Passion, Career, and Balance | Sephora Lead Artist Julie Taing

To thrive is our passion.

Julie Taing, Sephora Lead Artist

I’ve been teasing this, and now it’s my honor to share this interview with Sephora PRO Julie Taing. Sephora PROs are elite makeup artists—only 15 in the world, selected every two years through a grueling competition—and Julie has reigned for six years as a PRO.

Update 1.28.15: Since this interview, Julie has achieved the title of Lead Artist at Sephora (there are only 2 in the U.S.)! Congrats Julie!

What I admire most about Julie, as my first interviewee and shared friend Alli once said, is that she never stops driving after her dreams. Competition? No big deal. Lacking in skill? Mastered it on her own time. Whether you’re an aspiring makeup artist yourself or simply believe passion is the fuel behind good work, Julie’s words on positivity, determination, and balance are a breath of fresh air for the modern professional.

Cata7yst: First, tell me your name, age, and what you thought you’d be doing at this age, 20 years prior.
Julie Taing: Julie Taing, 28, when I was in my early teens I thought I’d be married with 2 kids.

C7: Tell me about your career—a brief description of what you do and how you got here.
JT: I am a Sephora PRO artist and I freelance as well. I have been with Sephora for 10 years in October and 6 years with PRO. My job is pretty interesting, I do makeup … but I also do media, training, education, product development to name a few. We are basically the face of Sephora in artistry and education. When I am not working for Sephora I am also a freelance artist. Working with agencies in New York and Los Angeles, I do editorial shoots, weddings, video shoots, and assisting industry pros to name a few.

Julie Leslie Pinkerton

Image courtesy of Julie Taing

How I got here, I was working at Rubios as a shift leader in high school and getting ready to graduate. My sister gave me an application and told me Sephora was hiring for holiday. I applied as seasonal, got hired on as permanent after and that’s how my journey began in 2004 … just working to get me through college getting my Business Marketing degree. During my career with Sephora, I learned during my early years that if I wanted to be the best at what I was doing, I needed to learn more about the industry and to gain more knowledge. That’s when I started to freelance as well.

C7: What are the most rewarding aspects of what you do? The most challenging?
JT: Most rewarding aspect of my career is working with incredible individuals who inspire me. I have made some amazing friends on this path and that’s something special. Ever since I decided to be a makeup artist, there is a “check-list” of things I want to do. I have been to New York Fashion Week, traveling internationally to Asia, seeing your work published and working with industry pros that I feel are some of the most rewarding things because I can see my dreams coming true.

Julie Carle Model

Image courtesy of Julie Taing

 The most challenging part of my job is to find balance. I travel so much that finding ways to juggle my work, family, friends and health has always been a struggle in the beginning. When I finally started to see my personal life and work life as one versus separate, it helped me to gain that balance … it just took a while to understand.

Also, one thing I had to learn quickly is picking up new skills outside of makeup artistry and learning fast. People expect you to know how to do everything and one of my challenges was learning hair in order to get booked for certain gigs. Luckily, I had a lot of amazing stylists who have taught me throughout, but definitely find that continuing to make time to learn other skills is always a work in progress.

C7: You’ve had the pleasure of working with some notable celebrities and figures in your industry. What are some of your favorite stories you can share with us? 
JT: To me, meeting industry pros are incredible because I can learn from them. I recently had the opportunity to work with Frankie the lead artist for the H&M, I ❤ Music campaign in which I got to do some of the talent. To see my work at H&M stores was an incredible and rewarding feeling.
In terms of celebrities, I worked with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez during Toronto Film Festival and just being able to talk about LA traffic and everyday nuances made me appreciate them. I always love a down to earth celebrity.

Julie Chela

Image courtesy of Julie Taing

C7: Tell me about some of your influences in, and outside of, the workplace.
JT: Dance is a huge influence in my life. I love music and the people that I have met and continue to meet in the community. It’s what keeps me sane and balanced. My family and friends of course are huge for me. I see the way they sacrifice and make things work to have a better living … I admire their hard work. They encourage me and give me reasons to keep moving forward.

C7: What drives you daily? What motivates you to live your most complete, fulfilled life? 
JT: Every day, I am actively pursuing positivity. I am constantly self-evaluating myself and trying to learn from every circumstance, especially the not so good ones. One thing I am trying to do is correct my speech. Instead of saying “I can’t” or “I don’t like that” … I’m focusing on what I can do and what I do like. Having individuals around me be successful in their own respect inspires me to continue moving upward. I am blessed to have so many different communities of outlet.

C7: Something we have been conditioned to believe is that failure is a bad thing. I happen to agree with the greats, like Michael Jordan (whom I believe you’ve had the pleasure of working with as a Pro before), who says failure means we’ve taken a risk. Describe to me some risks or sacrifices you had to take/make to get here, and how that helped push you in your career and as a person.
JT: Every day we are given and making choices. I have made decisions to miss out on a lot of social events to pursue what I am doing which can be looked at as a challenge. I don’t really see this as negative; you’re just getting things done. My job is currently going from not permanent to permanent and it was an every 2 year audition, this is a risk in itself … to not know what your future holds and to have it on hold because of a competition. I learned to not think about how challenging something is and to just focus on completing and doing it well. We can’t control circumstances that we’re given. We just can control how we handle it.

Julie Ginny Ford

Image courtesy of Julie Taing

C7: You’re standing in front of a crowd of aspiring makeup artists. What would you say?
JT: Don’t give up. As long as you have the right intentions, it will always work out in the end. The biggest thing to understand is that sometimes what we want may not happen when we want it, but it’s the universe saying we’re not ready yet … but it doesn’t mean we won’t ever be ready.

C7: What makes a truly great makeup artist?
JT: In my opinion, to be a truly great makeup artist is to be talented and humble. I think in this industry you get one or the other, but the ones I look up to have them both. Talent to me is having a great eye for makeup, being consistent, and to continue inspiring those around you. It’s your personality and artistic ability mixed that makes a great artist to me.

Julie Model Ashley

Image courtesy of Julie Taing

C7: Finally, what bit of advice would you have for anyone struggling between following their dreams and choosing the safe route?
JT: At the end of the day, what drives us to be better … to thrive is our passion. If you can find something you love directly or indirectly about your job then you’re on a good path. Some are just fortunate to have both. I know within my career, I am faced to do things that I may not enjoy but I find a way to make it work and to learn from it. It’s all about your attitude and how you perceive things.

Julie Smashbox Studio Challenge

Image of Julie Taing, courtesy of Julie Taing!

Thank you Julie for sharing your positivity, wisdom, and advice. Can’t wait to see what your Lead Artist journey has in store for you!


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