Abias Makeup Artist of the Year 2014

What. A. Weekend!

This weekend I hosted the Face2Face Makeup Awards at the Spa and Beauty Expo, Sydney. It was a fantastic year once again with the judges job incredibly hard… the standard each year gets better and better! (I will recap on this at a later date)

On Sunday after the Face2Face Awards, I went to a hotel with my Mum and we hurriedly got ready to go to the ABIAs Gala Awards evening in Darling Harbour.

Myself and my hot date, Mumsy!

A couple of months ago I went to my amazing Tarot Reader whom is always spot on.. we talked about  variety of topics including the awards.. after consulting the cards she went on to tell me I wasn’t going to get it. She said someone who has entered quite a few times (this was my first year) was going to get it however I was to do well out of it regardless… she said I will be wise about it and will go on to do amazing things anyway. As she has been spot on about everything in the past… I have carried on with things knowing full well I wasn’t going to be awarded anything and of course, have felt like a winner this year seeing how far I have come despite many setbacks.

Even whilst Mumsy and I were getting ready… never did the thought cross my mind once that I was a possibility. I had an idea of whom I thought should win and that was that. I was more interested in having a great night and celebrating getting this far with my Mum which was her first trip to Sydney to visit me. Walking to the venue… or should I sashaying to the venue i our gowns there were no nerves… just excitement for a champagne and a good time.

We arrived to the new venue ON Darling Harbour and I was able to catch up with many fellow artists and friends from the industry. It was a perfect end to a hectic week.

We were sat at our tables and the event began… Will Fennell was once again the amazing host of the evening and I was excited to see Greg Gould sing live!

A couple of champagnes down and I was relaxed… apart from the fact once again a caterer has interpreted the fact I am Gluten Free as a sign I dont want to eat anything tasty… the night was so much fun. ( Asparagus for entree, Asparagus and mashed potato for main… and after I had to request a Dessert, I was able to have one bite of before they took it away during my acceptance speech…. let me point out that everyone elses meal looked insanely delicious and I was jealous)

Time came to announce Makeup Artist of the Year.

Everyone at the table looked at me funny and I told them to stop being ridiculous it wasn’t my year.

All the finalists work was shown up on the big screen… man there was some amazing work up there!  The finalists were:

Elizabeth Kramer

Kylie Apostoles

Sandy Tau

Kylie Eustace

Vivianne Tran

Sheri Vegas

Mia Connor


Clare Mac

Ali Price

Erin Bigg

Becca Gilmartin

Myself and fellow amazing artists… Kylie Eustace, Mia Connor, Erin Bigg, Claire Mac, myself and Vivienne Tran

We were all invited on stage to receive a gift from Bodyography…and then a couple of other award announcements later… they announced the winner.

We were all shaking in our boots from anticipation. Meanwhile… I kept sipping my champagne feeling cocky about the fact I had inside info I wasn’t going to get it.

Our presenter explained the award was not for makeup alone… but for contribution to our industry, professionalism amongst other attributes… then says ‘lets just show you the winner’

All of a sudden… one of my images shows up on the big screen…. I think I even dropped my dessert fork in shock. For the next few minutes I am treated to the best collection of my portfolio all to the music of Michael Jacksons ‘Love Never Felt So Good’


My Mum took this shot of me in absolute shock trying to work out why my images were up there… My card reader for once was wrong!

What an absolute shock and honour!

The next thing to go through my head was ‘oh shit… I need to give a speech… I haven’t even thought of what to say… I regret the champagne!’

I made it on stage to accept the worlds largest award and I think I managed to give a speech that hopefully made sense and gave justice to actually how I was feeling.

Thanks to Claire Mac for this shot… I must have been funny with Will Ferrell laughing there in the background.

I do know I started my speech with ‘I clearly need a new card reader’ ha ha ha!

What I want to do though… in light of the fact I didn’t prepare a speech… is now indulge myself in writing what I would have loved to say up on stage. I will also include my entry I sent as part of my entry to the Abias.

I would have started by thanking my Mum for making the trip to Sydney and being my date… I didn’t in my speech due to being overwhelmed by the whole situation.

Manny.. you show how I feel so well….

I would have then thanked Mocha Publishing and Bodyography for making it all possible.

