Monday, October 29th, 2007


Temptalia had the pleasure of interviewing Toya Smith Marshall, aged 29, who works as a freelance artist with her own company Makeda Make-Up Artistry. She’s been working as an artist for three and a half years, and she works in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. She is a graduate of the Von Lee International School of Aesthetics. Toya also runs her own beauty blog, The Life of a Ladybug, which makes for a great morning read.

Temptalia: What surprises you most about working as a makeup artist?
Toya: How stressful it can be! You haven’t seen pressure until you’re faced with an anxious, nervous bride and her 11 bridesmaids who all have different ideas on how you should make them look beautiful!

Temptalia: What’s your favorite way to achieve the perfect natural look?
Toya: The perfect natural look is different for everyone, but, by and large, concealer only where you need it (usually under the eyes and around the nose), a dusting of powder, some highlight under the brow and on the cheekbones, a healthy pop of blush (peachy-pink is a great color for most, but on women of darker hue, a saturated apricot or darker orangy-red works well), and sheer glossy lips. Carmindy got it just right and I love her book, The 5 Minute Face – every woman who seeks the “natural look” should buy it!

Temptalia: What feature do you love to accentuate?
Toya: Again, each woman is different. I really look at a client to see what feature stands out. For some women, it’s the lips – beautiful, full lips should be played up with gloss. For women with quite expressive eyes, experimenting with shadows that bring out the color of the eyes and adding false lashes or lots of mascara is interesting and fun. For women with round, youthful faces, adding a bright color to the apples of the cheeks accentuates that healthy, young look.

Temptalia: Do you love working any specific brands or lines?
Toya: Well, I’ve been a MAChead for quite a while. But I don’t just stick to MAC. That’s part of why I became a freelance artist, rather than work for a particular brand. I have products I love from all across the beauty brand continuum and I want to use them all! Besides MAC, I love NARS’ blushes, CARGO’s blushes and bronzers, Bobbi Brown, KLS, Stila, Laura Mercier, Mally Beauty, L’Oreal … the list goes on and on.

Temptalia: What are three important skills required to be a makeup artist?
Toya: Patience, creativity and a sense of whimsy. You have to be able to call up unbelievable patience when you are faced with a client who may not see or understand your vision – you have to be willing to explain your ideas and also understand that make-up is a very personal thing – your idea of beauty may not gel with the client’s and that’s okay. It is our job as artists to not only get our vision across, but also to make our client feel her most beautiful *and* comfortable. You have to be creative enough to be able to interpret the trends without becoming a slave to them. And, most of all, you have to have fun! This is just make-up, not brain surgery. It’s not meant to be serious. You have to be open to having new ideas occur and come through – that’s how trends are started and how great artists are made, I think.

Temptalia: Could you share your three beauty tips you could not live without?
Toya: 1) Highlight your cheekbones and brow bones. This gives your skin such radiant beauty. 2) Find the perfect concealer for your needs and skin type/color. Concealer is what makes me presentable on the worst of days. It’ll change your life! 3) Wear blush – every day! It wakes up your face and makes you look fresh and healthy, even when you’re dog tired.

Temptalia: What’s the best part about running your beauty blog AND being a makeup artist?
Toya: Having practical experience on a wide range of women. I think it gives me a unique perspective. I test products, not just on myself, but on other women, so I know what works and what doesn’t.

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8 thoughts on “Interview with Toya Smith Marshall Freelance Make Up Artist

  1. Great interview! She sounds so down to earth!

  2. tanya

    Thank you!!!!! I am going to pick up your book suggestion :) I have been eyeing the make-up section of borders and feeling totally overwhelmed (or underwhelmed there aren’t THAT many) so this super duper helps!!

  3. Thanks for this wonderful interview Christine, Toya sounds amazing and super talented…:)

  4. tanya

    Ms. Toya I have a laundry list of questions for you :) I have a “friend” who is toying with the idea of attending make-up artist schooling.

    1. Were you skilled in the art of make-up before attending school?
    2. If not, do you feel you learned a lot for your schooling?
    3. How long after graduation school did you break out on your own and start working on “real” clients?
    4. Did you in the beginning practice a lot on family/friends/anyone who was willing to sit for you (LOL)?
    5. What do you feel is the key to becoming successfull doing pro make-up? (in terms of personal skills ie – being an “artist”, hours and hours of practice, what?)
    6. How long was your schooling? (the class my friend is thinking about taking is only 3 weeks)

    I hope I am not asking too much with my list of questions, BUT you are the first pro make-up artist whom I have had the ability to ask these questions and I think them key before making career choices such as this :) Thank you so much!

    • 1. Well, I guess you could say that. Make-up has been a passion of mine for a long while. I loved to collect it and play around with it (behind my mom’s back as I was not allowed to even wear a sheer lip gloss ’til I was 13!) and loved making up my friends. But I had no formal training before then.

      2. I feel that my schooling helped most in allowing me the freedom to try out concepts hands-on – I really liked that about the school I attended. I learned so much about color theory and about the arts of contouring/highlighting. It was also a great place for networking.

      3. Pretty soon. I really got started through word of mouth. Once I graduated, I worked on building a good “kit” and then got right out there. I have learned so much “in the field”, so to speak, way more than I learned in school.

      4. Yep! I still do – LOL! When I want to try something new, I commission a friend or family member to let me try it out on her. I’ve used my four-year-old when no one else is handy! And I’m still trying to talk my husband into letting me test mascaras on him – he has the most beautiful lashes. Hasn’t worked yet, though.

      5. Yeah, hours of practice. Also, just a creative mind. It’s easy to do exactly what you see in the magazines, but can you use the trends as a starting point and allow yourself to branch out from there?

      6. I think the session I was in was more like 5 or 6 weeks. Like I said, most of your learning comes from doing, not schooling.

      Thanks for the questions and I hope this helps!

      • tanya


        May the make-up goddesses rain their joy and gifts upon you for taking the time to answer my questions, it means a ton to my “friend”!!!!!! who is still toying with the idea of attending school.

  5. Great interview Christine! It’s nice to know more about our ladybug Toya 😉