Fashion & Apparel

Fashion & Apparel

Artist Spotlight: Ernesto Robledo,
Graffiti Makeup Artist

How did you become a makeup artist?

I have always been in love with art and art related things. About ten years ago I began to play with makeup, making crazy looks for Halloween but it was not until 4 years ago that I began to do it professionally. A friend of mine took me to a makeup shoot that he had in Los Angeles, and from that moment on I focused on doing it as a passion.

Did you have formal education or were you self taught?

I have no formal training. It has always been a mirror, a light, inspirational looks, my makeup kit, and time to practice on myself.


How did you break into the industry?

Word of mouth has always been my biggest success. My first client was a bride. From there on I started advertising my work.

What have been some of the best ways you have built and marketed your business?

Placing ads Craigslist, Yelp, Google, and Model Mayhem. I then built my own website from the ground up and my own business cards.

Where do most of your clientele come from?

Most of my clientele come from previous customers who pass on my information to friends and family members. Although lately I’ve noticed an increase of people searching me online.

Can you give us a description of what you do, how you do it, and your methods that bring about these insane night and day results ?

I could probably write a book because there is just too much about how I go about doing my looks. A few tips that I focus on:

  • With a normal makeup look I begin by making sure the eye brows look good. To me that is the frame for all of my makeup application.
  • Once the eyebrows are in place, I move on to priming the eyes and start my art there next.
  • Clean any fall out that might have happened from the shadows, prep the skin by adding a skin primer, and then foundation. Setting powders, blush and bronzers, and finally lips from a day to night look.
  • Lastly, I just intensify the color and the blending by going a little darker on the eyes, especially on the rim and the outer edges.

What kind of living can a makeup artist make?

Like any other artist, it can be very hard to make a living. Howeverr if you become reputable and make a name for yourself, you can do pretty well for yourself, and big doors open up for bigger and better possibilities that can pay very well.

What are your favorite things about being a makeup artist?

My favorite part of being a makeup artist is the fact that no two faces are the same. Every time I “beat face” it’s like creating a new piece of art work. I have always said that the face is the best canvas an artist can have.

If you had to so all over again what advice would you have given yourself as a makeup artist?

I would have to say to be a little more confident. When I first started I was scared and doubted myself. I came to realize that that if I don’t believe in myself and my work no one else would.

Are there certain areas that you wish you would have focused on closer in order to further your career?

Time!!! I am now able to cut my time almost in half from when I first started doing makeup. That is to say on normal looks, it can take a lot more time on evening, wedding, or runway makeup projects. I honestly believe time management will help everyone, but needless to say, that as an artist, you teach yourself shortcuts that make you finish a look faster. Therefore, making you more productive and thus you get in more clients.

Do you have any final words of wisdom to artists aspiring to become make up artists?

Believe in yourself! Practice… practice… practice. It will be difficult at first, but it gets better. With hard work comes great things. I competed and was awarded San Francisco Makeup Artist of the Year in 2011. Recognition’s like these make me want to keep bettering myself. Every day is a learning experience!

Follow Ernesto on Facebook and Model Mayhem.


  • Anna Ortiz
    Anna Ortiz

    Mural Hunter, Photographer, & Writer | Anna is a writer and lover of urban street art who attended San Francisco State University. She is self-taught in digital and film photography, and spends most of her free time fueling her photography obsession by researching vintage cameras.