PLAINFIELD – Plainfield-based certified makeup artist Paula Heckenast said she emailed Chicago photographer Todd Rosenberg – whose credits include Sports Illustrated covers – six times before he finally responded.
The response, Heckenast said, read like this: “I’m not trying to be rude, but please stop emailing me. By the way, are you available Wednesday?”
Heckenast said she now assists Rosenburg several times a month, mostly at corporate assignments, where she makes his subjects look their very best.
Rosenberg, who said he also shoots regularly for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Anti-Cruelty Society, praised Heckenast’s professionalism, energy and attentiveness to clients, both before and during the shoot.
“She’s constantly checking on hair and makeup. She makes sure the subject looks really good when photographed,” Rosenberg said. “In a world where there’s a lot of retouching and refixing, she eliminates a lot of that need.”
Heckenast, who travels to locations, has done makeup for brides, boudoir shoots and even Wizard World.
“They booked me to go into the green room and hang out and do touch-ups for celebrities,” Heckenast said.
Just claiming to be a makeup artist doesn’t make a person one, said Heckenast, who began working under the name City Lights Makeup Artistry in 2008. For instance, a true artist can size up a person in two seconds and know precisely which color eye shadow to use, she said.
For Heckenast, the application of makeup is an innate ability that she’s “fed as much as possible.” She continually educates herself on products, techniques and great makeup artists of the past. She is also knowledgeable about – and practices – pristine sanitation.
“It’s [a makeup artist] someone who looks at building a professional career as opposed to, ‘It’s so cool I can do makeup,’ kind of thing,” Heckenast said.
But a makeup artist must be skilled in more than just foundation and eyelashes. She asks each client their preferences in everything from eyeliner to blush and assesses for allergies, even asking for clients to bring their own makeup in severe cases.
Makeup artists must click with all personality types, Heckenast said.
“You have to be able to read people,” Heckenast said. “You have to know when to stay more reserved and in your shell, and you can feel that as you go. You start out professional, ‘Hi, how are you,’ and see how the other person answers. Some people will talk all day and others clearly don’t want to talk.”
Although Heckenast always enjoyed playing with makeup, she never realized it could become her career until a friend needed a ride to makeup school. Heckenast said she wound up sitting through orientation and decided to attend, too.
She then went online and researched ways to build up her portfolio, constantly promoted herself, and freely shared her knowledge and services in the form of gift certificates for fundraisers, speaking at cosmetology schools and plain old-fashioned advice to whomever asked.
For Heckenast staunchly disagrees with the attitude that assisting other artists in their professional growth is death to one’s own career.
“If you want to grow and expand your horizons,” Heckenast said, “helping other people has to be very near the top of your priority list.”
Paula Heckenast, certified makeup artist, offers some makeup tips to look good in the new year:
• Select products appropriate for one’s skin type. For instance, facial primer can make oily skin look too slick.
• Quality foundation is a must. It holds makeup in place and provides better coverage than inexpensive brands.
• Eye shadow primer keeps eye shadow in place and prevents creasing.
• Most people will look great with smoky eyes once they learn to properly apply light and dark colors.
• A dab of concealer after makeup is applied brightens up eyes.
• Ditto for bronzer in winter. A light touch here and there adds a healthy-looking blush.
• Don’t like lipstick? Opt for tinted lip balm; any brand will do. Its sheer color makes one look more awake.
For more information, visit www.citylightsmakeup.com, or call or text 708-969-0680.