Q&A With Joseph Harwood

If he’s good enough for Simon Cowell, he’s certainly good enough for me. Meet Joseph Harwood (if you haven’t already): The uber-talented makeup artist with a wonderfully chirpy personality.  The recent winner of You Generation (a search by Simon Cowell for the world’s best new makeup artist), a budding entrepreneur about to launch his cosmetic line and a Youtube sensation, Harwood is certainly taking the beauty world by storm and I feel utterly privileged to have had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about beauty. I contacted him one day on a complete whim after having spent an entire day fawning over his Youtube videos (link here) and was in complete shock when not only did he reply, but he did so within 10 days. I can’t quite remember when I first stumbled upon his ingenious videos (which become incredibly addictive to watch; his skill and transformational abilities never fail to mesmerise me), but since then, he has quickly become someone I look up to in the makeup industry not only for his artistic capabilities but also for his down-to-earth attitude.

So, without further ado and much excitement on my behalf, here is the interview:

Tell us a little bit about your You Generation success.

Joseph: I was really amazed and happy to win the YouGen competition, because it was honestly a random application for me. I get asked to do a lot of similar things, but what really caught my eye were the amazing Pixiwoo Sisters and their interview with Simon Cowell. I just couldn’t resist trying for it, so I sneakily uploaded a video to my second channel and hoped for the best. I was honestly astounded when I got the email saying I’d made the finals and when Jim Chapman announced I had won on skype, I was gobsmacked. I had a miss Carolina moment! I am such a fan of Emma Pickles who was in the top 3, and it was just honestly amazing to me. It’s really been an incredible opportunity and everyone from Syco, to Sam and the YouGen team have been awesome!

What/who started your interest in cosmetics?

Joseph: I think of makeup as like a different media for my artwork, and I’ve been brought up at my grandmas house painting, drawing, sewing, sketching… I’ve always been an arty kid and it stemmed from there. After I got a little older I really became obsessed with the 90s supermodels and I just thought, why not try painting them on me? So that’s how it really began.
What frustrates you the most about the beauty industry?

Joseph: It’s got a little bit better in the last 5 years or so, but one thing that always frustrated me was lack of shades for the lightest and darkest skintones in the western market. I was really shocked when I was in Tokyo to find that all the brands we have over here do ranges in that market, but in paler colours. I’ve also never liked the rules people profess when it comes to beauty, we must use a cleanse tone moisturize, we must add colour to the skin or we can only use natural looking makeup. That side of things is pretty silly. I guess finally from my perspective as someone building a cosmetics brand, one thing that is a huge frustration is the lack of protection when it comes to new ideas. Anyone can appear and take inspiration, or redevelop a product with 1000x the budget, but hey, that’s how it works! 

Are you self-taught?

Joseph: Absolutely. From painting non stop, sketching every time I could, learning new tricks and tips and learning the history. I’ve definitely asked advice and observed other people as I’ve grown, especially when it comes to learning techniques, but for me art is about imagination and your personal view point. You can’t really be taught how to generate new ideas because we each enjoy a unique experience of life. When we focus on how to recreate a look, you loose that personal interpretation. 

Favourite cosmetic brand?

Joseph: I definitely think Estee Lauder is a great brand, I really love the quality of their products and I wouldn’t be without a few of them, but I think MAC is my personal favorite. Mac back in the day. I used to go into the store in my hometown when I was a kid and be fascinated by the bold colours, glitters and lashes. It’s become very trend orientated and commercialised in the last few years, but I still have an affection for their older products. 

Makeup essentials everyone / every MUA should have?

Joseph: I think everyone / every makeup artist should be well researched when it comes to the history of art and beauty, that is absolutely a makeup essential, but if we’re focusing on products I think great skincare prepares the canvas, and a wide range of concealers to perfect the base.

Any tricks you know that most people generally wouldn’t?

Joseph: I’ve always referenced my love for Way Bandy and Kevyn Aucoin, I just love the ability to change the facial features and their personal styles of sculpting and highlighting. For me I like working in reverse and I’ve definitely developed a recognizable style where I bring the highlights right against where we would place our contours to change the shapes. 

Do you prefer cream products or powder products?

Joseph: I love both! I start with creams and set with powders!

What do you find hardest about makeup artistry?

Joseph: I think it’s a very difficult job to work full time as. It’s a very expensive and physical job, you have to heave a giant kit of makeup and spend all your time cleaning. A lot of the times you have to work for free to build up your portfolio, and it takes time and dedication to really get where you need to go. I would say to anyone just be creative and know where you want to go. Resilience! 


Any advice for people trying to venture into makeup artistry?

Joseph: Paint, draw, sketch, learn, research! And don’t expect to get paid alot when you start haha!


There you have it; words from the makeup maestro himself. I cannot thank Joseph enough for his time, and I’m sure we can all extract something from his words of wisdom. He is launching a cosmetic/brush line , so if you keep your ear close to the cosmetic counter’s ground he’ll most certainly be in the limelight soon and if his videos are anything to go by, I’m going to be purchasing the entire collection.

Stay tuned for more interviews on Sophie Does Beauty!



Two of Joseph’s looks on himself

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4 thoughts on “Q&A With Joseph Harwood

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