Film and television makeup artist, Scotia Boyd shares her career journey, the importance of lifelong learning, and how to combat complacency throughout your career.
From finding your passion for makeup to receiving a formal education, can you tell us about your journey as a makeup artist?
My passion for makeup artistry began when I got a part-time job in high school working as a beauty advisor! It was a bit of a mistake. I accidentally applied to the beauty counter at the Shoppers Drug Mart in town. When I realized, my future boss assured me that I was going to be a great fit. So, after I was hired, I got onto the internet, opened up a bunch of Kevyn Aucoin books (Kevyn Aucoin is an iconic makeup artist) and began practicing religiously after school every day on my little sister. We would try out looks on her that he had done on Kate Moss in the 90s. Kevyn Aucoin was an OG for contouring and highlighting makeup and transforming faces using light and shadow.
It was through that daily practice that I became obsessed with the art form. I was so excited to get home from school every day to try something new. The learning hasn’t stopped since then. Ever since I started, I was convinced I wanted to take it as far as I could. When I finished high school, I moved to Toronto to study it formally, before working on my first film set and learning from all the artists in the film community. I feel grateful every day that I stumbled on something that has been such a great match for me. I think that when you look at someone and think, “it just comes to them naturally,” what you’re looking at is someone that genuinely enjoys what they’re doing and practices all the time. I wish that everyone could go through a sampling period to see what it is that inspires them before committing to a career path.
How has continuing education helped shape your career as a makeup artist?
Continuing education has been everything for me. If I had stopped learning when I finished school, I’m not sure where I’d be right now, maybe still working in the same small town beauty department! Taking courses has been great for networking – I have flown to England to learn from some of the best in the biz and met makeup artists from The Crown, Lord of the Rings and House of Gucci. But it doesn’t have to be anything expensive or extravagant either! I am not above learning from the wealth of knowledge that is available to us on YouTube. On many nights I am watching what my favourite artists are posting. Showing my own work in progress on social platforms like Instagram has connected me to even more artists. Showing your work even if it’s not yet at the expert level showcases your passion and commitment to growth.
All those things help in a tremendous way. I think that employers are recognizing more and more how important it is to have people that are going to think creatively and be open-minded. I always find that I am the most excited about my career just after I’ve taken a new course or learned a new skill. Just the feeling of positivity and excitement acts like a springboard to your career. It can have a snowball effect, and it can go in either direction. I’ve seen artists that were once leading the pack but failed to stay committed to learning. Their success starts to diminish which leads to negativity and resentment, and no one wants to be around that! From what I’ve observed in the industry – the best of the best are the ones that humble themselves and never stop learning. What sets them apart is the continual pursuit and honing of their craft that never, ever stops!
As someone who advocates for lifelong learning, why do you think it’s important to upskill?
Lifelong learning is what keeps me passionate about life and about my career and like so many people, I spend the majority of my time at work! That really hit for me lately when I realized that I could break up each chunk of my life by the show that I was working on at the time. My life has been playing out during each job I take. Creating new characters and getting to use newly acquired skills is fun for me and I’m so happy to say that these days my work has been creatively challenging in a good way. I actually find myself wanting to spend more time at work, rather than looking forward to the weekends.
Tell us about your experience working on the Netflix television series, Jupiter’s Legacy. How did this project allow you to push your own boundaries and learn new skills?
The way that I design my career is by making an effort to take shows that are just slightly outside of my comfort zone. AKA the growth zone. After having done a couple of television shows that were based on “regular folk” (which can be fun in its own way – turning stars into everyday people), I was excited to move into the realm of superheroes. Working with the makeup designer Leslie Sebert, we were able to create elevated looks for the characters on screen that didn’t have to be based in reality. There was a period component to the show as well with flashbacks to the glam and grunge of the 20s and 30s.
It’s always creatively inspiring to research back in time and learn what techniques the men and women of the era were using and what products were available to them. Before starting a new show, I find myself taking refresher courses that are geared directly to the kind of work it will entail. For Jupiter’s Legacy, I was brushing up on facial hair application for the 1920s mustaches and gathering resources that were written by women in the 1920s and 1930s about their beauty regimes. Upskilling before a new project is a great sign that I am doing something exciting and greatly helps in fighting workplace complacency.
Many Canadians may experience complacency throughout their careers. What advice can you share to help individuals overcome feeling complacent?
Something that I have recently adapted after reading the book, “Think Again,” by Adam Grant, is to do regular career check-ins. We all reach a point in our lives and our careers when we start going through the motions somewhat aimlessly (inertia)! I think it’s important to make a practice of assessing where you’re at in your career every 6 months to a year. Where would you like to be long-term? Are the current projects that you’re aligning yourself with getting you closer to that goal? If not, what kind of changes can you make now that are going to put you on the right path to achieving that goal?
There are always different reasons for taking a job and we should think deliberately about which boxes they are ticking off. Is it to save money for some venture you’re passionate about or to allow you to be able to take some time off later for the opportunity to do other things? Is it challenging you creatively? Are you learning? Are you achieving the work/life balance that you desire? Perhaps if it’s not creatively challenging you can appreciate the value in a nice friendly work environment, with the hours that fit your lifestyle and the things that you’d like to pursue outside of work. Stopping to assess these criteria can help with complacency because you’ll either see where you can make some changes, or you’ll be able to appreciate the job that you have now and the freedoms and trade-offs that it allows you.