Makeup Artist John Stapleton: A tFS Exclusive Interview

When it comes to makeup artists, John Stapleton is a true triple threat. He works with celebrities, does editorial and runway work, and all with aplomb. His work has appeared on the faces of Sienna Miller (a personal favorite), Jamie Lee Curtis, Kim Cattrall, Mary J Blige, and a slew of others; in the pages of Details, InStyle, Interview, and New York Times Magazine, to name a few; and on the catwalks of Alexander McQueen, Blumarine, Missoni, and Ferragamo.  

Makeup artist, John Stapleton

John Stapleton is a force to be reckoned with, a man with a vision and talent, and a whole lot of makeup. We asked the MAC Senior Makeup Artist our three favorite questions (plus one.)

Makeup by John Stapleton

INDUSTRY BREAK: Having attended art schools in Manhattan, I have a background in the arts. At the end of my brief modeling career, I found myself looking for the next step. During that career I worked with so many amazing artists, including Tarina Tarantino (an LA-based jewelry designer) who worked for MAC and pursued freelance careers simultaneously. I thought, I better look into this – an opportunity to paint all day sounded amazing! I just figured doing makeup had the same principles as painting. I got the job and a crash course in makeup that proved to be invaluable.


MAC Face And Body Foundation – The most realistic, sheer, yet buildable foundation that looks gorgeous on all skin types. I have never worked with a better foundation. The shading is great because there isn't a wide range of shades and yet I've never had a problem matching anyone with this foundation. It leaves your skin looking dewy and real.

Kelly Osbourne's makeup done by John StapletonYSL Touche Eclat – One of the premiere under-eye correctors. It’s all about the peach tones.

MAC Skinsheen – It was once limited edition, but near-riot situations brought it to all MAC locations as a permanent product. A gel-mousse formula foams up and is easily spread on legs and arms to add a gorgeous tan glow to the body. This is one of my favorites to use on actress Anika Noni Rose when she's showing some leg.

Tarina Tarantino Sparklicity – Adds a glittery shine to the face and body, and it's packaged in something reminiscent of a vintage perfume bottle. Great for a night on the town.

Aveda Botanical Kinetics Skin Firming Agent – I like to mist the face with this yummy smelling tonic before applying moisturizer. Anything to scent the room and calm the savage beast.

FAVORITE LOOK YOU'VE CREATED: I really loved the look I created for the Spring 2011 collection of Talbolt Runhof in Paris. The venue was amazing, the clothes were gorgeous, and Lucille Ball was the inspiration. I live in a small historic bungalow in Hollywood and Lucille Ball's old office looks over my front yard. I felt a real connection with the designers, and finding that perfect Lucy red lip was a great challenge. It was Red Lipmix by MAC.

CELEBS YOU WORK WITH: Kelly Osbourne and I have known each other and worked together for eight years. We first met in 2003 when she was barely 17. It has been wonderful watching her become such a gorgeous and confident woman. We have a lot of laughs together. I always like classic looks on Kelly; the Material Girl campaign we shot in New York with Lola and Madonna was pretty awesome. I feel honored to be a part of these exciting times in her life. I’ve also worked with Kelly's mom and dad, Sharon and Ozzy, as well. It’s a family affair!

Anika Noni Rose is one the most gorgeous and fashion-conscious women I have worked with. We had an amazing time together promoting The Princess And The Frog in London and Ireland. We first met when she was attending awards season for Dreamgirls. I love the picture of her in the circus wagon we shot for People magazine.

Margaret Cho is as wonderful and funny as it gets! She will let you have fun with her makeup. I was lucky enough to be on The Cho Show on VH1 and work with Margaret for several of her major events. It seems the running theme with my clients is that they make me laugh. It needs to be fun or it just feels laborious.

Saffron Burrows is one of the most gorgeous women I have worked with. We spent a week working together at the Sundance Film Festival. He skin was flawless and she had such beautiful features, it took very little to make her up. She has a wonderful rich and generous spirit and I found her very special to be around. 

Illeana Douglas, Geena Davis, Pamela Anderson, and Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas were all memorable moments for me. In the makeup business, you always want to have a minimum of two experiences with a person to be able to put them on your resume. Just powdering someone doesn't really count (for me anyway).