A Surprise From The Altered Chain

To my great surprise last week, I got a package in the mail. I hadn't ordered anything recently, so I was excited to see what was inside. The contents included a darling little box and the sweetest thank you card from the winner of my Stila Smudgestick give-away. The Altered Chain is a line of jewelry designed by a long time friend, and fellow blogger, Cheryl of The Little Brunette Mermaid. The prettiest little gold earrings were tucked inside the box, and I can't wait to wear them! Thanks Cheryl!

We are planning a meet-up soon so I can give her some tips and tricks on how to use the goodies she won, and I'm sure we'll be sharing that lesson with you, so stay tuned. In the meantime, be sure to check out Cheryl's Etsy shop The Altered Chain. She has some really great pieces for sale, and also offers custom designs upon request. And add The Little Brunette Mermaid to your blog reader!


Comic Con & How I Wound Up Discussing Toast & Jam with Ryan Kwanten

Mid last week, I saw an ad pop up on Craigslist seeking a makeup artist for all four days of Comic-Con International: San Diego. This year marked the convention's 42nd year, drawing over 120,000 attendees to see the latest in the comics, video games, sci-fi, tv and film worlds. Quite a big change from the small comic book convention it started as with just a few hundred people. 

Over the last few years, I missed out on chances to do makeup during the convention. So this year, since I am now afforded the freedom of making my own schedule, I decided I was going to make it happen. And make it happen I did. When I saw the ad on Craigslist, my first thought was that it sounded too good to be true. But sending an email couldn't hurt. I got a reply quickly, stating that my work looked great, and could we chat on the phone. So after a quick talk about who I am, what I do, and what the job entailed, I was offered the gig. A few official forms later, I was good to go.

So I ended up working early morning before convention hours, doing makeup for two great girls who would be at the Indomina booth to promote Afro Samurai (a comic, tv series, and film), Griff the Invisible (a new superhero movie), and a few other things. Upon starting makeup last Thursday, the first day, I was asked what my schedule was like on Saturday. There was another job they were looking to find a makeup artist for. 

And this is how I ended up discussing toast and jam with Ryan Kwanten. 

Saturday at panel for Knights of Badassdom, via Getty Images
So in a nutshell, Saturday went like this: makeup for my Afro Samurai girls, then a shuttle from the Sheraton Harbor Island to The Hard Rock Hotel to meet up with Ryan Kwanten (the actor who plays Jason Stackhouse on one of my favorite shows, HBO's True Blood). The day would consist of him being on the panel/Q&A for the upcoming movie, Knights of Badassdom, an autograph signing for Griff the Invisible, and various other events and activities throughout the day. So it was my job that day to get him looking his best. Men's grooming can seem simple, but is actually some of the toughest work for a makeup artist. Men need to look good, but as if there is not a stitch of makeup on their face. It usually consists of concealing darkness around the eyes, keeping brows and facial hair from being too unruly, taking shine down without being powdery, and styling hair to look effortlessly fantastic. So that's what we did. And since we were meeting in the morning, breakfast was a neccesity to gear up for his long day ahead. So while I got to work, he multi-tasked with slices of toast and a review of his schedule. I won't reveal all the details about my morning (I mean hey, I'm a professional here, I can't be giving away his beauty secrets!), but I will say that we wholeheartedly agreed that orange marmalade is a terrible choice for toast topping. 

From the Indomina Facebook Page. The two with the bandanas are my beautiful girls I worked with all weekend.
Other highlights of my weekend included getting passes for Sunday after I was done working in the morning. My boyfriend and I walked around (read: I tried my hardest not to get knocked down in the crowds, as I am short and clumsy) during the morning and checked out the booths. Then we got in line just in time to get into all the panels we wanted to see. First, The Cleveland Show (so cool to see real people doing recognizable character voices live), It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (complete with costumes, a full screening of a hilarious episode from next season, and a live rendition of Day Man), and Sons of AnarchyI also hear at some point during the weekend, the Playstation 3 video game I worked on earlier this year, Twisted Metal, premiered it's trailer and opening live-action cinematic! But more on that later when the game launches this fall.

Panel/Q&A with the Always Sunny... cast.
Charlie Hunnam taking a photo of the huge crowd in Hall H for the Sons of Anarchy Panel.
In addition to Comic-Con madness, I somehow also squeezed in two beautiful weddings, a long overdue sushi date with my love at one of our favorite spots, and some serious mid-morning naps. A girl's gotta do, what a girl's gotta do. One of the busiest weekends I've had all year, but definitely one of the best so far! 


