While attending a job fair in grade 11 or 12, she had a eureka moment at the Blanche Macdonald Applied Design booth. What drew her was the full-time program in Makeup Artistry for TV and Film. Here was a career that combined colour, design and working with people! Once her parents were sure she was 100% committed, they backed her choice fully and she enrolled right after graduation.
On completing the program, a make-up artist is faced with the difficult job of building her own business. For Little this meant doing her friends make-up and fun photo shoots as much as possible. She also worked at drug store make-up counters, Holt Renfrew and Shopper Drug Mart to build her retail skills. Then she immersed herself in the spa industry with a 5 year stint at Spa Utopia. Along the way she met some really great people including Jon Paul Holt of Avant Garde Hair Salon. They worked together on the Utopia creative team and she remembers, "He definitely had the creative energy that I had been looking for!"
Although Little has been a make-up artist for 10 years now, it was 7 years ago that she took her first basic air brush course. "I've always been intrigued by the human form. I think from being a beauty make-up artist by training and an artist at heart, painting on the body was just a natural progression." As with any new skill, she had to spend countless hours practising to reach her current level of expertise. For 5 years now this artist has painted live at the Vancouver Taboo show, something that really, "...builds up your design speed and makes you think fast on your feet. You see some very crazy things. 8-10 hours of trade show painting can make everyone rather insane and delirious. The antics are like none other as you can imagine."
Inspiration for her work comes from everywhere, "...shadows in a puddle, high fashion runway, nursery rhymes, nightmares and even my cats. If I'm struck by a new inspiration I have to write it down or talk it out so I don't lose it. It's hard on my sleep because as an artist, I'm very nocturnal by nature. The best inspiration seems to come late at night and then I can't sleep thinking about it. My business partner and I also regularly make an inspirational list of concepts we want to do. I think we're at about 40 now and it's growing.
You begin to get an idea of the success Little's drive and talent have brought when you look at her extensive resume. Her busy schedule now includes corporate and private events, weddings, grads, competitions for both beauty make-up and body paint, on-call work with CTV, teaching at her former Alma Mater - Blanche Macdonald - and special request assignments for Avant Garde Hair Salon. A recent career highlight she is particularly proud of was being contracted by the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games to spend a month in Whistler plying her air brush skills. Other top moments include producing a stunning body painting calendar in support of breast cancer last fall, placing first in a Body Painting competition in May and best of all, shooting her first magazine cover this month!
Ten years have passed since Jennifer Little stepped out of school and there has never been a single doubt that this was the correct path for her to follow. While there can be low moments when job are slow, she finds the joy of creativity, the creative control, the chance to collaborate with other talented artists, the tears when a bride is happy and the satisfaction of a successful shoot or event make it all worth it. Even working from home in her pajamas has become a favourite part! She is also happy to mentor others and in closing offered this advice for those thinking of this career. "Be prepared to work your butt off for a long time without much pay or recognition. Stay creative. Do as much collaboration as possible with people who are as good as you are. Build your portfolio and brand yourself - confidence and image is key. Network as much as possible. Making a living as an artist is hard work, but well worth it."
Twitter - @alittleartistry
Instagram - @artistjenniferlittle