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Conversations with Emily Seeley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Seeley.

Hi Emily, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Since childhood creating has been my passion, my comfort, and my escape. I lost my dad to cancer at the age of six. The loss was incredibly difficult for my family. I think I subconsciously channeled my emotions into my creativity. It began with drawing every moment I could as a young kid, progressed to painting soon after, and transformed into a passion for makeup artistry in my early teens.

I took every art class I could throughout middle and high school, studied under some wonderful professors in pre-college programs with Maryland Institute College of Art, and even continued on to take painting classes in college. I developed a deep understanding of facial structure and color theory, which definitely gave me an edge in learning makeup artistry.

When I was twelve or thirteen, I watched my first makeup tutorial on YouTube, which was a very different platform at the time. There were only a handful of popular makeup-related videos. Basically, if you wanted to learn anything besides a simple day-look, or full-on-smoky-eye, you were out of luck. It was exhilarating to me at the time, though. I taught myself to do makeup using YouTube tutorials and steadily improved each year. Senior year it occurred to me that I could do this professionally. My first entrepreneurial venture was charging girls twenty dollars to do their makeup for senior prom. I had six customers. It was a huge success to me at the time and made me want to keep going.

Soon after high school graduation, I was offered a full-time artist position at M.A.C. Cosmetics. I had to turn it down since I was entering college and had a pretty demanding schedule. Still, the offer was a self-esteem boost. I began casually offering my services to friends and classmates. By eighteen, I had a couple of bridal parties under my belt that I scored based on friends’ recommendations. The same year I got a summer job as a makeup artist for a hair salon. I owe a lot to that job. There I gained confidence, skill, and some great connections that lasted into my freelance career. Since then, I’ve been creating nonstop.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The initial stages of turning my art into a business were the most difficult. I was young and still am. It was a struggle to be taken seriously and still is. Early on, it felt like no one wanted to take a chance on such an inexperienced makeup artist. I understand it now. As a client, it’s safer to go with the professional with a developed portfolio and years of industry experience rather than the eighteen-year-old with no references or portfolio to present. I guess all artists- or people, for that matter – just starting out deal with the same thing. I’m twenty-two now with lots of experience under my belt and plenty of work to show for it and I still sometimes run into the same issue. It can be discouraging at times, but I just keep creating and let my work speak for itself. I rest assured knowing my clients are always leave me happy and feeling beautiful.

Another broader struggle is getting people as a whole to recognize makeup artistry as a legitimate art form. I’m sure every makeup-wearing person has heard the remarks, “you don’t need makeup to be pretty,” “you look better without all that makeup,” or, my favorite, “men prefer a natural face.” These comments are ridiculous to me. Unfortunately, they speak to a prevalently accepted narrative that the primary function of makeup artistry is to make women more attractive to men. Makeup is creative expression, just like painting, dance, music, or any other art form. It’s for everyone, regardless of gender identity, race, ethnicity, or creed. I would love for more people to shift their focus toward the creativity, empowerment, and rich history of makeup artistry.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a professional freelance makeup artist and makeup content creator. I specialize in bridal, special events, and editorial makeup, as well as natural enhancements. I would say I’m known for my precision, attention to detail, and…brows! Brow transformations are my favorite. My diverse skillset and the personalization of my service sets me apart, for sure. Inclusivity and representation are especially important to me and to my business, so I made sure to start learning early on in my career how to create flawless makeup for all skin tones, textures, and types. I spend time with every client discussing their wants and needs, assessing their skin type and facial structure, and finally creating a personalized look for them. I am anything but a one-size-fits-all artist. I take pride in making my clients feel safe, heard, and thrilled with their results. It’s rewarding to know I can satisfy anyone that sits in my chair.

How do you define success?
I believe success is growth. If you are growing spiritually, mentally, in your work, or otherwise, you are succeeding. I’m a firm believer in mindfulness, self-reflection, and self-care. I often fumble along the way, but I constantly strive for self-improvement. Whether it be allowing yourself to learn empathy, reaching a fitness goal, or setting healthy boundaries, it’s all success to me.

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