It's with passion that Ismael Blanco speaks to us about colors and textures in his work as a makeup artist. He has been passionate about makeup since his childhood in Cuba,frequently returning to his origins to inspire his wonderful work with the biggest celebrities including Elle Fanning and Camilia Cabello.
His diverse talent allows him to be both a creative artist and to bring out the natural beauty in a woman. His technique is recognized by the largest makeup brands, magazines and he has various collaborations with the greatest photographers in the world. Now Ismael is launching his own brand, Ismael Blanco, and it’s new line of luxurious and carefully tested brushes.
IRK Magazine welcomed Ismael Blanco at the "hôtel particulier" in a peaceful environment with the sounds of birds.He gave us a rare and insightful interview into how he became the master makeup artist he is today:
IRK: Can you tell us a little about your journey? (How did you enter the makeup industry and how long has it been?
When I was really young, I was already attracted to beauty. I did the makeup for my neighbors and my friends when they went out. It became my responsibility to make them the most beautiful. I grew up in this world. Subsequently, I became a model and when I arrived in France I asked myself the question; what do I want to do? I then studied makeup at the school "Christian Horses" and I assisted great makeup artists for television. I followed them and that's how I started my career making beauty films. I have been doing this job for 20 years now.
IRK: What are your most recent projects?
I just finished the “Mondial” for L'Oreal. Every year the different L'Oreal divisions explain what they will do during the year, and I was there to prepare all the leaders of L'Oreal.
IRK: You have a good relationship with the L'Oréal group. How did you make that happen?
Yes L'Oréal is a very good group.
It was obvious to work for L'Oreal as they have so many brands. During a shoot I met a makeup artist "Alexis" who sadly passed away. He wanted me to be part of his team in Cannes, but I did not follow up on it. I continued my career and path, and one day I learned that he had died. My agent called me to know if I wanted to do makeup for the Cannes Festival. I did not want to do it when he had asked me, but now I'm doing it partially to honor him. It is thanks to him that I knew that the Cannes Film Festival collaborates with l'Oréal. Now, I do it every year and I am very happy to do it.
IRK: Where do you get your inspiration come from ?
My first sources of inspiration are nature and minerals. My work always comes back to nature thanks to its wide range of colors. I come from Cuba, in my country there are many colors in it’s nature and animals. When I do makeup, I always find myself doing inspired by feathers, animal eyes, for shapes, (how to make eyes look like a panther.)
IRK: How would you describe your signature look and what is it about your style that sets you apart from other makeup artists?
I love mixing improbable colors together. I take pleasure from creating smooth gradients, and also textures using minerals.
When we are trying to do artistic makeup we can go far, but also I like doing simple makeup using as little makeup as possible. I enjoy bring out the natural beauty of a woman.
IRK: Between creativity and a natural make up what do you prefer?
Creativity first, but I also enjoy being in contact with people with whom I work because in the end it is all about sharing.
IRK: What is the most crazy shoot you have done?
A shoot that I had with Natasha Poli in a boat. It was for VOGUE, and it was full of beauty, jewels…. For me it was all new and it marked me.
You worked for great photographers, is there a difference working with someone famous verses a lesser known photographer?
Each photographer has a different style. Etienne is a photographer who impressed me a lot. He always brought an emotion and his shoots were like a play. There was always background music. As soon as he saw an emotion through the models, he shouted. It was very theatrical. For example, we did a shoot with an Italian actress, Monica Belluci for Dior. It was a sublime shoot for lipsticks. A song had started in the background and the photographer started screaming because he was moved and it was this atmosphere that marks me more than a decor. It always stays in my mind when when I think of emotion.
IRK: What do you love most about makeup?
What I like most is to create colors and textures. For example, recently I collaborated with a brand to create its range of foundation colors. I took a lot of pleasure from that project. We studied colors for hues and sub-tones because there is such a huge range of colors.
IRK:You worked for large brands such as CARTIER, ARMANI, L'ORÉAL, GARNIER and others… What is the brand that launched you?
After my studies I went to L'Oreal Luxe, then to Armani as a salesman and that's where my agent found me and told me that I had the profile join his agency. Subsequently the brand that really launched me was Garnier, and it's with them where I really started making beauty films, traveling for work and going around the world.
IRK: Do you have a favorite brand of makeup?
I worked with a beauty brand "Shu Uemura", they have a wide range of colors. They are closed today in France. I loved working with them due to the color palet and other products (fake eyelashes, brushes ...) Shu Uemura is perfect for artistic makeup and this brand enriches my creations.
Even if all the brands are at L'Oreal (garnier ....), There is always a lot of competition between their brands. They are all racing to create the latest trend or launching a new product before the other.
IRK: We see that you have worked with many celebrities including Elle Fanning, Sara Sampaio, Camilia Cabello… Do any of them specifically request to work with you?
Yes, right now I am working with Camilia Cabello. She asked me to follow her for 5 months on her tour. Unfortunately I could not as I was at the Cannes Film Festival and on other projects. Starting next month I will resume the European tour with her. When there is a L'Oreal movie, she asks for me.
Also, I am also very close to Elle Fanning, the little princess who became a queen. I do her makeup for video and advertising campaigns. I really like her as she is very humble.
Elle Fanning Make-up Ismael Blanco
IRK: You have launched a line of brushes in your name. Can you speak a little more about your project ? What you would like to develop for your brand ?
Makeup artists are always looking for "THE BRUSH"! The perfect tool. As it's been 20 years that I practice this job I know what we need the most. I wanted to create a small brush to save space with good quality hair.
A hair that feels good on one’s skin, while fast to use, because we want the photographer or client to have time for them. We do not want to make them wait. Tools to work quickly and efficiently, with a soft brush that is easy to use.
I want the quality to be luxurious but accessible to everyone. It is also important that those who leave school can afford it too. Subsequently I would like to develop my brand. For now my other brushes are being validated. Later, I would like to make lipsticks, textures, palettes….
IRK: If you weren’t a makeup artist, what else would you do?
I would probably be a cabinetmaker. It's something that reminds me of my childhood We always come back to childhood. It reminds me of the furniture in the house where I was. My parents and I renovated old furniture that we had at home. We always used to fix what we had, we were not over consumers. When I was little I made sculptures. My mother still talks to me about it. She still has the snakes that I made.
IRK: What were your largest challenges during your career?
I can not say challenge because I always enjoy what I do. I remember the first time I had Cindy's legs in front of me. I was there and I said "it's not possible". I was speechless. There are things that I want to create, to do, but I do not take them as a challenge but as a pleasure. Every time I get up in the morning I am ready to go, it's a passion!
In one word:
IF YOU WERE A COLOR ? Gradient IF YOU WERE MATTER? Water IF YOU WERE A CLOTHING? My cap IF YOU WERE MAKE-UP? Lipstick IF YOU WERE A COUNTRY? An island IF YOU WERE A MUSIC? Birdsong
Ismael Blanco - @ismaelblancomakeup
Dorothée Lindon - Booking agence Aurélien Paris