Interview with Makeup Artist Extraordinaire - Allison Giroday

Images by Liz Rosa Photography

Allison Giroday
I always feel blessed when I think about all the wonderful connections I made during my time as co-owner of Fame'd Magazine (Vancouver Fashion eZine) - a publication that promoted artists working in Vancouver community.

Every year over 100 local talents would contribute to one of our issues. Writers, photographers, fashion stylists, hair artists, make-up artists and models all provided their time and artistry to create the magical images and wonderful articles. 

We were so fortunate to have Allison Giroday offer her talents on four amazing photos shoots. I have provided links to the online pages at the very bottom. 

When we connected recently at an event, we chatted about some of the exciting projects she's been involved with lately. I realized I had never actually done an interview with her. How did that get missed? It was time to remedy the situation.

I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at her professional journey toward becoming one of Vancouver's leading makeup artists. Be sure to check out her website and follow her on social media so you'll be the first to see her new work as it is shared!


= = = = 

Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Vancouver and raised in Coquitlam, BC. About an hour outside of the city.

What were you like when you were young? 

I was inquisitive, I loved art and I drew a lot of faces. My best friend and I would get dolled up and create little performance videos and photo shoots. Makeup for the both of us was always done by yours truly. It was pretty funny.

What were your interests in High School? 

I was part of the cheer and dance team in high school. I was very social. Friday night football games were so much fun. I think I annoyed my parents for a time there. LOL!

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would choose this career path? 

Fashion File was a Canadian television series in the early 1990s. It was the peak of the supermodel era and I watched it religiously. I have always felt connected to beauty. I read any book or magazine I saw that had anything and everything to do with makeup artistry. I would learn it and practise it. In fact, I practised it all the time on my little sister and her friends. No one would leave our house without full glam.

 Please share about your journey to becoming a professional makeup artist.

After high school I entered the Blanche MacDonald program for Makeup Artistry. I then worked at MAC Cosmetics for almost 4 years before leaving to start freelancing.

Was your family supportive? 

I have very supportive parents. They completely encouraged me to follow my passion from the start and they still do. I’m so grateful to them for all they do.

What was the learning process from beginning to this moment?

I self taught until I was old enough to go to a makeup school. At MAC I learned a lot too; sharing tips and learning from other artists was so valuable. I started freelancing and I learned to navigate through the industry by trial and error. 

What was hard to learn or move through and how did you deal with the more difficult aspects?

When I started freelancing, it was extremely difficult. I was trying to build a portfolio and photographers were reluctant to work with me without having one to show already. It was a Catch 22 and for a time I felt really discouraged and stuck. 

As you were learning the skills needed to succeed in this industry - what came easy?

I aligned with a really amazing photographer when we were both new on the scene. We grew together and things started to take off from there. We’re still a great team to this day.

What kinds of jobs are open to a professional makeup artist, especially those we might not have heard of?

Honestly, jobs can really vary from the expected to the unexpected. You could be in TV/ film, or editorial, celebrity & advertising, or you could be a mortuary makeup artist. These are all entirely different worlds so whatever floats your boat.

Readers would love to hear some of your favourite stories from your time in the industry.

My very first paid job ever was at a wedding. Huge bridal party. It was on the hottest day of the year and my makeup was literally melting all over. We had to put it in the freezer. I had to apply the 7 AM girl’s makeup twice because by 1:00 it had completely melted off of her face.

Then there was then time I was on location in the tropics and one of the girls found a baby scorpion in her purse! Lol One of many creepy crawlies that shared our space.

It’s always exciting to see your work in a magazine or on a public figure. Working with such influential and creative people is a highlight for me. I’m proud and grateful for those moments.

How does the process work when you book a new job? Is there a lot of creative freedom or do you work within limited guidelines?

It really depends on the situation. Often times on a job, a client is going to have an idea of they would like. I think In any case, it is always a collaboration to some degree. If you are asked to execute a particular look, as an artist you are going to bring that vision to life through your own style and interpretation. 

Where do you find inspiration for your creative work?

I used to collect images from magazines and now I’ll use instagram and I’ll save pictures that I love. Pinterest is really great for referencing., I think that when it comes to drawing inspiration, you really have to be open to seeing beauty wherever you go. A lot is intuitive; I’m constantly inspired by each face I’m working on. I’m also inspired by the creations of other artists.

What is the most unusual makeup shoot you have done?

I once did a shoot in abandoned wing of an asylum. It was rumoured to be haunted and part of the contract banned Ouija boards on sight. No joke. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone because it would without a doubt seem absolutely ridiculous, but I was legitimately terrified to go to the bathroom alone! Haha.

What advice can you share with young people thinking about this career? How about for artists just starting their professional career? 

For those young people thinking about this career: Instant success can happen but it is rare. You have to really love what you are doing. Be prepared to do a lot of free work in the beginning to get your name out there. 

If you’re new on the scene: Study, practise, repeat. Compete with yourself and not others. Showcase only your best work and remember your four Ps: Passion, Persistence, Perseverance, Patience. 

Is there anything coming up you can share with us about what you'll be doing in the next 12 months?

There are a couple of projects in the works that I can’t reveal just yet but I’ll be excited to share when I can!