Philly Creative Guide

Creative Personality

Loren Golden | Make-up Artist

Interview :: Loren Golden
by Juanita Berge, 1 Jan 2009

Loren Golden is a professional make-up artist for print, television & film and personal appearances. She typically works out of Philadelphia and South Jersey areas, but she has worked quite a few times from New York down to Maryland.

Loren Golden can be reached at 609.790.6849 or l.golden@franchisit.com.


PCG: How long have you been a make-up artist?

LG: I have been working professionally as a make-up artist for 15 years. Before that, my friends always asked me to do their make-up for the prom, weddings, going out, etc.


PCG: Did you get into the field by accident or by design? Tell us about that.

LG: I actually became a make-up artist by default. After graduating from college with a degree in Business, I was working in a Sales/Marketing capacity for an environmental company. I also had studied acting for many years and was working part-time as an actress. I was booked to do a commercial and was chatting with the make-up artist that was applying my make-up and told her that I have always loved doing make-up for my friends. She mentioned that she was double-booked a lot and would like to use me as a backup for her. I was very interested and that next week, she sent me to my first job at a pharmaceutical company video department. She had given me some pointers and I did the make-up for the talent and asked if I could see him on camera. It wasn't pretty, so I asked him to come back to my chair and "tweak" a bit. Basically, I learned from on-the-job training.

Loren Golden | Make-up Artist

PCG: Is there formal training for make-up artists; a straight line progression to follow, or many different avenues?

LG: There are various schools to study make-up. I think a lot of makeup artists study at schools and also get on-the-job training.

I love the colors from MAC Cosmetics and my make-up kit is made up of 95% MAC products. They offer master classes from their New York City Professional location and all of my formal training has been through these classes. I have taken classes from bridal, television and film, editorial, headshot and audition to trends and ethnic make-up. I definitely have learned the most from working on the job.


PCG: Are you a contracted make-up artist or do you work free-lance?

LG: I have always worked as a freelance make-up artist. From time to time, I will get booked as talent on a production and then also get booked as my own make-up artist.


PCG: How do you find jobs?

LG: In the beginning, I worked at the jobs that the make-up artist sent me to. Then we both began working with Rob at The Support Group (a staffing agency for video production crews) in Philadelphia. When production work came to our area, they would call Rob and he would provide crew members. He eventually closed his doors and I then started to work directly with these clients. I mostly worked for various productions companies who always had a need for make-up artists. When working on a set, I always networked with other crew members and received a lot of work from referrals.


PCG: Do you have regular clients?

LG: Yes. I use to do the make-up for all of the LA Weight Loss commercials for over 10 years until they dissolved. On average, most of the women being interviewed lost about 50 lbs. Some women lost 100, 150 lbs. or more. When I finished doing their make-up they would take a look in the mirror and can't believe that I saw them as glamorous people. They would start crying sometimes. It is very gratifying to have people appreciate your efforts.

For many years, my regular clients were the pharmaceutical companies that kept me busy many days a week. Also, I do make-up for a production company that produces medical training video tapes for educational purposes.


PCG: Have you done the make-up of anyone famous?

LG: Yes. I work for NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, A&E and BBC networks when they come to Philadelphia. I have done Brian Williams, Soledad O'Brien, Jim Cramer and the crew at The Squawk Box show, Wilma McNabb (Donovan's mom) and Donovan too! I did a commercial as talent and make-up with Donovan for Chrysler. I did the TNT anchors Charles Barkley, Kenny and Ernie when the Sixers were in the playoffs with Detroit. I did Harry Kalas, the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies. I was the make-up artist for former NJ governor Christie Todd Whitman for her on-air appearances. She always was on the phone, so I would do half of her face and then get her to switch ears. Then I would do the other side of her face.

It was very intimidating to do Ron Lauder's make-up – the king of the cosmetic company – Estee Lauder in New York. I spent about 1 hour doing my make-up to go to this job for A&E. The first segment was Mia Farrow interviewing Ron Lauder about his personal art collection. I went to Estee Lauder headquarters in Manhattan and was introduced to Ron. He immediately said, "Oh, you use MAC cosmetics!" He had just purchased that company and knew what I was wearing. I did his make-up and then he introduced me to Mia to do her face.

"I like to get as much information as I can about what we are doing, and sometimes that means I need to research..."

