A tough way to success is a common thing for truly genius and talented people. That is especially true for the world famous Ukrainian – Dzhuliia Melnik, who knows for sure what it is to follow that path. Long years of struggle for her own style, both ups and downs, and finally euroatlantic recognition have led this talented girl to the absolute victory at a world makeup competition “Next level of Cosplay”. That was just a beginning, as afterwards she was invited to Hollywood, where she was granted with an opportunity to learn at the world`s finest makeup school – “Cinema makeup school”. Today we can say for sure, that this girl is, despite her young age, the most progressive Ukrainian makeup artist, although the community for the long time did not appreciate this world recognized talent.
Dzhuliia Melnik is a Ukrainian makeup artist, born in 1991, who studied the art of the cinematographic makeup by herself.
We decided to find out more about Dzhuliia`s path and invited her to take part in our project – fortunately she agreed to tell us her story. What happened next – read more in this Article!
AK: Tell us please about your art, what was the beginning of it? When have you realized that your life requires something special, something innovational? Have your friends and family supported you?
JM: I think it all started when I was a kid. Those were my dad and mom, who showed me the beauty of fine arts: he filed small wooden boards on which I painted and sculpted paintings; and she bought me colorful pencils, as my reward for visiting doctors. That is why I have never felt scared of hospitals!
Dad showed me, that every item can be transformed into something creative. Every time there were no electricity at home, in order not to be bored, we sculpted pictures from dough, carved puppets from paper, made decorations for our pets and many other things. It is obvious: when a kid, I lived in a creative atmosphere.
When I grew up, I fell over theater. I attended Simferopol theater “Teatr na Moskoltse” for almost 5 years. There I fell in love with the stage, staff, process of preparations for performances and long rehearsals. After school I ran to the theater, even on days when we did not have any rehearsals. I just liked to be in that atmosphere and dreamed that school and theater could be combined, and there would be no need to run around. And my dream came true, however in another city…
Right after our theater was closed because of political grounds, I moved to Kyiv, where I entered theatrical faculty of Kyiv Youth Art Academy. I studied there for three years and after finishing 11th grade I entered this Academy to receive my degree, as I was denied to enter the Karpenko-Karyi University. Truth be told, at that time I was not so passionate about my future as an actress, I just wanted to have a diploma.
When at undergraduate studies, we had too much of free time between lessons, so we were bored. And when it became really boring for me to follow such an uninteresting regime, I started to search for some additional courses. I was looking for myself in various creative jobs: I wanted to become a designer, I was taking guitar and piano lessons, in addition to this I went into modeling.
It all started with the modeling sphere. At modeling courses I realized I don`t want to be a model anymore, but I would like to do other people models. That is why I decided to create full images and take pictures of them. As a result all my friends became my models: I did makeup, hairdressing, designing to each of them, and at the end of all the preparations I took pictures of them! I realized that I liked that, however the whole preparation process took a lot of time, and I had no energy to make high-quality pictures. Then I understood: it is better to do something one.
At that time my friends-photographers noticed that my makeup job is pretty good. The first photographer who believed me was Nikita Zavilinskyi (Matroskin). At first it was for free, but Nikita advised to start taking money for my work. I knew I am going to feel myself uncomfortable, as I am not a professional – I don`t even know how to apply makeup correctly.
Several times I was present at my aunt`s (Lena Tvelina) shootings and saw how makeup artists prepare actors for the scenes. I remember that when a child I told everybody that I wanted to be a respected professional – just like my aunt. To be sure that I am still interested in that, I started to attend the cheapest makeup courses located on the other side of the city. I finished those courses in an extremely short period, in just 15 days. I felt that I am a quick-learner of this profession, plus I liked the process of transformation itself.
Right after the courses I was offered a job in “S&A Group“, where I gained huge experience in working on television over such huge projects as “Stars on Stage”, “Stars on Stage 2”, “Intuition”, “Sing if you can”, “The Voice of Ukraine”, etc.
We had to prepare, as quickly as possible, a huge amount of artists and the work had to be done perfectly. I am glad that my first steps in a career of a makeup artist have started this way.
I saw a big progress, my salary was getting hire from project to project, a lot of magazines started to publish interviews with me, I was proposed to become an assistant of a makeup guru – Svitlana Rymakova. We worked days and nights on highly interested shootings. However it was not difficult for me to work all 30 hours of shooting, because of my emotions, because I was inspired.
