As Sir John (@sirjohnofficial) likes to tell it, getting into the makeup profession “happened organically, and makeup chased me.” Immersed in visual and performing arts throughout his early school years, he studied art history, printmaking and sculpture before moving to New York City. Gaining a firm grasp on those different mediums, including brush strokes and nuances of color and shading, eventually led him to makeup artistry.
His career took off after meeting celebrated makeup artist Pat McGrath, who took the rising talent under her wing as her assistant. Within a few days, Sir John found himself on a plane to Milan armed with a brand-new passport. The weeks and months that followed were laden with international fashion week runway shows and collaborations with fashion greats Mario Testino, Steven Meisel and Naomi Campbell.
“During this time, I was just watching and observing—trying to gather as much knowledge as I could,” says Sir John. “I knew I had to start from the bottom and work my way up.” A year later, at Tom Ford’s Spring 2011 runway show, Sir John met Beyoncé Knowles. Following an “OMG” phone call to his mom, the rest, as they say, is history. “I ended up signing for two world tours soon after, and now here we are,” he says. “She’s a sister to me and I love her and her family to death. My top three favorite looks are Beychella, the Grammys when she was pregnant, and shooting the Vogue cover looks we just did this year.”
Sir John’s makeup success also led to his signing with L’Oréal Paris, which he says has been a dream come true. He’s even inked a deal as a producer and TV personality with Lifetime competition series American Beauty Star. Above and beyond that, he’s stayed busy with a burgeoning client list that now includes Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, Ashley Graham, Serena Williams and Kelly Rowland, among others.
“I love women—I am a feminist,” says Sir John. “I grew up with a single mom, and if I didn’t work in makeup, I’d possibly be in a field that advocates for women’s rights. I think my signature isn’t necessarily a certain color look, but rather always making sure the women I work with feel their absolute best and that the looks we create further amplify their confidence and worth.”
At the end of the day, Sir John says that makeup has given him wings. “It’s helped me to inspire a generation and support my family,” he notes. “There are so many moments in my career that have helped to shape me and impact my path. I am blessed to work with some of the most successful people. One of the things I always live by is ‘pushing the finish line backwards.’ You have to continue to improve, believe in and push yourself to reach new levels.”