2009-05-06 / Front Page
Iselin resident makes up people for a living
Makeup artist has worked on television shows, models
Nick London says he is blessed for where he is in his career as a professional makeup artist and for the people he has worked with.
London, 43, who lives in the Iselin section of Woodbridge Township, sat down with the Sentinel on April 28 to discuss where his exciting career has taken him and what he would like to do in the future. He also demonstrated his talents on model Christina Marie, 20, of Cleri Model agency in Edison.
London has worked with news anchors, with the cast of the movie "Hairspray," with the cast of the TV show "Heroes," and with celebrities including actress Jessica Lange.
Right now he works on a freelance basis for the "Today" show on NBC.
"I work on the guests and celebrities that come to the show," he said. "Some celebrities bring their own makeup artists to the show, but if not, most of them know what looks good on them and tell me what to do. I'm there mostly to assist them."
When he is called for the "Today" show, London gets up at 3:30 a.m.
"It's not glamorous at all," he said with a laugh. "I try to jolt myself out of bed and have an hour to have a cup of coffee and breakfast. I'm at the Metropark train station by 4 a.m. and get to the city around 5:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Sometimes I will have to be there by 6 a.m. or 7 a.m.
"I carry two bags of makeup that weigh 10 pounds each with me. I can do anyone's makeup with what I have in the bags. Once I'm at work, it's like a factory: we are bombarded straight through to 11 a.m. It's intense."
London said that every day is different, and he may be on call for the soap opera "As the World Turns" or TV shows such as "Law & Order."
London's career started in the mid-1980s.
"I was at a nightclub in Philly and had done my friend's makeup — she wanted some crazy style," he said. "A photographer had approached our group and asked who had done my friend's makeup, and I said, 'I did.' "
The rest of the night is history, and London realized what he wanted to do. In 1986, London entered Complections London School of Makeup, in London, England, where he trained in stage, film, FX (special effects) and TV makeup, wig making, prosthetics, and fashion makeup.
After a year at Complections, he moved to New York City in the late 1980s.
"My real first taste of working with a celebrity was for Madonna's 'Truth or Dare' documentary [in 1991]," said London. "I was in charge of doing the makeup on the drag queens. I would have loved to have done Madonna's makeup, but she does have a fabulous makeup artist."
London went on to freelance with MAC cosmetics and Chanel.
"My first real celebrity that I put makeup on for was [former supermodel] Janice Dickinson," he said. "She came in and asked if anyone can put false eyelashes on, and I went right up to her and said, 'I can.' I knew who she was and liked her public personality; she's outrageous."
As a freelancer, London worked at various film junkets for Disney, including "The Chronicles of Narnia."
"This is where the actors meet all the press, including all the foreign press," said London. "Usually we get the celebrities or the foreign press. I got paid real well, and it motivated me more to continue what I was doing."
London's big break came when he met an NBC TV volunteer in 2007.
"She looked at my book, and the next day I get a call from my union [Local 798 Hair & Makeup]," he said. "In the winter of 2007, I started working with 'Saturday Night Live' and then the 'Today' show."
London at the time had an apartment in New York City, but realized that he liked the idea of owning his own home. In 2007 he moved to Iselin.
"I grew up in the suburbs and went to the Jersey Shore when I grew up," he said.
London said TV makeup and fashion makeup are very different.
"It could be 8:45 a.m. when you get a [client], and they say the person has to be ready to go on at 9 a.m.," he said. "You have to be ready for anybody. As for fashion makeup, it could take up to an hour and a half to get them made up. Also, if you fill in for someone, the makeup has to be the copy of what the other person does; you don't want to go in and add your own touch."
London said he is blessed with all the people he has met as well as the people he is working with now.
"Everyone is so lovely," he said.
The professional makeup artist said the biggest problem in the industry would have to be the business side of it.
"In this economy, work is drying up," he said. "That's why you have to wear different hats and do a little bit of everything."
London also attended New York University Film School, where he studied all aspects of filmmaking, specializing in cinematography, video and special effects.
"In the future I would really love to work with films and do special effects," he said. "This summer I will train in New York on all aspects of being a makeup artist."
In his spare time, London volunteers with the Look Good, Feel Better program of the American Cancer Society. The professional makeup artist became involved with the program after his mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2000.
"This is a program where we bring back cancer patients, who have been ravished by chemotherapy, to the basics," he said. "Chemotherapy takes away one's eyebrows and causes skin discoloration. We help them get back to the way they were. It's a great program, and it is so gratifying as a makeup artist to help bring back basic vanity for these cancer patients."
For more information on Nick London, visit www.NickLondonStyle.com.