Interview with Gemma Sutton

Thursday, February 4, 2016

When Hot Courses, the UK's no 1 course search, got in touch with us to interview with Gemma Sutton on how she got where she is today, she was honoured to share her background and advice with up and coming artists interested in getting into make up and particularly the bridal industry.

Here is what Gemma had to say.....

There are not many people who would want to deal with bridezillas on a day to day basis, but one lady who does just this is Gemma Sutton. The calming influence you want with you on the morning of your big day, Gemma has won countless awards for her makeup skills, including The Wedding Industry Awards Best Makeup Artist two years in a row. Down to earth, humble and honest, I was thrilled to talk all things makeup with Gemma before she went off on maternity leave. If you’ve ever considered turning your love of cosmetics into a career, this is an expert insight worth her weight in bronzer.

It must be hard looking back over your career and imagine doing anything else, but have you always been interested in the makeup industry? 

From a very young age I had a real interest. I started out in the film and TV industry where I specialised in prosthetics and special effect makeup. Over the years I worked on a number of programmes including Holby City and ITV’s The Body’s. Friends and friends of friends started asking me to do their wedding makeup and hair and I soon found myself getting hooked in the glamorous wedding industry.  After a couple of years freelancing I began to get really busy with brides and editorial makeup work. This is when I started referring my clients to close friends of mine that worked within the industry. This is what gave me the idea to set up my own ‘pro team’ – a highly team of makeup artists who go to events when I can’t make it. The team is continuing to grow today. 

I started my training at Plymouth University studying Theatrical Media Makeup and then worked in Manchester where I specialised in prosthetics and special effects. After this, I got a job with MAC cosmetics which gave me a great deal of training in using various products, as well as meeting customer’s needs and wants.
Although you obviously need to start somewhere with training and courses, I think one very important way to learn is through industry experience.  Assisting and shadowing other makeup artists is a fantastic way to learn.  The wonderful thing about makeup artistry is that it is about being creative - everyone has different techniques and ways of doing things, so the more artists you work with the more you will pick up. You never stop learning in this job!


What’s the best part of working in the wedding industry?

It is so wonderful being a part of a bride’s big day. I always feel so privileged to be spending their wedding morning with them.  Helping to make them look and feel the most beautiful version of themselves, this is what I really love.  And as long as the bride has had their trial and is completely happy with their look, then the actual wedding day is just the fun part.


How do you ensure your clients love the look you create on the day? 

I always sit with my clients and have a really good catch up about the whole look and feel of their wedding.  It is so important to really listen to what they do and don’t like, look at their general style, how they normally wear their hair and makeup on an everyday basis. We then go though different images - looking at different styles and colours taking inspiration from these. I will always stay with my bride until they are totally happy with their final look. It is so important that all my brides are 100% happy beforehand. It is such an important day - one they will always remember and look back on for years to come. 


What tricks do you use to ensure makeup translates well on camera? 

One of the best tricks I’ve found is contouring with primer –a good primer can highlight your best features, whilst de-puff any areas you’re not too keen on. I always apply a matt base primer on the t-zone to knock out unwanted shine, then focus a luminous primer on the sides of the face to slim and shape the cheek bones.


You’ve been working in the industry for a number of years now, how would you say bridal makeup has changed?

I think when I first started out makeup was very simple and natural. I have noticed in last couple of years that a lot of my brides are going for a more glamorous look – the makeup is a lot broader and stronger, more colour and lashes are added. They now want to look as if they have just stepped out of a glossy wedding magazine. 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps? 

My key piece of advice is make yourself available - do any job big or small, unpaid or paid, assisting or shadowing as many pro artists as you can.  Any experience at all is so valuable and will help grow your confidence and makeup skills.  Work hard and never think you are too qualified or experienced to do any job.  Remember to always be on time and reliable.


That’s great advice – thank you! Finally, if you were on a desert island, what makeup product would you want and why? 

If I were stranded on a desert island, I’d like to think that I could make do with what I had - the salt water as a natural surf spray, sand as an exfoliant and the sun giving me a nice natural glow. Saying that, the one thing I’d absolutely need is a Maybelline New York Great Lash Waterproof Mascara. It’s one of my favourites – it’s waterproof, long wearing and lengthens and separates your lashes. They say your eyes are the window of your soul - so I always like my eyes to really stand out.


Read more about the article and hot courses here or if you are interested in training with Gemma or joining the GS Pro Team read a little more here and email

Photography by Modern Vintage Weddings
Fran Walters


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