Interview – NYC Make Up Artist Meli Pennington

Versión en Español   Whoever  said  that makeup is overrated and that it´s only a female issue should probably study a little about human history, fact is the art of enhancing factions is closely linked to social behavior and has become a cultural reference for centuries.  From the Egyptians with their outlined eyes through to the representative “powdered white face” of the XVII century, there are countless issues surrounding this aspect of femininity and justified or not the truth is that many owe some credit to the venerable lipstick and mascara. And when it comes to make up,  Meli Pennington, recognized for her work as a make up artist in the highly competitive world of New York fashion, is certainly an authority in this field.  She spends her days between backstage fashion editorials  for major publishers and advertising campaigns for magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Allure among others. She also shares her views and concepts about culture and glamour in her Wild Beauty website. So  I wanted to invite her as a VIP guest through a brief interview in which she shared her thoughts, beginnings, trajectory and of course some tips for this season.

Meli Pennington´s work by photographer Jeff Tse

T.V –  How did you get started in the field of make up and why?

 M.P I started playing with makeup in grade school – in secret before the nuns at my school allowed it! But in high school I discovered high fashion and new wave music – it was a revelation! So I spent lots of time experimenting on myself. Then after studying art and color theory in college I needed to figure out what kind of job I could do. I didn’t really see myself working any other job – so I put up a flier in a photo school offering my services for shoots. And I went from there.

T.V – What has been your most memorable work or best working experience so far?
M.P  It’s hard to say – there are so many moments. But when I was assisting Dick Page, we had one shoot with Isabella Rosselini at her apartment. I had worked for Lancome when I was first out of school – and now I was in her apartment! I think I went into a time/space warp – was this really happening?

T.V – What´s a typical day in Meli´s life entail?
 M.P No two days are alike! I could be in New York working in studio, at a beautiful beach location doing makeup as the sun rises, or I could be in the New York Public Library researching for my site.

Meli Pennington´s Work by Nick Haymes

T.V – As a make up expert, would you say less is more? Occasions when “less” might be required and when “more” is acceptable?
M.P  I usually start with less – I’m a minimalist by training and by hand. But paint is paint – when you want a glossy dark lip or a serious colored eye, you have to embrace the artifice. I do usually like skin to look like skin rather than product, though, especially in real life.

T.V – What do you enjoy the most, – making someone not so attractive look great, or working on someone beautiful who doesn´t need much work ?

M.P Working on a beautiful face makes me realize how fortunate I’ve been – models at this level are almost foolproof! But with my ‘real woman’ clients it’s important to have that grounding in making any face look its best. Every face is different, and I don’t see a face as a blank canvas – there’s a lot of information already there.

T.V – In all your years of experience, what have you seen the most,  women trying to enhance their beauty or changing radically?
M.P I think it really depends on a woman’s style. And different faces look better with different amounts of makeup. Models tend to have faces that look good with lots of makeup piled onto them – that’s part of why they’re models. But a lot of women who have their lives off camera look better with less makeup.

 Meli Pennington´s work by photographer Jeff Tse

 T.V – For those out there who think about vanity and all related topics as vane, what would you say on behalf of make up?
M.P We humans were wearing makeup before we were using metal tools! I know that vanity can be taken too far, especially when we have enough leisure time and money to become obsessed. But a certain amount of self-care and wanting to look good is appropriate and part of our human nature. And it’s fun too! 

What advice would you give to our readers regarding trends in make up for these last months of 2012 and early 2013?
M.P In New York I’m seeing lots of bright lipstick – especially clear reds- on the streets, worn with traditional orange and browns. I think it looks really good. With the nail polish trends women are getting more comfortable experimenting with color – I think in the spring we’ll want more eye color – maybe a pastel shadow or a colored liner, something less conservative and more fun.

So if you want to know more about her Meli Pennignton´s work, proyects and advice visit her site




  1. Fantastic interview! Thanks so much for sharing!


  2. laura o. says:

    Great to know about talented people behind most impressive editorials

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