Do you ever go onto Instagram to have a quick, casual scroll and then before you know it, you’ve been sucked into a black hole of mesmerising makeup tutorial videos? That seems to be the case for us whenever we click onto makeup artist Stella Tu’s profile. What can we say? Her makeup creations are stunning! We were super excited to chat to Stella about her career, her love for makeup, and—of course—the top products she can’t live without.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a full-time freelance hair and makeup artist working in fashion, beauty, and bridal. My hobbies change all the time—at the moment I’m really into skincare and learning about their ingredients and the impact they have on the skin.
How did you know you wanted to study and work in the makeup industry?
Growing up, I was never certain about what kind of career I wanted to pursue. After high school, I went into marketing because I felt that it would give me a stable job in the future. Halfway through the degree, I decided to take a break because I knew it wasn’t my passion.
One day I was casually chatting to my Mum about whether I should continue with the degree, and she said, “if this is not your passion, then you’ll need to find something else to do. In today’s world having a profession is more important than study—why don’t you do makeup?”
I was always the one who loved to glam up the family, especially my two sisters, and I was always recommending products to my family and friends, so I enrolled in Makeup Artistry and never looked back!
Tell us a little about your career and how you got your start in the industry.
I graduated from Makeup Artistry in 2009, where I learned about a range of topics—everything from beauty to makeup to special effects makeup. I undertook work experience during my studies, too. One of my most memorable times while studying was when I was selected to be the Assistant Artist for Melbourne School of Fashion’s Graduation Fashion Show in 2009. From that experience, I knew I would pursue a makeup career in fashion.
Before starting full-time freelancing, I was working at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, which helped me develop my skills in so many ways. Working in a retail environment not only helped me build experience on all types of skin tones, textures, and features, but it also helped with my interpersonal skills. I was fortunate enough to become part of Bobbi Brown’s national artist team and a studio manager, which allowed me to manage my own team, hold educational events, and partake in Bobbi Brown X Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia.
But becoming a full-time freelancer and working in beauty and fashion is definitely my favourite role to date. I felt that working for a brand just wasn’t enough and I really wanted to pursue my artistry side. I was promoting my artistry on Instagram and working with different creatives whilst working in retail. Once I felt I had the skills to go out on my own, I started to work with more creatives and develop my client relationship, pursuing my business full time.
How has social media helped you in your career?
Social media has shaped a big part of my career. When I first graduated in 2009, Instagram didn’t really exist, so it was harder for us to find creative people or to get noticed. Instagram definitely opens doors to help artists build their careers. Having good content is always something that I work on a lot, practicing how to film and what lighting works the best to present makeup or hair. I’ve also found that engaging with your audience by replying to comments and DMs is very important. It takes a lot of determination and patience to build any social platform.
What is your favourite type of look to create? Where do you find creative inspiration?
I love doing fluffy brows, lines and skin—I’m passionate about making skin look like skin without looking like makeup. I’m also constantly challenging myself, so creating strong lines is something I love to do (despite the fact that I’ve always had shaky hands!)
I get inspiration from fellow artists and faces in our industry, such as Patrick Ta, Nikki Makeup, and James Molloy, just to name a few! But I also think that consuming too much information from others can distract your own ability to create your style, so it’s important that I draw inspiration from a range of places. For me, I reference things like nature and the ocean for colour inspiration, or architecture and buildings for line inspiration.
What are your 5 must-have products that you can’t live without?
- Lash curler
- Brow pencil
What advice would you give to anyone interested in pursuing a career in makeup?
- Doubt yourself, that’s how you get better!
- Always learn how to pick yourself back up after setbacks
- Work hard and never stop learning
- Learn how to communicate and listen to your client. This is very important no matter what path of makeup you pursue.
Interested in pursuing a career in makeup? Check out our makeup courses here or apply today for 2021 enrolments!