Chic, slick, and playful, are just some of the words we’d use to describe Meena Bhella’s handiwork as a Makeup Artist. A self-confessed makeup worshipper, Meena is a talented artist who explores everything from glossy red eyelids to green appliqué eyebrows. Meena was the MUA we knew we had to have for our launch campaign; she also killed it in our #FestivalSlapp series. An unafraid voice in politics and social justice, she’s a woman who speaks her mind and puts her money where her mouth is.
We caught up with Meena to chat about life on set, Cassie and ransacking eBay for sequins.
What inspired you to become a makeup artist?
I wanted to be a pop star to begin with, but that dream sank like a ship, haha! I was always drawn to the creative subjects at school but it seemed like all my passions were not seen as a ‘real job’, so I left school feeling a little lost. A few years later, I found a course in media-makeup and SFX. This included working in film, magazines, music videos and working with celebrities and runway shows - so that’s when I thought, ‘this sounds like the kind of industry I want to be part of!’ Alongside that, I took an A Level in Fine Art. Suddenly all this hidden talent I didn’t realise I had came flooding out. I never looked back.
What do you love about your job the most?
No day is the same; you are presented with the most extraordinary locations, clients, and people you meet along the way. I love the opportunities my job brings me.
So what's an average day of work like on set?
It depends on what the job is; film and editorial are very different. A typical day of filming can be something like 12+ hours! If I’m shooting something for editorial it would be at least 6-8 hours. I find the day really begins the night before - going through your kit, packing your relevant products, cleaning your brushes and checking over and over again that everything is there. Effectively you’re working before you even arrive. You might be researching ideas and picking your products days before; a lot of prep is involved. On the day itself, I work closely with key team members such as the stylist and director.
Which advice would you give to aspiring MUAs?
‘Makeup Artist’ covers a huge area, it’s key to think about where you want to carry your creativity. Ask yourself what type of Makeup Artist you want to be. Do you want to focus on Bridal makeup? Then present your work in a style that would attract brides. Are you interested in creating gory prosthetics? Then TV or film is best suited to you. If you prefer to be more experimental and drawn to fashion concepts, then focus your style around this. The training required is very different for all types, once you have found your niche start building a portfolio of work around the industry you are targeting. Test and experiment as often as you can and use social media to show off your talent; you never know who might be watching you.
What has your experience been of diversity in the beauty industry?
This is such a huge topic from race, to weight, to gender. I feel that everyone wants to be seen as ‘represented’ but is this a realistic goal? Can we really represent every single category? There are so many different cultures that identify with unconventional ideals of what is beautiful. How do we make them all inclusive? There are many questions that haven’t been answered and many boxes that people are so desperate to fill it’s hard to find a resolution. Therefore the debate goes on.
How do you stay motivated?
You have to genuinely love what you do. Sometimes jobs are paid very little or not at all. The industry is massive, it’s a rat race and everyone is suddenly becoming a Makeup Artist. Whilst conquering your way to the top, I always remind myself why I am doing this in the first place. Soon as you fall out of love, it feels exhausting.
What is beautiful to you?
This will sound like a pack of cheese balls but it’s 100% all about inner beauty. It’s all about YOU and how you present yourself, your confidence and the way you treat people. We’ve all met that girl and thought “wow she’s hot, shame about her personality!” I think that says it all; what radiates from within is what we see outside.
Who, if anyone, is your beauty muse?
Cassie is my ultimate babe. I could stare at her all day. In fact I dare you to find me a picture where she looks bad, I promise you won’t! ;)
A lot of your work is dynamic and bright - is that also key to your own look?
My personal style is very different, actually! I’m not too keen on heavy makeup, in fact I never wear foundation - I am more about eyes and lips. A typical night-out look would be something like brown smokey eyes or a block of bright lippy.
How was the Slapp #FestivalBeauty shoot?
I loved the freedom of creativity to go all out. I literally ransacked eBay for rhinestones and sequins, I mean when else could you slap a load of sparkle all over a face and get away with it? I think that was my favourite look. I didn’t want the model [Jennifer] to take it off. It’s always great working with the founder [Jamila]; she’s so organised and open to creativity. She really trusts in instincts.
Could you share an early beauty memory or mistake with us?
I was doing my mum’s friend’s wedding makeup, so I thought I’d be clever and reduce my kit down and pack what I needed in a smaller bag. My mum had a broken arm at this point so I was trying to get her ready as well as myself, hence reducing the kit. I got in the car, drove to my destination to find that I had left my neatly packed makeup bag at HOME!!! I wanted to die! I never drove so fast in my life. Even thinking about it gives me nightmares. I never want to experience that again.
If you could only Slapp on one beauty product, what would it be?
It would have to be some sort of double ended brow pencil that has a brush at the end. I can’t live without an eyebrow brush. In fact I brush my brows more than my hair!
Follow Meena: @bhellamakeup