AE Friends & Family: Aerie Makeup Artist Jenna Menard

AE Friends & Family: Aerie Makeup Artist Jenna Menard

Jenna Menard, Aerie’s resident makeup artist and Clinque’s first ever Global Colour Artist, travels from photo shoot to photo shoot making our girls look flawless. We sat down with her to find out how her love of beauty began in her basement and how far she has come in her career!

Jenna Menard, Aerie Makeup Artist

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was raised in a small town between Philadelphia and New York City called Doylestown, Pennsylvania and I have been in NYC for almost 10 years now. I also went to college in PA, so I lived the small town girl life and then decided I wanted to move to NYC and pursue being a makeup artist.

I love being outside and I am so lucky that part of my work takes me there. It is not just showing up at the studio everyday, it’s about getting on planes, traveling far and being able to be outside in nature and really just enjoying life while working – which is rare for people to be able to say that they get to do.

I like to get out around NYC and ride my bike along with doing yoga to stay active while I am in the city living my normal day-to-day life.

How did you get your start as a makeup artist?

My story has a lot of pieces that come together and bring me to where I am today. My mom is a hairstylist, so I grew up with a hair salon in my basement as a child (and she is still doing it to do this day!) I have three sisters, so you can imagine in a house of all girls with a mom that is a hairstylist presentation and beauty were a big thing. I didn’t ever think I would be a makeup artist growing up but slowly things all started to connect.

When I was in college I studied psychology because I knew I wanted to work with people and interact with people, even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do yet. I had an internship while I was in college for a small cosmetic company and that prompted my interest in makeup. I didn’t have any formal training before that internship. I graduated and moved to NYC for an internship on the set of the feature film, The Stepford Wives. I landed this internship through meeting Ann Roth, an academy award-winning costume designer, and she introduced me to Bernadette Mazur who was the head of the makeup department for this film.  I was able to be on set and watch makeup artists for three months. As soon as the film was over I decided to begin my career freelancing and I began assisting other makeup artists from different agencies in NYC. This is when I was introduced to Dick Page, a world renowned makeup artist and ended up assisting him on and off for about three years while also pursusing my own career. I was so lucky to meet someone like Dick Page and work so closely with him and learn the art and the business.

My career growth was more of an organic process and one thing led to another. When I started working on my own, I started working with an agency and started shooting bigger things. Everything seemed to just work out- I worked hard at it, but it really just flowed in a way that one thing led to the next.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I pull from a lot of different things, mostly from what is around me living in NYC just walking around the city during my daily life. It is really amazing what you see when you stop and look around. I have been lucky enough to travel so much and I come back with tons of pictures from trips and those images in general act as my inspiration. It is not as literal as using the color of the sky for eyeshadow, but it is the beautiful things around me that inspire me to be more creative. Nature, colors, cultures, faces, and everything that I experience whether I am in NYC or traveling, I absorb that and take that and use that as inspiration.

You have worked with everyone from Sofia Coppola to Taylor Swift to Kate Winslet and of course our Aerie girls – do you have an all-time favorite person to work with?

I feel like in moments of my career there has been shoots that I have been like “wow this is a really great point in my career” or maybe just a job and location that I am traveling to, but I really feel so lucky to have met  the women that I have worked with. All of the celebrities that I work with are extremely talented and inspiring on many levels. It is not just the work that they do; they are a really good example at how to balance everything from career to family to personal time. Every time I am working with these women I realize that they have this balance that I always try to strive towards.

Jenna preps Nina Agdal during the Aerie Back to School photo shoot.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process it takes to come up with the look & feel you want for each photo shoot/event?

One of the really great things about being a makeup artist is the collaboration. For the most part it is a lot of creative individuals that all have the same goal and that goal in the end is to create images that will make an impact to people around the world. We all come together and the art director shows inspiration on what they are going for and who the “girl” is (I hear that a lot.) It is a lot about who we want to bring to life in the campaign or a particular beauty and fashion story. With all of these images put together on a mood board you can see where they want to go and the feeling of a particular shoot. If you work with the same team often, it takes less and less time to get all on the same page. It is a great feeling when you work with a team that has trust in you and trusts you to do your thing.

You had the chance to work with famed photographer Arthur Elgort, tell us about that!

Arthur Elgort is a photo legend! He has been around for a long time and taken some amazing photos that a lot of people know. I met him while assisting Dick Page and I will never forget the day I was working with him. We were talking and he asked me to send my book over sometime. I willingly sent my book over and the first job booked with him was the cover of Teen Vogue. For someone like Arthur who has been around a long time and could work with anybody he chooses, it meant a lot for him to choose me. To think my first shoot with Arthur was a cover-it amazes me . I knew I was capable of it, but usually photographers don’t start on a cover as your first job. This was the March 2009 issue of Teen Vogue and still to this day I think back to that point in my career and think about where I was then and where I am now. There are certain moments in my career I really kind of feel nostalgic about. I think to myself, “Wow I was really lucky to be able to work with him and work with such a legend.” He is an amazing person and photographer and that is definitely one  moment that is a strong memory of mine.

What is the one piece of makeup you cannot live without?

I would say Clinique High Impact Mascara. It is something for my kit that makes a huge difference for the people I am working on whether it is a model or celebrity, but also I love it for myself. It is something that will make your eyes look more open and awake, but it doesn’t have the overpowering effect that makes you think “Oh my gosh that is too much makeup.” Mascara is the perfect way for someone to look at you and say “Wow your eyes look really pretty today!”

What is your number one makeup tip/trick for keeping that Summer glow all year long?

Summer is always the perfect time to focus on keeping your skin looking flawless and experimenting with a single element of makeup. It’s not time for full face of make up – eyeshadow, liner, lipstick, blush – it’s more about focusing on one thing that you can bring out that is easy for summer and easy to withstand the heat. Foundation is great for keeping the skin light and simple. Try adding a liquid highlighter to make your skin more radiant. I would recommend a playful, bold lip shade (try Clinique’s Chubbystick) or a colorful eyeliner that will withstand the summer months but also make a statement on your face. Don’t go for anything serious or heavy.  Fresh, clean and beautiful is what I strive for when doing summer makeup!

A playful list of products to get that perfect summer glow:

Super City Block SPF 40

Clinique Broad Spectrum SPF 50

Even Better Makeup

Uplighting Liquid Highlighter-Natural or Bronze

Super Balanced Powder Bronzer

Chubby Stick in Pudgy Peony

Blushwear Cream Stick in Glow or Blushing Blush in Aglow

Brush on Cream Liner or Quickliner for Eyes Intense

Lidsmoothie in Pinko Biloba or Cashew Later


Check out all of Jenna’s work on her website!

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