Bringing Style to Science, Literally. Introducing: FlyGirl
By Alan Marnett on December 8th, 2011
Today our efforts here at BenchFly to makeover the image of the scientist take a huge leap forward and we couldn’t be more excited. We are completely honored to announce that one of New York’s premier make-up artists and stylists has agreed to help with the transformation. In her new monthly column FlyGirl (as she will be known to avoid contractural disputes with current employers), will share industry-insider information, tips and tricks for seriously updating our image with minimal cost and effort – clearly, she understands scientists…
Recently, your humble nerd sat down with FlyGirl in New York to discuss her road to stardom, her passion for helping scientists and her goals for the column. Time for a serious scientist image makeover that would make the Tri-lambs jealous.
BF: You’ve made up some very popular people in our world: Hillary Clinton, Dan Rather, John Mayer, Leann Rimes. How do you go from making the initial decision that you want to be a make-up artist to having Mariska Hargitay in front of you trusting you with their face?
FG: Well, I would be lying if I said I always wanted to be a makeup artist. As a child, I loved makeup and playing dress up, but I never thought it would amount to anything beyond the realm of childhood fantasy play. Thus, after college I moved to New York and worked in a corporate environment because that was what I thought I was supposed to do. I was miserable working in a cubicle and staring at a computer 95% of the day. So I took a few acting classes to try and satiate my creative desires. Turns out that my acting skills are worse than my lab science skills (there was a bit of a “titration incident” caused by yours truly in my college chemistry lab!) but a fellow “actor” (aspiring filmmaker) asked if I would do the makeup for his film pro-bono. Turns out “pro-bono” is different than “with Bono”… He gave me $80 to build my makeup kit and the directions to set. I arrived to work at 6am the following morning and have been working ever since.
Creating glamour is, in fact, the antithesis of glamorous! Ten years of freelancing in the glamour industry taught me that success results from persistence, vision, constant redefinition of goals, having thick skin, being flexible, facing rejection and expecting the unexpected. It is a long and twisted road with lots of on-the-job training, incredibly long hours, little to no pay in the beginning while you work up to getting published and building an industry reputation. Hang on, isn’t that the same as being a scientist???
But as we all know the payoff for preparedness and hard work (and perhaps a little luck) can be enormous. I remember reading about Judah Folkman “stumbling” into his work with angiogenesis. His seemingly overnight success was actually years in the making. So we prepare our “toolkit” the best we can and take the leap toward progress.
Fashion and music seem to be at the opposite end of the “image spectrum” as science. What would you say to scientists reading this that say “I don’t need to worry about how I look, my results will speak for themselves”?
If they think image doesn’t matter, maybe they’ve spent a little too much time inhaling solvents in the lab…You’re a BenchFly reader so you clearly already have an interest in executing the best practices in science and in life. You are savvy! But now it’s time to realize that “I just work in a lab all day” isn’t gonna cut it anymore. You may think you’re “just” a graduate student or postdoc, but the reality is that you’re a professional.
You have worked exceptionally hard to get where you are at this point in your career and your academic achievements obviously warrant respect and accolade. But believe me when I tell you that a well-kempt appearance will dramatically increase the possibility of your results being noticed because YOU will be noticed. People expect that a scientific lab is clean, organized and efficient. People also expect those working in that environment to be of the same caliber, even if was not common practice in the past. Today’s world is fast-paced and competitive and every aspect of an individual matters. You must present yourself as a full package regardless of your industry. As a responsible professional, it’s not a bonus for you to invest in your appearance – it’s a requirement.
That being said, I understand that you may put fashion and grooming on the back Bunson burner in order to concentrate on your scientific results. That is why I was thrilled when BenchFly asked me to join forces! Throughout my professional career, my goal has been to keep it simple and achievable. Beauty is about being confident. And when you look good, you feel good and work even better. This does not mean you have to invest in a $400 John Edwards haircut, buy a Gucci suit or wear a full face of makeup and coifed hair everyday. It simply means following a few guidelines and having a little fun in the process.
How has your experience on shoots prepared you to field questions about the lab?
Work in the beauty industry is frenetic, runs on a shoestring budget, NEVER goes as planned and often takes place in less than ideal physical working environments. Hmmm, sound familiar?
Working on set with a team is like working in a lab in many ways- you come prepared, set-up meticulously, discuss the plan with a team, execute the experiment, tweak it if necessary and hope for positive results. In the end, it could fail. But the experience develops resilience, thick skin, and excitement for the next time you get to implement the tricks and tips learned along the way.
What do you hope people take away from your column?
Honestly, I have a secret plutonic crush on science!! Having grown up surrounded by scientists, I firmly believe that you are some of the most creative geniuses in the world with a fantastic sense of humor (how else could you face low pay and failure on a daily basis and remain sane?!?) and realistic life perspective. But because of past experiences (um, nerdy mad scientist typecast) the collective image of the scientist has a ways to go on the style side of life. I want you to make as much of a statement as your results! I hope to enlighten as well as entertain.
Whether painting faces backstage at Victoria’s Secret, traveling the globe for her international clients or writing for magazines and style guides, our FlyGirl lends her hands to enhance beauty both inside and out. She thinks creatively and approaches practically to create unique yet easy styles. Send your questions to FlyGirl@benchfly.com and learn how to become your own artist!
Come back tomorrow for FlyGirl’s 2011 Stocking Stuffer Guide to find out what products you can’t (or shouldn’t) live without!