Joyce Bonelli is way more than a makeup artist; in fact, she sees her clients, whom she refers to as projects, holistically. “When Kylie was 17, I said, ‘You’ve got to do photo shoots. Come on, they’re fun.’” Her idea? Create exaggerated images with a dripping lip, almost paint-like — a creative exercise that has come to define the youngest Jenner’s branding. Bonelli, up at 3:00 a.m. every morning, filled us in on her new beauty brand’s upcoming launch (aptly called Joyce Bonelli Cosmétiques) and why every day, no matter what, should be treated like Halloween.
Makeup is the name of your game. Do you remember when you knew you had a knack for it?
I think I was seven years old. My mom would have these Mary Kay parties at home. I took some of the samples and I kind of just went for it. At the time, bright green and blue eyeliners were the big thing and I started practicing on my friend’s moms.
Let’s talk about your schooling — in animatronics?
You have to understand, I grew up going to church twice a week. I lived on acres and acres of trees. It’s always interesting for me to look back. On Sundays, after church, we would go to my grandmother’s house. We would be watching Mr. Ed and flipping back to see The Munsters. I wasn’t allowed to celebrate Halloween growing up, so when I saw The Munsters, I freaked out. I couldn’t comprehend it. I was obsessed. That’s what started my obsession. I basically got into the animatronics because I was really into blood and guts. I wanted to take beautiful people and make them horrifying.
And what happened next?
Well, from there, I sold out. I needed to move out of my dad’s house. I was like, ‘Let’s work with Playboy to get the paycheck’. I loved the glamour of Playboy – that beauty and the sexiness of it all. I worked on Girls Next Door and then I went into the whole reality [televison] world.
What’s the difference between special effects and beauty make up?
Well, for instance, if you’re making a character — whether the character has a stronger nose to look more like a villain, you have to create that. That’s the actual character makeup. Where, beauty make up in a sense, for me, as an artist — is painting, manipulating a face – contouring, sculpture.
If there’s one person, living or dead, whose face you could do up, who would it be? Why?
Bowie. He was one of the first men that I saw wearing make-up. I was fascinated. In my family, that wasn’t understood. So, in some ways, to rebel, he was my idol. I thought it was so rad that he was such an artist in his own way. There are so many different facets that made up who he was and how he portrayed himself. I was attracted to that.
The beauty space is a cluttered one – but you’ve managed to stand out.
I think I started off by going back to that childhood — with no Halloween. Now, I start every day with my Halloween. I always had my own daily look – looking purposely crazy to stand out. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now, it’s my technique. People starting to recognize me and that’s how it all began. I look at my clients as projects — they often want me to sign off on the outfit as a whole — the hair, the outfit, the look. You know, Kris Jenner once named me the Creative Director of the Kardashian/Jenner family and it’s because I would work with them across all facets of their brand.
Let’s talk a little bit about Joyce Bonelli Cosmétiques…. what’s the idea behind it?
It hasn’t come out yet. It’s so hard when something is your own – but it’s coming and it’s launching this summer. I can’t tell you anything more – but, it’s going to be epic. These things take time.
And the name – Cosmétiques?
My husband is French and we're in Europe a lot and I loved the way the writing looked. It’s a little bit different and has that, how do I say it, Joyce Bonelli spin.
This article originally appeared in our June/July issue.
Image courtesy of Joyce Bonelli.