Meet the Makeup Artist Behind ManiMe’s X Fashion Nail Art Collection Campaign
She’s seriously fun.
While the reality of getting dressed nowadays may be far less exciting than it was a year ago (see: sweatpants in regular rotation), a bold manicure has the power to liven up any look — and maybe inspire you to go all-out with your style even if you’re just sitting at home. With that in mind, we’re so happy to introduce you to the ManiMe X Fashion nail art collection, a drop of eight new designs created by some of our favorite artists, like Natalie Pavloski and Spifster Sutton.
To help bring the collection life — and inspire your own creativity — we teamed up with Los Angeles-based makeup artist Morgan McDonnell, who created a handful of dreamy beauty looks for the X Fashion campaign shoot, inspired by the nail art designs themselves. Catching up with her after the shoot, Morgan spoke with ManiMe about her start in the industry, her inspiration for the campaign, and tips on how to recreate the cool and easy looks on your own.
Read highlights of our conversation, below.
ManiMe: Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you first become interested in makeup?
Morgan McDonnell: I couldn’t tell you when I got started doing makeup, I’ve been in love with it for so long. I had a kit when I was a kid (I can still smell it) that was used at every play date, for endless living room editorials and doing all my friend’s makeup for school dances. I was always cutting up magazines for inspiration and then heading to the drugstore to find anything close to what I saw that I could afford.
When did you first realize you could work in the beauty world for a living?
M: In college I worked for Bare Minerals, which is when I veered more into the pro-makeup world. I dabbled in retail for years, but got burned out trying to sell women lipgloss on their lunch break, despite completely loving the artistic side of my job. In 2012, I attended Makeup Designory and completed their multimedia program. After I graduated and was released into the real world, I thought I would be so incredibly busy with work, but no. It took many many years of having my parents help me out — I would not be writing this if they hadn’t — working for trade, taking less creative jobs to be able to pay rent, etc, but I stuck it out and I still love it.
Where do you find inspiration for your work, in general and for this shoot specifically?
M: I find inspiration from a ton of different sources. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t sit on Pinterest or Instagram for hours watching tutorials and studying beautiful makeup [looks], because let’s be honest — I do. However, I do find a lot of inspiration from movies, old runways, and art books, but the most inspiration I get is through collaboration. I really really enjoy working with other creative people.
Oftentimes when I’m doing a just-for-fun shoot, the photographer and I will set parameters for ourselves like “lets only use these colors” or “lets play with this material” or “let’s use this theme.” By setting these limitations, it actually helps facilitate an easier dialogue and in the end, a more cohesive aesthetic. For this shoot, the wardrobe and nails were incredibly helpful in narrowing down what to do makeup wise. Jordy and I have been working together for years and she has such a great eye for color that I just pack all my fun stuff knowing I’ll have the perfect opportunity to use it whenever she’s on set.
How are you using this time in quarantine to get creative? Have you mastered any skills or experimented with anything new?
M: 2020 has been wonderful for getting creative. Not everyone feels this way, but I have been so preoccupied with work for so many years that it was extremely therapeutic to be able to explore creatively without guilt. I think as freelancers we are always wondering where our next job is, or “what if I’m not doing enough,” etc. that we forget that it’s healing to do art for art’s sake. Since one cannot do makeup from home, I spent a large portion of quarantine with my parents in Davis,California. I got back into water color, did some tie dye, printed linoleum cuts, and remembered how to sew. My mom and I went to the same college, and have almost the same art degree, so releasing creative energy and exploring different artistic avenues was a major part of my upbringing. I was always allowed to make a mess doing something creative as long as I cleaned up after.
What advice would you give to readers who want to be more experimental with their makeup, but don’t know where to start?
M: My advice for people who want to get more playful with their makeup is simple: start small. And this refers to the price tag too. Pick one thing to try and take it from there. If you want to experiment with bright eyeshadow, get a fun NYX palette. If you want to play with glitter, go to the dollar store craft aisle. If you’re dying to try a dark lip, get a lip liner from the drug store. Focus on getting comfortable with this one new thing, and see where it takes you. When doing editorial [or] more bold looks I think it’s a good rule of thumb to choose the area of the face you’re playing up, and keep the rest nice and natural.
How do you balance cool new makeup trends or looks with a more laid-back approach to beauty?
M: For this shoot, I kept the skin dewy with cream blush and not too much powder. The brows were kept pretty fluffy but defined, and the lips were almost across the board a tinted lip oil or chapstick. That way, when the eyeshadow did a big 180, everything else could stay the same and not look overdone. The less curated your makeup looks, the cooler it looks, so use your fingers, smear it around, blot it, spit on a q-tip, make your own rules.
I know I just told you to make your own rules, but do actually follow this one [because] it’s foolproof: any time you’re doing a full face, keep your shades within the same tone and it’ll never look off. By tone, I mean if you’re using a bright coral red lip, don’t use a ballet pink blush. If you’re using a terracotta brown shadow, use a golden highlighter. Warm with warm, cool with cool.
Where can our readers find you on social?
M: On my instagram! @seriouslymofun
Ahead, read on for Morgan’s tips on how to recreate her three favorite looks from the latest ManiMe Fashion X campaign shoot, and shop the collection here.
If you don’t have or can’t find the exact shade(s) I used, try something similar. Have fun. Experiment. Enjoy life.