Pro MUA Joe Blasco: An Interview With The Pioneer of Film & Television Makeup Education
Here at Camera Ready Cosmetics, we have promoted, sold and loved Joe Blasco cosmetics for years. When clients walk through our doors looking for highly pigmented, high-performance makeup for film, television or the stage, the Joe Blasco collection is one of our first go-to recommendations.
Known worldwide for his decades-long career as a leading makeup artist in Hollywood, highly sought-after film and television makeup visionary, first ever creator of government-approved makeup education centers, and the inventor of a 45-year-old+ successful cosmetics line, Joe Blasco has made his mark on the world of makeup artistry and education like no one before him.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Blasco and discuss his start in the industry, his passion for teaching, and his secret to making one of the highest-performing makeup lines for film and television.
Not into reading? Watch the full video interview here.
Camera Ready Cosmetics: What inspired you to pave the way for makeup education?
Joe Blasco: I realized that I wanted to teach, more than anything, when I felt that by teaching I was also learning, and the more I taught others the more I was able to experiment. When I was at ABC Television, they would come to me and say, “How do you do that? Why [do your foundations] look the way they do? How are you highlighting and shading the way you do?” And I realized most of the makeup artists didn’t really have as keen an understanding of highlighting and shading as I was taught by Ben Nye, and Kiva Hoffman, and some of the other artists that I studied under.
So I thought, “OK. I’m going to take all of my understanding of corrective makeup and I’m going to create a class.” So I started with small classes, and gradually, more and more people wanted the instruction.
I got calls - tons and tons of calls. And suddenly I went from just being this journeyman makeup artist at ABC also to having these big classes at night. So I thought, “Wait a minute. This is really interesting. This is going somewhere.”
CRC: What were some of the industry challenges you faced early on?
JB: [After my classes started gaining popularity, ABC] came to me and said, “Conflict of interest! You’re teaching, and we can’t allow you to advertise that you’re a makeup artist [while] working for ABC.” So I said, “OK, well, I’m out.” So I left ABC, and I went completely into being an independent makeup artist and to teaching.
There were very few women in the industry. There just weren’t any, they weren’t makeup artists. The makeup artists were all men. When I opened my doors to students who wanted to be makeup artists, gradually more and more women came to the forefront. I’m proud to have been able to be a catalyst for allowing women into the profession…and gays…and various races. [They] were not, originally back then - 40 years ago - permitted into [the industry]. It was primarily a white man’s job. Not anymore.
CRC: What has been the most rewarding moment as a makeup instructor?
JB: My proudest moment as a makeup instructor had to be when I saw Matthew Mungle receive an Academy Award. He was my first graduate to receive an Academy Award. Since then Bill Corso has also received an Academy Award. I’m proud to have been influential in their success.
But there have been many, you know. Every time I look at the credits roll by and see someone’s name that I know that I taught, it’s a good feeling - a real feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
CRC: When did you realize you wanted to create your own makeup line?
JB: I loved being involved in monster makeup and horror makeup in the very early portion of my career. What I did was simply to be as creative as I could possibly be, follow the script that I was given, come up with whatever the writer envisioned and the director wanted.
After working in the industry for quite a few years, I saw that the products we were using - and they were excellent products, Max Factor, Ben Nye, RCMA - I would do a lot of mixing. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice not to do all that mixing?” So that’s when I came up with our base tone related neutralizers.
CRC: How and where did you learn to create makeup?
JB: I learned how to make makeup in two different places - one was at the Max Factor company, and the other was the Ben Nye company. I learned more from Ben Nye than from anyone. However, I was always wanted to change things.
If you use an oil that will break the makeup down after the body temperature starts to rise then your makeup isn’t really going to serve a professional purpose. It’s going to require more work. It’s going to slow production time down. So I thought, “What can I do to make makeup better?”
CRC: What’s the difference between Joe Blasco products and other high-performance brands?
JB: The amount of pigment that we put into the product is a puzzlement to other cosmetics companies. They’ll try this, and they’ll say “how do you get all this pigment into the product.” And that’s the secret.
The secret is to put the pigment in with the waxes and with the oils in a conventional manner, and then process it - very much like you’d process fine chocolate - so that it removes the excess vehicle, the excess oils and waxes, leaving behind a higher percentage of pigment. And how we do that, I can’t discuss.
CRC: What is your favorite product from the Joe Blasco collection?
JB: All of the Ultrabases are amazing. You can put it on with a dry sponge. You can put it on with a wet sea sponge. There are no other professional makeups, that are oil-based makeups, that will go on as successfully as mine with a wet sea sponge. Mine goes on because there’s so much pigment, and we’ve all that vehicle. When you put it on, it goes on very evenly and it covers.
Oh, here we go we’re just going to name everything, aren’t we? [Laughs]
The Ultamattes™ are extremely, highly-pigmented makeups, and I’ll tell you how I came about this. Ben Nye had a product that I helped him make, and it was the beard stipple product. It was a dark, dark black makeup that we put a lot of pigment into.
I looked at it and thought “wow, there’s a lot of pigment in this,” unlike any of the other products in the line. And I started using it for eyeliner. Years later when I made my own line, I thought back and remembered that and I thought “let me make a line that has a tremendous amount of pigment.” But not just black. I made them in taupe, and brown, and warm brown, and then lighter colors that would be the same as the neutralizers.
The highlighting colors became the Dermaceals, and the darker colors - the browns and the taupes and the blacks - became the Ultamattes™. So that concept split off into two different categories. The Ultamattes™ for eye makeup, and the Dermaceals for corrective makeup and concealing.
So it’s all a matter of working with a product that has more pigment. That’s the secret.
CRC: What is next for Joe Blasco cosmetics?
JB: I just turned 71, and I’m really looking forward to continuing to work and to teach and to inspired other - inspiring young people to go into the profession in a manner that is sophisticated and well represents them as artists and also serves the profession well.
CRC: What advice would you give to anyone interested in getting into the industry or following in your footsteps?
JB: I don’t know that anyone really needs to follow in anyone’s footsteps. I think that what one needs to do is to create their own footstep template and to keep making that template grow and to do makeup artistry as they envision it - to be creative, to create their own style and to learn as much as they can from as many people as possible, but never try to copy any other people.
You can emulate, you can be inspired by, but to copy is not being artistic. Be inspired, and create your own style. Have passion, and by all means, practice, practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the better you’re going to be, and that’s the secret.
Meet Rudy Blasco
Following our interview, Joe introduced us to his dearest friend - and Joe Blasco cosmetics mascot - Rudy, an adorable pup that accompanies Joe on his many travels.
Watch the full video interview here, and comment below with your favorite Joe Blasco product.
About Camera Ready Cosmetics
Camera Ready Cosmetics was founded in 2003 by Makeup Artist Mary Erickson. Having been in the makeup artist industry for 30+ years, Mary knows quality and value and understands what an artist needs. Mary is the buyer for Camera Ready Cosmetics and chooses only what she would use on set.
If you don’t find the product you’re looking for at Camera Ready Cosmetics, that’s because we have something better. Just ask us!