Quick fire : makeup artist Kay Montano talks about her career

by | May 12, 2019

As part of our mission to raise the reputation of the British beauty industry, and give it the voice it deserves among changemakers and political heavyweights, we’ve interviewed some key personalities in our business who are also Council Patrons and Advisors.  Here, makeup artist Kay Montano talks about her journey into the business and why she loves it.

Why makeup and what was your way into this side of the business? Was there a particularly inspirational person/mentor?

“I’d always been artistic as a child, and was spellbound by the otherworldly perfection in the images I saw in fashion magazines and films. I had an amazing amount of support and belief from my peer group: Kate Garner (from the pop band Haysi Fantayzee), iconic leader of style Ray Petri and his photographic partner in crime, Jamie Morgan. From there onwards, people were very receptive to this 16-year-old club kid with bleached white hair”.

I was an only child with lots of time to myself, and that often leads to you becoming good at something because you put the hours into your curiosity and passion.

What are your best of times/worst of times within your career to date?

“Highlights for me have never been necessarily the most obviously ‘prestigious’, as my value system is based on the quality of the people rather than fashion or celebrity kudos. I’m inspired by thoughtful, respectful, and highly talented people who are team players. Working with old friends like Rachel Weisz and Thandie Newton is always dreamy, and newer clients like Julianne Moore have been highlights of my career. Most of the high-end fashion experiences for Vogue etc. have been forgotten, as I was never especially happy in those environments. My low points were when I was flying around the world, spending down-time in airports and hotel rooms, doing the rounds of the highest fashion shoots and advertising. It bought me a beautiful home, for that I am eternally grateful”.

To work with Prince on a video was utterly extraordinary, even if the makeup I did on him was not my style.

Which part of the beauty business excites you most and what have you found most rewarding about working in beauty?

“What excites me the most is how perceptions of ‘beauty’ and identity can be harnessed and changed for the better by those who influence from within the industry: from tech to artistic direction, to the imagery and marketing, the power to shift attitudes and be part of positive change is a real inspiration to me”.

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