Interview With Jordan Liberty: How He Does Makeup His Own Way & Rocks YouTube
The first time I met Jordan Liberty was at the International Makeup Artist Trade Show (IMATS) in New York, where he was surrounded by fans hoping to take photos with him. The public’s love for him was obvious, and as soon as I saw his work, I knew why.
First of all, his makeup is exceptionally clean. As a beauty editor, I have a keen eye for detail, and I scrutinized his makeups, looking for a single hair out of place or trace of pigment out of line. I was hard-pressed to find errors, which highly impressed me. As I got to know him, I realized that his work reflects his personality: that of a perfectionist. Not only does Liberty photograph much of his own work, but he edits his images as well, taking care not to over do it.
Liberty’s attention to detail and perfectionism—not to mention, as I discovered, his super fun and laid-back personality—has garnered him many major credits, including Glamour, MakeUp Artist magazine and Wantable. Plus, his unique YouTube channel has over 313,000 followers, and his personal cosmetics brand, Liberty Republic, is thriving. Dying to find out how this Philadelphia, Pa. native has become so successful, I had a chat with him.
CF: What made you want to become a makeup artist?
JL: It’s a combination of things I love: fine art, photography and fashion. I think it was inevitable!
CF: How did you get your start in the industry?
JL: Completely by accident. In college, I had no clue what I wanted to do, so I started art directing photoshoots and socializing with other creative people. A makeup artist flaked at one of the shoots I was at, and I filled in. I grew up in a household that encouraged my talents and it was an easy transition from fine art to makeup.
CF: What do you love most about being a makeup artist?
JL: The reality of it. With fine art, it was pencil to paper. With makeup, my work is captured on film—a real moment in time. It’s like living art. I love that.
CF: What do you still struggle with when it comes to your artistry?
JL: Staying in-demand is the struggle of every makeup artist at every level. I’m always finding an edge—a point of difference. If you don’t stand out in this industry, you might as well not exist.
CF: Why/how do you believe you became successful on YouTube?
JL: By not trying to be like everyone else on YouTube. I brought my life as a working professional to YouTube—something not many others are doing. It was a risk that paid off, much to the chagrin of my colleagues who advised against it. But I figured if I was going to stand out, I had to do something bold. There isn’t a single channel like mine, and I’m proud of that!
CF: Tell us about the brand you started, and offer advice for those looking to start a brand.
JL: Creating Liberty Republic was sort of a dream because I never thought I’d have a line of products. It was something that intimidated me, honestly. The brand has already had huge successes, and I’ve actually had to dial back a bit because it’s become a bigger project than I ever expected. If you’re going to create a brand, expect your entire world to revolve around it—and you’ll be writing a lot of big checks as well! I remember the first time I wrote a five-figure check for products and was literally having a panic attack. It’s scary, but so worth it.
CF: What was your first major magazine credit, and how did you get the job?
JL: I honestly don’t remember! The first few years were a whirlwind, but I remember that networking played a big part in my success. I was hungry and people knew it. Even now, almost every job I get is through another one.
CF: What are the major differences between working in editorial vs. working for yourself and your brand? Pros and cons?
JL: I love all of it, honestly. Working for myself, I have all the creative control—it’s truly my art. But I also love the challenge of playing by someone else’s rules because it pushes me to try something different and unexpected. I love a challenge!
CF: You photograph a lot of your own work; what are the benefits of doing this?
JL: Doing my own photography has completely renewed my love for the industry. It allows me to literally have complete control over my work, to tell a story that’s all my own. It’s helped me to understand the relationship between makeup and photography on a much deeper level as well. I get excited when applying certain makeup products and techniques because I can’t wait to photograph them.
CF: What advice would you offer to new makeup artists about thriving in today’s competitive market (both in the blogosphere and editorial world)?
JL: Be hungry. Take it seriously. I’ve received hundreds of requests from new artists looking to assist. Four out of five that I give the opportunity to will flake out, cancel or show up unprepared. It’s a more competitive market than ever, but this new generation isn’t rising to the occasion. I would never squander an opportunity…but I guess that’s what got me where I am today. I’ve made mistakes. I’m not perfect. But I never take an opportunity for granted.
CF: Tell me about a makeup job that stands out in particular, either because it was funny, informative or highly unusual.
JL: I just did a beauty shoot in the Mojave Desert and it was a riot. It was thunder storming on and off, which is super dangerous in the desert because you’re basically a lightning rod. There were warning signs for rattlesnakes and mountain lions. Skeletons and carcasses everywhere. We got yelled at by a park ranger. We literally couldn’t have felt less welcomed by the desert.
CF: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your career so far?
JL: Working for myself. I still can’t believe that I don’t have to work for anyone. Being self-made is a beautiful thing—and I hope I can sustain that forever!
CF: Do you have any big career dreams for the future?
JL: I have to say, I’m very happy right now. For years I never felt good enough, but right now I’m taking a moment to count my blessings and enjoy this moment in time. I always hope to be better than I was the day before, and I can’t wait to see where this road takes me in a year, five years, 10 years. Hopefully I can look back and say that this was just the beginning.
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