Born in Cairns - Australia, Damian set his sights on the international stage at an early age.
He began his makeup career in Paris assisting some of industries biggest names including former Chanel creative director for makeup, Peter Philips and travelling between Europe and the U.S to work the fashion week circuits.
In 2012 Damian joined Dior as part of their editorial and red carpet team of makeup artists for events such as Cannes Film Festival, and for assignments with VIP clients such as Princess Charlene of Monaco.
Then, in 2015 Damian earned a contract with Clinique in a role which has him travelling worldwide to create new digital content for the brand, as well as presenting new seasonal launches and hosting masterclasses in countries such as UAE, Russia, Spain, Australia, US, Germany & France.
His work has been published in magazines such as:
Vogue (Spain, Australia & Taiwan), L'Officiel Paris, Vanity Fair, Visionaire, Russh, Purple, Numéro, Narcisse, Marie Claire France, Elle France and many more.
His commercial clients have included:
Chanel, Dior, Lancome, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Van Cleef & Arpels, Clinique, L’Oreal Professionel, Cacharel, Vichy, Garnier, Rolex, Swatch, Fenty X Puma, AMI, Ksubi, Jacquemus, Ellery and others.
And his services have been requested for the likes of:
Eva Herzigova, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Candice Swanepoel, Karlie Kloss, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Taylor Hill, Winnie Harlow, Alice Dellal, Lou Doillon, Erin Wasson, Daisy Lowe, Melanie Laurent, Melanie Thierry, Chanel Iman, Erin Wasson, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Abbey Cornish just to name a few
We were lucky enough to sponsor Damian with our lipsticks for his masterclass in 2017.
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Damian some questions about his career growth and life advice.
Hey Damian! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for our Artist spotlight!
Before we get onto the questions, firstly tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
I’m Damian, an Aussie who came to Paris for an internship 10 years ago and never came back..
I’ve been in and around makeup more or less for about 17yrs, 12yrs full-time.
I grew up in Cairns, North Queensland which I go back to visit at least once or twice a year, I love it there.
I started out in special effects, then when I made the move to Europe I fell into fashion and eventually advertising / red carpet which is the realm I hover in nowadays.
I couldn’t possibly pick one.. being a 90’s kid I’ve always loved Fifth Element (Leeloo with her acid orange hair and beige on beige makeup.. it’s still a reference today over 20yrs later!) alongside The Craft, for the same 90’s grunge amazingness.
Also, any of Tarsem Singh’s films (The Fall or The Cell, with Jenny.. you know, JLO Jenny!) for his incredible colour palette and crazy beautiful costuming.
Red wine or white?
I’m not a big drinker, but I love red wine.. My Aussie makeup artist friend @sunnierplaces and I are those obnoxious foreigners who order a glass of red in a cafe at 4pm, when it’s totally taboo here in Paris to do so without ordering food.. (it’s pretty easy to offend the french!)
Wine is so cheap here, they drink it like lemonade.. my favourite is anything from the St.Emilion region (near Bordeaux, but the reds aren’t as heavy as a regular Bordeaux..) That’s about the extent of my wine knowledge!
We’ve had some serious heat waves here in France lately so I’m learning to appreciate whites for the first time...with ice! Scandaleux!
Morning person or night person?
Morning for sure!.. You learn pretty fast to be a morning person when a 7am call time actually means waking up at 5 to feed and caffeine yourself, then get yourself to the studio in time to set up in time to paint before the model stumbles in.
Also it’s a lot easier for me to reach my family in Oz on the way to work at that time of morning, given the 9hr time difference.
I love my long, leisurely mornings way more than late hedonistic nights!
I’m a retiree at heart, really.
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
My fiancé David & I are 3 weeks out from our wedding back home in Australia (therefore, honeymoooon!) so I cannot wait to spend the majority of this summer horizontal on a beach somewhere.. as far away from my makeup kit as possible, hopefully with something fruity in my hand! (No David, I didn’t call you a fruit..)
