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Born To Do This: JCI MUA Graduate Gracen Marie Smith Takes IMATS Atlanta

Maria Velasquez
Blog / Features / Makeup

Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Gracen Marie Smith knew she wanted a career in the makeup industry at the age of eleven. Inspired by John Casablancas Institute Makeup Artistry graduates Samantha Ravandahl and Leigh Dickson, Gracen wanted to perfect her makeup skills to become just as skilled of a makeup artist as these two Instagram influencers.

And so she packed her bags and moved to Vancouver in October 2017. The blooming film industry was just one of the reasons Gracen decided to move, the other reason was due to the environmental aspects. She felt more at home in Vancouver almost immediately than she did back in Texas.

“Vancouver has everything I’ve ever wanted, the four seasons, the oceans, the mountains and a beautiful city that wasn’t congested, such as my own. I couldn’t pass up such a wonderful, progressive and accepting community.” 

From practicing makeup on herself and friends from a young age, Gracen was beyond thrilled when she enrolled in the JCI Makeup Artistry Program. Learning that Samantha Ravandahl and Leigh Dickson graduated from JCI, she knew that this school would be a much better option for her than elsewhere.

“After looking further into the curriculum, my heart was set on attending JCI. No one else had such a well-rounded course or more impressive graduates, and I stand by that statement!” 

She describes her time at JCI as one she’ll never forget. From not having many friends back in Texas, Gracen was more than lucky to have classmates who became family. She thanks JCI Instructors Marie Zampini and Darci Jackson for helping build her confidence throughout the program and providing constructive criticism.

Gracen had been working at London Drugs as a Beauty Advisor while going to school. She has also been considering coming back to JCI for the Hair Art Design Program.

And just when things couldn’t get better…

Gracen has been accepted to compete in the IMATS Atlanta Battle of the Brushes competition in the Beauty/Fantasy Makeup category. She will be creating a white light forest witch character for the competition, drawing inspiration from Stevie Nicks and her 2016 trip to Salem, Massachusetts.

“Getting invited to IMATS is the most prized moment throughout my career so far, other than moving to Vancouver. I am beyond thrilled to be competing and I have JCI to thank for making this dream possible.” 

Advice from Gracen to aspiring makeup artists:

“You gotta kick all your fears in the face because everyone out here is probably just as nervous about the future as you are. My anxiety definitely gets the best of me sometimes and it’s difficult to stay motivated, but more great things have happened when I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone.”

“There’s gonna be things you don’t feel confident about at first, but you have to keep trying. This Stevie quote from a Fleetwood Mac concert I attended keeps me going when I need it: ‘Don’t give up. Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t let other people tell you who you should be and what you should do. If I had let everyone else tell me what I should be and what I should do, I would be a school teacher today and not a rock star. And not a songwriter. And not happy. Nobody else really knows what you want except you. Don’t give up the fight.’

We are so excited to see Gracen compete at the 2018 IMATS Atlanta Battle of the Brushes.

Keep up with Gracen via Instagram

JCI’s Makeup Artistry Diploma Program has gained an industry-wide reputation for excellence, giving students an exceptional network of contacts and resources when they enter the marketplace. During the 10-month full-time program, students study everything from glamor and special occasion makeup to special effects makeup and prosthetics application techniques. With classes limited to 16 students, individualized attention and encouragement foster each student’s personal and professional growth potential.

John Casablancas Institute is the pioneer of prosthetic lab techniques and face casting in Western Canada. This advanced level of training affords our graduates amazing opportunities and a significant advantage for a career in film, TV or theater.

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