Inside View - An Interview with Joanna Strange

Next up for my series of interrogations of people in the local photography circuit is one of the busiest freelance makeup artists I know, Joanna Strange. I doubt there are many of you who haven't come across Joanna's work at some point, her style is one of the most recognisable around, although I know from talking to her she is frustrated from being pigeonholed as she also does many different types of makeup including beauty, prom and weddings. So I thought I'd find out how it all started and what her hopes are for the future.


How long have you been doing makeup for?

I have done 3 years of training and alongside that roughly 2 years of freelancing work. I've covered everything from beauty treatments, bridal and camouflage makeup, to prosthetics, wig making and body art! The freelancing has really helped to build on what I have learnt at both college and university. I actually first started doing makeup looks on myself in 2010 before I even started college!

How did you first get into make up?

I dropped out of sixth form due to illness, had a year out and in that year decided that makeup and hair was what I wanted to do. It was a dream that I just had to pursue. From there I applied for college on a whim and never looked back!

Can we see an image from your first shoot?

Of course, my first photoshoot was with a photographer that I actually went to school with! Lydia Victoria photography and the model was a friend of mine Mir Shin.

What do you enjoy most about being a makeup artist?

I enjoy being able to be artistic, meeting so many amazing people and producing images or videos etc that I can look back on and be proud of. 

and the worst thing?

The worst thing is most probably the amount of negativity some individuals have within the industry. Or working 7 days a week and feeling like a walking zombie haha! 

What has been your favourite shoot so far and why?

Oh god, that's such a tough question!!! I don't have just one! I would say the Disney Villain group shoot I participated in earlier this year was definitely a good one. (Matt - these are in the process of being published so cannot be released but I have seen them and they are incredible!) But there's been other really great ones that have been so funny I've cried! Those often include my boyfriend (Elysium photography) Gingerface model, Twisted pix, Shawn Bishop or 13th life photography! I did get to do a shoot last year with Paige Defiled and Ben Tassi photography in an abandoned shopping mall in Reading that is used by the Z event zombie team, it was so scary but so f*ing cool! 

What has been your highest profile job so far? How did it go?

Probably the big group shoots I've done at Murder mile studio with famous alt models, or working on the models for the runway at the great british tattoo show. Also again, the Disney Villain shoot was high profile and oh so epic! Dark Beauty magazine also shared something I worked on very recently, does that count haha?! 

Any bad experiences?

There's always going to be some bad days amongst all the good. The worst things that do happen are late cancellations, public transport delays and/or people just generally not being very nice but hey, it's going to happen no matter what job you have really! 

What are your favourite three images to date and why?

Oh my god again, SO SO HARD HAHA! There are so many more but these are the first ones that sprung to mind. The first is my queen of hearts makeup and hair look on Laura Flora taken by Elysium photography.

laura flora and elysium photography.jpg

Second is the abstract makeup I did on Charlottte taken by SIS photography.

charlottte and sis photography.jpg

Third one is the skull look I created on Salleh Sparrow taken by Twisted Pix.

Where would you like it to take you in the long run?

Once I've finished up my degree in makeup I would like to carry on freelancing when I can, but long term I would like to be employed by a film, theatre or tv company doing sfx, prosthetics and general makeup, that or a go-to fashion makeup artist getting to travel to all the fashion weeks around the world! I would also like to work part time at Illamasqua or MAC for a time whilst freelancing at the same time but that's more of a short term thing that I've been thinking of doing whilst still at uni.

What would your dream shoot be (anything is possible)? 

Creating creepy mermaid creatures and having them shot in the same tank used for filming of the underwater scenes in the Goblet of Fire at Pinewood studios. Or working on something that gets on the front cover of Vogue. Or creating my own set of horror characters for a high budget shoot in an abandoned asylum!! I have a lot of ideas you see, hard for me to pin just 1 down! 

Any tips for people starting out?

Be patient, work does not come to you. Practise practise practise. And try not to get disheartened when things don't quite work out the way you had in your head <3 

Any MUAs that inspire you?

Oh wow, hundreds! My favourites would probably be Ve Neill, Neill Gorton, Alex Box, Val Garland, Dick Smith, the Wolfe brothers, Karla Powell, soooo many of the contestants from Face Off, Michael Deak and so many more. I follow some amazing makeup artists on instagram, it's a great place for makeup stuff! Also of course the makeup artists I've had the pleasure to work alongside including Little Orange Loves, James Minahan, Rottenzombie fairy and more :)

Quick fire favourites:

Website - Urmmmm, youtube?! 

Drink - Diet coke 

Food - Noodles

Music act - Marilyn manson

TV Show - Dexter 

Movie - The rocky horror picture show 

Joke - What's green and smells funny? Kermit's bum....   I know, that is bad!

Day off - Catching up on tv series, doing makeup looks on myself or going to the cinema! 

Quote - 'Normal is just an illusion, what is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly' - Morticia Addams 

Thank you Joanna for taking the time to speak to me and I look forward to working with you again very soon! :-)

Here are a selection of my personal favourite images of Joannas work.