Alex Box studied and exhibited as an installation artist before training to become a make-up artist, with her main focus on relationships between the body and the environment. As a make-up artist, she went on to explore this relationship between art, science, nature and the magical. Today, Alex creates out of the box [!] looks for designers including Gareth Pugh, Alexander McQueen, Biba and Chanel.
Leading the field in experimental beauty, she is a regular contributor to i-D, Vogue, V, Harpers Bazaar and 10 magazine as well as ShowStudio online.
I grabbed a quick word with the lady herself…
Hi Alex, how are you today?
I am very good! I have got a lot done – I’ve met with two photographers to talk about creative projects for the near future, had a conference call with Rankin about our new book and been to the dentist. I’m now off to Brewer Street for a late lunch and to pick up some material!
Why did you agree to become Artistic Director for Illamasqua?
How could I say no? Julian Kynaston [Chairman of Illamasqua] approached me through Myspace after reading an article about me, written by Bethan Cole for the Sunday Times Style where I mentioned that the art of applying and enjoying make-up was being slowly lost and replaced by corporate cosmetic fads. He came to me and presented an idea for an emotional cosmetic brand that would bring the fun and life back into an increasingly stagnant industry. The fact that he approached me in such a human and informal way – through Myspace – really touched me and I fell hook line and sinker for his vision. It was not corporate, it was not business, it was passion and I absolutely understood where he was coming from as it was coming straight from the heart. We could not have been more in tune and so it was inevitable that we would form a really solid relationship.
How has the journey from idea to reality been for you?
Amazing. Ive learnt a lot; how you develop a range literally, how you translate ideas into physical product and the highs and lows of life on the production and business side of cosmetics. Of course, there are frustrations - certain pigments can’t be used on certain areas of the face, certain textures are impossible to achieve, but it is the struggles that make you really appreciate the triumphs.
I am a creative at heart and I believe that if you have a strong enough idea and enough passion and commitment to something then it can create something wonderful. I have become extremely confident and proud of Illamasqua – our visions are being shared by so many people and it is extraordinary to be a part of something like that. I believe we have barely scratched the surface. Illamasqua is going to be huge and I am going to be there every step of the way!
Has exploring individuality has always been more important to you than trends?
Yes. It’s a life long journey to discover yourself, who you are, what you believe in. Why pretend to be someone else or do what everyone else is doing? Trends are very transparent. If you try to be on trend, you’re already off which is the irony of fashion. Once you are wearing the trends, the ‘trend setters’ are on to the new thing and thus you have already fallen behind. You become like a dog chasing your own tail.
One person being labelled ‘alternative’ does not create a movement – you need more than one voice and at Illamasqua we have a whole choir! When you look at it from that perspective, our counters become even more incredible.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a make-up artist?
Believe in yourself and just go with what is in your heart – a lot of people will tell you to adapt and change your ideas to suit the current fashions and if that is who you are then fine, but to be an innovator you need to be able to step away from it all and be able to reflect on your life and experiences you have had. Take time out to experience new cultures, visit exhibitions and spend time with friends as this will influence your work and give your work a view point and develop your artistic impulse. What will inspire you otherwise?
The best advice I ever received was when I was just starting out - a top make-up artist told me: It’s a stayers race. This is completely true – many people will drop away but it’s all about stamina and belief.
How would you describe your style?
An acid goth. Pure and simple.
Check out the Box News feature later this week to find out what Alex has been up to!