Black Makeup Legends – Joey Mills

by michela wariebi

Joey Mills by all accounts is the first black makeup artist with a career path focused in fashion and editorial. It’s important to make the distinction as to in which area a particular artist may have garnered their success, because it’s due time that we clarify to the masses that all makeup artists are not the same and in no way do we all do the same thing. I digress.

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Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Mills made the move to NYC in 1975 to pursue a career in makeup.  In an effort to get noticed, he donated his time and skills to friends, agencies, models and any willing face doing as much makeup as he could.  And he did indeed get noticed.  Mills joined the team at NY’s popular Ciandre salon and his freelance career took off; going from sheer obscurity to top artist in the industry within a 1.5 year period!

With there being literally only a handful of artists working in fashion and editorial makeup during his time, Mills’ talent soon made him a highly requested artist.  Throughout his career he is rumored to have amassed a whopping 2,000 magazine covers including Vogue, British Vogue, Elle, Essence, Harper’s Bazaar, Harper’s Bazaar Italia, Glamour, Cosmo, Mademoiselle, Self and Seventeen. Absolutely unprecedented and without a doubt a record that has never been matched.

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Mills is also known for helping to create the “Calvin Klien look” that became a major inspiration to the public aesthetic for over 2 decades. He is the artist behind the iconic Calvin Klein ads featuring a young Brooke Shields with full brows, beautiful skin and natural lip.  He went on to be a go-to artist for Shields for over a decade of her career.

Other celebrities touched by his brushes included stars like Paulina Porizkova, Liza Minelli, Melba Moore, Diana Ross, Raquel Welch and many more.

All his technical expertise and knowledge was compiled into his collectible instructional makeup book, “New Classic Beauty: A Step-by-step  Guide to Naturally Glamourous Makeup. I recently added this to my library and after a quick read, I absolutely recommend you grab yourself a copy HERE.

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To consider the career and achievements of Joey Mills is to be inspired.  He was able to create a remarkable legacy during a time where black talent was barely allowed in the room.

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