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Lady Gaga’s makeup artist – interview

Lynda Moyo speaks to Cassie Lomas about touring with Lady Gaga and running a makeup school

Written by . Published on April 15th 2011.

Lady Gaga’s makeup artist – interview

LADY GAGA is arguably the biggest pop icon of this generation. Known as much for her wacky fashion sense as her catchy chart tunes, she’s her own brand of madness.

For any brand to flourish, it takes a savvy team of people to build the business. Cassie Lomas is a former cog in the global Gaga wheel. Her 13 year career has also seen her work with celebrities including Girls Aloud, Minnie Driver, Tinie Tempah, Twiggy, Coleen Rooney, Katherine Jenkins and many more.

Lynda Moyo met up with the Mancuinan make-up artist to the stars and founder of her own Cassie Lomas Makeup Academy in the Northern Quarter, to find out how a girl with dreams of becoming a stock broker ended up applying Gaga’s war paint for a living...


From touring with Lady Gaga to running your own makeup academy. Is it all a dream come true?

Actually I always wanted to be a stock broker. I saw myself in an office in New York with floor to ceiling glass windows, my own desk and secretary. I never envisaged myself doing this. Ever. It was actually only five years ago that I stopped and thought ‘Wow – this is my career’. In the beginning it was just something to earn a bit of money and then it just snowballed.

I guess the makeup school thing is the business side of me coming out. Some makeup artists want their own range of makeup or brushes, but I’ve always wanted to have a school. I’m from Manchester and there was nothing like this when I was learning so I know how difficult it is.

It’s such an amazing career that I wanted to do something in my home town for girls who aspire to move in that direction. I could have done it in London but that wouldn’t have meant as much to me. Girls are so interested in makeup in the North West and we’ve got a massive creative buzz here in Manchester so it just seemed perfect.

Are you still working as a makeup artist as well as running the school?

Yes, I’m still doing my freelance. I still need to stay relevant for the students. The point of our school is that our students are taught by professional makeup artists who are working. As an artist if you stop working you become stale.

All the makeup artists have been handpicked by me and they teach my specific course. I wrote a manual to make sure everything the girls learn is what I feel they need to be taught.

What does that include?

Well, a lot of makeup schools teach a basic background in makeup which has been taught for decades. It’s no longer relevant in today’s industry. The thing about makeup is it’s not a science and there are no strict rules. I’m trying to bring the creativity out in my students and show them things they won’t get taught at college.

We also do a lot of practical and less theory unlike most colleges. Making mistakes and learning from them is how you move forward. The students also get opportunities to assist me on shoots.

In addition we do portfolio days for existing makeup artists who need to build their portfolios. In the early days that’s what I struggled with as a makeup artist.

Do aspiring makeup artists need to possess natural talent then or can anyone do it?

All the students so far have been really talented which is great. A lot of it is down to talent of course, but the way we teach brings out their best skills and shows them how to work with those skills to make a career out of it.

What about women who just want to learn how to do their own makeup at home?

We have professional courses and personal workshops for women who want to learn how to do their own makeup. If you think about it, we’re never actually taught how to apply makeup properly - we just pick it up from our mums and sisters. And all the bad habits and 1980s products of course. The day courses can help with all that.

Is the academy open to the public to come in and have their makeup done?

Every Friday afternoon, the academy is open to the general public to have their makeup done and nails painted by the students for £10. It’s a nice environment and we’re not trying to sell you anything. We’re always looking for models as well but of course models don’t get a say in what makeup they have – today for example is Cleopatra day.

Did you struggle to get work in the early days?

It was really hard to get an agent. I used to test shoot at every opportunity. I was lucky because I’d been a model previously so I had some contacts and spent a few years building up my book which I paid for myself. Then I took my portfolio to London one day and knocked on doors of agencies. That same day I got an agent then shortly after I enrolled at the London College of Fashion. After completing my course I got a different agent and that’s where the celebrity work started coming in.

Tell us about working with Lady Gaga?

She’s amazing. I started working with her when she first came out and my agent got me the job. I didn’t know who she was and in fact no one in the UK knew who she was at that time. Almost overnight she turned into this global phenomenon. I went on a world tour with her for two months. She’s so creative. She taught me loads about makeup and really pushed my creativity.

Did she look the same back then as she does now?

Yeah - that’s just her. She’s crackers. She doesn’t own a pair of tracksuit bottoms, jeans or flat shoes.

You didn’t see her dressed down then, behind the scenes?

When we were on tour in Europe she came to the pool in Ibiza in thigh high boots a swimming costume, wig and a shirt tied round her. I was like “What are you wearing?” and she said “Cassie, I don’t own flip flops.” That is just her. What you see is what you get. They’re the only types of clothes she owns.

Did you ever do the natural look on her?

Yes I did the natural look. She looked so beautiful but I think she felt it wasn’t her. She always wants bold eyebrows or black lips or something. I thought she looked fantastic natural though. I’m not really the most arty makeup artist. I like to make people look beautiful, enhance features and create a flawless look.

Why did you stop working with her?

The way it works is you have an artist and you travel the world with them. That was me. Then I had a baby and she had to replace me so that’s just the way it works. I could possibly do more work with her in the future though.

Cassie Lomas.jpg

It must be the highlight of your career so far?

I guess at the moment, because she’s so huge I can say it’s the highlight of my career but you know, back in the day when I was doing Atomic Kitten and they were huge, that was the highlight of my career – travelling the world with my three best friends on private jets and going to MTV parties when I was younger. When you’re in your thirties and eight months pregnant you can’t get as much from it unfortunately.

Whose makeup would you like to do next?

Lindsay Lohan. She’s so beautiful but never looks polished.

Finally, give us a peek inside your makeup bag please...

Bourjois volume perfect fast mascara. It has a rotating wand so it combs, thickens and curls. Benefit Brow Zing for eyebrows. Cheeks Daniel Sandler Watercolours for my cheeks. Bourjois illuminating touch highlighter also on my cheeks. MAC face and body foundation and a lip balm.

No primer or other fancy things?

I don’t use primer on myself, but I do on shoots. You actually never take pride in your own makeup when you’re an artist (sighs)....

For more information on courses available at Cassie Lomas Makeup Academy or if you wish to have your makeup done during one of the student sessions visit www.cassielomasmakeupacademy.co.uk or call 0161 236 5567 for more information.


Cassie Lomas Makeup Academy

10a Little Lever Street


M1 1HR

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