One thing I attempted to say but unsure of how it came out … is mentioning the other finalists. Someone made a comment on stage that it was unusual to see a bunch of makeup artists being so friendly together… my reaction to that was suprise.

What we do as makeup artists is combine Art and People into a career… we do this because we love both equally. Of course we are going to be friendly… we all admire and respect each others work… at least that’s my experience and I dont believe it should be any other way. This job is half service industry and half creative… there is something to be admired from each artists career and when we support each other… it makes what we do so much better. I wouldn’t have such a fun career if it wasn’t for the friendships with the artists around me. Not only do I not feel so alone in a freelance environment… but who else would I refer work to? Who else would I be able to vent to in times of need? I see these friendships as essential and I dont see any reason for it to be any other way.

In my speech I would then take a moment to mention how much of a massive acknowledgement this is. For me… this is a perfect tip of the hat to remind me despite the setbacks, hard days and constant questioning of myself and from others… I have been on the right track. Believe me… it hasn’t always been clear I was doing the right thing and many times…. maaaany times I considered getting a ‘real job’… if I could offend my entire industry by using that term.

For those whom dont know me and think I make it all look easy… I am about to share some details about my career that you may see yourself in the story. Hopefully for some of you it will also remind you you too are on the right track. This is a condensed version but I hope it makes a difference to someone.

I have officially been a MUA for 14 years. I completed a 3 month diploma and entered the world of Makeup Artistry thinking I wanted to get into film. It was the only course I ever did. I moved to NZ to follow my heart and also try and get onto Lord of The Rings… in which I had successful interviews for but as fate would have it… never worked a day. Fate was strong for the 4 years I lived in Wellington.

I ALMOST had work on L.O.T.R., King Kong, River Queen and also later in Australia a few films here. Even as recently as this year I just had a MUA tell me they were trying to get me on Gods of Egypt. Fate has a giant big hand that spookily swats any opportunity in film despite how promising it looks for me. You can imagine after 5 years of trying… my confidence was squashed… in the meantime I worked in retail and did freelancing on the side. It had nothing to do with my skill set but a cruel twist of fate. Unbelievable twists of fate that you wouldn’t believe. Even as crazy as meeting a guy at a party in Wellington once who looked like Hagrid… I was telling him of my fate with getting onto film with the most recent being River Queen… he went white… he then went on to tell me he was in fact the reason I didnt get the job – he just so happened to be in the office when they were deciding between myself and another artist (which I had recommended) and as he had met her once in a cafe… he said they should employ her. They originally wanted 2 artists but had to cut one of us away… fate chose me… again… Incredible.

The man I moved to NZ for passed away which was devastating… but not long after I met the man who was going to be my husband… we eventually moved back to OZ and started all over again.

Fast forward past working my way up through retail and eventually becoming Head of Campus at Napoleon Perdis Makeup Academy… just over 3 years ago my 4.5 year marriage ended.  I had been freelancing full time for only 2 years. It’s not the time to bring out the violins… we are still friends and just realised we weren’t the match for each other.

At that moment I realised what I needed to do to survive as a newly single Makeup Artist… I needed to trust my instincts.. even though my head said I was crazy… and a couple of months after we separated… with no money to my name… a couple of contacts and a lead on a place to stay… I packed my car with a small amount of belongings and my makeup kit and moved to Sydney.

I knew I had to do it… I had wanted to do it for 3 years already but made it work commuting for jobs. In retrospect.. I was a crazy woman. Who moves to Australia’s most expensive city as a freelance makeup artist with no backup? Apparently me.

All I knew what to do was make actions every day that would help build my career here. The past 3 years certainly haven’t been easy… I have lived for weeks on a bag of rice and frozen veggies just so I can pay rent… over the past 14 years I have been without somewhere to live because of this job 3 times… once in Sydney… once in NZ and once in Perth. There have been more highs and lows than I would like to count but one thing stayed the same. I love what I do and I want to keep doing it.  Its a gut feeling I need to be doing this crazy job. I have visions of the work I want to do in the future and I just use the power of positive thinking to keep moving towards that. (I talk a lot about this in my course and soon to be completed book… stay tuned)

There have been many days where I would question if it was worth the hard times… and the answer was always yes, although I would have preferred to not experience them. They are starting to get few and far between now… but for a long time… I would even have to go without anything but bare essentials in the pantry and bathroom just to afford rent and a new foundation or lashes etc. You know you need to call the debt collectors for someone to pay your invoice when you cant afford toilet paper. Then it would be paid and you will be rich for a couple of weeks. All the freelancers will know exactly what I mean… I am not a special case.