PCG: Have you met with any make-up challenges? Tell us about them.

LG: I feel like I am pretty prepared for each job. I like to get as much information as I can about what we are doing, and sometimes that means I need to research a period look or practice a bit on a friend first. But I was booked to do the make-up at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia for the BBC International Relations. Everyone that I worked on was from another country and mostly no one spoke English. We worked that week for literally 19-20 hours a day and had a 4-5 hour turn-a-round time. I had to mime and gesture that I wanted to put on their make-up. As I raised my sponge, they would move to get out of the way. Since they were speaking another language that was challenging, fun and sometimes frustrating. At the end of the week, I was completely exhausted.


PCG: You must have made a million contacts. Do you have any stories you can share with us?

LG: One job that really touched me was shooting a cover for a magazine and the talent was a woman who lost over 300 pounds. The crew and I showed up at her house and I asked them if they could just go to lunch and give us some time. It took almost 2 hours to get her ready and I started by tweezing her eyebrows. She told me all about how she went from 450 pounds to 150 pounds without surgery. She just starting walking and had a lot of will power through dieting and exercise. When I finished, I took a look at her and she looked so beautiful that I started crying.


PCG: What has been your most interesting job?

LG: There have been many, many interesting jobs over the years. The most interesting is my work with the medical encyclopedia training videos. We worked on taping the guide to physical examinations. We have videoed work on how to do a breast examination, ear, nose and throat exam, muscular skeleton evaluation, prostate exam, etc. Most of the people who are the patients for these exams are patients-for-hire at medical universities which allow doctors in training to practice exams. They are very comfortable with their bodies and many times I have been at the craft service table during a break, chatting with them while they are pretty much naked. We used an actress as a chest exam patient and needed to shoot a shot from her back using a stethoscope. When we took off her gown, she was covered with back tattoos that could not be covered with make-up. They asked me to fill in. They shot my back and the editors filled it in seamlessly. Some actresses arrive without a bra or socks and they always come to me first with requests. I usually need to apply make-up on areas that are up close and personal – if you know what I mean.

One exam was a guide to examining a newborn infant. I was pregnant at the time so they asked if when my son was born, could we shoot the newborn exam. So when I went into labor, I called the director and they arranged a crew for a couple of days later. Once I got out of the hospital my mother-in-law took me over to the shoot where we shot the tape in about 10 hours.


PCG: Do you do straight make-up, character make-up, or both?

LG: I mostly do straight, clean make-up. Occasionally, I do make-up for the medical training videos where the patients are supposed to look sickly with various illnesses.


PCG: Tell us about your character make-up work?

LG: It is fun to make patients, who are actors, look pasty, sweaty or tired with dark circles under their eyes. When I review them on camera, it is hard to see someone look bad. I am so used to doing the opposite. For one commercial, they wanted me to make-up a man as a woman. I asked my brother if I could practice on his face and he said no thanks. He is 6'4, 245 pounds of a macho athlete. I told him I wouldn't tell anyone or take pictures. I finally broke him down and he let me do his face. By the way, he looked very nice!


PCG: Where is the field heading?

LG: With the picture clarity of HD television, I think the cosmetic companies should continue to research and develop products that provide outstanding coverage, yet still make the skin look natural. Make-up artists, more than ever, need to continue to search for great products, use the right tools (brushes) and continue learning forever evolving techniques.


PCG: What advice would you give to someone who would like to break into the field? What steps should they take?

LG: I would recommend studying at a makeup school to get a good start on application techniques. Then I would encourage getting some practice on test shoots by contacting photographers who do test shoots. Make-up artists will get a chance to observe lighting and how it affects makeup application. When I did a lot of test shooting for no payment, I learned how to create a lot of different looks. I learned how to light a person and how make-up and lighting work together. I always look at the light setting before applying make-up. And most importantly, I went back over the photographs or video to see how it looked. There is always room for improvement and you really can see where you could have done things a little different, a little better here and there.

After getting a handle on the industry and acquiring clients, I think that make-up artists should always be professional, timely, hard working and accommodating to have a long-lasting career in the business.

All in all, I absolutely love being a make-up artist and it has been a very rewarding experience. The crew members who I have worked with for so many years are like family to me. When we go to different jobs, we enjoy catching up with each other and giving updates about our families. I can't think of anything else that I would rather do!

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