If you’ve ever been to our New York City store on 49th Street, chances are you may have had the pleasure of meeting Libby Rose who works there in between makeup gigs. A skilled special effects artist, she works mostly in film and television but also loves beauty and fashion, especially when she can use her talent and imagination to create extraordinary editorial transformations. Libby brings real work experience and vast product knowledge, not to mention her bright smile, positive attitude, and willingness to share everything she knows with our customers and fellow artists. Here she shares a bit of her story with us as well some of her favorite products.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but grew up in Southern California and moved around a lot from Santa Monica to the North, where I attended High school in Ojai. At 17, I moved to London where I completed my education. After graduation, I returned to New York City to work in costume design, but I soon realized that I needed to shift from a stylist role to a more hands-on career as a makeup artist because I missed painting. I’d always loved creating characters, so the idea of transforming people into characters like monsters or aliens was very exciting.
What inspired you to become a makeup artist?
While studying for my B.A., we collaborated with an SFX makeup course to create full characters for our final projects. I didn’t know anything about makeup or SFX before that, but at some point, I realized that I would much rather be doing makeup than fittings. I kept finding myself wandering into the school’s makeup department, asking questions about the process of molding and sculpting. So the seed had been planted to transition, but it took a few years after school before I decided to dive in and become a makeup artist full time.
How did you end up at Alcone?
I had been at the store many times as a customer and loved the environment. Jacob, the manager at the time, was super friendly. I basically stalked him for a few months until he gave me an interview. I had lots of retail experience already and thought working at Alcone would be a great way to learn more about different brands and products. Plus, the flexibility and support to pursue our freelance careers was a total win.
I would have to say that it’s definitely my favorite job that I’ve had in a retail environment. The company is family-run and treats the employees as such, and they’re so supportive of our freelance careers. I don’t think that I would have been able to take on some of the great opportunities I’ve had if I worked anywhere else. The fact that our main clientele is artists is also great. The amount I’ve learned from being a fly on the wall or talking to others when they come to shop has been amazing. It’s so nice to be surrounded by people with the same interests, but completely different stories.
What types are projects are your focus in the industry?
I do a little of everything. I really love working in film and television as well as commercials, and music videos are always so much fun. One of my favorite projects was working with Aaron Henrikson and Veronica Ibarra on a video for Madonna’s “Rebel Tour.” I’ve also worked on a Lil’ Kim video as well as videos for other artists like Com Truise, The Dream, Pusha T and Designer.
What would you say is your specialty?
That’s a tough question because I work in many different mediums. For beauty, I’m usually booked for my clean-skin aesthetic and natural makeup looks, but when working in SFX, I’m called on to do trauma and injuries. I pride myself in creating realistic effects, so if you’ve “been shot,” your bullet wound will look real. I study anatomy and look at photos of real accident victims, which may sound morbid, but it’s all part of delivering real-world creations. I also love creating transformative fantasy and character makeup using prosthetics, airbrushing, and really just going for it. I think my excitement, coupled with my strong desire to be a better artist regardless of whether it’s a beauty makeup or an SFX project, is why people book me.
You were on Season 9 of Syfy’s Face Off. What was that like?
Overall, I had a really good time and happy that I was a part of the show. I never in a million years thought I would be on a reality TV show, especially because I feel uncomfortable being in front of the camera. Luckily, I was able to get past that fear and had so much fun working in a shop that had everything you could ever need to create anything you can imagine. Being surrounded by other artists that inspired and challenged me was also a humbling experience. I learned so much both as an artist as well as about myself as a person.
How does creating makeup on a reality TV show differ from real life?
Well, in real life, you get more time to prep. On the show, we only had 30 minutes to design on camera, then about 18 to 20 hours to sculpt, mold, and apply the makeups for the judges, so it’s very different from real life. The show also didn’t allow us to access the internet, and we only had a handful of outdated books for references. When cameras are not running, they take away our paper and pencils, and we’re told not to discuss designs off camera. Whereas on a real gig, you are constantly discussing how to make it work, taking notes, and developing ideas over weeks or months and collaborating.
Do you have any advice for makeup artists who may want to pursue a spot on a reality TV show?
Just be yourself, and if you get onto a show, stay humble. It’s an amazing experience, but I don’t recommend it for everyone because you need to have a thick skin and not take criticism to heart. I didn’t plan to go on the show, They found my work online and asked if I would like to submit for it. I figured, what the hell–but never thought I’d get selected. The next thing I knew, I was in Burbank, locked in a house with strangers with cameras everywhere. It was a hoot!
LIBBY’S PRODUCT PICKS
RCMA Series Favorites Palettes
I love the RCMA Series Favorites Palettes because they’re perfect for touching up on set, especially when I’m working with a specific actor or model. The more organized and focused my set bag is, the quicker I can work when they call “last looks,” and keeping the momentum of the shoot going is important for the entire production.
Ben Nye MediaPRO Mojave Poudre Palette
The Mojave Poudre Palette is one of my kit staples because it has all of the Mojave pressed powders in one palette, covering golden to deep brown skin tones. The shades are great, and they have a light texture that doesn’t take away the skin’s natural quality. Plus, I love being able to pop this in my set bag and go. Feeling confident that I’m prepared makes my job so much easier!
Fleet Street Bloodworks Drying Pastes
I love these Bloodworks Drying Pastes because once applied, they dry, stay in place, and don’t transfer. So, in addition to using them for production work, they’re also great for Halloween makeups. There are three colors–Blood, Scab, and Lymphatic–which allow me to create very realistic effects. If I want to make them look wet or “fresh,” I just add a touch of K-Y Jelly on top.
3rd Degree Silicone Kit
3rd Degree is one of my go-to products because it’s perfect for prosthetics and special effects makeup. It can also be used to create extreme or exaggerated fashion and fantasy looks. I like to create texturized skin effects and to sculpt and create wounds on the fly. It can be done directly on the skin without the need for adhesives. I use 99% Isopropyl Alcohol to blend the edges. For more complex effects, I use molds or sculpt the piece in advance and then apply on set.
Jordane Total Tattoo Coverage
Covering tattoos is a very time-consuming task and this palette has been a real lifesaver! The Jordane Total Tattoo Coverage formula applies easily, blends well, and really covers. It then dries down to become waterproof and transfer-resistant without having to use powder or setting spray. When you’re on set, every second counts. The ability to work quickly and efficiently is everything!
Thank you, Libby, for sharing your impressive journey with us. Alcone Company loves to see artists thrive and gets even more excited when it’s someone within our family. We know that you’ll continue to go far with your amazing talent and positive vibes!
To learn more about Libby Rose, check out at libbyrosemakeup.com
All photos courtesy of Libby Rose