Makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur AJ Crimson has worked on projects with many artists and celebrities, including Fergie (more about her in the interview), Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Missy Elliott. His work is featured in fashion and lifestyle magazines worldwide. He is also founder and designer of Kissable Couture, a line he founded in association with co-creator and business partner Keisha Whitaker.
Of all things I do on the blog, I derive the greatest satisfaction from interviewing makeup artists and other creatives in the beauty business. I am pleased to present AJ's responses to my questions:
1. Could you tell our readers more about your life than what is provided on your website (http://www.ajcrimson.com/)? For example, where did you grow up? Several other makeup artists whom I’ve interviewed told me that growing up in a family of women fostered their interest in makeup. Did your family inspire your interest in makeup?
I grew up in Detroit, but think this may be common knowledge; I have quite a few siblings. Although I was raised as an only child for many years. I have a really great family who are a lot of fun! I have always been imaginative, creative, and analytical. So the mix of creativity and business comes natural to me. I never set out to be a makeup artist but I do believe it was and still is a natural progress for me when compared to the many positions I have held within the entertainment industry. It all plays a role in the overall goal to be one of the leaders in business to revolutionize a new way of execution and delivery of personal interest services.
2. Your website says that you were “creatively self-taught” in the art of makeup. Tell us how you got involved in makeup and taught yourself how to do makeup.
After working for years as an artist development assistant, I often found myself in an art directing capacity. In that role, I need to make sure the vision for the shoot or project was coming to life. This sometimes meant re shopping for the stylist or asking that makeup changes be made. Eventually I went on to work as a stylist then makeup where I found the most relaxation and peace. I was just creating in silence. I never really had to speak which was calming, I became better at it and it grew to be a passion of mine. To transform someone into a striking beauty is an amazing journey from start to finish. The key is allowing the person to still shine through. I really have mastered it. You will see the difference with and without makeup but you will always see the client’s true self.
3. What do you consider to be your first big break as a makeup artist?
The first job that I keyed was with Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas for “Where is the Love.” I learned so much on this project from negotiating fee, hiring hair and makeup staff, working on set, learning to please the artist and the label all at once. Sometimes it can be hectic because everyone has opinions on what the visual should be.
4. Which is your favorite: editorial, celebrity, or video? Why?
I would have to say my 10 page story in Vogue. What a great experience to be on set with the greats in fashion. Anne Leibovitz, Gucci Westman, Grace Coddington, Natalia Vodianova, and Sean “Diddy” Combs. I respect them all so much for their contributions. Their stories and legacy in the industry is living history. I was a part of that moment. My credit in inscribed in a piece of history.
In Part 2 of the interview, AJ talks more about Kissable Couture and his other activities.