Before he became a renowned make-up artist, Scott Barnes was a fine-arts painter. He mixed and blended his own paints to develop the right texture and feel in his work; as a make-up artist, he began mixing and matching the colors that would eventually become his own cosmetics line. Besides using his bullet blender to create anything and everything, Barnes has also retained his use of paintbrushes. “I am a painter by nature,” he said.
Barnes’ canvas for the biopic El Cantante was Jennifer Lopez, for whom he created 17 different looks. The film chronicles the relationship between salsa singer Hector Lavoe and his wife Puchi, whom Lopez plays. Barnes was responsible for making up the Puchi character from age 17 to age 51, two years before her death.
Barnes’ relationship with Lopez began six years ago when he created her now-signature “glow” look for the CD J.LO. “Because of [Jennifer’s] immediate trust, she let me do what I love to do,” Barnes said. “I love to create; she is my most beloved muse.”
Lopez’s look for the film was solely inspired by Puchi. “We actually had the Lavoes’ personal family photo album,” Barnes said. “That was our Bible.” Actor and artist collaborated on each of the looks in the film, trying to show the richness of falling in love and the darkness of falling apart. The film was shot in just two and a half weeks, and every look was crucial. “Make-up played an important character in this film,” Barnes said. “We had no choice but to get every period locked in.”
Hard work like that has its rewards, however. To aspiring make-up artists, Barnes says, “There is no right and wrong way to achieve your goals, passions or technique; just keep putting yourself out there. It’s hard work, but worth it as long as you remain grounded and keep your head and heart in a creative space. If you do that, I promise you it will be worth it. I love the make-up artist world—for just that one word: ARTIST.”