Behind the Scenes of August's Cover Shoot with Sebastian Professional

Camaraderie and creativity were in no short supply at the American Salon photo shoot with the Sebastian Professional What’s Next Awards 2018 winners. Jonathan James, Keisha Mines and Rachel Alvord, who took home the Affiliated Artist, Professional and Student prizes, respectively, all arrived on set bright and early for the day-long shoot, held in May at Coty Professional Beauty’s stunning new 26-acre campus in Calabasas, CA.

Eric Allen perfects the makeup.

The trio’s goal was simple: to craft a series of looks based on “what shapes their world” as artists. “I love exploring the possibilities of what can make someone look more unique or even unusual,” says James, who created the hair for this month’s cover model. “My game plan was to showcase my model’s best features in progression—from a commercial look to something a little more edgy, beautiful and different. My biggest challenge was not overthinking my creations. When I’m in the moment, it’s easy to do too much and overwork the hair. As is often the case, less is more and simple elegance goes a long way.”

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Sebastian Professional International Top Artist Omar Antonio, right, mentors Jonathan James on his technique.

For their part, makeup artist Eric Allen (@ericjallen) offset the dramatic hair and took it to the next level with beautiful makeup while OPI nail technician and brand educator Galdina Jimenez (@nailuscious) played up the total look with dark nails embellished with light geometrical designs.

Albert Sanchez gets his shot.

At day’s end, James reflected on his big win. “As cliché as it sounds, I let fear of failure hold me back for too long,” he says. “The What’s Next Awards is the first competition that inspired me to put myself out there, and after four years of entering, it all paid off by being the best learning experience I could have asked for. The chance to shoot with American Salon was a dream come true. The entire experience has been amazing.”

Above:The artists’ must-have products and tools of the trade. Below: A rack of black clothing awaits the models.

Photography: Albert Sanchez