L: Jes O’Brien kitted up and on location
Ahoy! So Instagram proves once again that it is a goldmine for discovering local talent. I just can’t keep up with the accounts of a literally hundreds of Novocastrians who are up to all sorts of creative endeavours and posting examples of it on this little app. And this is where Jes O’Brien comes in. An ex-fashion PR turned make-up artist who’s also a dab hand at interior design, who just can’t seem to escape the ‘superglue’ effect of Newcastle.
Falling into the unlikely career path of a makeup artist was definitely not what I expected. In fact, if you had told my teenage self, that this is where I’d be, I would have laughed at you. I wear very little makeup. Very little. But long story short …
I have an art background. Got creative. Was offered a special effects scholarship. Declined. Travelled. Studied a short makeup course. Worked in short films. Fashion Week. Travelled & lived in Europe for three years. Worked in fashion PR & communications for Topshop HQ. Launched the original Kate Moss for Topshop line. Came Home. Based Myself in Sydney. Worked for Estee Lauder Group combining my PR & makeup worlds to launch a brand new line to the press and market. Makeup artist career now or never! 2009, launched freelance and have never looked back.
What has been your most memorable project?
The giant Kate Moss for Topshop launch is a hard one to beat. I have also worked alongside some of Australia’s crème de la crème in the makeup world on campaigns for Witchery, Seafolly & Bonds. I travel at least twice annually as a Creative Director for beauty of Californian line Cleobella. I feel really blessed and have had, and continue to get great projects.
What would be your dream project?
Makeup by Jes O’Brien. Photo – Matt Briggs
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having the guts to launch my own business and lay it all on the line.
What is your most treasured possession?
Ah, that’s a tough one as I am a total consumer! But I would have to say I get very emotionally attached to my jewellery and wear the same pieces day in day out.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
There is no typical days really. Saturdays are booked out 18 months in advance with weddings, so that’s my one strong consistent. Fridays are filled with trials and or weddings. Most days I am struggling to respond to my never-ending inbox with a 2-year old fighting for my attention. I do a creative shoot whether it is editorial, advertising or beauty, about once a month, and throw in a bit of beauty writing for good measure. All the other days seem to be a jumble of work, parks, play, cleaning and washing, that every other mother seems to be doing ever so effortlessly!
Makeup by Jes O’Brien. Photo – Justin Aaron
What is your most valuable pearl of wisdom gained since starting your business?
It’s ok to say no. With your own business it’s really hard to turn work away. But in the never ending search to find the perfect balance of work, life, home, family and me time, I have learnt for you and your family’s sanity it’s OK, actually is a great thing, to say no sometimes.
Where do you derive creative inspiration?
From everywhere! It could be a colour, a pattern, a style, the sky. But I must say Pinterest is pretty damn amazing…
Which other designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Amanda Reardon is my mentor turned lifetime friend; she constantly inspires me in makeup. I love anything Carine Roitfeld has had her magic hands at. There is also a fabulous creative hub of people in Newcastle that I have connected with. We all bounce off one another – that’s something I didn’t see here five years ago & gets me really excited.
Makeup by Jes O’Brien. Photo – for Cleobella
What are some of your favourite websites or blogs?
For makeup and creative inspiration I love fashiongonerogue.com
For beauty reviews intothegloss.com
I must admit I also have a slight addiction to Pinterest and Instagram as well.
Apart from your work, what other interests, passions, hobbies do you have?
In another life I would do interior decorating. I adore it. My poor husband is constantly putting up with me changing one room or another – buying and selling furniture. It’s definitely a passion. Also maybe it’s growing up in Merewether, but I am a beach girl, the ocean makes me happy. Sunshine, sandy salty hair, a day spent at the beach is a day well spent.
Jes O’Brien’s living room. Photo – Justin Aaron
How long have you been a Novocastrian?
Born & Bred. Wandered away for my early to mid twenties only to inevitably return – as do most.
Newcastle in a word?
What do you love and hate about living in Newcastle?
Oh, the things I love and hate about it are basically the same things! I love that I can run to the grocer and see everyone I know. I hate that when I run to the grocer I see everyone I know. It’s essentially a big city and a small town where everyone knows everyone, love it and or hate it. But at the end of the day I truly have a love affair with this town. It’s getting better and growing, in some fabulous creative ways. There is a fabulous sense of community and boy, our beaches are world class.
How is Newcastle different to anywhere else?
It’s not pretentious or too big for its boots. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world right here on our doorstep – believe me, I’ve searched. But the incredible thing about Newcastle is it has a superglue effect. You may leave but you always come back, or if it becomes a pit stop on your life journey it’s easy to get stuck.
Where are your favourite places in Newcastle / Hunter to:
The Locale (28 Alma St, New Lambton)
Snows (Union St, The Junction)
Baked Uprising (21-25 Downie St, Maryville)
Hello Naomi (175 King St, Newcastle)
Napoli Centrale (173 King St, Newcastle)
The Happy Wombat (575 Hunter St, Newcastle West)
The Edwards (148 Parry St, Newcastle West)
Coal and Cedar (Ed’s note: giving away the address would be giving the game away)
Admittedly it is rare this gal gets our her party attire anymore.
The beach, anywhere from Merewether along to Bar Beach is where you’ll find me.
The Royal Day Spa (1 KIng St Newcastle)
What is Newcastle / Hunter’s best-kept secret?
Burwood Beach. If anyone asks, yes there is a big sewerage plant there – it’s not worth the trek ;)
Jes O’Brien and family at home. Photo – Justin Aaron