London Legends

Highlights from IMATS London 2019

The first International Make-Up Artist Trade Show (IMATS) in London took place in 2002, and the event has since been an annual focus for make-up artists throughout Europe and beyond. This celebration of make-up artistry remains as popular as ever today, with thousands of eager visitors descending on the capital’s iconic Olympia, London Exhibition Centre to source new products, learn new techniques and engage with the many professionals. Generous support this year came from sponsors Kryolan Professional Make-Up, MYKITCO. and Eldora False Eyelashes.

IMATS London 2019 Emily Clayton (Vanity Venom) for Mehron

Emily Clayton (Vanity Venom) for Mehron

The weekend kicked off with the Make-Up Artist Pro-Card Event, which has grown in popularity both with artists and with the exhibitors. Before the official opening, award-winning special make-up effects artist Rod Maxwell presented two practical Artistry Unlocked classes, introducing students to color mixing and prosthetic making. Primarily, the Friday event provides an excellent networking opportunity, but there were still plenty of demonstrations gearing up on many of the booths. Without a doubt the highlight of the day was a panel discussion on the IMATS Stage featuring Barrie Gower and the prosthetics team from hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

A loud cheer from the packed auditorium greeted the team and IMATS Executive Producer Michael Key grilled them on key aspects of the show. Responding to questions on shooting schedule and budget, prosthetic workshop supervisor Paul Spateri explained, “The budget for the last-season episodes was almost a film budget per episode, with each one being about an hour-and-a-half long. I think anyone watching it will see that there is value for money onscreen. While there has been some debate about episodes being too dark—the third episode of the final season alone had 55 night shoots—it has fantastic production values and looks beautiful.”

IMATS London 2019 Ida Astero Welle and asst. Elly Suggit for The Makeup Armoury

Ida Astero Welle and asst. Elly Suggit for The Makeup Armoury

Saturday witnessed a stream of contented visitors seeking out new products, observing a wealth of make-up demonstrations from Max Payn, Thea Mulvey and Brian Kinney for PAM, Camilla Cavenaghi for TILT Professional Makeup and Francesco Fabiani for The Makeup Armoury. The beauty make-up industry came under scrutiny in a 360-discussion led by IMATS regular Lan Nguygen-Grealis and hairstylist Joseph Koniak.

In his first visit to IMATS, make-up artist and educator James Molloy brought some glamour to the IMATS Stage with a popular demonstration fusing 1990s supermodel glamour with his own, signature style. When it comes to showmanship however, IMATS favorite Einat Dan launched her new book Art Beyond Beauty, featuring a collection of her most iconic looks.

IMATS London 2019 Lucy Sibbick and Liz Barlow for Mouldlife Ltd.

Lucy Sibbick and Liz Barlow for Mouldlife Ltd.

If you’re a student, then the Battle of the Brushes will be a highlight of any IMATS, and this year’s character/prosthetic category was entitled Misfits, drawing on the competitors’ imaginations to create a truly unique character. This year, the competition was sponsored by Nestor Mirror and attracted entrants from Europe, the United States and Canada. The competition was fierce but Metamorphoses student Amélie Chabeaux from Strasbourg, France impressed the judges with her technique and attention to detail in both make-up and costume.

“I was really excited,” exclaimed a jubilant Chabeaux, clutching her prize check for £1000. “It was completely unexpected as initially, I was a second runner-up and had only been working on my design for two weeks before today. The win has been incredible for me. My course at Metamorphoses completes soon, and I am looking forward to traveling and hopefully visiting as many of the make-up studios as I can.”

IMATS London 2019 Battle of the Brushes 1st-place character make-up by Amélie Chabeaux for Metamorphoses

Battle of the Brushes 1st-place character make-up by Amélie Chabeaux for Metamorphoses

It was far from a lazy Sunday morning, as Olympia’s main hall was buzzing with more elaborate demonstrations on booths including some spectacular monster creations from Vincent de Monfreid’s stunning feathered alien and Phoebe Burrow’s 1950s alien for Mouldlife to Mona Turnbull’s Porcelain Man for Neill’s Materials.

All eyes turned to the IMATS Stage mid-morning to catch multiple Academy Award-winning make-up artist Ve Neill being interviewed by Key. Neill spoke openly about her astounding career, and how pleased that she is now in a position to help educate, since taking on the role of Director of Education at the Cinema Makeup School in Los Angeles.

“I remember when I was starting out there were no schools, so we turned to each other for help and advice, and you could count on one hand how many make-up effects artists there were living in L.A. back then. I’d be hanging about in Rick Baker’s garage and we’d try and figure stuff out on our own. It’s a bit like cooking. If you know what it looks like and you have all the ingredients, then you should be able to figure it out. It’s a little bit more difficult now as there’s so many more ingredients.”

IMATS London 2019 KC Mussman for Cinema Makeup School

KC Mussman for Cinema Makeup School

Key also led conversations with Suicide Squad hair and make-up designer Alessandro Bertolazzi and Fangs FX founder Chris Lyons, the man responsible for Rami Malek’s teeth in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Sunday’s Battle of the Brushes featured Graffiti Glam for its beauty/fantasy theme, fusing elements of surreal fantasy, femininity and color. Once again Metamorphoses provided the winner in artist Marine Fabre, whose punk-inspired make-up, complete with neon-pink mohawk, proved a hit with the judges including Molloy.

Fabre exclaimed, “I am thrilled to have won this award. I am currently in my second year at Metamorphoses, and the course has been incredible. The competition has been hard work but a great opportunity for me and will look good on my résumé too!”

When Key held the first IMATS in L.A. in 1997, it was a brand-new way for artists to network and celebrate their craft. Eighty IMATS later, mounted in cities such as New York, Toronto, Atlanta and of course London, we are all still celebrating.  

IMATS London 2019 James Molloy for MYKITCO

James Molloy for MYKITCO.


For more IMATS London photos, see our gallery HERE. Coming up next: IMATS Toronto, Sept. 28-29 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Visit for tickets and details.