Our Frontcover,sat down for a chat with Swarnalekha Gupta. She put aside a corporate career in finance to follow a dream.
You let go all your inhibitions to follow your dreams-
SG : It took me years to realize what exactly my passion was and what I really wanted to do. Finally when I did figure that out, I realized it wasn’t easy to pursue a career of a makeup artist. Academically a post graduate in finance, back then I had been working with a premium financial institution. Quitting my job would mean letting go of a handsome salary. This was my biggest challenge and inhibition especially in Mumbai where the cost of living is relatively higher. Also I was apprehensive about the same being accepted well by my family. Undoubtedly from being finance personnel with 8+ years of industry experience to an amateur freelance makeup artist in Mumbai may seem like idiosyncrasy to them.
When exactly did you realize it’s time to pursue the dream?
SG : Well to be honest I realized it only once I got back from Singapore after completing my course in makeup artistry and upon taking up my first independent freelance bridal assignment. Till then I always thought and told myself that makeup was something I loved, and may be could do well, if I gave it a try. Its only when my first bridal client expressed her joy and gratitude on giving her a look that she couldn’t ever dream of, I realized that I have been able to turn my passion into my profession.
Moving away from a secure career did you get support from your friends and family?
SG : Well, yes and no. It was definitely an area unexplored and not known to many in my circle. Hence apprehension was inevitable and I don’t blame them. Having said that I never faced resistance from any of them. Once I was convinced myself and decided to pursue it as a full-fledged career I must say that I received a lot of encouragement and support from all my friends and family.
The biggest hurdles faced as you embarked upon this career.
SG : Biggest challenge was ignorance. It was a 360 degree shift in my career;I knew absolutely nothing about this industry. Plus I came from a completely organized sector regulated by governing bodies to a totally disorganized sector where I had to decipher everything around me. I had to practically Google 24×7 to understand how this world works. Another big challenge was pricing. Being a salaried person, didn’t knowhow to price myservices and remain competitive.
When did you first realize “Right! Now I have done it”.
SG : Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long to get my first breakthrough. Upon returning from Singapore I started assisting other renowned makeup artists to gain experience and increase my exposure. After about 3 months I managed to bag my first bridal assignment. Two things about this assignment made me joyous – first, the happiness on the brides face when I dressed her up for various occasions, each of her looks were different from the other. Second, when wedding guestsasked mefor my coordinates. My work (makeup& hairstyling) had caught their eye!
The other moment was when I received my first payment. That’s when I realized the potential of this industry. I made almost the same money as I used to make in my salaried job working 30 days…. The only difference being that this time I earned the same in 3 days
That’s when I realized “Right! Now I have done it”
Your most significant achievements so far
SG : According to me the most significant achievement so far would be to be able to make a mark in almost every field of makeup. Makeup in itself encompasses a lot…. It could be a requirement as in films, television commercials, print media (magazines/hoardings), music videos, bridals, parties, fashion shows, beauty pageants, photoshoots, celebrity appearances, special effects or workshops. I am happy and grateful that in 4+ years’ time I have been able to take a plunge into all these opportunities and made a mark.
This industry is extremely competitive and to maintain one’s positon is no easy task: how do you make a place for yourself?
SG : Challenges come in when we try to compare ourselves with other artists. I like to play absolute. Every artist has a unique style and his/her work is unique in its own way. So I always try and compare my portfolio instead of comparing myself
We still have professional stereotypes in our society what do you think about it
SG : Gone are the days when kids were told what career to pursue. With the emergence of social media and awareness youngsters have a plethora of choices nowadays. Along with the kids even their parents and the society has become more broadminded. Resistance towards the unconventional career choices is gradually and thankfully getting minimized
Two important make- up advises
SG : Only two? I would love to give more. But to me the two most important makeup advises to all ladies would be:
1. Never try to look like someone else…..makeup helps you enhance your own features. It camouflages the minor imperfections and highlights the already existing beautiful features of your face. So transform yourself to a better you and not to someone else
2. Always try and keep the base same as your own complexion. Trying to make your skin look fairer could prove to be a makeup faux-pa. So remember natural look is in vogue and less is more
Message for others wanting to become a make- up artist.
SG : Just go for it…. There is a lot of work for everyone and you can be well accommodated. Makeup artistry is a beautiful blend of art and science. Once you know the science or techniques of application you can go ahead and use your artistic skills to create magic. I also feel there is no bigger happinessthan in making others happy. The satisfaction that you derive when you empower another woman by adding to her confidence is unparalleled.
Your dreams going forward
SG : My dream going forward is obviously to be one of the most sought after makeup artist not only in Mumbai but all over the country and across national borders too. I would also love to set up my own academy where I would want to train others to master this art and also set up different levels. Currently in India we do not have any gradation to learning makeup, this is essential if one wants to grow. I would want to bring about this gradation based on the current level of expertise of the artist
Written byOurFrontcover desk