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In conversation with make-up artist Jo Baker

In conversation with make-up artist Jo Baker

If there’s something we had to practice with and preserve despite, or better, even because of this pandemic, was self-care. Of course, amongst the various forms of self-love we own, there are make-up and skincare routines. It’s not always easy to positively act towards our health and self-stability, especially if we struggle with our own image and sense of self. But once we are on the right track of understanding what’s best for us, and our skin without comparisons or unrealistic goals, we reach a soft sense of tranquillity and peace in the very act of taking care of our appearance and identity. A sense of stability and steadiness we sure need in this challenging time. We had the pleasure of speaking about this and more with Jo Baker, one of the most relevant make-up artists of the international creative scene.

Born and raised in London, Jo Baker entered in the enchanted world of make-up as a make-up artist in 2000, getting to work in the fashion scene and with Usher on his world tour. Once in California, she successfully managed to widen her portfolio, by working with famous clients in the creative industries. Amongst her famous clients, we can name Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lawrence, Vanessa Kirby, with whom she worked for her freshly released Netflix film Pieces of a Woman, Paris Jackson, Mackenzie Davis, Lucy Boynton, Queen Latifah and many more.

Your educational background in art can result in a different path than the one you eventually took. Where your studies, passions and make-up skills meet? What are the most significant inspirations of yours for these amazing creations? 

I have always loved art, painting, sketching, playing around with different creative mediums… I also love people, human behaviour and the glamour of show business !! The two were a natural fit. I loved working on canvases that were moving- tricky, time-sensitive, emotional it is such an honour to create art on and for people. Its like custom makeup – giving my clients something a little different or special tailor-made and created just for them. I love the challenge and making it fun. For years its been so sterile and boring on red carpets – beautiful makeup but expected looks. I’m excited to bring a little London fashion edge to the red carpet scene. 

What is your skin care and make-up routine? 

I keep it fairly simple… But I do really like to take my time with an Am/PM cleanse.  Taking 5 mins to soak a face cloth in hot water and compress it on my skin. Letting the steam rejuvenate and soothe my face is one of my favorite self care rituals. I then love to massage my face further with oil or a good skin cream… Weleda Pomegranate Facial Firming Oil is a super treat and gives my skin a smooth and more radiant surface. Ive also been testing Perfectif Night Even Skin Tone Cream by Revive as a night treatment cream for dark spots and sun damage… and Ive been loving the results, morning after morning I can see a gradual improvement. The overall texture, tone looks brighter and more vibrant with my age spots slowly fading- which is quite frankly – amazing!  I’m finally starting to take care of my own skin after years of concentrating mostly on my clients. Its nice to use skincare as part of self care during this testing time and also play around with products i didn’t have time to try out before with my manic travel lifestyle.

What are the make-up products you can’t live without? 

I can’t live without Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel, Also Chanel Universel Bronze Cream ( believe it may not be called Les Beige Bronzing Cream) I love Armani Neo Nude Contour – literally foolproof product for undetectable contouring! I also love Shiseido Synchro Skin Refreshing Foundation and their new blushes also…. I could go on and on! Sisley So Curl Mascara as well as Chanel Le Volume Mascara ( cult classic )… I have so many favourites!!!

How do you manage to convey the personality and attitude of your models and equally bringing your style and experience to the table? 

Do you find a common ground, a story from where to start? Yes, I want my girls to look cool! I would rather them look cool than beautiful or pretty. I want all my girls to feel confident, badass and themselves. I try to bring out their inner edgy with subtle details like with  #Attitudelash . There’s something really great to mix my London roots influence – always a little fashion grime with editorial inspired look with a plotted finish. Not over done but definitely a statement. 

What are the looks you enjoyed the most creating?

