Conversations...with Sue Sian, celebrity make-up artist.


In 2013 whilst working at Riverside Studios, I met Sue Sian, celebrity and TV & Film make-up artist with over 30 years experience in the business. She was working on ' Never Mind the Buzzcocks', was hilarious, tiny and mouthy. I loved her. Instantly.


We claimed each other in the name of friendship and have been inseparable since. Sue counts Stephen Fry, Jo Brand and Rob Brydon as her clients, and friends, and was my first choice for a chat when I decided to create this conversations series.







Lindsey Bowden (LB)

Hey Sue, how are you doing?


Sue Sian (SS)

Hello darling girl, I'm wonderful.


LB

Thanks for sitting down for this chat, bit like a busman's holiday for us really! Shall we crack on?


SS

Ooh yes please!


LB

Ok! So what made you become a make-up artist Sue?


SS

I wanted to be a make-up artist from the age of 14, but I was either too young or too old for the courses that were available then.

It was only when I reached 29 that doors began to open for me. I had attended art collage, which I really feel helped me with colour and shape.


I was working in the music industry for various labels, and I met Human League and Kim Wilde, amongst others, and they liked my personal make-up and asked me to do theirs. That was my beginning.


LB

Love Human League! So you've met and worked with some very interesting people along the way, who sticks in your mind as being a joy to work with?

SS

My biggest joy is making up Stephen Fry, Gordon Ramsay and Rob Brydon. I worked with these lovely celebs often. I also worked with Sacha Baron Cohen when he was Ali G, and I even went to the States with him and filmed two series in Washington. He was/is a dream to work with.


My favourite actress, who is not only beautiful but so witty, clever and fun, is Joanna Lumley. I also worked with Catherine Zeta Jones both in the UK, and when she moved to the USA, as I happened to have moved to L.A. when she did. She has a lovely face to make up.



LB

She's such a natural beauty! Do you find that celebrities have their favourite brands to use or do you decide what they wear? Can you give us an example of a celeb that has a favourite product?


SS

Most celebs like the makeup we all use i.e. MAC, Bobbie Brown, Lancome, Armani, Nars but I can tell you that Claudia Winkleman likes her own fave MAC lipstick. She likes a very pale 60's lippy!


LB

I wonder if we use the same one! I'm a sucker for Myth by MAC! In fact I believe I was teaching for you when I first tried that!


SS

Yes, I remember that! It does look good on you.


LB

Thanks doll! You are known as a make-up designer. What would you say is the main difference between a make-up designer and a make-up artist?


SS

The main difference between a designer and artist is that a designer creates the look for the TV show or Film, commercial etc that they are working on. The artist then carries out that design. The make-up artist also has assistants that look after other actors, while the artist will always look after the main actors.


LB

Your work has taken you all over the world. Do you have a job that stands out for you?


SS

There are two jobs that I loved. One, a while ago, was the Ali G series we filmed in Washington, and the other one is the P&O Cruises commercials with Rob Brydon. With these commercials we travelled to Norway, Spain, Greece, Oman, and Lanzarote. I also travelled with Rob in a private jet! We had to get back early as Rob was working with Neil Diamond and I was booked to do Rob's makeup. Its the only way to travel!


LB

Very nice! It's actually on my bucket list to travel in a private jet! So what is your top tip for anyone wanting their make-up to look professional? Any Sue Sian secrets you're willing to share?


SS

Blend blend blend! Also get a good set of brushes...and make sure you clean them regularly.


LB

That's actually a top tip you gave me, and now I'm obsessed with cleaning my brushes! It makes such a difference. Obviously, a skill to do make-up is key to being a make-up artist, but what other qualities do you think a person needs? I'm guessing being a people person helps!


SS

You definitely need to be a people person. You also need to tune in when your client doesn’t want to talk and don't get too personal. But the big thing is tenacity and good health. You can't suddenly say I can't come into work cause I've got a cold, headache etc. The show has to go on as they say. Make sure you eat well and stay hydrated.


LB

Is there anyone in history you wish you could have worked with? Anyone that you admire?


SS

I loved the look of Jackie Kennedy. She was so stylish, and beautiful, and seemed so strong. Also Audrey Hepburn. I love that sixties style make-up anyway, but her look is natural, yet striking. Those face-framing eyebrows are almost a trademark of hers and are once again, bang on-trend, it's a timeless look.



LB

Totally, just look at mine! Audrey Hepburn was just beautiful in every way. Even in her last film, she was still mesmerising!


SS

What was her last film?


LB

'Always' with Richard Dreyfus and Holly Hunter. She plays an angel!


SS

Does she indeed? I'll have to watch that.


LB

Do so, Richard Dreyfus is quite hot in it. Is there an actor who you are glad you had the chance to work with?


SS

Stephen (Fry) introduced me to Carrie Fisher. She was delightful. She was very friendly and had a hilarious dog called Gary. His tongue wouldn't stay in his mouth and he would insist on sitting on her lap when I made her up. So sad she died so young.


LB

Completely. I was actually going into the cinema to watch Rogue One when I heard she died. Made the film very poignant. Sue, if you weren't a make-up artist, what profession do you think you would be in?


SS

If I wasn’t a make-up artist I would have liked to have been a writer. Now I have a little more time on my hands, I'm hoping I can try and put it into practice.


LB

I've always said you should write a book! Your life is bonkers! So how's my make-up looking today then?


SS You, Lindsey Bowden, look fantastic. Your make-up is always on point!


LB

Learnt it all from you lovely! Thanks for taking the time to sit down down and chat!


SS

Always a pleasure!


Follow Sue Sian on Instagram @suesian @suesianmakeupschool and Twitter @SueSianMakeup


Follow Lindsey Bowden on Instagram @lindseybowden76 and Twitter @lindseybowden76

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