Formidable Females: Chanele Hemphill

Ever hear of the question, "why do women wear makeup?" It's a question that's still being asked, although plenty of researchers, scientists and women themselves have provided answers: do we wear makeup for ourselves, for others or just for the purpose of creating something beautiful?

As I spoke with makeup artist Chanele Hemphill on the 11th floor of the NYU Tisch Building, I began to realize that for her, makeup is a form of art: an expression of individuality and character. Her new line, "Jane the Savage", features exotic lipstick colors for every personality. "Jane the Savage" will be released at the end of May.

HC NYU: Where are you from? What are you majoring in?

CH: I'm from Seattle, Washington. I'm a first semester senior majoring in Film and Television.

HC NYU: Tell us about your interest in makeup. When did you become interested?

CH: I became interested in makeup when I was a kid...middle school. Actually, I wasn't allowed to wear it. So I would go about secretly and my parents would find it and get upset. I would start watching tutorials online in my room. There was never really a point when they started letting me wear it because I would just sneak it around all the time. Finally, they got tired of telling me not to. In high school, I started wearing it more. I also did some theater in high school and did makeup for that. I didn't start doing hair and makeup for films until this past year.

HC NYU: What inspired you to create your own line, "Jane the Savage"?

CH: I decided that I wanted to start my own line because I really like lipstick. The color options are very limited when you go to the store to buy them. They're all in nude, plum or red. A lot of lipstick is in paler colors and there's not too much variation from that. There are also not many colors that look good on people with darker skin tones.

HC NYU: What was the process like of creating your makeup and bringing your ideas to reality?

CH: I did a lot of research and looked up DIY recipes. Most makeup recipes that I found were crayon recipes: people taking crayons because they have the pigment and wax already. They just combine different butters and oils with them. That's how I started, actually. Black lipstick was the first lipstick I started making; it's the easiest formula. After a while, I was able to figure out the specific recipe for my lipstick. A lot of lipstick, presently, has chemicals. I wanted to do something a lot simpler with identifiable ingredients—my line is vegan. I also had to do a lot of research on the specific ratios and ingredients that I was going to put in my makeup. At the beginning, they didn't come out that great. I did a lot of trial and error and testing on myself. Recently, I've been getting a lot better at making lipstick. I'm going to be featured in an arts and academia magazine put on by students of color. It will be coming out in May. I had already figured out which six colors I wanted to start the line with: black, white, dark green, a periwinkle blue, a pink with gold undertones and a plum with gold undertones.

HC NYU: You recently did a photoshoot for your new line. What was that like?

CH: It was an incredible process. I actually used a lot of girls from Kappa [Kappa Gamma] that I had known and a lot of people that I had come into contact with, also people who've wanted to work with me before. I settled on 20 models, 3 photographers, 1 day—it was absolute madness.

HC NYU: Did you work with any other makeup brands in creating your line?

CH: It was my own research and experimenting. I'm still in a trial process, but I work with a lot of makeup artists and models that I've been testing it on and getting their opinions on...the consistency, the colors and things like that, which was a big part of the photoshoot. I'm hoping to release the line the end of May, beginning of June. That will be our official launch. Between now and then, just finalizing everything. I'm still working on the names for the colors of my lipstick. I've named two of them so far. Black is called "Civil Disobedience" and the periwinkle blue color is called "Fairy". I want each color to have its own personality and sort of like, vibe, to it.

HC NYU: Do you have any makeup artist inspirations or people whom you look up to?

CH: Yes, I do. Roshar is an incredible, famous makeup artist who does a lot of makeup in high fashion. Also, Mathu Andersen, who is one of the executive producers of RuPaul's Drag Race, but also does a lot of drag makeup, which uses a lot more color. Part of the line [Jane the Savage] is that it's versatile for every kind of person. Even at the shoot, we had male models, trans[gender] models and gender non-conforming models: people of different backgrounds. I wanted to incorporate their personalities as well.

HC NYU: What are your plans for the future?

CH: Eventually, I want it [Jane the Savage] to be a full-fledged cosmetic line. That's pretty far off in the future. I'm a film major, so I focus on film a lot and I'm actually directing one music video, producing another one, directing an experimental film, directing a documentary...a lot of the films are very art-based so the line will be incorporated with those. It is mostly a matter of time and cost and the fact that I'm still a student. Hopefully, I will be releasing more colors pretty soon, besides the original six; I'm still thinking of different colors that would be really cool. After lipstick, I think I want to do matching eyeshadows and nail polishes for the colors and then branch off from there. I do airbrush special effects and things like that so I know how to make a lot of different types of makeup. I would like to do that, eventually.