It was a little bit problematic to combine my studying and the job. That is why I asked the artistic director for the roles that will not disturb the rehearsals. There was a period, when I realized that I was sitting on two chairs at once and that was slightly stressful, as I did not want to give up neither of two professions.
Although watching the results of your job from the side, creating something by yourself and seeing happy eyes of my clients – had made everything clear!
I worked as a successful makeup artist for 7 years.
However in 2014 I came up with a thought that I want to diversify my career once again.
I realized that orders for Halloween, where the theatrical makeup was needed, became more interesting for me. I was glad to work in projects where I had to create on just a beautiful makeup… The last drop was the American show “Face Off”. When I first saw it I realized – THAT IS IT! That is what I want to do – to do prosthetic makeup!
I was deeply impressed by the makeup artists who did extremely complicated fantastic images. Because of that, I started looking for a resource where I could learn more about it.
I figured out there were no high-level schools in Ukraine, however good schools abroad were too expensive. “Cinema Makeup School” was my dream-school that is why I emailed them directly and asked whether they had any discounts for foreign students, as I had a great passion to learn, but had no opportunity to pay for the courses. They gave me an advice: “try to win a grand…”
This how I started to prepare for a competition.
I translated videos from internet in order to understand everything clearly, ordered materials from America and begin to experiment at home. The preparation lasted over half of a year, and after everything was done I finally sent my application. However, I did not manage to enter the finals.
Afterwards – a short depression and a promise to myself that I will try one more time. I promised, that if not winning the next year’s competition I start saving money for at least one month of education at that school.
I tried to win another small grand at that school, but failed once again.
When there were 10 days left till the deadline for that competition, in which I participated a year ago, I pulled myself together, cancelled all the orders and started working on the image for the contest days and nights.
I made an application video, sent it and tried to forget about it for some time: I promised to myself not to give up in case I fail to enter the final.
One day I realize it is high time I checked my application: maybe I was elected?
I couldn`t believe what I saw. My image was taking part in the contest!
That is how the fight for the grant began.
I came through a month of anxious voting: a lot of participants left the contest, I was leading. When my image won the voting part, the judges had to make their decision. I was worrying a lot, because the judges could change everything! When they announced the winner I started crying! It was the first time in the history of that contest, when all the judges unanimously voted for me!
Yes, I became the winner in both the audience and the judges voting!
AK: So was it difficult to work as a professional makeup artist in Ukraine? Is there a request for this profession in our country?
JM: After my victory, I was offered a lot of orders related to theatrical makeup. However, many customers denied the concept after they heard the price of a single project. Sadly, but I immediately faced two problems: firstly, people did not understand the nature of such a complicated job and secondly, they were not ready to pay money for that.
Throughout a year, I had to create my own projects. I was trying to involve people into my team. At first I was applying theatrical makeup by myself and on myself, afterwards I visited my neighbor Ilai Zemlyanov and asked whether he could make short videos of me in such my image. Truth be told he supported all my crazy ideas!
That was our start. We began to grow up, create scenarios and involve other people in our team.
There is a video that I am especially proud of: “Play with me”. A lot of people helped me with it.
My brother Dima Zaitsev and I wrote a scenario; Nikita Kvasnikov agreed to be a director; 5 days before the shooting we offered Yevgeniy Ushakov to become our cameraman and the “1+1” channel helped us with the lightning and covered the travel expenses for the actress Viktoria Kirina from the other side of Ukraine. The guys from the Syrets Arboretum helped us with the location and the soundtrack was written by Oleksiy Petrozhytskyi. Ilai and I did the editing.
You know, nothing will actually change until you gather a team of enthusiasts, until you prove to the producers that in Ukraine it is real to create a high-level product. There are people who are ready to work, the problem is – you just have to contribute in them.
I invested a lot of money into my self-development. Moreover, I was glad that I spent my money not on dresses, sandals, manicure, but on foam-latex, silicone and pockets of plaster-stone!
Two years I worked for my hobby, experimented in my studio with materials, creating an image and recording it in a short video-drawing.
AK: Tell us, how did your life change after the victory at “Next Level of Cosplay”? Does the fact of representing Ukraine on an international level inspire you?
JM: After the victory I was pleased with the fact that people became interested in this sort of art.
A lot of people emailed me: they have never thought that it was possible to do something similar in Ukraine. Some of them are waiting for me to finish my courses in order to become my students.
That for sure inspires me most of all!
I am glad that my story proves: if you want something – you see no barriers. Now I want even more!
AK: What was the most difficult on your path to success?
JM: To be honest, I cannot call my path to be difficult; neither can I say that I achieved success. I will be able to call my career a success only when holding an Oscar or even 10 Oscars!
