PABLO RODRIGUEZ & FRANKIE MCKERNON
Solent University was honoured with guests from “Illamasqua”: Pablo Rodriguez,
Director of Artisty, and Frankie Mckernon, Head of Professional Development and
Educational Sales, who is also a Solent graduate from BA (Hons) Make-Up and
This year the duo was leading London Fashion Week, where Pablo designed
make-up looks for the world’s most famous fashion designers, not to mention
that his work is also highlighted in British Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Love Magazine
and Vanity Fair.
Solent University Make-Up & Hair design students had an exclusive opportunity to
learn from artists during the workshop, where Pablo went through the looks he
completed in LFW. He recreated the look of Mark Fast’s runaway inspired by 50’s
fashion, after which Make-Up & Hair Design students had a mock backstage session
lead by Pablo and supervised by Frankie.
Frankie, we are so happy seeing you coming back to Solent University even after 5 years since your graduation! How would you describe your experience here?
It was really positive! I was back at least 10 times by now. I think the course was really good and I’m happy to see that most of the tutors and lecturers are still here. Obviously, Sharon Lloyd is amazing. She taught me whole way through, and we were close. I have loads of happy memories, university was
always a lot of fun. I think my favourite experience was working on my Final Major Project (FMP).
What did you do for your FMP?
I made a coffee table book. I think the main purpose creating that, as well as the whole experience
in the university, was to define my individual style. I really wanted to move to London so I worked a lot to be
able to walk away with the portfolio that would showcase my best work, and I found that FMP was really
helpful with that.
How did you get into “Illamasqua”?
My career at “Illamasqua” started when I was still at university. “Illamasqua” used to run a competition
and in my final year Sharon made me enter. I made it to the finals of the competition, so I went to London.
The team has briefed me on what they wanted and there was a live performance.
I was terrified! (laughs) Nonetheless it was a really exciting, but challenging day. I didn’t win, but it’s fine, because
in the event as such you meet a lot of people. I like to ask a lot of questions and talk, so I was speaking to the
lady that used to run the department I am in right now, so I got back to her after my
graduation and I got the job!
What do you like the most about your position at “Illamasqua” and what did you find the most challenging?
The most exciting, as well as the most challenging thing working at “Illamasqua” is meeting different people all
the time. There is no day that will be the same. I am a positive and happy person most of the time, but
working for the brand you not only represent yourself, but also the brand. So I have to stay upbeat and
energetic all the time, that’s why I think it is crucial to be passionate about the brand.
What advice would you give to graduating students?
When I was graduating, someone, I am pretty sure it was Sharon, said that it takes 5 years to build your career, it does not happen overnight. I’m just past my 5th year, living and working in London, and it’s probably the first time when I’m feeling comfortable in my career, because I am confident in what I’m doing and where I’m going. So I’d say just keep going. Push the boundaries.
Pablo, thank you so much for being at Solent today! We are curious to know: what is fashion for you?
Work (laughs). I used to do special effects makeup before, and as a make-up artist you have to make the outcome look credible, because if you over-do the look, it can appear to look wrong or not credible. But I think in fashion you can be more creative, it is almost like there is no rules in fashion. I find it very inspiring.
I’ve been with “Illamasqua” for 6 months, and I’ve been doing make-up for almost 20 years. I think “Illamasqua” is a very good brand for being more creative. Some other brands image is a lot more natural, which is fine, because that look can be achieved with “Illamasqua”, too. But if you want to take it to another extreme, you do have the products from this brand. I think the freedom to be creative is why I chose this brand.
Do you worry about trends when you do make-up?
No, it’s not my thing. Although saying that, sometimes you’re actually doing a trend, without even realising it.
For example, recently I have created 6 different looks in London Fashion Week, and I could see similarities
between them: black eyeliner done in unusual ways, half of the shows had red lips looks. So, I think there always
is something, for example previous trends, that trigger different stylist to go for similar details in looks and it just
becomes the trend. To me, trends work by boredom: you move onto a next thing once you’re sick of something.
How do you reach the final decision of the look for the show?
It’s a team work. Normally, stylists and designers are going to brief you, but you also have to communicate with
hair and nail artists. For example, you want neon lip and you see that models have neon nails, and stylists can want
it to match, or make other different decisions because of that. Sometimes you have more time to think, plan and
prepare for the show, like 2-3 days, sometimes everything has to be organised literally the night before the show.
What major challenges have you faced and how do you overcome them?
Oh, loads. Every single show has so many challenges. You don’t have a lot of time to do a lot of work, so the team
work has to be very consistent. Everyone’s way of doing make-up is slightly different so I always have to make sure
all final outcomes look the same. Sometimes on the line-up you notice a tattoo, or a bruise, which quickly has to be
covered with well matching colour. You need to keep an eye on everything, because there is not a lot of time for
touching up. Regardless the light, the best you can do is to make sure the colour match is perfect and that
all of the shapes are right.
What advice would you give to graduating make-up students, or aspiring to be make-up artists?
I think it is really important why you want to do it, because that is what will tell how you will do it. You can want to
be a make-up artist because you like the craft, mixing, applying, touching people faces. Or you can want to be a
make-up artist because you want to do celebrity make-up. It’s a completely different approach, but it is fine, too.
Any of the reasons are valid, you just have to be honest with yourself.
Make-up by Pablo Rodriguez created for
Mark Fast's runaway show in LFW 2019