Mumbai-based celebrity make-up artist, Swarnalekha Gupta is a strong willed individual who quit her corporate job to pursue her passion. With an incredible journey of seven years, Gupta specialises in diverse platforms of make-up and has an enviable clientele including, Karisma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, to name a few
I am a finance post graduate and used to work with a leading financial house. I liked make-up and in the initial years did a course with Cory Wallia, the make-up maestro, but did not have the courage to quit my job. However, in 2011, I finally decided to pursue a full-time career in make-up and gave up my job. I went to then study make-up at the Makeup For Ever Academy in Singapore, and have not looked back ever since.
First big break
It was the India Resorts Fashion Week 2011, followed by the Kingfisher Calender Girl Hunt within a few months. The same year, I worked for Ponds Femina Miss India, too. These pageants allowed me to showcasemy work to the world.
I am inspired by Pat McGrath and Bobbi Brown. I look up to Alex Box for her experimental and largely quirky editorial work.
Initially, people were unwilling to give me work as I did not come with a name or a strong recommendation. However, I did not give up and kept doing bridals. There were other technical challenges including empanelment with the respective union federation which I was unaware of. Further, I faced pricing issues and comparisons, but I was prepared to face any challenge.
I have worked with Bollywood A-listers and brands like Karisma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Huma Qureshi, Sunny Leone, brands like Ponds, Fem, Santoor, Fiama Di Wills, Patanjali, to name a few, and events, pageants and reality shows like the Kingfisher Calendar, Ponds Femina Miss India, Lakmé Fashion Week, and more. I have had the opportunity to work for films like Nayantara’s Necklace, Bharat Ane Nenu (Telugu), Bucket List (Marathi), Lust Stories, to name a few. Presently, I am working on two great Bollywood projects that will be released by the end of this year.
Make-up for different platforms
For an in-door occasion like a bridal or an interview, the base and make-up needs to be low key. Avoid doing harsh contours and made up eyes. Fresh and minimalistic base with blush, mascara and gloss is my go-to look. In print or television, we can go a little heavy with the coverage, as the camera demands basic make-up to highlight facial features. As the lighting is conducive, quirky looks and heavy eyes, pop lips, contour andhighlights are great. On the ramp or stage shows, one can experiment as the subject is seen from a distance. Louder the make-up,more visible is the look.
Favourite brands and products
My favourites are mascara, eyebrow pencil, kajal and gloss. I love Bobbi Brown, Armani, Tom Ford, MAC, Lancôme, Anastasia Beverly Hills, to name a few. My make-up kit is a mixed bag of all kind of products, someeven from the drugstore!
Evolution as an artist
Every day is new day for me, and every new work is a step up the learning curve. It is an ever changing industry as trends keep changing. It is vital to live up to that change. I definitely have grown a lot from the time I started. I have learnt from all my seniors and my peers. I watch their work intently, not to emulate them but to be inspired by their best practices and mould it as per my style.
Advice to newcomers
My only advice is to be passionate about what you do and practise a lot. Remember each face is different and every face will give you a chance to learn something new. Be open to learning and grab whatever you get to learn from veterans in the industry.
Views on Indian make-up industry
It is growing in terms of trends, brands and awareness. While the demand of diverse make-up products is growing, a large number of local and international manufacturers are actually extending their ranges and products in the country.
I would love to eventually have my own makeup academy, along with my own range of cruelty-free make-up brushes and products.