Wednesday, April 21

Vendor Spotlight: Makeup Artist D'Shannon Llewellyn

When I first contacted D’Shannon Llewellyn regarding her makeup services for my wedding day, I was feeling pretty discouraged. I’d already emailed numerous other makeup artists that either demanded monstrous fees to do my makeup on-location or else wouldn’t even bother following up to my questions and requests.  So it truly was a breath of fresh air when I got a response from D’Shannon just as I was thinking I’d never find a personal makeup professional for my wedding photos. Would I end up having to do my own makeup, thereby looking like a clown on the most important day of my life?

“We can work something out! Don’t worry!” D’Shannon told me in our first e-mail conversation. I was impressed by her prompt reply to my inquiry and felt reassurance from her positive attitude. I wasted no time in calling her the very next day to find out whether we’d make a compatible team. My first impression when speaking to D’Shannon was how genuine and understanding she was. I also took note of her amazing confidence and professionalism as I asked questions like, “What’s your experience and background with makeup artistry?” and “What kind of makeup do you recommend for the setting of my wedding?” I found myself relating to D’Shannon as if she were an old friend and felt comfortable enough to ask her every question that no other makeup artist would answer for me. I was so glad I’d found her website by researching wedding vendors on the internet and I knew after speaking with her that she was the only makeup artist that I could trust with my wedding day.

During my wedding planning week in St. Louis I had the opportunity to meet with D’Shannon personally for a trial session. She arrived promptly on time and ready to perform magic on my bare and blemished face. She brought with her an enormous case of makeup goodies and you would almost think she’d raided a Sephora store with all the eye shadows and lipsticks and foundation shades in her makeup bag. D’Shannon went to work on her blank canvas and I was relieved to find how gently and carefully she applied the product to my face. As she worked she was very upbeat and enthusiastic which really made the experience that much more enjoyable and relaxed. D’Shannon was careful to make sure she applied the makeup in a way that still made me look like myself, just a better version. “How do you normally wear your eyeliner?” she asked. “What color lipstick do you typically feel comfortable wearing?” The result of her talent was a flawless appearance that looked glamorous and romantic, yet she still managed to make sure I looked like “myself”. I was so excited when I saw my reflection in the mirror and knew that I could expect to look my very best on the biggest day of my life!

D’Shannon is in high demand in the St. Louis area for weddings but she also services numerous other projects such as fitness shows, runway, print, and television. She works with men and women of all ages, ethnicities, and professions, and additionally will mentor aspiring makeup artists or people who just want to learn proper makeup application. Recently she was a guest artist on TLC’s What Not to Wear and was the Creative Director for St. Louis Fashion Week.  She’s also being featured as Premier Artist for the Midwest in The Knot’s national magazine. To learn more about D’Shannon’s makeup artistry, visit her website at

D’Shannon kindly agreed to answer some questions I had regarding her professional experience and wedding day makeup in general. I really think her words of advice would benefit any bride who wants to look gorgeous and fresh faced on her wedding day! Read on for some invaluable tips…

What inspired you to become a makeup artist?
I was very dissatisfied in my career. I was successful at almost anything I attempted, but not happy. I had always wanted to be self-employed since graduating but didn’t know quite what I could do every day that I would continue to find fun and motivating. I decided with my sister’s encouragement to go out and try anything literally. I had an open heart and mind, and the very next day I was offered an opportunity to do makeup. The rest is history.

How long have you been doing makeup professionally?
Professionally I have been in business for about six years. I like to think though that many blemishes in my teen years gave me a ton of practice. I am a concealing queen!

What list of clients do you serve?
On this subject we could talk all day literally.  How about a laundry list in no particular order… Brides, Women Body Builders, Teens/Tweens, Corporate Professionals, Hair Stylists, Salons, Spas, Beauty Students, Pageants, Models, Designers, Magazines, TV Shows, Actors, Production Companies, Photographers, Wedding and Event Planners, or just regular people who want to learn how to do their own makeup. I help women in every stage of life, in every walk of life, and from every age, ethnicity, and profession. I also help men, though that’s not something they usually want to reveal. This year I have branched out to mentor several aspiring makeup artists. It has been a real pleasure to see other young ladies begin their careers in beauty, and play a part in their initial success. I have also developed a system for teaching ladies how to become masters of their own beauty by teaching application techniques for every woman, every age, from the most simple to the most glamorous.