Knee Deep in Wedding Season: Internet Famous Friends & Videography Magic

I have had the joy of working with so many wonderful brides this year, and have quite a few booked for the rest of the season. In fact, I just met with one last night for her trial session, where we sit down, get to know each other, and create a look for her wedding day. She is just so cool and easy going. We created a really natural look that is totally her, but just spruced up a bit. She and her fiance were having photos taken, and possibly having a little date night later in the evening. I got an email from her after I left informing me that her fiance kept telling her how beautiful she looked all night. As a makeup artist, this is always music to my ears. Just wait until he sees her on the big day! With everything that goes into planning, it's easy to forget that getting married is about celebrating the love between two people. Everything else is just icing on an already amazing cake.

Now, I must admit something: I, Morgan Gates, am addicted to wedding blogs. Blogs in general really, but we won't get into all that now. I call it research. But honestly, I just love love. And I truly do think it helps me share in my clients excitement by staying up to date on trends and everything going on in the wedding world. So I want to share two things with you today, both featured on one of my favorite blogs, Green Wedding Shoes.

First, you might remember my trip to Phoenix, Arizona back at the end of April to help one of my best friends with DIY projects for her wedding and just plain have some quality girl time. I also had the great pleasure of doing Leanne's makeup for the big day. You can see my post here about the value of DIY, and some great photos from the pre-wedding week. Well I'm happy to share with you that Leanne and Nate's wonderful wedding celebration was featured on Green Wedding ShoesThe incomparable talents of Feather Love Photography captured the whole event, and you can see even more photos on her blog. Leanne and I were on Skype last night and I told her I saw their photos popping up on all sorts of weddings blogs, big and small. Their wedding is definitely internet famous, and for good reason. So gorgeous!

For those of us lucky enough to be there, it was truly a wonderful time and the love these two share for each other just radiated throughout the day and night. 

The second bit I wanted to share with you popped up on Green Wedding Shoes just today. I love the idea of having a videographer capture your wedding, and piecing together a really unique short film or music video about the day. That being said, the following video caught my eye because the giddy, happy, genuine love these two share just cannot be described in words. You can see it not only in their own faces, but also in the family and friends there too. And the bride, Brittany, is just too cute in her "I Do" boots. Having a video, in addition to great photos, is such a special way to capture memories of a fantastic celebration! Plus this was a "same day edit" meaning exactly that. Done the same day! How fun to watch everything unfold on video at the end of the reception!

Brittany & Dave's Same Day Edit // Jackson Hole, WY

Beautiful, right? I think many couples would be just as happy running off to Vegas and keeping it simple. But how fun to throw a unique party for the two of you and capture it all forever with the help of talented photographers and videographers.

All photos courtesy of Feather Love Photography.
Video courtesy of Elysium Productions, via Green Wedding Shoes.


Behind the Scenes of My First Published Editorial

Last month, I had the pleasure of spending a day on the beach in Coronado, enjoying the warm sunshine breaking its way through the June gloom. Gazing across the water at the downtown San Diego skyline. Did I mention I was working? 
A photographer friend of mine, James Norton, emailed me some inspiration images beforehand, and we set to work creating a scene of a cold day at the beach with a glamorous girl. With a full team of wardrobe, hair, makeup, and a talented photographer, magic is sure to happen. And it did. In the form of a published final product! The spread has made its way into the July issue of The Goods Magazine, an online publication focusing on fashion, lifestyle, photography, and art in all its various forms. I've worked on shoots in the past that have ended up in print (AP, Spin, Riviera), but never my name in editorial glory! So needless to say I am incredibly pleased! 
Check out these behind the scenes photos of our day creating the story, then check out the full spread on pages 34-41 of the magazine.

Kat Dente on wardrobe; Randall Byers on Hair

It takes work to be perfectly lit!

Unsolicited advice from a very vocal passerby.

Our model Jessica waiting for the next shot.

Our mobile styling studio!

Laying in ice plants and looking fabulous while doing so. That is a model!

Be sure to open the online reader when you go to The Goods Magazine, or just follow this link, to view the editorial full screen. You can locate our story easily in the index, or flip through the full publication and check out some other cool stuff too.


Things I Love Thursday: Moving Plans Edition

I know I have mentioned it here or there, but never in detail really until now. If you follow this blog and don't know me well, you might not know that my boyfriend and I are planning a pretty big move in just a couple months. San Diego to New York City. I grew up here. He grew up in New Jersey. I've always wanted to go. He's always wanted to go back. So here we go
This week's edition of things to be thankful for is going to be short, but sweet. It's crunch time, so forgive me if I'm distracted these days! Lots of things to go through, give away and sell. Plus I still have clients and various freelance work, and friend's weddings all the way up to the end of September. But come the first week of October, we will be in the car somewhere around the mid west, en route. 

