If you know Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell and Serena Williams, then you know Sir John – well, at least his work. In 20 years, the now highly sought-after makeup artist has worked his way to the top of an industry where success depends on building relationships. Sir John began his career working at MAC Cosmetics (where he was fired for being late) before going on to help top makeup artists like Charlotte Tilbury and Pat McGrath. Now he maintains a star-studded client list and was recently a judge on OnlyFans’ Creative Fund: Fashion Edition alongside celebrity stylists Maeve Reilly and Law Roach (who dresses Zendaya).
Before taking his “big break”, Sir John was designing window displays in major New York stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Barney’s – and, on the side, doing makeup at a strip club in Queens, New York. The dancers pulled out a tip jar and collected cash donations so Sir John could travel to Milan to help Pat McGrath during Fashion Week. It was also during this trip that Sir John had his very first client – Naomi Campbell. From there he helped Charlotte Tilbury, who continues to be a mentor in his life.
It was also Tilbury who introduced her to Beyoncé at Tom Ford’s New York Fashion Week show in 2010. “She’s normal as hell,” he says of his first impression of the singer. “The first question I asked him was, and I know this sounds terrible, but I knew we were the same age, I asked him ‘Are you such an age?’ and she started laughing…it made me think, ‘Oh, snap, I can emotionally put my purse down and go to work and feel comfortable and free.’ »
Seeing the benefits of mentorship in his own life, Sir John made it his mission to pass it on to young creatives emerging in the industry, which drew him to OnlyFans’ competition series. “It’s great to be someone who loves what you do, but if there’s no teachable moment, what’s the point?” he says. “A lot of things we go through aren’t for us, it’s for someone else. So someone else can have a shortcut. For someone else to discover or discover themselves Actually.
With two decades in the beauty industry under his belt, Sir John has seen many eras go by, which perhaps explains why he is, as he describes himself, very anti-trend. “If something makes you feel whole or connected to yourself or sexy, or if it makes you want to shake what your momma gave you…roll with it, rock with it, do it,” he said. told TZR. “When you take away the tendencies, which are guidelines or training wheels, I think you’ll be freer, and you’ll have more access to happiness when it comes to the choices you make when it comes to beauty.”
This approach led Sir John to coin the term “dopamine glam” – an aesthetic that inspires his work throughout the new Renaissance time. “The choices we make are all to make us feel something, to feel connected to ourselves, to feel whole, to have fun,” he explains. “And we don’t dress for other people, we do it to move the needle within, we do it to raise our own vibration.”
As for Beyoncé’s instantly icon British vogue cover, Sir John saw an opportunity to bring this philosophy to life. “I remember the makeup chart was like ‘moisturizer, lipstick, clean lashes,'” he recalled working on the photo shoot. “So I was like, let me establish what I do best, which is make somebody look fresh,” he told TZR. “And so once I’ve done that, I’m going to keep pushing. I’m like a bad boy. I will keep pushing, and I will keep pushing. And me [ended up with] cognac, rouge, vinyl lips.
Seeing Sir John’s work begs the question, “how?” – his clients are obviously gorgeous, but the artist has a distinct way of enhancing their beauty in a way unlike any other makeup artist’s touch, and it all comes down to a natural-looking foundation primer. “My thing is, after your moisturizer, when your skin is slightly damp, that’s the best time to apply your foundation,” he says. “I always use a sponge, I love egg sponges. A wet beauty blender won’t absorb all of your foundation. So I use a wet beauty blender, put some foundation on the back of my hand and starts dotting it on my face and starts increasing coverage where I need it and decreasing coverage where I don’t And when your moisturizer dries your foundation sticks so organically you can’t see where it starts and stops.
This kind of flawless, glowing makeup technique is at the heart of Sir John’s work, but what ultimately drives his philosophy of beauty is makeup’s ability to make people feel their best. “I want people to feel,” he muses. “Beauty is a feeling. It can’t just be seen, but also felt. What is beautiful is the impression or feeling you leave on people. And I think that’s the most modern take or modern movement that we want to see. I grew up in a time when beauty was not inclusive. But now, beauty is something we can all consume, and we all have it, and what’s beautiful is how we all interpret what it means to us.