From superheroes to wizards to 90’s HBO to Beyonce on the stage at Coachella, makeup and wardrobe artists are the unsung heroes that connect audiences to some of our favorite performers and characters, leaving people with long lasting inspiration. But us non-makeup people who apply highlighter like a five year old drawing a sparkly gold shit stain on our cheek bones and buy our mascara on sale at Walgreens don’t always realize the craftsmanship, finesse, and spirit makeup artists have. It’s all in the name. Artists. And when I sat down with Erica Martens, who’s been making bad-ass moves around Chicago-land for a couple of years now, as Looks with Erica, she taught me just that. I mean, come on! She comes in at call time like everyone else with the big fancy cameras, all up in these strangers’ faces, deep in their morning eye crusties, dodging their hangover breath, listening as they share who they accidentally slept with the night before. And you know what? I can’t speak for every makeup artist, but Erica? Erica loves the flaws. Erica loves the stories. You can tell when you’re sitting in her chair, you can trust her to bring out your best. As someone who suffers a lot with insecurity, I can vouch for the fact that working with someone who makes you feel supported, safe, seen, and beautiful counts for so much more than someone who can slap on a good brow (which she also does with precision, honey). It’s her kind and gentle magnetism and her effortless makeup and styling skills that make her an absolute dream to have on set, and why she can say things like “yeah, makeup kind of fell in my lap” AND “I recently shot with Dior” in the same damn sentence.
Erica has always loved people. It was as simple as her always being picked up late for school and having to start conversation with whomever was around. She also never lived in the same place for more than four years growing up. Not to mention, this girl weirdly lived in college housing longer than probably any Columbia College alum I know, (shoutout overprotective dad!!!) resulting in so many interesting roommates. She’s lived with rappers, doctors, accounting students, and models. Erica isn’t a people pleaser, as much as she is a “people optimist.” Over time, she’s become a piece of every person she’s gotten to know and she uses that mantra to emphasize every individual’s unique beauty. Erica knows if she wanted to, she could work for an agency and have some more consistency in her life, but, despite her moving around a lot in her youth, she has found her groove and her home here, specifically in Chicago film, with creative, loving, artistic, inclusive people who match and thrive off her intoxicating energy.
Oftentimes, makeup artists feel undermined, especially in the corporate world because their field strikes a chord of vanity. But if you’ve read this far in the article, you can see that’s simply not the case. Erica helped me realize her art and career make the talent comfortable, confident, and influential for whatever their particular motivation may be. Moral of the story? There’s a few. If you have a project where you need guidance or hands-on work with styling, makeup, or wardrobe, consider hiring Looks with Erica. OBVI. Second, let’s pay more attention in general when we absorb movies, television, music videos, and commercials because every character, movie star, or artist we fall in love with… let’s just say I doubt Ariana Grande’s high pony was her idea and I imagine there’s a hairstylist out there waiting for her deserved credit! Makeup artists see what we can’t and having Looks with Erica on set isn’t just having someone cover up your acne and insecurities with makeup. She restores the beauty you always had, she makes you smile, and she sprinkles in her own signature glam even if it’s texturizing an eye shadow so hard, people comment “is that paprika?” Add some seasoning to your life and follow Erica on Instagram to keep up with her spicy looks <3