Q&A with Berny Ferr
Make-up has historically been one of mankind's most important tools for self expression. From ancient Egyptian imagery of pointed eye-make up, to Victorian imagery of white powdered faces and rosy cheeks, a lot of what shapes our imagined understanding of times gone by stems from images of how men and women did their make-up. In the past decade the importance of make-up is finally being appreciated by the mainstream. Brands like Rihanna's Fenty have highlighted the damaging the lack of available make-up for women. Thus showing beautifications importance in self actualisation. Instagram has seen a wave of young people try their hand at make-up looks, expressing themselves using the canvas we're all born with.
Since doing the make-up for our inaugural editorial you've really expanded on what was already an impressive portfolio. What has helped you grow as a MUA since then?
I think that as a creative I’m always looking for fresh new ways to improve my skill, as a make-up artist you never really stop learning and improving and I would dedicate a lot of time to finding those contacts, getting on board with shoots, but also sitting down in front of my mirror whenever I can, and smash a look out. I always look on how I can develop my concepts after I create a look and a big part of ensuring these ideas come to life in future looks is ensuring I practice as much as I can!
We know you studied make-up artistry at UAL. What are pros and cons of studying make-up in an academic context?
Make-up artistry isn’t something you need professional training to be good at, it’s something that you can learn without going to college or uni. A lot of self taught make-up artists go on to doing great things, and kind of just “get straight to work” therefore they might have a head start working in the industry. So that could be considered a “con”. But for the most part I think studying make-up gives you tools a lot of people don’t have, going to UAL I realised that I had an upper hand almost, being taught by industry professionals and getting constant advice and guidance on where to go next in my career. For me, going to uni truly helped shape me as an artist, it made me aware of industry etiquette and it also gave me mad opportunities because not only was I surrounded by fellow make-up artists in my course but I was also surrounded by photographers, stylists, creative directors… the lot! I had tons of people at my disposal essentially, to collaborate and create images with. So this was definitely a pro to studying make-up at UAL!
There's been an explosion of interest in make-up over the past 5-10 years. What do you attribute this to and how does it impact you as a professional?
Social media is a huge reason why make-up has become such a huge deal and it also heavily appeals to your every day consumer. Being in the industry for about 7 years now I find myself constantly having to update myself on new products, trends and techniques because there’s a fast growth in demand and creativity. I would say that instagram in particular is a huge reason why my personal and professional journey has changed a lot, it connects creatives and gives opportunity. And the evolution of the make-up industry and its high demand is a huge reason for that."
I find it hard to say “where” I get ideas from because most of the time I find random objects around my house and see how I can incorporate it into a look on my face without necessarily looking at other artists for inspiration. My dad in this sense has been a huge inspiration, he’s an apple technician and owns his own business and at his workshop he has heaps and heaps of old computer parts that I like to tear apart and incorporate into my looks. However I have been heavily inspired on other occasions by artists such as Alex Box, Isamaya Ffrench and Val Garland all of who have used unconventional materials to create looks. It very important to constantly innovate as a make-up artist, and make use of different non-make-up materials to not just create a make-up look, but also create a sculpture or painting on a face.
We've seen you do some great editorial work for Gay Times as well as your self portraits on Instagram. Do you have aspirations to do more commercial jobs and are there any particular brands you'd like to work with?
I want to market myself as a professional make-up artist rather than just an instagram make-up artists so working on shoots, doing commercial work and collaborating with online publications and brands is something that id love to do! It’s where I feel comfortable and where I like to show what I’m made of. At the moment with lockdown, and all the uncertainty im resorting to using my own face to create self portraits of my looks on my instagram page, and that’s definitely something I will continue doing, however I want to make sure I stick to my roots, and stay behind the camera! (With the exception of Glow Up of course!). I would love to work with fashion editorial and beauty platforms such as Dazed/Dazed Beauty, Wonderland, King Kong, Beauty Papers. I haven’t (yet I hope) had the opportunity to work with these types of publications and I would love to work with them in the future!"
How has the experience of being on BBC3's Glow Up show been? Have you thought much about what it means to you to be representing male MUA's on that platform?
It was a once in a life time experience that I will never forget! Whilst it was extremely stressful, it was also very rewarding and having the likes of Val Garland and Dominic Skinner look at my work… just the thought gives me shivers! I feel so honoured to have been chosen, and feel even more honoured that they got to see me work! I’ve always felt anxious when it comes to my position as a male make-up artist and it wasn’t until a year ago that I felt comfortable even putting my face full face on my instagram page because I never felt very confident that I would look how I wanted to with my concepts, but doing make-up on myself gave me that confidence and I now know that my male face is a great canvas to work on. Its what you do with the canvas you’re working on that matters. Im confident that I have represented the male MUA community positively on the show!
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