First, she sketches a bold, black brow over the model’s eye. From the inner corner of the brow she brings the black down, contouring with the face’s natural shadows. She then strokes the brush diagonally to close the triangle, and fills it in to complete the shock of black. Next, she makes one more quick, decisive stroke from the outer corner of the eye upward and outward. Finally, she fills in the spaces between the black with white, marrying the two colors where they meet. It’s intense. It’s dramatic. It’s unmistakably David Bowie.
“I’m Erin Hendley, and I just showed you how to do David Bowie’s makeup in the movie Labyrinth,” she tells the camera with a smile.
This Bowie-inspired tutorial is just one of a series that Paducah native and New York-based professional makeup artist Erin Hendley has done for eHow. Last year Hendley made an impressive list of goals— including getting more exposure on sites like eHow—and she knocked them out one by one. Website? Check. More music videos? Check. More magazine features and celebrity faces? Check and check. New York Fashion Week? Three times check. As she moves forward with her still-young but already thriving makeup artistry career this year, she’s preparing to take on what may be her biggest challenge yet: bringing her talents back home to Paducah.
When Hendley came home for Christmas she expected little more than to visit with family, but she ended up having an epiphany. She saw that the Paducah she’d come home to was not the Paducah she’d left, and in the same moment realized just how much she’d missed it.
“Where I come from is something I’ve always missed up here in New York, but it’s more than that,” Hendley said in a phone interview shortly after returning from a day’s work at New York Fashion Week. “I really do love Paducah. It’s my home, and I want to see it thrive.”
Her last visit home and an article she read on salon.com, Moving home: The new key to success, sparked a full-on aha! moment for Hendley. Her love for Paducah had always been there, but the inspiration she found in the Salon article and her visit was the spark she needed. The article was about “Boomerangs,” young people like Hendley who move to places like New York or Los Angeles to gain elite experience in their industries and then bring their experiences home to launch their own startups.
The article’s illustration shows a green highway sign that reads “Welcome to New York City. Intern Here. Then Move Back Home.”
“Ten years ago, there used to be only 100 makeup artists here in New York. Now there are thousands,” Hendley said. “It’s a different and tough market—and I love it—but the lifestyle I’m used to is a little slower-paced. If I can take what I do here and bring it back home...that’s kind of my heaven!” she said.
Just a week after graduating from Southern Illinois University with a fashion merchandising degree, Hendley moved to The Big Apple to pursue her career. She worked in a showroom, but it wasn’t long before she realized it wasn’t for her. She started assisting at a makeup studio instead. “That’s when I knew,” she said. “ This is what I love to do.”
While learning her craft through freelancing, Hendley also sought out opportunities to learn from the best. She studied at The School of Syle, and trained with and assisted her personal makeup artistry idol, Linda Mason. Her freelance projects have ranged from doing music video makeup for metal band Motionless in White to doing makeup for spreads in Allure and TRIM magazines. She’s worked with the folks at Above Average Productions on many of their webisodes, as well as webisodes for tech startup company Vooza. Recently her work was photographed by renowned fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier.
Even after the move home Hendley plans to work with her New York contacts and return to the city for gigs she thinks are worth the trip. She’s in the process of finding the perfect spot for her studio, and has her sights set on downtown. If all goes as planned she’ll be up and running in April, just in time for prom season.
Hendley will offer makeup applications for all occasions, as well as lessons, color harmonization and facial shape/anatomy consultations. The work will be similar to what she’s been doing as a freelancer in New York, only in a fun, luxurious atmosphere of her own creation. She’d also love to do more weddings, special events, and possibly theater.
She’s a little nervous about going into business for herself, but she’s not at all hesitant. Though the decision to pack up her mad makeup skills and move them back home came quickly, she said she’s never been more sure of anything in her life. Hendley hopes that by the time this article prints, she’ll be well on her way to being able to say, “Open my own makeup studio in the town I love most? Check.”