How Lottie Went From Working in Accounting to an A-List Makeup Artist


Article by Allure

There are very few people for whom I would go back to school…in the summer…on a sunny weekend in Los Angeles. Lottie, a makeup artist known by 157K and counting as @lotstar on Instagram, happens to be one of them. 

Currently serving as BeautyBlender’s Global Pro Artist and recently appointed a North America Color Artist by Shiseido Makeup, the face painter is known for her distinctive style and dramatic looks that feature bold color, graphic shapes, and unexpected embellishments that range from glitter to conversation hearts.

Lottie’s rise to the top of the beauty world, however, wasn’t exactly a direct shot. “I had a very weird start to my career because between graphic design school and interning in the art and photo departments at Dazed & Confused, I was working in an office doing accounting,” she explained. “It was basically my hatred for my job that forced me into doing what I really wanted to do.” While she was always interested in beauty, Lottie said it wasn’t until she was on a shoot during her magazine internship that she witnessed a pro makeup artist — who turned out to be none other than Charlotte Tilbury in action — a brief run-in that would change the course of her entire career. “Seeing a real working makeup artist and learning that it was a job outside of working at a retail counter made me think, ‘Wait a minute, maybe I can do this.’”

Inspired by Serge Lutens, a makeup artist, photographer, filmmaker, and visionary who served as the creative director for brands like Dior and Shiseido, Lottie decided to combine her graphic design experience with her love for beauty. “I don’t think I would’ve been able to learn and excel the way that I did without having that background in art,” she explained. “Learning about color, balance, and shape allowed me to look at faces in a different way.”

Entirely self-taught, Lottie teamed up with photographers like Alex Prager, Jaime Nelson, and anyone else who needed an “extra set of hands” on set during her early days, calling out sick or using vacation days from her day job in the accounting department to moonlight as a makeup artist. From there, she joined Smashbox’s backstage team during Los Angeles fashion week and was later scouted by model Mia Tyler on MySpace. “Working with Mia on Celebrity Fit Club was my first real paid job as a makeup artist,” said Lottie. “If it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t have had any of these opportunities.” MySpace is also how Pat McGrath discovered Lottie and added the rising beauty star to her backstage ranks. She traveled around the world with McGrath’s squad for six and a half years refining her raw talent and gathering the know-how she’d eventually pass down during her masterclass at Bureau 9 Studio in L.A. With lessons on everything from how to create her signature glowing skin to the makeup items she’s never without, let's just say nobody was eagerly waiting for the bell to ring. Here are her beauty CliffsNotes. Class is now in session.

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1. Learn from your peers

Never formally trained at a traditional beauty school or retail counter, Lottie said she learned almost everything she knows about painting picture-perfect faces on the job. Naturally, she absorbed invaluable lessons while serving as a member of McGrath’s jet-setting squad, but said those tips and tricks didn’t solely come from the makeup mogul. “You don’t just learn from Pat, but you also learn from all of the artists that are around you,” she explained. “At the time, it was like a family because so many of us on the team were good friends. We traveled the world and worked together every day.”

That said, there wasn’t exactly the time for gossip or games behind the scenes with her new band of beauty besties. “You learn how to execute the makeup look quickly without dilly-dallying. When you’re backstage doing runway, you’re not doing things like baking or carving out the face — that doesn’t exist because you don’t have time for it,” she noted. “One of the things Pat would always say was, ‘Everybody keep working — this isn’t the time to catch up and ask about vacations.’ You have to put your head down, pay attention, and work.”

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2. Know your strengths and weaknesses

“I thrive on challenge — it’s more interesting to me,” said Lottie. “Some people like consistency and reliability, but I’m just the opposite.” The grueling, fast-paced lifestyle associated with the glamorous world of runway was the perfect setting for the pro to grow, but she said it’s not for everybody — and that’s OK. They key is to find your lane. “It doesn’t mean that if it’s not right you’re any less of a person. You can be an amazing makeup artist, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be great at runway,” she explained. “For me, working in TV is not right. Doing bridal is not right. I actually need that stress!”

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3. Don’t take it personally

Regardless of the industry you find yourself in, make this piece of advice from Lottie your new mantra: “Nothing is personal.” She committed those three important words to memory while working in the accounting department. “My boss would yell and scream when she was stressed. It sounds ridiculous, but it really helped me working in fashion, especially backstage where everybody is stressed out,” she said. “You have to be confident enough to do your work and do the best you can do. Know that if someone doesn’t like it, it’s OK. Change it. Nothing is permanent and it’s not personal — it’s just not working.”

Now that she’s the boss, she also believes in doling out constructive criticism. “You have to be able to communicate to your team what you want, what you’re looking for, and what you don’t want,” she explained. “You need to have the confidence to tell people when something needs to be changed and why instead of just saying, ‘That looks bad.’ Nobody learns or gets better by doing that.”

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4. Stop comparing yourself

“Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing,” said Lottie. “It’s something I had to learn the hard way.” In the age of social media where status updates and humblebrags continually flood your feed it’s no easy task but one that is absolutely essential to master. “You’re in a bubble in New York City as a makeup artist and it’s a really small island. There are hundreds if not thousands of people doing the same thing that you do and you’re all competing to get the same jobs and reach the same goals,” explained the pro. “It’s near impossible not to become obsessive about everything, especially if you’re passionate about what you do. I always knew who was doing what and who was working for which magazines. I literally knew every single model, photographer, hairstylist, and makeup artist that was on every shoot in every magazine. It starts to mess with you and you start to question yourself: How come I'm not doing that? Am I not good enough? Am I not talking to the right people? Am I not doing the right shoots? Is my book too long? It's not healthy and it’s pointless because you're never going to know the answers.”

It took a cross-country move from New York City to L.A. to for Lottie to realize that “everyone’s struggle and path is different.” While she admitted that making her mark in Manhattan served its purpose, walking away was a necessary step in moving forward and finally focusing her attention on what really mattered: herself.


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