Where and how do you work best?
One of the most important things I learnt from my mentors during my assisting years was trying to set up your environment consistently the same almost every time, everywhere you work.
For a lot of us creatives it’s kind of crucial (but not everyone works like this..)
When you have to arrive on set everyday and suddenly be expected to spit out something creative and “extraordinaiirree” on a whim, it helps if at least your set up is consistently on point.
I work best nowadays with as much natural light as possible, so I travel with at least 1 light (“The Makeup Light” is my go-to) and at most 3!
But it’s super rare we have the space or the time to be bougie enough to set-up 3 lights.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“Turn off Instagram” All of the greats in our industry, back in their time, learnt to find their inspiration from a variety of sources. Most of these sources needed a certain amount of effort to attain (ie: actually getting up and going to an art exhibition, paying for a physical magazine.. getting out in nature etc.) I stopped really scrolling through instagram for any length of time, a few years back. It’s crazy what you can actually produce creatively when you’re not overly influenced by your own instagram feed!
I think we are way too overwhelmed with imagery these days that it’s become kind of all redundant.
Most of what’s done on instagram, makeup wise, is a reference of a reference anyway..and there are a number of very high profile makeup artists who I know for a fact spend hours retouching every inch of their makeup images - so how could anyone humanly achieve that level of perfection in real life? It’s all become a bit out of hand.
Not exercising the muscle in your brain that learns to think laterally is the death of a makeup artists creativity, IMO.
It’s tough, but longevity in this career will span beyond anything you see or learn from instagram - so Artists: get off the couch!
Also: Be nice.. it’s not the 80’s anymore, diva creatives don’t actually get anywhere, we’re replaceable within the hour! It’s not that hard, be a kind, collaborative team player so that people will actually want to work with you again.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
I’ve been playing with makeup since I was 14 years old, back when I used to be a Ballroom Dancer. I was paired up with a dancing partner at the time who couldn’t paint her face to save herself, so I picked up a brush and taught myself on a whim and became obsessed ever since! She was my first big inspiration, and, poor thing, lived through some pretty awful early experimentation years with makeup haha.
When I came to Paris I was lucky enough to meet some other Aussie’s, who through some degree of separation or another knew makeup artist Peter Philips, and got us introduced. I assisted him and a few other makeup greats (Stephane Marais, Diane Kendal, Dick Page etc) for a number of years on shows around Europe, US, Asia.. it was incredible. Lots of “pinch me” moments, and travelling with them gave me insight also into the business side of the industry which is a whole other animal in and of itself. They were and are my biggest influences today still, alongside other greats like Serge Lutens, Kevyn Aucoin. I almost cried the day Jed Root, Kevyn’s ex-boyfriend/agent signed me onto his agency at 22 yrs old. Kevyn’s books were my YouTube before YouTube!
Last but not least, Rae Morris is a more local hero (but no less an international superstar) who took me in way way early on when I still lived in Melbourne. She was always such a champion of my work, I learnt a lot from her in the beginning and am so grateful that she gave me the little push I needed to chase my dream in Europe!
What is your favourite makeup look to do?
Starting out by learning Ballroom Dancing makeup (ie: Drag!) and then falling in the deep end of the fashion industry and having to un-learn everything I knew and start from scratch, was pretty humbling!
These days I’m obsessed with creating the most skin-like-skin possible.. the opposite of Instagram makeup really!
There’s a real art to creating glowy skin that looks as good in real life as it does in photos, so I’m really into skin prep at the moment. I love ultra rich hyaluronic acid serums, and @mynuface microcurrent device (when I have the time to use it on a client!)
Pair that kind of gorgeous prepped skin with a fabulous glitter eye and a nude lippy (Lou Lou Lips Billy, perhaps?!).. and there’s nothing more modern and sexy.
Skin is ALWAYS in!
