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Interview with:

Neda Stevic [nedastevic30] 

What is your specialty as a stylist? fashion, salon, image, objects...?
My specialty is High-Defnition airbrush artistry. I was taught by the top TEMPTU Pro Artists from NYC and LA when I modeled for them for years at America's Beauty Show. For the first show, I asked to be paid with a TEMPTU airbrush machine and all of the foundations/blushes/highlighters in lieu of money. The team was surprised and delighted, and said "Sure!" Then the following year, I showed them my work using the airbrush machine and asked if I could transition from modeling to becoming one of the on-stage Airbrush Artists. They said they'd love that, and I began doing live demonstrations onstage for this show which draws approximately 6,000 attendees at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Can you provide a link to a site where we can see something of your work or of where you work.
You can check out this article written about me and my Airbrush Academy Seminar by Lynee Ruiz in Milwaukee Magazine here: http://www.milwaukeemag.com/2012/02/03/PhotoshopinRealLife/
In what style or trend do you classify yourself?
In general, I dislike trends and embrace the art of 'No Style.' My strength comes from drawing inspiration from all styles of art, beauty and make-up, and embracing individuality by mixing it all up. The TEMPTU airbrush system is so impressive and versatile for achieving the High-Definition look required for the lightest make-up to the heavy Special EFX look of a Geico caveman. It's the ultimate tool to pull any look off, and is in great demand by clients.
What are your clients like?
My client base is very diverse, and I've worked both nationally and internationally as a H-D Airbrush Make-Up Artist. People are so excited to watch their ideas come to life on a photo shoot, so the vibe on set is usually very positive. With the multiple forms of media used in advertising nowadays, virtually anyone can become a client in need of an Airbrush Make-Up Artist. Some types of clients can include: law firms, wedding parties, department stores, grocery stores, motorcycle companies, private photo shoots, models, actors and musicians.
How did you begin to develop your talent? Have you possesed it since you were a child?
As a child, I began developing my talent by sketching faces whenever I could. I come from meager beginnings, so a pencil and paper was pretty much my equivalent of an X-Box back then. However, drawing was a great escape, and seeing beautiful images in magazines made me realize that these opportunities actually do exist. Nowadays, a person's face is simply an extension of that; a 3-dimensional canvas with which I can have a conversation!
What importance has professional training had on your career?
Professional training has been of the utmost importance in my artistry. I have been modeling for 19 years already, and have sat in the chairs of some of the greatest Make-Up Artists around the world. I observed their tricks and methods, and was sure to ask a lot of questions. Then learning how to airbrush while modeling for TEMPTU PRO was a complete game changer for me. It's still relatively new to many make-up artists, but in high demand by clients. It is not enough to simply know how to airbrush a foundation onto a client. Through the TEMPTU PRO Make-Up Artists from NYC and LA, I have learned how to airbrush a smokey eye, blush, highlighter, contouring, creating/removing tattoos, and even Special EFX.
When did you first realize you could make a living this way?
I first realized I could make a living as an Artist when I began modeling. I did it part-time while working at a domestic violence center, and made double of what my salary was there as a full-time professional. Realizing the potential this industry had, I began preparing to take the leap into the great unknown by also working as a Make-Up Artist. It took me a year of experimentation and photo shoots to really feel comfortable with different eye shapes, skin tones and hair textures. But after leaving the domestic violence center job, I have never looked back. For the past 19 years, I have derived the majority of my income from working as a Professional Model/Airbrush Make-Up Artist. It is definitely possible, but only if you market yourself aggressively and create a solid reputation where you are associated with high-quality work. Many people end their careers before they start by signing exclusive contracts with talent agencies, believing this is the way they will get work. To be perfectly blunt, that's an obsolete business model. Take initiative on your own as a small business owner and use agencies as a back up plan! After all, YOU hire them and pay them a hefty commission when they get you work. Don't ever make the mistake of handing your entire future over to someone who makes no guarantees yet holds you hostage from working with anyone other than them.
What people or experiences have taught you the most and helped you to arrive where you are?
Interestingly, my first experience with a local talent agency exposed me to the darker side of the industry. This agent talked me into signing an exclusive contract, yet never kept her promises regarding when I would get paid, or who I'd work with. I was running a little bit late to a booking in another state once, so she kept my $800 from that job to "teach me a lesson." Realizing that I should be my own best advocate, I switched agencies and sent out my own marketing materials to clients. I included a note asking them to book me via this new agency if they were interested, and I earned $10,000 the next month from my marketing efforts.
What is your concept of beauty? Why does it change so much from one culture to another, or from one era to another?
My answer on this is open-ended, because people are the most beautiful when they feel comfortable in their own skin. Beauty could come from any style or era, but I have a certain affinity for anything unusual or out of the box (think Grace Jones or Erykah Badu). Many times, beauty ideals and standards change so much from one era to another because of what's going on during those times. For example, in the 1930's and 1940's, fashion became more practical because of our involvement in WWII. Women frequently refashioned men's unused suits into women's wear.
Do you need to love what you do, or does professionalism suffice?
Personally, I need to love what I do. Not every job is super creative, but I love most jobs and the ability to do what I love in such a fun environment.
What do you do when a client requests something that you believe is not suitable for him/her?
The best approach in this case if for me to gently suggest an alternative without knocking the original idea. I would explain the positive points of the alternative, and only discourage their idea if they push for it. However, if they are inflexible, I usually go with their decision so that they feel good about it. I once had a bride request that I do a "Kim Kardashian" look on her, so I complied on her big day. Another bride had me transform her into a virtual glitter ball, but it was her big day and not mine!
Isn't there a cult of vanity in premeditated publicity and fashion poses?
Of course there is! However, the truth is that it sells, and companies are looking for results. All of the Photoshop, hours of hair and make-up and styling result in images which have become "normalized" over time. For example, it's virtually impossible to find a beauty advertisement where you can see skin pores. Nowadays, the photos that stand out in a negative way are the ones which didn't have a good make-up artist on the photo shoot.
Please name three well-known personalities whose look you admire, and three who need to urgently change their image.
Since I'm drawn to powerful women, I'm a fan of: Angelina Jolie, Grace Jones and Cindy Crawford. They radiate confidence and have achieved a lot as business women and artists. Unfortunately, the people I think would look better if they changed their image probably cannot do that due to the extensive plastic surgery. Lil' Kim, Jocelyn Wildenstein and Tara Reid.
Being surrounded by a different style can cause a person to feel different. Can such a feeling transform a person?
Make-up is absolutely transformative. Many times, it's easier to feel better about yourself by working from the outside in. I have found that my favorite moments have been when I've helped someone discover a new technique, product or color which made them feel more beautiful.
Make a prediction: how long will the fashion of piercing and tattoos last?
I predict that it's here to stay. It has really taken off lately because of an increased desire to express individualism and who we are as individuals.
I would like to be more discerning when I buy clothes or furniture. What do you recommend I do to acquire this ability?
There are several ways to be a more discerning shopper. You want to look and feel good, and not have to give up a kidney to do so. Don't ever buy anything for full price. With all of the competition online nowadays, you should always be able to find a better deal than the full price. Conversely, don't buy something just because it's inexpensive. I generally try to buy things with the idea that I should wear it one time for each dollar I spent on it. If I paid $30 for a shirt that I never ended up wearing, then it was a foolish decision. Furniture is a bit different than clothing, and really depends on your taste. You can get really beautiful, one-of-a-kind items at estate sales if you have the time and enjoy hunting for amazing finds. Never buy something you are unsure of; buy it because you are in love with it!

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Neda Stevic

[nedastevic30] Neda Stevic
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