Since graduating from the Makeup Artistry Program in 2006 & the Hair Art Design Program in 2010, Katie Sullivan has been an instructor for the school, has worked with over 50 stylists and has done various local, national and international collaborations throughout the years. Katie is an incredibly accomplished makeup artist and we are so proud of how far she has come. Today we have had the pleasure to interview her and ask about her experience in the industry, as well as her most recent success of being a Finalist for the Makeup category for Contessa 2020.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland and I’ve loved art and fashion for as long as I can remember. It was that passion that drew me to Vancouver to pursue a career in Cosmetology in 2005. I had spent the summer prior to moving to Vancouver in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on a 12-week summer camp job teaching kids ages 6-16 basic art (and crafts). Prior to leaving Newfoundland I had started the process of looking into reputable Makeup/ Hair/ Fashion schools out west and decided one evening while perched up in a tiny cabin in the woods that I would apply to JCI. I packed up my things at the end of the 12 weeks and left-right from Massachusetts to fly to BC with nothing more than 2 pieces of hot pink luggage and a very ambitious dream. I think it’s important to note that this wasn’t the very best idea in hindsight… I didn’t even have an apartment and stayed at a hostel across from the school for a week. NOT fabulous but definitely a hilarious memory.
What inspired you to pursue a career in Makeup? Was it something you always wanted to do?
If you were to ask my friends in elementary school and Junior high (I won’t say how long ago) they would confirm that makeup has always been a passion of mine as they often lent their faces to many “creative” looks. I would say I was WAY ahead of my time! In general, art has always been my passion. All forms of art, not necessarily just makeup. I took advanced placement art courses in high school and they built a really strong foundation for understanding the fundamentals of creating great artwork. However, I wouldn’t say I was passionate about paint and paper. I knew I wanted to enter into a career that allowed me to be true to my creative self and naturally, makeup allowed me to be a little more expressive and working with people vs canvas was a much enticing notion.
What was your experience with JCI Institute?
JCI is a family. The mentoring, training and every experience shaped who I am as an artist today. JCI is so much more than a school. Every single person is truly invested in your success and development and every teacher is a master in their field, actively working in the industry. When I was first starting out I remember looking at some of my instructors and thinking “I’m never going to get to this place or get these opportunities” but with their support and reach it wasn’t long before I was taking jobs on myself and even being offered work through the school and ensured I was set up for success every step of the way.
Upon graduating from the Makeup artistry program at John Casablancas Institute in 2006, four years down the road I decided it was time to explore other ventures and add to my skill set. I decided to go back to JCI and study Hair Art Design at JCI Axis Salon, graduating in 2010 and shortly after I was offered a makeup teaching position at JCI. I Instructed students on everything from career development and beauty basics to airbrush techniques and special effects for film and TV up until my relocation back east in 2015.
What is one of your biggest prized moments throughout your career?
It’s pretty hard to pinpoint a specific achievement that I’m most proud of. I’ve worked alongside and met some pretty amazing people in my career and have done a plethora of weird and exciting things. Competitions have always been very thrilling for me. I’ve worked with probably 50 stylists in the last 10 years, who were all pros in their fields and in those years. I have collaborated on many collections locally, nationally and Internationally taking me all over from North America to Europe. Philip Ferreira and I partnered up in 2012 and won the International Trend Vision Awards in Madrid beating out 49 other countries to take the gold medal. That was an epic experience. This will probably sound strange but this is the first year I’ve entered Contessa solely under the Makeup category which is slightly embarrassing to say, as the teams I’ve collaborated with over the years have won upwards of 15-20 awards. It’s not for lack of feeling confident in MY work but I guess I’ve always thrived in a team and just feeding off that creative energy.
When I truthfully look back at my career, my most prized and meaningful moments were spent teaching. I loved every second of my time at JCI and being able to teach, inspire and steer young artists towards their dreams was pretty impactful in shaping who I am.
I’m currently very fortunate to have a fantastic job with Sephora since 2015 as the Stage experience and Services Manager. Newfoundland is light years behind in makeup culture comparatively to Vancouver, and Sephora was the first store (outside of Shoppers) to come here. I’m excited to be at the foreground of what’s to come for our little province in regards to the beauty