Discovering artistic flair at a young age, makeup artist Lara Srokowski quickly identified her dream job and arrived there even faster. Ashleigh Sharman shares her journey.
Lara Srokowski was dubbed the ‘creative one’ by her family without a second thought. With her hairdresser mother providing inspiration direct from the beauty industry, Lara soon found herself studying double-art as part of her high school curriculum teamed with a Saturday course in makeup artistry.
“I went to a strict, prestigious high school where you weren’t allowed to wear makeup during the week,” says Lara. “My mum is very artistic when it comes to hair and makeup so I’d practise on her and mess around with makeup. I was also told to start young — train at high school to be able to enter the workforce straight away — so after graduation I completed an eight-week course, Certificate II in Makeup, and did exactly that.
“There are a lot of self-taught makeup artists these days and sometimes I feel this is truly the best way to do it. However makeup, like fashion, is always changing so I found that formal classes refined some skills technically whereas working alongside other artists, being mentored, has groomed me to where I am today,” adds Lara, who worked as a freelance makeup artist before starting an incredible journey in 2008 with a global beauty icon.
It was Lara’s mother who again provided the spark that would become Lara’s entire world, introducing her daughter to Lancôme at age 13. Lara would be booked in to see, the then National Makeup Artist, Michael Brown for school ball makeup looks and instantly it formulated her career goal. The industry, the brand, the job title — Lara’s dream job was before her very eyes.
Few of us arrive at this place of determination at such a young age yet when you meet Lara, there is such focus and passion in those perfectly painted smokey eyes that you imagine she could turn her hand to anything and succeed. However she is quick to point out that the journey spans some seven years and that opportunity, hard work, optimism and talent equally played their part.
“I started straight from high school and knew I always wanted to work for Lancôme. I started with INGLOT and opened up a store in Australia while working casual for Clinique — my foot was in the door with a major makeup and skincare house. Once I was in MYER, I got to know the other brands and interviewed for Lancôme State Makeup Artist Western Australia. I got the job and stayed for five years. I knew I wanted to develop with the brand and needed to develop rapport with PR and media, so the move to Sydney was inevitable,” explains Lara.
It was the move that would set Lara on a trajectory of national responsibility and international ambition as she journeyed through the roles of State Makeup Artist and Regional Trainer for New South Wales.
“Natural ability, creative touch, definitely has a part to play in being a great makeup artist. You have to be good with colour but equally as good with people. I do believe it is beneficial to have the training prior as it gives you a focus and a starting point however you develop as you grow, so your training needs change.
“As regional trainer, I felt I was thrown into the deep-end but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences. I had to study skincare as well as makeup and learn to interact with people who had worked with the brand for 50 years and now this young girl from WA is your educator! It was a great learning curve,” Lara says who after competing in the 2013 Lancôme Golden Brush Awards in Thailand, was promoted to the role of the National Makeup Artist Australia where she is now based in Melbourne.
“My career is a journey. I didn’t just step into this role. I know the brand inside out. I love every aspect of this brand. I have a genuine passion and wanted to grow with the brand. The most important thing is to have a goal and never give up. This is still just a stepping stone as I have bigger dreams — to go international, worldwide.”
Learning French then is clearly on the list, and it’s only a matter of how quickly not ‘if’ she will pick up the language, only adding to her cultural creativity regarding all things Parisienne.
“Women have on average 10 minutes to get ready so as makeup artists we need to create beauty in this timeframe. Being with a French brand, the French woman is my inspiration. She is not afraid of colour or a striking look but it comes across to us as ‘classic’ and I feel a lot of Australian women aspire to this. My job is to bring a touch of Paris back to Australia through simple, elegant, natural makeup looks. Personally, I’m pretty experimental though and I do like to wear a lot of makeup, unlike Parisienne women!” says Lara.
“I’ve come such a long way from high school formal makeup! From fashion week to magazine spreads, in-store to PR events, I now work on all ages and ethnicities, such diversity, making all women feel beautiful. That’s what I truly love about my job, it’s different every day. I believe that happiness is the most attractive form of beauty. I believe the role of the professional makeup artist to be one of education, and if, at the end of the day, I can put a smile on a woman’s face then I feel I have done my job.”
Looking back, it was mascara that first brought Lara to the beauty house she always longed to call home, secretly always bending her wands. Now both are a reality and her eyes are firmly fixed on the next prize.
“I had a goal and I went for it. I’ve become successful and you truly can make your life whatever you want it to be. You can be a makeup artist or you can be a successful makeup artist. I have that determination. I let nothing stop me.”
Lara Srokowski is Lancôme Australia National Makeup Artist, lancome.com.au