Ashleigh Sharman discovers the creative workings of Rae Morris.
With a CV recounting an enviable list of collection shows, high-fashion editorial shoots and some of the biggest celebrities on the planet, not to mention a portfolio of extreme beauty and talent, it’s hard to imagine that local makeup hero Rae Morris — who is said to have “fallen into makeup” — hardly labels herself an ‘artist’.
“I don’t really see myself as an artist and didn’t even come from an artistic background, to be honest,” says Rae. “I never drew, I never painted much. People say that word ‘artist’ and I think of someone who picks up brushes and has their work shown in galleries. But then again, I am. It’s just a different art form I guess.”
As reluctant as Rae may be with the term, even she cannot deny her talent is the driving force of creativity in her work; faces and bodies her canvas. Taking responsibility within a brief for makeup direction, Rae in turn creates the looks women want to wear and the products women want to buy. But this is a not a game of trends Rae says; rather a game of authenticity and truthfulness at the source of inspiration.
“I find my place of creativity very randomly. When I have a shoot coming up and I begin my research it could come from collection shows, other makeup artists, or Google! The best thing I’ve ever heard come from an artist — this from John Galliano in an interview — was, when asked where do you get inspiration from, he said, ‘I never reference a reference; I go directly to the source’. What he meant was a collection with Egyptian inspiration required a trip to Egypt with his team. I used to look heavily at magazines, film clips, and pop-culture but now I go directly to the source — it’s like discovering a truth,” Rae says.
This truthfulness has led Rae to expand and share her artistry within a series of educational books and through a makeup brush collection. “There is only so much you can do as a makeup artist with your fingers and so the tools of your trade become incredibly important,” says Rae, who is now the source: an artist who has created her own tools out of creative expression and necessity and a teacher who has imparted wisdom to followers the world over.
Yet with a career based firmly in the creative arena, Rae acknowledges fashion in particular has a habit of pushing makeup to the extreme, so regardless of trends that come and go, and whether women participate in them or not, Rae’s artistry lies rather in drawing out beauty in her subjects. Making a woman look beautiful, like they’re about to walk a red carpet and feel 10 to 20 years younger, Rae stresses is not about her makeup looking beautiful, but that the woman herself is beautiful.
“Even after all this time, I am still so passionate about makeup. Not just the product and the art but what it can do for your confidence and in turn how your confidence can literally change your life. I know it sounds fanciful, but I have honestly seen makeup make that much of a difference. But even if you just feel better about yourself that’s more than enough,” says Rae.
No matter how she describes herself, Rae is an artist. An artist who, in the eyes of friend and UK fashion expert Gok Wan, ‘will always play selflessly to her audience — her art is a performance, your face her stage’. Drawing you into her world of makeup, Rae’s art asks you to participate. And who could refuse?