Creator Spotlight: Andrew Sotomayor
"When we can be truthful about things that are important, it’s our responsibility to thoughtfully share with the world." -Andrew Sotomayor
Andrew Sotomayor is an Emmy winning makeup artist with over 17 years of experience in beauty editorial, red carpet, fashion, film, television, and brand development. Andrew won his first Emmy for Saturday Night Live in 2017, was nominated for an Emmy for Jesus Christ Superstar Live in 2018, and was nominated again for Ryan Murphy's Pose in 2019.
Andrew's extensive resume easily makes him one of the most prestigious makeup artists in the country. On top of being a makeup artist for 22 seasons of New York Fashion Week and the makeup department head for John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch (2019), he's been a celebrity makeup artist for eight Academy Award winning actors, three daughters of two US Presidents, a presidential candidate, a knight, a dame, and some of the most powerful female CEOs. To put it simply, it's unlikely you haven't seen Andrew's work.
Most recently, Andrew is the makeup department head for The Other Two on Comedy Central and designed tattoos for Company (Broadway) and designed the makeup and tattoos for West Side Story (Broadway). Though, with COVID-19 bringing most of the entertainment industry to a halt, he's had the perfect amount of time to launch his debut luxury fragrance line, Oracle Jaynes Station.
We're overjoyed that Andrew found a home on Vocal, where he's consistently showcased his lively voice and writing skills over the past year. It's our greatest pleasure to introduce Andrew Sotomayor in this #VocalSpotlight. Enjoy!
On Himself, His Career, and His Lifestyle:
My name is Andrew Sotomayor and I’m an Emmy winning makeup artist born in Texas, raised in New York. My career started in department stores working with real women, but since then I’ve been a spokesperson for brands like Covergirl, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent Beauty, La Mer, and L’Occitane; worked on 22 seasons of New York Fashion Week and two Broadway shows; and done makeup for 8 Academy Award winning actors.
I’ve written for sites like Glamour.com, Huffington Post, and Vocal; and been on live international television for as much as 4 hours a day. I’ve been vegan since 2013, have rescued three older chihuahuas from shelters, and originally went to college for musical theater.
On His Relationship with Writing:
I remember writing short stories and essays even when I was little. My parents met while they were working as new journalists. My mom later taught at NYU, and my dad won a Pulitzer Prize, so writing was really important in our household.
Our house was filled with books, art supplies, Legos, stuffed animals, and other things that encouraged our creativity. I decided to write on Vocal because I realized what I was writing on Facebook was getting squashed by their algorithms. When we can be truthful about things that are important, it’s our responsibility to thoughtfully share with the world.
On What Inspires Him to Create:
Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. My perfumes and body products from Oracle Jayne Station are made of ingredients that actually originate in nature, like rabbitbrush and chaparral leaves. The first drafts of these fragrances were one of a kind gifts inspired by specific people in my life. Good people inspire me to try my best, because I see them also trying their best.
On Who Inspires Him the Most:
Journalists like Kerry Diamond (Cherry Bombe), David Yi (Very Good Light), Baze Mpinja, and Amber Kallor inspire me because they understand the power of their words, and they choose them carefully.
Actors like Sasheer Zamata and John Mulaney have unique perspectives and make us laugh as they encourage a kinder world. Doing makeup for Kamala Harris one time was inspiring.
On His Short and Long Term Goals as A Makeup Artist:
Short term, to see myself and my fellow makeup artists getting back to work. There are still so many out of work across the country, and those that are working are taking serious and necessary precautions. If we can stamp out COVID-19 through social distancing, millions of people will see their lives moving forward.
