Interview by Margarita Miranda, ASTONISH Berlin
Stefan Kehl is a makeup artist based in Berlin. He is a very busy person, so I was lucky to get some of his precious time for the interview. I met him in his beautiful apartment in Berlin, Kreuzberg, right by the river. The funny thing is that I lived in the same house 15 years ago. While we were drinking rooibos tea at his desk, I started my Q&A.
ASTONISH: How did you become a makeup artist?
STEFAN: I have always wanted to do something creative, something that had to do somehow with drawing and painting. Something with fashion. It was all very vague and I ended up learning to be a hair dresser. That was the right decision, I liked it a lot. Before that, I started an education in technical drawing. A lot of people advised me to do that and they said it is a really creative job. But it was the most uncreative work you can ever imagine. During my education in the salon, I had to learn about cosmetics and makeup as well. And as a well-known salon, we were booked for a lot of fashion shows. I decided to do the makeup for them. The teacher of the school where I made my education was very old fashioned and knew only makeup styles from the 70’s, with all these colors like blue, pink and green, and all in very bad quality. But I was very lucky to have a good friend working in a beauty parlor; she supplied me with tons of testers when I needed them. Only the best, like Chanel and Dior. I brought them back in the morning before the shop opened. Like that, I could learn from the beginning with only the best quality. After I was finished with my education I went to Berlin. And I never wanted to work in a salon again. I continued learning by myself all about makeup. In combination with being a hairdresser, I had the best chances.
ASTONISH: Where do you get your inspiration?
STEFAN: There are a lot of ways. I started early with meditation, and when I need an idea I start with the search for my inner voice and listen to it. That always works for me. But of course I also look into other cultures and ethnic groups, watch reports about animals, look into fashion magazines, and walk the streets with open eyes.
ASTONISH: How did you become successful? What is difficult in that business?
STEFAN: It is only difficult if you put too much pressure on yourself. Stress is paralyzing for me, but if I start whatever I do relaxed, without wanting anything, I get into a nice flow. And things just turn out at its best. That always works for me. Of course it is important to know people, keep in contact with them, update them, have a good agency and have good people working for you. And, of course, keep yourself updated and motivated always.
ASTONISH: Do you prefer to work with a certain brand?
STEFAN: At the moment Chanel and Kevin Murphy are my absolute favorites.
ASTONISH: What is your favorite product?
STEFAN: I am very content with Chanel’s fabulous foundation Lift Lumière. The texture is incredible. It just melts together with the skin to a wonderful deeply freshness. I am very impressed by that brand. I really like to work with their products.
ASTONISH: Who would you like to do makeup for? Tell me three persons.
STEFAN: If I said Lady Gaga, I would have to laugh. But I would do it, because that would be a big boost for my career. I am really not so much into celebrities; they don’t matter for me at all, so no names are popping up. That makes it easy for me to work with them. I just like to do hair and makeup for everybody. That’s what I like.
ASTONISH: What do you like more, working for photographers or for runways?
STEFAN: I like both. For editorials I can fully live my creativity. For runways I have the possibility to influence the fashion world with my creations of makeup and hair.
ASTONISH: What is your favorite look at the moment?
STEFAN: I have fun with very strong, intense colors. Just colorful. The trend now is away from the “I’m dead and I took a lot of drugs” look to a more soft, transparent, female look. I like to work that look with a little bit more color, also with contrast colors, warm and cold together for example or a combination with summer and winter colors, to give the look an exciting, unorthodox touch.
ASTONISH: Can you tell me about one of your favorite looks? What do you call it?
STEFAN: I don’t have a name for it.
ASTONISH: Call it the “look with no name”, then.
STEFAN: OK, here comes “the look with no name”! It combines summer and winter colors. The foundation has a suntanned color, the eyebrows are only slightly accentuated, lashes with a lot of black mascara. The eye shadow is in a bright strong turquoise blue with light reflecting particles. For lips a mixture between a rusty and a berry red. The color should be a little dirty. It must be applied very accurate to get the look. Apply a lot of highlighter on cheeks, over eyebrow curves and the lip outline underneath the nose. Shape the cheeks only with a little blush, very slightly; the focus is on eyes and lips. The whole look is clear and strong. The same look you can do with a warm green eye shadow and orange lipstick, which is not too bright in color. This look I used to do for a blonde model, but it also works for brunettes.
See more of Stefan’s work: www.stefankehl.de
Photo credits: Gutschera Osthoff, Frauke Fischer, Jürgen Schabes, Anja Frers. Portrait of Stefan by Margarita Miranda.