London-based make-up artist Mona Leanne has garnered a reputation within the industry for her outlandish creativity, drawing on her interests in special effects and art. Pushing boundaries with her distinct vision and aesthetic, Leanne has worked with designers and brands such as Vivienne Westwood, Kenzo, ASAI, Gucci, Charles Jeffrey and Nike. Her expansive editorial portfolio spans collaborations with photographers including Thurstan Redding, Camille Summers Valli, and Till Janz for publications such as Re-Edition, Dazed, Office and Buffalo, to name a few. Concluding Something Curated’s series, Canons Of Beauty, highlighting the practices of innovative young make-up artists, SC spoke with Leanne to learn more about her work, favourite collaborators, and how she’s handling the present lockdown.

Something Curated: Can you give us some insight into your background; how did you enter the field of make-up?

Mona Leanne: From as young as I can remember I was always painting and drawing. I studied Fashion Communication at Central Saint Martins and found myself using the face as a canvas for a lot of my work. By the end of my degree I had decided I was a make-up artist – it was quite a natural progression.

SC: Do you recognise an ethos or conceptual thread that tethers your diverse body of work?

ML: I always find it quite difficult to put my work into words. I think because it’s constantly evolving, my style can change from face to face depending on what I feel inspired by at that time. I would feel restricted I think if I labelled it because I’m still growing.

SC: What are you excited to work on next, and how is the pandemic affecting the way you’re operating at present?

ML: I’m definitely excited to move more into the realm of SFX. It’s been something I’ve longed to incorporate into my work for a really long time but have never had the free time to go away and learn the skills properly. Now with the pandemic, I have a lot of free time so I’ve been putting the hours in and studying a lot, virtually, thanks to some incredible online make-up schools. I’m also focussing on creating content for my social platforms which is another aspect of my work that I really enjoy but don’t always have a lot of spare time for.

SC: Do you have any favourite collaborators you particularly enjoy working with?  

ML: I love collaborating with Sort Zine, we’ve been working together for quite a few years now. Their aesthetic aligns so well with the kind of work I like to create. Matt and Joe are incredible directors and are really invested in the beauty aspect of all their work which is a dream for a make-up artist like myself. They have such a positive influence on the make-up I create; I’m always excited to work with them.

SC: You have a very playful and beautiful approach to using colour – could you expand a little on this?

ML: I think this goes back to my days of painting and drawing. I see my kit as an eclectic paint box whenever I’m all set up for a shoot. I’m always thinking in colour and texture. I like to remove all my make-up from its original packaging so I’m never distracted by anything other than the colour and texture of that product. My kit is incredibly colourful and quite vast, I like to have a lot of choice, I wouldn’t feel creative otherwise.

SC: What do you want to learn more about?

ML: I’m very interested in the digital world – I’m currently teaching myself how to create digital filters and I would love to learn animation. I actually originally thought I wanted to be a retoucher before I got into make-up. I get almost as much enjoyment from augmenting faces on a computer as I do with make-up in real life.

Images courtesy Mona Leanne

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