Covergirl Campaigns, music videos, tours, and innumerable magazines.
Fine, who made up Patti Labelle's face for $150 when he first started out because he was just, "young and dumb and happy to be there," attributes his success to his inexorable passion for his work. "Looking back, I think there’s a beauty to being na├»ve and just going out on your own and doing something that you have a real passion for."
For you aspiring makeup artists, Sam stands by 'real world' experience instead of traditional beauty school. "I refer to the cosmetics counter as the real ‘School of Beauty’ - the real hands-on training, " he says, "There, you’re dealing with women of all different ages, features, and textures. And, you learn to understand personalities, which I think is a very big part of this industry. Education helps tremendously and school will make you more prepared to do a celebrity client; but, at the counter, you’ve dealt with so many women and so many different concerns that you can jump right in there and feel a lot more secure about doing a celebrity client..."
"...Being behind the counter, being on sets, and assisting – those are the kinds of things that add invaluable experience and really help to mold a career in a way that education doesn’t," he says, "That’s where you really excel and learn what the business is truly about. Assisting and interning is so important because you get the experience that you need to be a lot more secure in your own artistic ability. It sharpens your own point of view on what beauty means to you..."
Looking for his secret? He simply states, "When you put yourself in a position to do something great you’ll just meet similar people along the way." In terms of 'Breaking In' it seems as if the answer is: get to work! "This is one of the few businesses that doesn’t have a real training ground. There’s no direct route into the industry. At the end of the day, it’s really about what you do with your education and your passion...the passion is what helps you to excel..."
Learn more about Sam's work at his website, and keep your eyes peeled for an instructional makeup DVD this fall on his blog,
Also pick up a copy of his book, Fine Beauty...
Purchase by clicking here.
Fashion, News, and What Nots
*Snaps to Fashion Bomb flygirl Desiree for coordinating this amazing interview!
*If you, too, want to contribute to the Fashion Bomb, e-mail me with interest! I'm accepting applications for Fashion Bomb summer interns. There's no bling involved, but I can promise it'll be lots of fun. Shoot me an e-mail at along with a few ideas you think could work.
*Fun Fact: Sam is responsible for this May Ebony Magazine cover...
...featuring the beautiful Ugly Betty star Vanessa Williams. Fine more clips from inside over at Concrete Loop. [Concrete Loop]
*Check out the Breaking into Fashion archive for profiles of stylists, publicists, editors, and more! If you have something in mind you'd like to see, e-mail me.


Yetunde said...

Great post! I believe in what Sam said too. School can be good but, in some cases it is just better to go out there and do it! It gives you experience and you don't feel like you are spending so much time learning without the hands on experience.

What would you like my name to be? said...

love the post!

Fully Loaded said...

Same Fine is half man half amazing. He can beat a face like nobody's business.
BTW Claire I love what you are doing for Fashion. Keep up the fab work. Check out my blog sometime

Danz said...

His makeup skills are excellent!

On an unrelated note, the model on the cover of his book is a model from Barbados named Lene Hall.

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! Fantastic post...I am an aspiring makeup artist and this is what I needed to read!! Although I've already applied to a beauty school I will still go by his advice and do the "real world" experience.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH the Fashion Bomb!! These Breaking into Fashion Posts...amazing. Simple amazing.

Chimma Ezinne said...

The designer for Kimora's Lee Simmons is Kevan Hall.....Zee

vogued out!!! said...

His work is amazing, no wonder he looks good himself.