When you like something very much, for example your job – like in case with me, then all the difficulties you face become interesting to you. You challenge yourself, you achieve results and try to achieve even bigger goals. I consider that to be of extreme interest!
Difficult way is to stay on the same spot and not to progress.
If you ask me why did I change so many kinds of job to find myself, I answer: because I understood – I am not mowing and wasting time. Life seems to be long, but actually it is not, and most of all I am afraid to simply loose time.
That is why I am happy that when being 18 y.o I understood what exactly do I like and what would like to do in my life. I love my profession. I like it due to an opportunity to develop myself, to create, to choose my surroundings: music clips or advertisements; staying in Kyiv or going for business trips; fashion or monsters.
It is impossible to get tired of routine here! On the other hand it is possible that one day I will feel a necessity to learn another occupation. It is never late to change something! Even if you are 50!
AK: Do you plan to work in Ukraine after returning back from the United States?
JM: After my studying at the American school of theatrical makeup, I would also like to gain some American experience. Yes, right now I am studying, but 100% of learning consists only 1% of practice, which I consider to be unsufficient to open my own school in Ukraine. That is why I would like to see the backstage of Hollywood, to gain more of useful experience and, if possible, even to receive an Oscar!
AK: What inspires you the most? What books and movies contribute to the development of your creativity?
JM: Most of all I am inspired by the biographical stories of talented people who became professionals in the sphere of their interests; about whom there are books written and movies shot.
In creation of my images fantasy, fairytales and cartoons are helping as well! It is tough to say what exactly inspires me!
Music, especially soundtracks, gives inspiration too; when you listen to it you create series of videos and see images.
Dreams give me energy to create.
I am impressed by such surrealists as Salvador Dali and Jacek Yerka, as they make us see the world paradoxically, irrationally, unusually. People are always excited by everything that changes their consciousness.
There is inspiration even in pictures you find in internet. I just adore “Pinterest”! It is a real fount of ideas! As you see, the inspiration comes from everywhere!
AK: What are your nearest projects?
JM: Unfortunately, till I am here in America I am not able to do my own projects.
First of all, I study almost all the time. Secondly, I do not have my team here. Thirdly, I do not have a studio here. The saddest thing is I do not have any finances for all of that.
I am in the country where I ordered the materials, I have an access to everything, but have no money to buy that.
AK: What can you wish to people who just start their career?
I would like to advise people not to stand still; not to complain about their jobs, but simply change occupations!
Do not think you can do nothing, you know nothing or are too old to change something! Just refresh in your memory what was your big interest when a kid or what you like now and transform that into your job!
In my opinion all people are created for something. Everyone can make a change in his or her sphere of work. Everyone can achieve what he wants at any age!
We all know dozens of stories when people who started their careers at 50 became successful!
I recommend people not to limit themselves, but live like they want to!
Several years ago I was afraid that at the end of my life I will ask myself: “Have I tried everything what I wanted; have I used all the opportunities I was given; was my life the life I wanted to live?” I worried that there will be something I will regret about.
That is why I live on my max now!
Of course sometimes I am afraid to do the first step, but I close my eyes and do it. That courage is always rewarded!
You have to live, not to survive!
AK: In your view, how will Ukraine change in 5 years? Do you believe in its potential?
JM: In 5 years I see Ukraine a free country. I see us going up to the world`s level. I believe cinematography will grow up – I can see that even today. A lot of films were shot in Ukraine for the last few years! I am glad that I have participated in several of those shootings. I can be proud of that!
AK: Do you believe a new generation of Ukrainians who are fighting for the values of liberal democracy can change Ukraine?
Sure, I believe that people who struggle for the values of liberal democracy can change our country, because we need freedom of speech – freedom of spirit; because we are free people and we can do unbelievable things. We do the unreal things possible and we worry about the future of our country.
AK: What can you say to youth fighting against the old system?
JM: I want to wish them not to give up! As I already said, if you see the goal, nothing will prevent you from achieving it.
Especially if to do that together!
DZHULIIA MELNIKABOUT LIBERALISM
I truly support human freedom. I think every person has a right to live life as he or she wants and that life has to be happy. There is only one rule: it should not limit the freedom of another person.
This interview was taken within the project “Generation XXI” of “LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC LEAGUE OF UKRAINE”. All rights are reserved. In case of the distribution, please mention the source – NGO “LDLU”.
Translation by Nazar Hulchak, Foreign Affairs Department of LDLU