One of few who knew what she wanted to be when she grew up from a young age, Julia Francis not only pursued her ideal career as a make-up artist, but has made a success of it and has accumulated an impressive list of clients. Advertising for Bacardi, Ford, L’Oreal and Pantene. Make up for Michelle Ryan, Nick Cave and Jamie Cullum. Editorial work for Cosmo, Company and Harper’s Bazaar. She’s also worked with directors George Lucas and Tom Hanks. And that’s just a short list.
Despite the big names above, my first discovery of Julia’s work remains my favourite. That is her body-painting. Over 10 years ago, after painting the belly of a pregnant friend, she started Embody – an organisation to recreate this positive experience for many other pregnant women.
For this week’s London Art Spot, Julia has taken a few minutes out of her busy life to tell us more about Embody, let us in on who her dream clients are and where she shops in London for fashion and beauty essentials.
LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
JF: I spend half my time in London and half my time in brighton so I find creative inspiration from each. There is always somewhere new to discover in London and as there’s always new discoveries, there’s never that sense of boredom.
LLO: Do you remember the moment you decided to become a make up artist?
JF: I remember I was about 12-years-old when I decided I wanted to be a make-up artist; it was my dream job. By the age of 14, I’d made enquiries into colleges and visited the one I wanted to go to. Nine years later I began the course. I haven’t a clue where it came from though as my mum wasn’t remotely into make-up and it’s pretty young to become fascinated with something when you’ve not been influenced from someone at home. Guess it was just my calling!
LLO: You’ve got a wide range of talents – beauty, fashion, body-painting, commercial work. Which do you enjoy most and why?
JF: I love doing close up beauty work. Seeing the detail of the makeup and perfecting every tiny stroke knowing it will be magnified when seen as a photograph. It makes me concentrate more on technique when its close-up.
LLO: There’s some incredibly big names in your list of advertising clients – Bacardi, Herbal Essence, Pantene – Which have been your favourite projects and who is your dream client in the advertising side of your work?
JF: All jobs bring something different. Working on a series of commercials for Bacardi was one of my favourite projects as it was exciting and challenging. Working on Star Wars as a body painter is also pretty high up on the list though. My dream client would have to be one of the big make-up brands such as Chanel or Yves Saint Laurent.
LLO: The same goes for celebrity clients – Jonathan Ross, Julie Delpy, Colin Firth. Who has been your favourite model so far and which celebrity would you most love to work on if given the opportunity?
JF: Like brands, all the people I have worked with are different too and I couldn’t say who my favourite has been. Given the opportunity, I would love to do Kate Winslets make-up as I think she has a great face and I like her down-to-earth approach to life.
LLO: When I first discovered your work, it was through the Embody website which you created in order to offer body painting designs specifically for pregnant women. Can you tell us about that?
JF: I started Embody 10 years ago when I body painted a pregnant friend. I was so impressed with the impact the body painting had on her and how good she felt about her body when she was painted that I took it from there and approached pregnant women in the street to paint them. I soon built up a portfolio of designs and it went from there. I now get commissioned from individuals to design bespoke ideas for them and present them with a set of photographs of their painted pregnant body. For more info, see www.embody.org.uk
LLO: Best place in London to buy make-up?
JF: Space N K, Selfridges
LLO: Favourite London fashion shops?
JF: Cop Coppine, Happie Loves it, Diesel.
LLO: What projects have you got on at the moment?
JF: I’ve just finished a couple of shoots for Head & Shoulders and last week was a shoot for Colgate. I constantly look to work on new ideas with photographers and am currently putting together some ideas for the next shoot.
LLO: Favourite London-based artists?
JF: Too many to mention.
For more of Julia’s work, check out her website: juliafrancis.co.uk
For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.