If you pick up almost any major fashion magazine, chances are the model or celebrity on the cover had their makeup done by legendary makeup artist Francesca Tolot.
Francesca Tolot is an Italian born artist who started her career working at Italian Vogue before coming to America. Her first assignment upon arrival in the U.S. was working with Madonna on a video. The collaboration with Madonna began a long term relationship whereby she helped to create some of her most iconic looks over the years.
Francesca has worked with a wide range of A-list entertainers and performers such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marion Cotillard, Julia Roberts, Faith Hill, Shakira, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys to up and coming starlets like Chloe Moretz. Francesca is most notably known as the makeup artist for Beyoncé whom she has worked with over the last ten years collaborating with Queen Bey on her numerous film, music, commercial and performance projects such as The Super Bowl.
Francesca shares how she started in the beauty business and her passions when she is not on set working with Hollywood’s acclaimed talent.
Q: How did you get interested in beauty?
FT: I was wearing a lot of makeup and I met a makeup artist who was opening a makeup studio and giving lessons. So I decided to go to school because I used to wear that much makeup (laughing). I had no intention of doing it as a career, but I liked taking classes. I guess I was pretty good at it and the teacher was very pleased with my work. The teacher started asking me to do some makeup jobs that he couldn’t do. I fell into it (makeup artist) as my career. It wasn’t something that I had dreamed about doing all of my life.
Q: Were your parents surprised or supportive that you wanted to be a MUA (Make Up Artist)?
FT: I was already married when I started doing makeup. My mom loves makeup. When I was a child I was a tomboy and my mom was like a doll. She wouldn’t leave the house even to take out the garbage without a full face. For my mom she loved it when I got into makeup.
Q: You’ve worked with the greatest entertainers. What is your process when working with a celebrity on a look for a project or special event?
FT: Usually it is a team that is working with a celebrity. It is all about balance and teamwork from the makeup, to the hair and the wardrobe. Everyone has to work together, otherwise if things are out of balance the hair doesn’t go with the makeup or the makeup doesn’t go with the clothes. The results is disastrous.
The first thing that I always do is look at the clothes, and then I consult with the hairstylist on the hair to find out their vision. If it’s a video I find out the director’s vision. After seeing the clothes and talking to the hairstylist, director and obviously the performer (whom I’m going to be working on), I then decide which road to take to create a look. The most important thing is to have balance when putting together a look for a performer.
Q: We have got to know, did you have any idea that Beyoncé was planning to release “The Visual Album” when she did?
FT: We were working on the video so we knew at some point that it was going to be released. From the time that you’re shooting the video and the post production work that goes into finishing it, the process takes a long time. The day that she released the album and the manner in which she did it, we had no idea. The day it came out it was a surprise for me too. I don’t think too many people knew except her management team.
Q: Did you get free reign to come up with the concepts for “Beyoncé The Visual Album?”
FT: Yes, I did have free reign to create Beyoncé’s looks for "The Visual Album" based on input from the director and the message that Beyoncé wanted to send in the video. Again, it was very collaborative with Beyoncé, the director, the hairstylist and wardrobe.
Q: YouTube has many people recreating your looks. Can you share with us some of your favorite products?
FT: It is so much fun to look at those videos on YouTube. I use a variety of products. My favorite makeup in terms of color comes from MAC Cosmetics, NARS and Make Up For Ever. For foundation I usually use Chanel or Chantecaille and Armani, but it depends on the project too.
I have 50 pounds of makeup that I carry with me. I have to be prepared for everything and anything can change at the last minute. I carry foundation and colors for any type of skin and skin tone. Some of my makeup is professional and others are lighter non-pro cosmetics. Most of the lipsticks that I use are probably from MAC Cosmetics. For my eye shadows I use a really good mix of Dior, MAC and NARS.
Q: What are your hobbies?
FT: My hobbies are painting and drawing. In the past few years I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to do much of it because of my schedule. I like going to school for art and sculpting. It’s difficult to schedule things ahead of time. One day you get a great opportunity to collaborate with someone that you’ve always wanted to work with and then you’re off working on another project. I love painting, sculpting, drawing and learning new things in art. I do believe that makeup can be a form of art and not every job will give you the opportunity to create to that level, but when it is very complicated and technical it can be.
Q: What’s left on your career “To Do” list?
FT: I don’t have anything specific; it’s whatever brings me joy. I’m collaborating with my daughter Martina Tolot (Co-Creator and Photo Editor) and her best friend Sarah Tohl (Co-Creator and Fashion Editor) in their online magazine “Line Magazine.”
Line Magazine is a beauty and fashion blog and online magazine created by Martina and Sarah. I am the Beauty Director for Line Magazine and I have a lot of fun collaborating with them. I’m responsible for the beauty “Pick of the Week” and we work with hairstylists that are friends of ours to select the “Hair of the Week.”
Every six months Line Magazine publishes an actual printed version of the magazine twice a year. I am really enjoying it because we are free to come up with the concepts until it goes live online. It has all of our ideas and I’m super proud of her. Martina is also a photographer for the magazine and she graduated with a degree in photography from California Institute of the Arts. She has a great eye and style for fashion and beauty. I’m very proud of her!