Friends of the House
Something Glittery, Something Glossy
Katrina Wrobel carries fans in her makeup kit. Handheld fans printed with images of hundred dollar bills featuring the drag queen Monét X Change or another with grey flowers dotting the folded paper.
Models get excited about the fans, Katrina says. After 13 years working as a makeup artist, Katrina has a bevy of knowledge for what works and doesn’t work, on set. She’s found that the fans come in handy in between applying layers of product. “Models are in heaven for that one minute,” she says when she fans their faces on a hot set, drying one product before moving on to the next.
Katrina is an alum of the Blanche Macdonald Center in Vancouver, B.C., a school that focuses on creative arts including programs for makeup, hair, fashion, esthetics, and nails. As part of her program, Katrina took a course on special effects and prosthetics. “ My instructors were telling me I was doing all these projects that had more of a fashion twist to them. While my classmates were turning people into zombies and monsters, I was doing melted dolls and a beautiful reptilian princess. I was using the same techniques that everyone was being taught but applying it with more of a beauty aspect in mind.” Now, with clients like Four Seasons Hotels, Foe and Dear, and Garmentory, fashion makeup has become the focus of her career.
After working freelance for many years, Katrina and her business partner founded The Artistry Collective–a team of makeup and hair artists based out of Vancouver, specializing in fashion, bridal, and beauty. The Artistry Collective’s portfolio is filled with close-up images of models wearing striking palettes of colours. As I look through the site, my eyes dart from the emerald eyeshadow to a peach lip gloss to a dark eggplant coloured lipstick. “Color combinations are really cool to me,” says Katrina. “The colour of anything… [Like] that cat toy. I love that crazy bright green they’re using. I would love to do an eyeliner like that.” Understanding colour–how to use, pair, and discuss it–is key to her work.
“A lot of people have an idea in their head and they don’t know how to translate it into a colour or technique,” Katrina says. “When I worked at MAC, this happened a lot,” she says, referencing one of the jobs she had towards the beginning of her career. She would have customers come in, looking for lipsticks and use contradictory buzzwords like, “‘I want a glossy matte peachy red with glitter and hint of purple’ and you’re like, ‘How is this possible?’” Learning how to translate what a client wants, and then executing a look under lighting, environmental, weather, temperature, and time limitations is central to Katrina’s role on set.
During one project, on a hot day at a rocky beach in Vancouver, Katrina and the model she was working with had to hike in to reach the shooting location. The model was hot from the trek and Katrina saw that a product she had used on the model’s brows was “literally melting off her face,” she says. “I had to go in and take off the product and carefully comb through her brows and fix it on every shot.” Katrina doesn’t need to make note of products like these – anything that doesn’t perform at the highest level – they’re burned into my memory, she says.
“A lot of people have an idea in their head and they don’t know how to translate it into a colour or technique”
I ask her about challenges on set and learn that managing expectations, of what a client wants a style to look like and how it will actually look on camera, is a careful balance. “Let’s say a client says, ‘We want a really contoured face and matte skin’ [and the] model says, ‘I hate wearing matte skin. My skin hates wearing powder’ I have to… be sort of delicate with how I’m explaining it to the model and still get what the client wants out of it.” In each photograph in Katrina’s portfolio I can see the meticulousness with which she and her team treat their work, and the art they create in each image. One of Katrina’s favourite moments on set is when the client gives her free range: an extra shot to do whatever she wants, just for fun. When she hears “You have 15 minutes to create something, [I think] okay, I’m pulling out all my glitters,” she says. “Anytime I get to include something glittery and glossy for a client is a good day for me.”