The Make-up Behind HBO’s Excessive Upkeep

high maintenance

Maybe you do a lot of television these days – so do we. One show that Team ITG can't get enough of right now is high maintenance. It is a true NYC extravaganza that shows how wonderful, strange and downright entertaining it is to be able to call this city our home. And the show really understands how to make New Yorkers look like New Yorkers. It's all in the makeup. We caught up with the wonder woman behind all the looks, makeup artist Sarah Graalman. We'll let Sarah take it from here.

"If a character comes out of a shower on TV that has exquisitely made-up makeup or wakes up with a freshly contoured face, I will scream at the screen. It shatters the world I was immersed in. TV shows are by definition not real, but they are do not do it." That means the makeup has to be completely unrealistic.

I head the makeup department for HBO's high maintenance. The show features fictional New Yorkers who are written to feel incredibly "real". I met co-creators Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair in 2012 when I signed up for the episode & # 39; Elijah & # 39; and my first assignment was to work on a figure who probably started her day with a smoky eye but didn't worry about touching up all night. & # 39; It was a quick note that complemented what I read in the script: college student who is not enthusiastic about being home is stoned and ends up with a cook.

High maintenance, season one.

High Maintenance is a dream gig for me: I always took a job that allowed me to take close-up pictures of the outskirts of New York, and the show makes it human without being valuable. Characters are funny, sad, and buggy like any person I know. No action ends properly and scripts can easily be translated into conversations about how these characters should look. There is no overarching makeup style as each story takes us to a new world. It's real New York – my imagination watching people – with so many beautiful and creative messes. These people put faces on to go out into the world and it is my job to express these personas in makeup decisions.

Every face on the show is important, and small choices speak volumes: whether or not a character's mascara is smeared, the presence of under-eye circles, lipstick quickly drawn. Attention to a beauty regime says as much as the lack of one. We start with the preparation of scripts at the "Looks Meeting", in which make-up, hair and wardrobe work together with the creators and producers to discuss the individual characters. Would this guy have a mustache? Which style? When do you sweat? Would have mascara anyway?

A quasi & # 39; Glossier Face & # 39; from the fourth season.

In our first season, we started using the term "Glossier Face" to identify a modern character who loves a little frills to complete a look – maybe a blue or green liner, or an orange lip. They put together, but they are not exaggerated. Some characters have an Instagram face. Some have a 10-minute work face or makeup that they learned in the 90s – or in the 70s because a lot of people get stuck in time.

In the sixth episode of this season, "Adelante", there was a karaoke party after the jury, followed by a foot fetish party. So many types of New Yorkers were featured in the karaoke room – a controlling mother who let go was wearing a work face. An unconventional secretary singing her heart out was wearing the same makeup she'd been wearing since the 80s, and a young woman with a beautiful voice was in a modern face. These notes aren't in the script, but when the casting takes place and we see the actor's closets, the looks come together. Sometimes the audience sees a character for seven seconds. These seconds are important.

I hired a paintbox mani / pedicurist for the fetish party and then brought in four artists to produce faces. The party was a distorted reflection of the jury karaoke party: another varied New York crew that was looking for excitement. The two main female actors, Freddi and Violet, are frugal, creative New Yorkers who extend across the gloss line. Violet is the regular fetish scene and has a routine – eyelashes, blue liner and all-over foundation. Freddi, her best friend, is a foot fetish newbie who uses Violets Kit to hastily clap neon shadows. No time for eyeliner.

from & # 39; Voire Dire & # 39;
A "modern face" from the series "Voire Dire".

The third episode, "Voire Dire", follows a hard working mother and dental technician named Nora. When Nora works with her wonderfully persistent colleague Randi, she tries to bring her best face forward with cheap glitter shadows. Randi has purple lipstick, purple nails, and shimmer. Her look lets us know that she is loud.

When Nora goes out one night, she goes out and likes to paint her face, as she might have done 20 years ago. It's an opportunity to show yourself after hiding for so long. I made her makeup from the perspective of guiding her face through a few YouTube tutorials – she is open to learning new tricks.

Sometimes I work on sets where every character has a full face – skin perfectly matt and contour mixed effortlessly. I love full beauty makeup – it's soothing and ambitious – but makeup for high maintenance allows a different perspective: who are we in our complicated lives? When we are vulnerable or alone or walking home after a perfect night at 1am? Who is this person opposite in the subway with tired eyes? What is the face you put on to be in the world or to hide? "

– Sarah Graalman

Photos courtesy of the author and HBO.


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