Face it. Samantha Coles knows how to make it in the biz

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Photography by Andrew Neil

Photography by Andrew Neil

Samantha Coles: make-up artist, hair stylist, painter, charity worker and zombie creator.  She is already an established player in her industry and a recent collaborator with Vogue magazine. Coles is very quickly becoming a household name among Melbourne’s make-up and fashion elite. With spring and all things blooming upon us, I decided to head to the source for an insider’s look at her craft, her process and possibly get some advice.

I met Samantha on a dreary Wednesday afternoon at a quiet bar in Windsor. She was already there when I arrived, and we established one another by a mutually apprehensive stare – a kind of facial expression that’s usually reserved for blind dates and limo drivers at the airport. She’s a bright, bubbly 20 something urbanite with a big smile and flowing red hair. As we order coffee it becomes apparent that she’s on a first name basis with the staff and I couldn’t help but feel as if we were sitting in her lounge room. After a brief moment of chit chat, I touched on the extensiveness of her résumé and wanted to know how she finds both the time and the fortitude to endure such a demanding workload.

SC: “I’m in an industry where you really can’t turn down work. I had a make-up teacher tell me once that you’re only as good as your last job and I think having that mentality really makes you care about the work you are doing then and there, whether it’s a big budget shoot for a magazine or a small independent film”.


GA: “How much has being on call like that affected the rest of your life?”

SC: “I have missed a lot of friend’s birthdays and dinner parties because I’ve gotten a phone call telling me that I have to be on a shoot at 6am or that the short film I’m working on can’t pack up until 3 in the morning because one of the scenes has to be completed that day. A few of my friends are in similar industries so they’re very understanding of my erratic schedule”.


GA: “So to anyone aspiring to be a make-up artist, you’d say get used to giving up your weekends?”

SC: “Not every weekend” Sam laughs, “Though, effective time management and an organized diary is definitely a must. I would also say to anyone looking to get into the industry that as well as having make-up under their belt, they have to be flexible with the idea of also doing hair. Too many times I have heard make-up students express a disinterest in hair styling, and it makes me cringe. Film and television is already such a competitive industry, and without the ability to do both they are really lowering their chances of getting their foot in the door. “


GA: “Speaking of getting your foot in the door, you recently worked on a shoot with Vogue magazine. You have worked on plenty of other photo shoots, was this one a particular milestone for you?”

SC: ““Very much so. I was working on a jewellery campaign and at first it was a little regimented. I was given a number of photos with examples of the kind of style they were looking for and I spent the majority of the day working around them. Towards the end of the shoot I was given total freedom by the designer and photographer to play with a few looks. I constructed this crazy hairstyle on the model and when the shoot was over, out of all the photos that had been taken they chose to feature mine. I was so surprised and happy.”


GA: “What do you think was the main difference between the Vogue shoot and others you have worked on this year?

SC: “It was more stressful”. Sam laughed and blushed a bit before going on. “I just really wanted to do a good job. But of course it was very exciting as well.”


GA: “What hair and make-up trends can we expect to see blooming this spring?”

SC: “For hair we’ll be seeing a 1960’s look, lots and lots of volume. As for make-up I have the feeling there will be a revival of eye flicks. – Vintage looks with modern twists. I also really hope we’ll continue the shift away from fake tan, and embrace beautiful natural soft skin tones and spring peach/pink cheeks.”


On that note, I finished my coffee and thanked Samantha for her time. She left with that same big smile as when I met her and I left knowing that this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Samantha Coles. Apparently Vogue photo shoot nervousness is catching, because I suddenly found myself wanting to do a good job too.


Samantha is an experienced makeup artist and hair stylist in film, TV, photography, bridal/events and special effects. Her work can be seen at www.samanthacoles.com.au

Enquiries- info@samanthacoles.com.au

by Gil Alexander



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