Every day I’m working I’m happy!  I truly love it… I work with a great roster of women who are constantly inspiring me. Their talent and the fashion paired together gives me a limitless playground to conjure up magical fun ideas and their trust in me gives me even more room to daydream unique looks for them. But it really does happen spontaneously. It’s not pre-thought or pre-planned, it does happen pretty at that exact moment when the whole team is in the room giving their input! But to the question… I love creating looks for the red carpet… there’s something about it being live and out of our control once they leave us which challenges me the most. The look has to last, has to be flawless and has to be done with extreme precision and with a careful touch because it’s so easy to over or under-do it and over the years I’ve really learnt that you have to create makeup that will work for any of the lightings. You can’t trust you will get sunlight or if the photographers flash will go off. So really to create something that will work to endure often extreme humidity like in Beijing in their hot sweaty weather.. and then also extreme cold when skin can show its discomfort and become cold and wind chilled flushed easily. It all needs to be considered. So it’s a never-ending challenge and fun occasion. 

Balancing the peculiarities of a dress with the best make-up is a matter of experience, vision, creativity and a little bit of genius. How do you manage to enhance and to carefully create this balance? 

I respect and love fashion immensely – I ask who the designer is and consider that house/brand and try to carefully create something unique but in line with their collection.  It’s important the makeup doesn’t override the outfit. So I am very conscious and inspired by the outfit and am always keen to make sure the makeup doesn’t compete. It is a careful balance and I hope the fashion houses feel like we bring a little modernity to compliment is of supreme importance.

With this terrible coronavirus pandemic, we became accustomed to wear a mask to protect ourselves and others. According to you, how can make-up be still relevant in these days? Do you think it can alleviate the weight of this unpleasant accessory? How? 

I think we like makeup for many different reasons. It can be as simple to say its something we can personally control. At a time where we barely have any control over our lives, and where we can go or what we can do or who we can see, makeup is something that doesn’t need permission. It’s personal freedom, colour play, glamour, self-gratifying creativity; it can be so therapeutic and good for our spirits to stay upbeat! Makeup can be whatever you need it to be, an outlet for fun or something of a confidence builder if you are having a bad day! It’s pretty instant though. So I say play…. you can always wash it off and start over!

The tutorials you give on Instagram are really useful, especially for a girl like me who’s not used to apply make-up every day, or because sometimes I really don’t know where to start or what is the right product for my skin. The importance of make-up and skincare is nowadays crucial even because it helps to deal with self-esteem and self-acceptance, with inclusivity and diversity too. What are your thoughts about this matter? 

Well… firstly thank you for enjoying what I put up. I try to make it something my friends and I would find interesting or inspiring. The industry and social channels are saturated with content to a point of often feeling confusing and overwhelming. There is so much out there and so much of it feels like just selling and product placement. I try to balance my social outlets with creativity and product insights and my clients so that people can get real information on makeup approved products. Yet, also see I’m not an “influencer” although this pandemic made me turn the camera on myself (which I had never intended!) With regards to the self-esteem issues- I am really worried about how young people are having their faces altered and plastic surgery transformations.

I’m not entirely sure how to correct this – but I think what makes us all so marvellous is how different we all are and it’s important to see the good in all of our features. Unfortunately there are so many people who have made huge amounts of money and success and fame off this kind of culture and although I wish everyone the best I do worry about the effect it will have on the next generation long term. We must accept that if we are healthy we are extremely lucky. There has never been a year like 2020 to teach and remind us of this very fact. Beauty truly is something that needs a deeper consideration … I hope we can continue to spread a kinder and more inclusive beauty outlook and allow more women to gain confidence with who they are with or without makeup!

Do you have any upcoming projects or events? 

I’m currently in London and I’ll be going back to LA. I have been lucky to work with Vanessa Kirby this year and her new movie just got released on Netflix – “Pieces of a woman”!  So worth a watch -I’m pretty proud of her and this movie and find the subject matter really unique and important! After that I’m not sure… with the new lockdown and global crisis still in full effect maybe the next highlight will be a drive out to the desert and stare at the stars at night- I’ve been craving a little time to reconnect with the mother earth and the universe. 

I’m hoping very much that we can get a handle on this current situation so we can all start living our lives again… meeting, interacting and enjoying human contact and company is something I don’t think any of us will take for granted again!

On cover: C I N D Y C R A W F O R D shot by @maxabadian for @ellecanada and J E N N I F E R L A W R E N C E for @harpersbazaarus Shot by @benhassett


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