Our approximate route, with quick stops for lunch and/or overnight stays with friends and family.

Bits of gratitude and thanks for this week: places that let you take their cardboard boxes (thanks nice gal at Starbucks), friends with long-distance moving experience who are filled with good advice, getting to shoot with Noa of Feather Love Photography for the first time over the weekend (she just oozes contagiously happy, creative energy and is so stinkin' talented), starting to read Tina Fey's book Bossypants, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (I'll be seeing it later this weekend but I can't believe it's all coming to an end!), purging material things (it just feels so good! why do we wait until moving to do this??), and last but not least, finally organizing all my real and digital scraps of saved DIY projects-to-come because I cannot wait to get cracking once we get settled into a place!

I'll send you off with a link to a post about gratitude on one of my favorite new sites, Hello Giggles. If you're not already a fan, you need to get to clicking and check it out, you will thank me later! It's run by actress Zooey Deschanel and friends, and in a nutshell is a site full of articles written by the kind of girls I would love to be friends with. 
In this post, contributor Marissa A. Ross writes a thoughtful and poignant piece about being thankful titled, The Key to a Happy Life: Eight Ways to Practice Gratitude. Give it a read, I couldn't have said it better myself.


Persist: An Open Letter to the Artists of the World

Hi my loves! Happy Friday to you all. Are you wrapping up the week's loose ends in preparation for a great weekend? I know I am. I might have a last minute booking next week, so I hope to have that locked down before the night is up. I also had a wonderful shoot yesterday, and have another tomorrow. I can't wait to share those with you soon.

For now I wanted to just offer a quick post to send us off for the weekend. One of my favorite bloggers, Gala Darling, always has the best bits to share throughout the week. You might remember that my Things I Love Thursdays pay homage to the feature of the same name on her blog. Who doesn't love to spread the love, right?

I couldn't resist sharing a link I found on her site today. It is such a perfect find for me right now as I am having a rather off day. I'm not sure why really, but aren't we all allowed to get in a funk from time to time? Take a look at this hand-written open letter to artists from a successful Pixar animator. I've saved it so I can look to it when I need a little pat on the back. I hope you find it helpful too!

Letter via Gala Darling, via Letters of Note.

Things I Love Thursday: Summer, Sunshine, & San Diego

San Diego County Fair

I missed you guys last Thursday! I spent that whole day at the San Diego County Fair with my man and my little sister and her boyfriend. We had a blast and it really marked the start of summer time for me. It was also the start of a great weekend! Friends were in town from the east coast, so we spent some time showing them the sights in America's finest city. I also had one of the best Independence Days I can remember. Spent some time under the sun in the pool, and climbed onto my parent's roof with my boyfriend and my sister where we had an incredible view of multiple firework displays.

Fireworks from the roof.

Things I love this week: my nearly 16 year old sister, who is growing up before my eyes, the warm, breezy, summer nights that follow the almost unbearably hot and humid days, Balboa Park's Twilight in the Park Concerts (free, family-friendly fun outdoors in one of the most beautiful places in town), beautiful rainbows after an unexpected summer thunderstorm, hand written thank you notes like the one I received today from one of my brides, the air conditioning in my car, talented friends who like to collaborate and create beautiful photos, always my dog Magic, Joan Jett who we saw play a concert at the fair (she is amazing and rocks as hard as ever), my Glamcor mobile studio bag set and portable lights, Weeds and True Blood being back on TV, and all the rest of my IMATS experience that I will be sharing with you in the next week!

What are you loving this week? I'm sure there's someone out there you are super grateful for. Let them know it!

Also, tomorrow is the LAST DAY to enter my contest. Head over there and make sure you enter. There are more fun give-aways to come!


Product Review to Beat the Heat: Model in a Bottle

I hope you all had a great Independence Day weekend. I know I did! The long summer days were filled with going to the San Diego County Fair, grilling many meals on the BBQ, bike rides at sunset, fireworks, and spending some time in the sunshine out by the pool.

If you're like me, you still like to look your best when the temperatures start to rise. Whether you like to wear more natural looks, or like to have fun with color, your makeup shouldn't have to suffer under the sweltering sun. We have had some incredibly hot (and humid) days lately. As I sit here writing this, I should be getting ready but I am having trouble finding the motivation to even take my hair down. Say hello to Model in a Bottle.