In the long run, I want to use the skills I’ve learned over the years, and the opportunities I’ve been given to create more jobs for creative people of all sorts. We watched billionaires add so much wealth to their pockets during this pandemic. During the pandemic, my two TV shows and two Broadway shows shut down, so I created my small business and the “Masters of Makeup” series with my own money, and spent my savings to hire a web builder, a graphic designer, a photographer, an audio technician, a video editor, and of course spent thousands of dollars on organic and fair trade ingredients from small suppliers right here in the USA. In the past, I’ve booked as many as 8 or 10 makeup artists for big jobs. I’m just one person, but during this pandemic, I’m still trying to #PutCreativeWorkersToWork.
On Other Creative Outlets He Enjoys:
I love creating beautiful new perfumes, soaps, and body scrubs. I’m not a great baker (because I hate following recipes), but I’m a really good cook. I used to perform in drag in New York, and planned to teach aerial yoga (or run off and join the circus).
On Masters of Makeup and Highly Anticipated Guests:
All the guests I’ve had so far on “Masters of Makeup” so far including Carmindy (“What Not to Wear”, QVC), Eryn Krueger Mekash (“American Horror Story”), and Reggie Wells (“The Oprah Winfrey Show”), are incredible people, and this is a rare chance to go beyond just makeup tricks and celebrity stories, but to actually learn major life lessons that have led them to become the best of the best. I’m in the process of scheduling Billy B (who’s worked with P!nk and Britney Spears), and I would love to one day have Dame Pat McGrath, Linda Mason, Bobbi Brown, and Fred Farrugia on the show.
As soon as it is safe to do so, I want to sit face-to-face with Louie Zakarian (Saturday Night Live), Sandy Linter, and Mike Potter who I know in real life and can be open with. This project has been in the works for a long time and I’m sad that I missed the opportunity to speak with people like Flori Roberts, who wasn’t a makeup artist, but started making makeup and mentoring Black women back in 1965.
On Oracle Jayne Station:
Oracle Jayne Station is the first perfume and body care line of my very own. Everything is my own completely original formula (no “melt & pour”, no “private labels”), made from organic, wild sourced, and even Fair-Trade certified ingredients. I buy ingredients grown in the US as often as possible, and I make every product myself so that I can literally watch everything that goes into my products. My first fragrances are inspired by summer vacations I spent visiting family in Tucson, Arizona.
My first cosmetics job was selling Chanel perfumes one holiday season. I loved that job and was so inspired by my trainer’s love for the brand. That said, most perfumes aren’t made with organic ingredients and many of them smell very similar.
With Oracle Jayne Station, there are amazing ingredients you’ve probably never smelled before like rabbitbrush, cliff rose, and chaparral, plus some familiar scents like grapefruit, jasmine, and even recycled christmas tree needles. Some ingredients are just too rare for big companies to use in mass produced products. With my perfumes, I design them with very specific moments in mind, like the smell of the desert after it rains, the powder my grandmother used to wear, or my surprise at seeing pine trees in Arizona. A good fragrance is authentically emotional. Each fragrance should have moments that surprise you, and moments that feel familiar.
On Big Beauty Initiatives and LGBTQ Representation:
Single women, people of color, young people, and LGBTQ people make up 65.5% of the voting population in America. We’re also the same group of people who make up the beauty industry. We’ve also been told throughout history that we should be quiet, be cute, and accept whatever the people in power give us. I don’t agree. My mother who was the first woman in her family to go to college, also does not agree. We are powerful. We generate other people’s wealth, and we need to demand better.
A lot of brands are finally making lots of shades to cater to women of all skin tones, but that’s not empowerment. That’s just good business! I don’t work for either company, but I scoured the internet for examples of Maybelline and L’Oreal contributing to LGBTQ causes. In summer of 2020, all I found was a rainbow around the Maybelline “Pride” collection on Amazon. I just thought, a year before this, someone from your brand reached out to me asking to refer trans women for unpaid work for social media, for their “Pride” campaign. I just thought, “You don’t know anything about our community, but you know that you want our LGBTQ dollars. How are we supposed to feel proud about that?”
