Breaking into Beauty: Meet Ellis Atlantis, Winner of Glow Up 2019

Anyone who works in beauty will tell you that it’s a fun, inspiring place, full of creative ideas (and the occasional free sample!), but exactly how do you break into the beauty industry? In this series, we’ll be chatting with beauty industry insiders to find out what their jobs involve and the paths they took to get where they are now.  

From makeup artists and beauty editors to social media assistants, brand founders, and web developers – these stories are proof that you can enter the beauty industry via any career path.  

Meet Ellis Atlantis, the 2019 winner of BBC3’s Glow Up.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I wanted to work with horses! It wasn’t until I went to university that I realised I preferred makeup. So, makeup didn’t become a part of my life until about four years ago.

What attracted you to the beauty industry?

I thought I was transgender before I started my makeup journey. I explored my gender through makeup to make me feel as beautiful as I wanted to feel. Makeup brought me to drag and helped me find confidence in myself. I realised that I’m not transgender, but makeup gave me the empowerment to be who I want to be.

What did you study and did this guide you into your current role?

I studied a Fine Art foundation degree at college and Fashion Design at university. But I preferred the behind the scenes; getting the models ready rather than making the clothes. For one of my first collections the model was a drag queen. Putting them in drag showed me that makeup was wanted I wanted to do.

What skills and experience do you need to succeed as a makeup artist?

I think the biggest misconception in makeup is that everyone thinks you need qualifications. Everything I know is self-taught and I’ve allowed myself to learn. People believe they can be handed makeup knowledge and technique, but it doesn’t work like that. You can be skilled and technically strong, but you also have to have creativity, and you can’t teach creativity.

What was the experience of Glow Up like?

Glow Up was like driving down a country road, and then all of a sudden, the road leads to a chock-a-block motorway where everyone is moving at 300 miles-per-hour. I tried to be my best, authentic, creative self, whilst trying not to be eliminated.

What have you been up to since winning the show?  

I’ve been working with and assisting some of the biggest makeup artists in the world as part of my Glow Up prize. I’ve been working at Cannes Film Festival with Val (Garland), and at Men’s Fashion Week. But just to be able to say that I’ve assisted Val Garland and to see her work has been amazing.

What does your day-to-day entail?

Before Glow Up, I worked full-time on a beauty counter in a department store. Now, I have a manager who deals with everything for me and makes sure that I’m able to do what I want to do every day. I wake up, and create makeup looks, film content for Instagram and make review videos. I basically live the life of an influencer! But I’m doing what I want to do, the makeup I want to do, and people love it.

Being here at BEAUTY BAY is a full circle moment; I used to buy every Jeffree Star launch and every BEAUTY BAY eyeshadow, and for them (BEAUTY BAY) to ask to interview me is such a surreal feeling and so humbling.

What are some of the common misconceptions people have about your job?

The biggest misconception people have is that we don’t work hard. People think that it’s not a real job, but my job is 24-hours a day. As soon as I post a video, I reply to comments, film more content and keep my page going. When I’m working away, I have to make sure my content is ready. My Instagram has to be able to run when I’m not able to stop.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the people I’ve met along the way. No one tells you about the friendships or the support you receive. I’ve met some amazing people on Glow Up and through Instagram who I would never have met without it. It is the connections and the friendships I’ve made that are best part for me.

What has been the most surreal moment in your career so far?

Every single day, I wake up and I get to do makeup because people have supported me and have given me a platform. People have fallen in love with what I create. That support is surreal.

What deskside essentials are vital to you doing your job?

A good attitude. Never say no. If someone wants an impossible job, do the impossible. It’s not a physical thing, but a good attitude will take you further than good makeup or brushes. If you’re remembered for having a good attitude, they’ll always have you back.

What’s your top piece of beauty advice?

People need to stop looking at what everyone else is doing. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing. What matters is what you do. If you don’t concentrate on yourself, no one else will. If you’re fixated on someone else’s goals, you’ll never achieve your own. It’s the most freeing experience to let go of thinking about what everyone else is doing and concentrate on yourself. But supporting someone else’s success will never ruin your own. Be friends and support people.