You either have a knack for makeup, or you don’t.
Sure, there are plenty of people who can work their way around an eyeshadow palette, or pull off a simple highlight and contour, with a lipstick look to finish, but there’s no denying that some people possess more of a natural talent when it comes to makeup artistry than others.
And yes – the level and skill of makeup application we’re talking about here is an art.
If you’ve ever found yourself skeptical of that statement, you only have to take a look at the work of Ashton-native and “professional shapeshifter” Nicky Hill to have all of those doubts proven wrong.
The 27-year-old’s self-taught talents are to thank for her transformations into some of the world’s most famous and instantly-recognisable faces – from Cher and Angelina Jolie, to Adele and even Mrs Doubtfire – that not only have you looking twice to check it’s not the real thing, but have also, quite-rightly, lead her to becoming a respected name in the makeup industry across the UK.
Some of the jaw-dropping celebrity transformations that Nicky – who is also a trained Microblading artist – has managed to pull off over her seven year career have amassed her a loyal fanbase of over 11.6K followers and counting on social media.
But they aren’t even half of what she’s capable of.
“I started experimenting with SFX, illusion and artistic makeup around four and a half years ago now.” Nicky told us.
“Being a makeup artist is my full-time job and hobby, and some of my work [even] went viral [at the start], but because I was new to the makeup scene, I didn’t realise I needed to watermark my pictures, so I never got credited for it, which was unfortunate – and they still circulate to this day.
“I fell off the waggon a bit due to this, and my mental health wasn’t the best at the time [either],
“So it was only in the last year that I’ve come back to the makeup scene, and a lot of my work has blown up [on social media] during lockdown.
“I’ve been receiving a lot of recognition, which I feel very grateful for”.
While makeup may a talent that Nicky has only been honing and perfecting in recent years, as you can probably imagine, her artistic interests showed themselves from an early age, and her clear abilities were pretty evident right off the bat.
“I have always been very artistic,” Nicky continued.
“I loved anything to do with art and had a keen eye for detail – I just love being able to use my face as a blank canvas and use art as a form of expression.
“I started posting pictures online, and the more I posted, the more attention they received.
“I regularly look at illusion and abstract art, or anything which tricks the eye, and take inspiration from other fellow artists and their styles, but I always like to try and do original work and stay away from trends”.
She doesn’t neglect to mention the fact that it takes a lot of hard work to achieve what she has, but Nicky’s originality and intentions with her makeup looks are clear.
Though for the majority of us who find it hard to apply mascara without poking ourselves in the eye, or even come up against difficulty when trying to draw a convincing stick man, never mind attempting optical illusions, all of this still leaves one major question that we need answering.
How the heck does she do it?
Without revealing too many of her industry secrets, Nicky tried to break it down for us.
She said: “My celebrity transformations [in particular] are done by contouring the face to the face shape of the people I want to turn myself into.
“I will look at a headshot of them on Google, see where the shading lands on their face and features, and recreate that on my own face, [and] this is done with heavy highlighting and contouring, and adapting to their facial expressions as well.
“My first ever look I did like this was Angelina Jolie, and I received a lot of attention for that when I posted it, so I was hooked ever since.
“[When it comes to] the illusion looks, [they are] inspired by optical illusions and illusion art.
“I use my face as the canvas for it [and] it’s all about getting the shading right, and by doing that, I can create the illusion of 3D art, negative space, holes, cracks – you name it.”
And how long does it take too, for that matter?
You’re probably not shocked to find out that the answer to that is a pretty long time, as Nicky admits: “A lot of my looks take me anywhere from four to nine hours to complete.
“It takes a lot of attention to detail”.
Well it may take a lot of time and attention to detail, but when you have a talent and a passion that’s as clear as this, it’s certainly time well spent.
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