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Honestly, trying to immerse into another culture and language is completely destabilising. Paris is very glamorous from the outset, but all the ancient/backward social codes, bureaucratical headaches (mountains of paperwork!) and pokey little apartments wears away at the charm after a while.
But it’s a city that attracts some pretty incredible, zany, inspiring expats who I make the choice to surround myself with - which makes it all OK!
Also, between here London & NYC, you can’t beat the slow lifestyle à-la-Française, it’s super chill.
Except when you need a plumber and they don’t show up for 5 days, then it’s a bit too chill!
What has been your biggest win so far?
Without tooting my own horn, managing to survive 10 years freelancing in Paris is quite an achievement, and I think my strictly come-as-it-goes attitude has helped align me with the right people, at the right place/time etc.
Doing Princess Charlene of Monaco’s makeup at her castle in Monaco was pretty amazing too (and hilarious.. she answered the door in workout gear playing Rihanna loudly in the background, she’s super chill!)
What’s your best advice for handling criticism?
Makeup Artists are inherently very sensitive about their own work. It’s taken me years to understand that it’s never really “personal”. If the makeup doesn’t work for the client, you can’t always argue it - majority of the time they’ve already decided it’s not right so it’s up to you to decide how to react to that and present a solution. That’s what we’re there for.
There are a few times, however, that they’re actually wrong - so you really need to dig deep and choose language that’s going to convince them it’s a good idea without being condescending. It takes a lot of energy, and practice! But it’s a super valuable tool in the long run.
Occasionally on social media I’ve had trolls say the most random, nasty, irrelevant things about my work. Delete and Block - I haven’t got the time to engage with toxic people like that! And it’s usually them projecting some kind of jealousy on you anyway, so, #bye
What’s next for you?
I try to keep looking forward, and diversifying as much as I can. This is such a selfish industry, so I’m always craving to create more collaborative experiences of my own to keep myself busy and interested!
For the past few months I’ve been collaborating with a few industry friends to pitch, produce and film a documentary about a local LGBT youth shelter called Le Refuge. My fiancé and I will both be involved by chatting to the kids and learning about their story, on screen, in French! It’s the scariest, most exciting project I’ve embarked on in a long time. I think those kind of challenges are super important to keep you motivated.
I also had the chance with Clinique to spend a few years travelling the globe to places like Moscow, Dubai, New York, Cape Town, Madrid etc to hold Makeup Masterclasses which was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever taken part in.
In 2020 I’m developing a series of Makeup Workshops aimed at makeup artists (beginner & advanced alike) which I’m super excited about!
There is SO much mis-information out there, I truly believe it’s crucial that artists continue to learn and push their creativity to it’s limits so I’m determined to help more young artists realise their potential.
If a young girl or boy walked up to you asking for your advice on life, what would it be?
Be whatever you want to be in life, just DON’T become a makeup artist !
I’d probably tell them to make those difficult decisions in life with a 100,000 ft view kind of outlook on things.. learning not to take yourself too seriously is usually a good place to start.
What is your favourite Lou Lou Lips lipstick and why?
I love both Ned & Billy as nudes, depending on my clients skin tone. They’re the perfect balance of warm & cool so they’re a great accessory to any eye makeup.
I also love Robert all over the lips (excuse-you!) with a touch of William dabbed in the centre for a gorgeous 2 tone “what is that lipstick she’s wearing?!” kind of pop!
For us, lipstick is something which gives us that extra boost of confidence, what gives you confidence to take on each and every day?
At the moment I’m obsessed with mixing in any kind of facial tan gel/stain into my face oil for a radiant pick-me-up, especially during the harsh EU winters when my skin starts to look dull AF!
Also - the best thing about being in your thirties is you start to give much less f**s about things in general, so I’m learning to face challenges that used to horrify me in my 20’s, head on without overthinking it. That kind of confidence can take you anywhere!
Follow Damian's journey on Instagram here