Interview with Rudy Miles
The Global Makeup Director for Aveda
By Faith Lawless, About.com Guide
Rudy Miles has worked with some of the industry’s top celebrities, supermodels, and fashion designers. Currently he is one of the industry’s leading makeup artists, as well as the global makeup director for Aveda’s Uruku Collection. During his work with Aveda he has helped to develop new products, create new makeup techniques, and teach professional makeup classes.
Recently I have been working with Aveda on their re-launch for the anniversary of their Uruku Collection. During this time I was fortunate enough to interview Rudy about the line, the Yawanawa people, and his personal travels to the Brazilian Amazon. He is not only a fascinating, talented, and funny person, but a warm and caring down-to-earth artist as well.
Makeup Guide Faith Lawless: Rudy, you have had a very extensive career in the fashion world as a makeup artist. How did you come to be involved with the Uruku collection for Aveda?
Rudy Miles: My career as a makeup artist actually began at Aveda. I started working for Aveda 13 years ago at the Flatiron Experience Center on Fifth Avenue in NYC. There I became passionate about the Aveda makeup brand overall. It was during this time I was trained on the Aveda makeup line and excelled in my craft. So I’ve worked with the Uruku collection since the first products that launched in the 1990’s, which lead me to help create the new product launch.
Makeup Guide Faith: What is it about the collection that makes it more unique than other products from Aveda or other line?
Rudy Miles: It’s absolutely the partnership with the Yawanawa. The relationship with Aveda and the Yawanawa is an example of an indigenous partnership that works. And the part that works is that is truly works for both stakeholders, the Yawa and Aveda. It is inspiring to hear Tashka Yawanawa, Chief of the Yawa, speak about how the partnership has benefited his people.
Then there’s the amazing point of difference of offering makeup that has substituted synthetic colorants with plant based color, annatto. And with so much emphasis on ingredients in makeup and beauty products, it’s our way of providing our guests alternatives.
Makeup Guide Faith: What was the best part of helping to create the Uruku Collection?
Rudy Miles: The synergy that was necessary for the project to work. Aveda not only introduces new shades and an amazing lipstick formula, we also changed the packaging to represent the partnership with the Yawa. So the scope of the project for me went from learning about the annatto pigment that we collect, learning the face and body painting rituals, negotiating with the Yawa for designs to adorn the new packaging, challenging the packaging design team to find a way to add the annatto to the FSC paper product we’d use for packaging (a success and the new unit cartons have an annatto glaze finish), recommending new shades and creating the beauty images for the campaign.
Makeup Guide Faith: During your travels to meet with the Yawanawa people, you participated in their face and body painting rituals. Since that experience, have you used any of their techniques in your own work?
Rudy Miles: I haven’t directly used any of the techniques; partly to keep the craft sacred to the ways in which the Yawa practice and partly because I am not Yawa, truly. But I have elevated the ways in which I use my makeup tools and color. What we must understand here is that the Yawa create all of their intricate, never identical designs using three basic colors: red (annatto pigment), black (from tree resin) and the skin tone that shows through the red and black designs. And the work is done using sticks and fingers! So as a makeup artist I’ve learned to really maximize my 13 makeup brushes and makeup kit FULL of colors and textures.
Makeup Guide Faith: Staying on that subject, did you share any of your tips and techniques with them as well?
Rudy Miles: (Laughing) Yes. When I demonstrated to the women of the village how the Cheek-Lip Creme is applied as blush and lipsticks, they laughed so innocently. It was then I really got the concept of global beauty. The Yawa adorn each other with these amazingly intricate symbolic paintings as beautification, whereas western women use blush, eye shadow, lipstick and the works. But the funny thing is the Yawa’s applications always looks amazing and we all have had a gentle chuckle at the expense of a friend’s hand at makeup!
Makeup Guide Faith: This year is the 15th anniversary of Aveda working with the Yawanawa, which means a re-launch plus a release of new products and colors. What do you see in the future for the Uruku Collection?
Rudy Miles: This re-launch has really helped Aveda create new staples in the Aveda makeup collection, especially the bronzers. I predict the re-launch of Uruku will remind the Aveda network to teach their guest of this amazing partnership, and will touch and inspire a new generation of Uruku wearers and hopefully create conversations for similar fair trade partnerships in the world of beauty.
Makeup Guide Faith: Now I want to ask a couple of questions about you. How did you get to become such a success in the fashion industry? Was there one certain “aha” moment along the way, or was it more of a steady climb to the top?
Rudy Miles: Thank you for that perspective but I am constantly growing my craft. I have to believe that my success thus far in the industry is attributed to always being professional, open to learning and being prepared. As far as climb to the top, I’ll answer that when I get there. (WINK)
Makeup Guide Faith: Rudy, you are such a success in what you do; if you could give some advice to future hopefuls out there, what would it be?
Rudy Miles: I get asked this one often. I encourage future hopefuls to live your passion. It makes the climb, struggle and wait so much more bearable. You might see me at a café creating an incredible eye technique on paper using condiments; inspiration for makeup meets me everywhere.
Also, find your niche. Often artists get caught up in wanting to do what other artists do versus doing their own version of what that is. Have your own voice to define who you are as that related to your craft.