The women who read Her Campus are empowered, dedicated, intelligent, and aware of the world around them. One such reader, Melanie McCarthy, recently won our last giveaway of the academic year, and we knew it was a perfect opportunity to ask about her experience as a freshman at Parsons and her work as a makeup artist.
HC: Melanie, you’ve just finished up your freshman year at Parsons, but why don’t you tell our readers a little more about yourself.
Melanie McCarthy: “Starting off with the basics; I’m 19, I’m from Philly, and my major is Strategic Design and Management. Obviously I’ve taken all the introductory courses at Parsons, but my favorites so far have been my Studio classes. The big projects are really challenging and the professors have been really inspiring, although I’m excited to venture into my major-specific courses. Makeup is my favorite medium, and I do freelance work, but I also enjoy playing around with Photoshop and making music in my spare time. Oh, and I really love Cheez-its.”
HC: Being an art and design student is different than what most people experience in college; how have you felt about your first year in such a creative environment?
MM: “I’ve realized that art school really turns everything you’ve learned in high school on its head. I used to have a certain way of questioning things, because I was told to be a certain way and fit into a certain mindset. When I arrived here everything was really different, and I had to broaden how I think and not to cancel things out and dismiss them as dumb or silly. It’s been an important process, and art school has been an important place to harbor that creativity, no matter what medium you use to apply that to.”
HC: I’ve seen you work your interest in makeup into a lot of your design projects. How have you been able to expand your reach as a self-taught makeup artist through your academic courses?
MM: “It really depends on what the project is. I really don’t like to approach things with the perspective of just, ‘How can I incorporate my interest in makeup?,’’ I prefer the mentality of, ‘How can I learn something new?.’ I post my makeup looks on my Instagram to build my portfolio, but I think as a freshman it’s really your time to learn new things. I had one project though where I had strangers interact with poetry I wrote, and it just so happened that makeup was a really good fit for that. I had makeup looks where people could glue words onto my face, and it was really succesful and just worked. When I proposed that idea to my professor, she was really excited about it. It’s really great to do new things with makeup, and when you’re working with the human body it asks a lot of questions of how you can present your model. I’ve taken a fashion studio and it’s really taught me to incorporate the idea of the body as a model along with my love of makeup. You have interests going into any class, and the question is do you want to apply that interest or learn new ones. Makeup is always a fallback, and if things go wrong I know I have a strong handle on it, but it’s not always my first choice.”
HC: What are your biggest tips for young women when it comes to makeup and confidence?
MM: “Start slow. When you’re young you have great skin, and you’re often pressured to wear it. I was 13 when I started wearing it, and a lot of that was due to having a much older sister. I think I got into it from a pretty unhealthy perspective, and I wanted other people to see me in a certain way. But ease into it, it’s a lot healthier. Makeup for me is about a creative space, I use it as an art form where I can create a character for myself. Every look is not me, but when I’m doing a ‘look’ it’s different than my day-to-day wear. It’s always a confidence booster, and I try to do as little as possible with my skin so I can focus on enhancing features that I love, like the shape of my eyes or the highlights on my cheek. The point is to feel more comfortable about expressing yourself, and working to find that place of comfort. It’s a learning process, you try things out and figure out what works for you. I don’t regret starting makeup in the 7th grade, but I also know that I wasn’t doing it then for myself, I was doing it for others.”
HC: Which item from our giveaway are you most excited to try out?
MM: “I got a pretty cool brow product (the Essence Eyebrow Designer), it had some brow wax with an interesting brush that I really want to figure out how to use. I have a lot of makeup, so it was pretty amazing that this is something I’ve never tried! Also those Steripods are something I’ve really been meaning to get, especially living in a dorm. Living with six girls gets messy, so I’m super excited to be able to keep my toothbrush sanitary.”
Keep up with Melanie and her incredible makeup looks on Instagram @melanielovesmakeup.
[Feature Image by Melanie McCarthy]