Positive thinking has been my savior… and its a daily practice… sometimes even a moment by moment practice…it keeps me moving forward when ‘Becca from a few years ago would have collapsed in a heap.’ I still dont own any Rae Morris Brushes… or any fancy additions to my makeup kit… I just use what I have been able to afford and whats been gifted to me and do the best with what I have. (I will soon be getting Raes brushes dont you worry! They are delicious!) It hasnt been a consistent run of being poor.. but anyone who lives in Sydney knows how expensive it is to live here. Even at the start I knew I was doing well to pay my bills as a freelancing mua… but sometimes that’s all I could afford. Bills. No IMATS spending sprees for this one for the first couple of years.

2014 has been the best year… and please dont think its all been doom and gloom with me…

Sprinkled in between the hard times have been some amazing opportunities and life long friendships formed. I wanted to however put some of the harsh reality of my career in a nutshell for those who are experiencing similar realities to show you… its OK… keep going… do what you need to do just dont give up. We all have different journeys.. some are easy.. some are like mine and I constantly feel like a fat kid falling down a set of stairs… but its all perfect if you follow your crazy gut instincts. It doesn’t always look the way you imagine.

Through everything I continued to work on love jobs, body art projects, this blog, The Green Brush Project and the FaceFace Makeup Awards in which this was my third year. Resilience is key… as is forward momentum and squashing as often as possible negative thinking and talk. Make your own opportunities if none are presenting itself… keep doing work even if its with cheap makeup… any good MUA will show you their favourite staple lower end product they keep tucked away in their kit. You dont have to have the best of the best to do a good job… but having the best would be nice! Above all.. dont get caught up in negative culture.. it isn’t worth it. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you or at least are open to understanding the crazy ideas to come out your mouth.

So in my speech at the ABIAs… I would have also said how much this award means to me. Its a massive acknowledgement for me from my peers… for through the hardships over the past 14 years… being poor in between invoices, temporary homelessness, completely starting over in a new city 3 times… loss and insecurity… this award is such a massive touchstone for me to remind myself to keep focusing on the good and striving to create beauty in images and with my clients. It will remind me to keep pushing myself and stretch what I believe to even be possible for myself. It also is a landmark event to confirm this is my real job. I feel like I am only getting started.

How I actually felt on the inside yet the champagne gave me courage…

So thank you to all my special friendships I have in the industry… you know who you are. Thank you to my fellow MUAs that I can also call friends… its a privelage to know and work with you. From here… I want to keep creating whats in my head as well as work with other amazing artists… I cant wait to finish my book ‘We The Painted’…. I want to continue to support emerging artists through the Green Brush Project and the Face2Face Makeup Awards and above all… I want to keep having fun in this crazy job we do.

I mean really… we have a crazy job. We manipulate a human face with pigment as a job. We pluck, prod and glue hair and all sorts of objects onto skin as a profession.

So I raise my glass to all my fellow MUA finalists… and to fellow MUAs overall… heres to all the things you have done to get the job done that will go unnoticed… to the courage it takes to continue this job despite what life throws at us… for all the early morning starts… the love jobs… the endless hours of washing brushes and preparing your kit when everyone else is out having a great time… to all the times you sacrifice your social life for work… for all the clients that do things that dont allow you to do your job properly… for all the bad makeup days that make you question if you know what you are doing (come on… I have them all the time)… for always being the first to arrive and the last to leave… for all the lunch breaks makeup needs to work through… for all the times we get asked what makeup they should wear when all we want to do is relax and enjoy our time off… for all the miracles we pull out of our bum on shoots… for all the clips and pins we give to stylists who run out… for all the times we are doing things on jobs that is clearly not in our job description… and for all those times that clients say the weirdest things to you about the makeup you have done even though you KNOW they look amazing… and go and change it to what they want… even if it means strange eyebrows, orange face or adding black when 10 minutes ago they clearly said NO BLACK…. I salute you x You are all amazing.


Here was my photographic entry for the ABIAs. Thankyou to my buddies Nelson Lai, Jason Zambelli and Mr Thom Kerr for making them possible xx