(Header Photo by @12headedboy)
I’m Mollie Gloss, a pro makeup artist here in Chicago. I’m known for working with crazy colors, LOTS of glitter, and really fun textures. I’m lucky enough to have been able to work with lots of talented musicians like Ravyn Lenae and brands like Nike over the past year, and it’s been an incredible ride so far.
How long have you been a makeup artist and how did you get your start into the industry?
I’ve been in the industry for about eight years and freelancing for four. My love for makeup goes back to the 8th grade, though. I’m not really sure how or why, but I stumbled onto a MAC makeup message board called spektra.net where artists and enthusiasts alike would post new collections, swatches and photo tutorials. Yes, photos. This was before youtube so some of the members would spend HOURS putting together step by step, photo by photo reference guides. I was enamored and immediately started slapping rainbows on my face. I was never and still am not by any means skilled at traditional art – sketching, painting, etc. I think I saw that I had a knack for makeup and never let it go! I was the girl at school with four different eyeshadows on up to her eyebrows. Thankfully my parents were very supportive and encouraging… no matter how bad I looked! I studied environmental science and film in college before dropping out to pursue makeup full time, and again their support was pretty incredible.
(Photo by @Jingyulin__)
What is the most important beauty advice that you can give to women?
I feel like the most important beauty advice can apply universally to anyone: Stop caring. Beauty is about you, and for you only… it shouldn’t have anything to do with anyone else! Love yourself and your skin and honor it along with your body. That’s the best advice I can give.
How is it doing creative work in a commercial market like Chicago?
You know, it feels pretty damn good. Even as recently as two years ago I was told by agents and industry folks to get rid of everything in my book that wasn’t clean and simple… that I was never going to make any money or have any success doing creative work. It’s pretty validating now when I look at my portfolio. I’m really glad I didn’t listen to anyone! Honestly, I still don’t. I’m proud of myself for paving my own way despite the market. I owe so much of that to the music industry and the art community here in Chicago. So many people have believed in me and my work, and I’m so lucky to have clients and peers that trust my vision and honestly just let me do my thing most of the time. I know that I haven’t even done my best work yet… I still consider myself young in my career with so much more to learn. The fact that I get to do that here in Chicago with my friends makes me feel incredibly lucky. I just feel blessed to contribute, even at all, to all of the amazing art that’s happening in our city right now.
(Photo by @Jingyulin__)
Why do you think MUA’s and until recently the industry in general just aren’t catering to women of color?
Women of color have just been left out of the equation for so long. I remember when I started in makeup on the retail side and not being able to color match deeper skin tones in most brands, which is really frustrating when you want a happy client. You would hear those companies say that those deeper shades ‘just wouldn’t sell’ whenever they were questioned. It’s pretty blatant racism and classism that goes deep. Social media has been a huge platform for artists, consumers, and YouTubers like Nyma Tang to speak out – specifically about the lack of shade ranges available in major cosmetics lines. I’m so happy women of color are being heard, and that our economic power is really being recognized, hello Rihanna! Fenty Beauty was such an incredible launch this year and it has really shaken up the industry. Suddenly every brand is scrambling to keep up and it’s amazing. As far as individual hair and makeup artists go, there is still so much work to be done. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from my clients of color that they rarely have a good experience in the styling chair. It’s insane. There is a huge gap in the industry between artists that can and can’t style natural hair, work with hair pieces.. that stock their kit with deep enough shades and it’s really frustrating. It needs to be called out at large. Cosmetology school doesn’t even cover natural hair and most salons don’t even have the services available! It’s literally wild and no one is talking about it! The industry needs a huge update, and it needs it now- beauty is for all. If I wasn’t able to cater to any and every single individual who sits in my chair, I just couldn’t call myself a pro. Hopefully, we can keep talking about it and work toward a much more inclusive industry.
(Photo by @Lillieeiger)
What’s it been like working with Nike on these past couple of campaigns?
Everyone at Nike is so encouraging, it’s like working with friends. They really believe in young artists and taking part of the community here, whether it’s fashion or sport. The amount of projects and collaborations they’re doing in Chicago, particularly with artists of color, is so incredible and inspiring and I think they’re really setting the bar for large companies for what it means to be invested in the city and the culture. The HypeBae editorial we did last month was so fun, I can’t wait to see what we get up to next!
Who are your favorite models and photographers to work with?
I’m so lucky to constantly work with some of my closest friends and to have formed some pretty special creative relationships over the past couple of years. Some of my favorite photographers are Jingyu Lin and Zoe Rain. Jing has this incredible eye for color and posing and just takes the dreamiest, softest yet fresh crisp photos I’ve ever seen. Zoe is incredible to be with on set, she will literally do some parkour to get the shot if need be and knows how to make both her subjects and the city shine. As far as models go, you know, so many have become such joys to have in my chair and I kind of get to see them all as little siblings! I do get very protective of my babies. That’s one of the great things about Chicago being a smaller market, I get to see some models regularly and it’s so nice really getting to know them and what works best for their skin, it only makes everyone more comfortable! I love Shaheem Anderson, Nina Clev, Lei, Fulani, Mia Ghogo… there are so many models killing it!! I’m also really lucky to be able to call Jada one of my very close friends. We get together and cook, play with makeup, talk out our hopes and dreams at least once a week, if not more. Lately, we’ve had some huge projects together, which has been so amazing! It’s always nice to have friends on set.
What has been your favorite shoot you’ve been able to be apart of?
Oof, that’s such a tough question! I would have to say, one of my favorite shoots so far goes back to last December when Ravyn and I first met. We were shooting for Brick Magazine which is based in London. The whole team was incredible, and not only did I meet Ravyn for the first time, but I met some incredible women who have become close friends and collaborators ever since. We turned out some amazing photos. Pretty much every shoot I do with Ravyn is my favorite, and it gets better and better every time. We’ve done photo shoots, live performances, and now some music videos and we kind of just keep saying that we are raising the bar with each look. She is growing and maturing and finding her inspiration with her look more and more each day and my biggest goal is to help her feel the most magical and powerful she can, so as long as she’s happy – so am I! We have some crazy stuff coming down the pipeline very soon – so stay tuned, so I can’t wait for everyone to see it!