These babies came home with me from IMATS during the pro-only night, and I had a chance to talk to the product's creator, Jill Stephens. I had heard about these products previously, and was excited to check them out. She let me know how they work, and that they are truly designed to help all types of makeup last all day, helping you look great no matter how long your days are.

Sensitive Skin Setting Spray, Eyebrow Sealer, and Original Setting Spray

The setting sprays are fabulous. They are designed to resist tears, water, and humidity (hello summer heat waves). One is the Original Formula, with a matte finish. The other is a Sensitive Skin Formula, designed for drier, irritation prone skin, and contains lavender to calm and aloe to hydrate.

Both are great additions to your personal makeup stash, or great to have in your kit. I used both the Original and the Sensitive Skin formulas over the holiday weekend, and I love both. I find the Original to work better for me, as I am on the oily-skin side of the spectrum, and it stays more matte than the Sensitive formula. Both formulas really do help to comfortably "freeze" your makeup in place, and got the seal of approval from a huge wedding party I worked with on Saturday. I highly recommend this product.

Now, if we really want to talk about freezing makeup in place, I must talk about the Long Lasting Eyebrow Sealer. Maybe you fill your eyebrows in, maybe you don't. In any case, no one likes a messy brow. They are the key to a polished every day look, and my biggest pet peeve professionally. Bad brows are a big beauty blunder! I was sold on this product when creator Jill Stevens invited me to actually feel her eyebrows at IMATS. Sure enough, they didn't budge. I suggest filling in sparse areas with shadow or pencil, and then applying the Eyebrow Sealer over top. It has a brush tip, as well as a mascara-wand tip. The best part is it won't flake off, and is easy to remove when washing your face. Perfection all day!

The best test of these products was a day at the fair last Thursday. It was H-O-T hot! But having set my makeup with the Original Formula, and my brows with the Eyebrow Sealer, I was still in great shape by the time we hit the ferris wheel at closing time.

Model in a Bottle's creator, Jill Stephens, was inspired by her beauty-role-model mother. According to the product website, her mom would always say, "There is no place more important than where you are going right now."

So I ask, where are you going right now? And are you looking your absolute best?

Also, don't forget to enter the contest I posted a few days ago. It ends this Friday.

Shop: Model in a Bottle
Photos: Me


IMATS Swag: Review and Contest

One of the best things about going to IMATS is being able to attend classes, demonstrations and open forums with top brands and makeup artists. I went to many during the course of the International Makeup Artist Trade Show weekend. Stay tuned for more details of those later.

For now I wanted to share with you a gift I received from Stila Cosmetics! They were hosting a fashion show to present top seasonal trends and some of their favorite makeup looks for every day and special occasions.

The show was fun and lighthearted, with really pretty makeup looks. But the best part was that the first 100 people seated got a little swag bag! I love free goodies! Don't you?
So I may or may not have tore open the lip gloss and put it on immediately. Who am I kidding, of course I ripped it open! I just can't resist a pretty peachy pink. Kryptonite, I tell ya.

The Stila Lip Glaze is something I hadn't tried before, but I will probably buy for myself in the future after using the one I received gratis. There is something about the twist-up clicker I just find fun. Product comes into the brush tip applicator when you click the pen just once or twice. Then apply it just like using a nice lip brush. No doe-foot applicator here! I mean really, I never get product on with those stiff spongey tips anyway. This is smooth, silky and slick, but not at all sticky. The color I received is called Grapefruit, and though very sheer, it still polishes the lips nicely and smells great. Definitely two thumbs up from me.

So since I know you must love to get free stuff as much as I do, I want to give YOU the other item that came in my bag from Stila! Up for grabs is their Smudgestick Waterproof Eye Liner, in Blue Ribbon, retailing at $20. It's a subtle, shimmery, navy-grey color. A great alternative to your usual black or brown, as blue is great for brightening the whites of your eyes! I've played with these pencils before, and they are so creamy and easy to apply, and last all day! Plus, it twists up, so no messy sharpener required.

Win this!

To be entered to win a Stila Smudgestick Waterproof Eye Liner in Blue Ribbon (and an extra little surprise from me) all you have to do is:
1) Follow this blog with Google Friend Connect. It's just to the right of this post in the side bar.
2) Like me on Facebook!
3) Leave a comment on this post telling me what your must-have product is.

Done those three things? Awesome! One winner, chosen at random, will be announced next week.
You can enter any time from now until 11:59pm PST, Friday July 8th, 2011.