What is your biggest challenge as a makeup artist?
My biggest challenge is overcoming my own fears and insecurities.  I think we can all relate on that. There is a lot of pressure in the industry, but overall it’s great motivation to always keep learning, stay humble, and hone your craft.

What is the best aspect of your job?
The very best and most touching thing is when someone looks in the mirror with complete amazement and appreciates every moment you spent with her that day.  There is really nothing better.  A new friend, a sincere hug, a touching thank you note in the mail… those all make my day extra special.  I know those people will be the ones I see again and again, and those long term relationships are really what make work a pleasure.

Do you have a favorite type of event or client to work for?
Well, ok, I love weddings.  It just suits me well.  I love to provide families and friends with a service that makes their day extra special.  I know most makeup artists dread the wedding scene, but for me, it is kind of my zone.  However, I cannot say that there is any part of my career that I don’t enjoy.  That one is just special because of what it’s all about.  Two people committing to a lifetime of love.  A lot of the beauty industry is based on much less valuable ideals. Other than weddings, working on “What Not To Wear” was my ultimate favorite project of 2009. I can’t say enough about how much fun it was to work with their crew and I would definitely do it again a hundred times over.  I am absolutely dying to get back on set.

What are your short- and long-term goals for your future and your career?

Short-term I am booked for upcoming music videos and other hot productions that I cannot yet discuss (wink, wink).  This year I’m also upgrading my website which you will see rolling out within the next few weeks.  Additionally, I am working on tons of new images for the gallery and portfolio, growing my destination wedding business, and enjoying mentoring several young ladies as artists in training.  I am being featured in The Knot national magazine as the Premier Artist for the Midwest region this year, and hope to gain a lot more exposure so I can continue to do what I love.

Long term, I hope to become synonymous with great makeup here in the Midwest. I would love to grow to the point that people automatically think of me when they think of great makeup. I have never sought after fame or fortune, and I am proudly a Midwest girl. It has never appealed to me to leave for LA or NY. I just want to be the best I can be right here in my own backyard and from time to time get out there and show ‘em what a Midwest girl can do.  I love to travel and work in other cities and countries occasionally and hope to find several more opportunities to do so. But I can’t really ask for much more than doing what I love, in my own hometown, and making a living at it. Every day is a blessing.

What makeup advice can you offer to brides regarding their wedding day?
My best advice is… Hire the best photographer you can afford, and with the help of qualified PROFESSIONALS, look the best you have ever looked. Your pictures will be the only thing left. The cake will be eaten and the music, food, flowers, and so many other minor details will be forgotten, but your pictures will be memories for generations to come. A top notch photographer and qualified beauty team is essential. Trust me, you won’t regret it if you take this advice.

Do you think it’s important for a bride to hire a makeup artist for their wedding day?
YES! And not just any makeup artist, but a professional, full-time artist who knows what works best for film and photography is what you need. We have inside information and experience on what lasts in all weather conditions. We know what works with snapshots versus pro photos. We have access to products, tools, and training that the average person or novice artist does not. We will be ready to handle any situation that arises on the wedding day… bruises, scars, tattoos, acne, hot flashes, mature skin, and every sort of detail you can imagine. Our kit will be ready with something for every thinkable challenge. We are able to effectively work within your timeframe and give a high level of care and attention to everyone in your group. Why is it important to consider a full-time artist? We are constantly honing our craft. If there is a challenge, it’s likely we’ve dealt with it numerous times and can handle it without a hitch.  A professional is much more than someone who can put on makeup.  We are well rehearsed, well prepared, and ready for anything. We will be there on time, and you will be ready on time, come heck or high water!

Can you offer any tips for brides who want to do their own makeup for their wedding?
First, do not go for a trend. Be the everyday you, but really perfect the look. Second, make sure you are wearing products designed for photography. Mineral makeup is not really designed for photography and you should only use it to accent. Third, ultimate health results in beautiful skin. Exercise, eat fruits and veggies, take an omega oil supplement, avoid stress, get sleep, avoid alcohol and caffeine, drink loads of water, and be happy. These factors all contribute to a radiant glow not easily duplicated by makeup.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! And great interview with D'Shannon! ~Katie@simplyandforever