Billy B is one of the worlds most sought after makeup artists. Billy’s clientele include Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Pink. Sharon Stone chose Billy to work with her for Christian Dior’s “Capture Totale” TV commercial. In Kevyn Aucoin’s book Making Faces, Billy was acknowledged by Kevyn as one of the makeup artists who had “inspired” and “taught” him. But despite Billy’s life in the fashion, music, and entertainment world Billy still feels he is still the smalltown boy from Mississippi.

When did your fascination with makeup begin?
I wish I could tell you a story of dreaming of being a makeup artist my entire life, but for me it was a matter of survival. I moved to New York City from a tiny town in Mississippi and had to have a job and the only experience I had was retail. So, I went to Macy’s Herald Square for a job because it was the only store I knew of from watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade growing up in Mississippi. They offered me a position selling cosmetics on the main floor. I lied and said I had experience not knowing that the first day they would put me on the outside of the counter doing makeup on real women. That was the day my fascination began.

How did you get your first big break as a makeup artist?
First of all, there have been many big breaks and with luck, they never stop, but I would have to say my first big break actually happened at the makeup counter at Macy’s. A beautiful young woman stopped just to make a purchase. She was not the type to get her makeup done in a retail store. Somehow I talked her into letting me do her eyes because she was mixed race, light skinned girl with hazel eyes and I had no experience with women of color. I did her makeup and she said to me, ┬│You are way too talented to be working in a department store. That was the moment that I learned that there were opportunities for makeup artists outside of retail. She knew a model booker at Elite and referred me and I began doing test shoots to build a portfolio.

What is your makeup philosophy?
I would like to think that my philosophy on makeup is unique in that I don’t preach rules, I don’t believe there’s only one way to do anything and I don’t want makeup to be intimidating for women

“I think that success is measured on an individual basis, but what I can say for sure is that your motivation for success has to be purely about your craft, and the second you get it twisted and start believing your own hype is the first minute of the last day of that success.”

Your celebrity client list is endless. What have been some of your most memorable collaborations?
That’s a hard question to answer. My favorite collaborations are based on different things. I love to work with women that enjoy and are inspired by that part of their career. I love fashion, but I really love collaborating on music videos. I would say to date one of my greatest achievements was my collaboration with Missy Elliott for her ‘She’s a Bitch’ video, and most recently with Pink for her videos ‘Stupid Girls’ and ‘You and Your Hand’.

What is the difference between working with a fashion model and a celebrity?
That’s a great question. Part of a model’s job is to be transformed without an opinion. A celebrity is a real woman in the extraordinary circumstance of being famous. They own their face and their image and they have an opinion about the way they look and the image that they portray to the public. I believe it’s a huge part of my job to respect their feelings and opinions while making them feel comfortable enough to trust me.

What is the key for achieving long-term success & popularity as a makeup artist?
I think there are many factors that measure success. I like to tell people not to measure success by my success. I think that success is measured on an individual basis, but what I can say for sure is that your motivation for success has to be purely about your craft, and the second you get it twisted and start believing your own hype is the first minute of the last day of that success.

Can you tell us more about the upcoming The American Beauty Tour?
When The Powder Group invited me to kick off the tour, I was flattered and excited for the opportunity. I never considered myself a speaker. What I do is always tell the truth to any question that’s asked based on my experience in this business. People seem to really enjoy it, which has inspired me. So, I’m excited to travel from city to city and meet my peers. I also really enjoy this process because I find that I learn so much from the other people I meet. It’s a great experience all the way around.

Where did you get the inspiration for creating the billybbeauty paintbrushes?
These first thirteen brushes in my collection are based on thirteen brushes that I use to create the looks for editorial, red carpet, music videos, et cetera, every day. They are my ‘must haves’. I worked hard to design brushes with several elements in mind. The first being a brush that was going to make my job easier, but also comfortable to work with and lightweight. I designed them for myself and I hope that everyone loves them as much as I do.

What are some of your top tips for getting fresh and flawless complexion?
Less is more foundations and I’m a huge fan of liquid foundations with silicone, followed by a colorless, lightweight, translucent powder.

With all of your celebrity clients, is it still possible for you to get star struck?
I am in the great position of being requested by the women I work with, but I still am that boy from a small town in Mississippi at heart, just as insecure as I ever was. So yes, I get nervous, not because they’re a star, but because I want to make them happy.

What other passions do you have besides making faces beautiful?
My other passion is definitely the project I have in my hometown, saving historic homes and buildings from being torn down and lost due to neglect and the lack of money that people have there, which is why I’m excited about my pending reality television show on Bravo called The Beauty Foundation, which will contrast my life as a makeup artist transforming faces to Mississippi, transforming a town.

What’s next for Billy B?
I’m thrilled about every project that I have going on, but I’m most excited about my deal with Palace Press for my first beauty book. It is a dream come true for me. I am so excited and pleased to be working with them because they are who produced Kevyn Aucoin’s amazing books. We are in the beginning stages of production now.

It was a pleasure to interview Billy to find out more about him and also for info on his amazing brushes visit www.billybbeauty.com More info on the American Beauty Tour is available at The Powder Group.

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