They’ve done some better things since then, but all your customers should matter. Not just the ones who have a big following and call you out on social media, not just the ones who pass as cis-gender, and not just the ones who fit a narrow definition of beauty. Using queer people to do makeup tutorials on Instagram is again, just good marketing, not standing up for our human rights. The fact remains that when your parent company is the largest beauty conglomerate in the world, bringing in $29 billion a year, you can afford to pay Black Trans women, the most underemployed and most at-risk community in America. When they asked me for unpaid referrals, I told them no, but to this day I still feel gross.
On Toxic Media and the True Value of Vocal:
I was lucky enough to study Shakespeare in London. These plays are hundreds of years old, and they can definitely be hard to follow, but they’re complex stories about life. Whether it’s a theatrical masterpiece or a great essay, these types of words feed our minds and our hearts.
The same way big companies sell us unhealthy junk food to put in our bodies, there is also junk food for our minds. I can’t watch reality TV where women, people of color, or queer people are made to fight against each other. I can’t read sites like TMZ or the New York Post that tear apart famous people. I can almost never read the comments sections on Facebook or Twitter below anything that truly affects our lives. There’s so much useless negativity and hate speech.
We need community and solution oriented spaces online like Upworthy, Vocal, and Creative Mornings, where we can share knowledge, learn about different types of people, and inspire each other to live better lives.
On His Advice for Aspiring Makeup Artists:
Practice as much as you can. Paint. Draw. Sketch. Cultivate those fine art skills that will make the rest of your work better. Respectfully ask for business advice from anyone reliable who will answer your questions. Do not do jobs just to make “a good connection”, it’s all about building genuine professional relationships with people who treat you respectfully and pay you correctly from day one.
I absolutely disagree that working for free is ever the only option. It’s cheap advice that has been taught to aspiring artists for decades, and it’s what perpetuates the idea of the “starving artist”. What might have been true for the baby boomers may not be true for millennials and Gen Z. When there’s so much competition, do you want to be known as the type of person who works for free or almost for free?
There are projects you might be doing with your friends for “practice”, but when someone in charge is clearly going to be making money, then “We don’t have a budget for makeup” or “We only have budget for someone to do both hair and makeup”, is unacceptable. And considering how many people in the beauty industry are women, people of color, or LGBTQ, it might even be discriminatory. My mother always said we have to ask for what we deserve. My father always said to be prepared to walk away.
If you want to make money, take advice from people who maybe aren’t the most famous or doing the most glamorous jobs, but who are actually making real money.
Listen to Ethan Steimel’s The Artistic Finance Podcast to learn more.
On How This Period of Extended Isolation has Changed His Outlook:
I think I appreciate the small things in life even more. Sandwiches on fresh bread. Naps with my dogs. Sunrises. I appreciate the little voices in my head that give me ideas, or push me to try new things. I feel like my ancestors are guiding me. It’s harder to hear them when life is too busy.
Therapy sessions via Zoom are important. Inspiring books and podcasts are important. Connecting with people who do their best to keep their chins held high is important. Knowing when to say “no” is also very, very, very important.
On His Favorite Stories He's Published on Vocal:
I wrote a fun piece about the tattoos I’ve always wanted and the ones I designed for “West Side Story” on Broadway.
There’s also one I updated the day that Larry Kramer died, about how we should address the AIDS crisis in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit America. I want to update it again in 2021.
I also just published a piece all about my inspiration for Oracle Jayne Station. It’s personal, but honest, and from the heart.
Don’t think about it—first thing that comes to mind:
What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
The pandemic has taught me that there is so much we can live without.
Favorite Musical Artists at the moment?
Cats or dogs?
Favorite travel destination?
Saguaro National Park in Arizona for home. Provincetown, Massachusetts for peace. Key West, Florida for warmth. Rural Vermont to escape. London to feel small. New York City to fight. Los Angeles to celebrate.
Day or Night?
I’m a morning person living as a night owl.
Favorite local restaurant?
In New York, I’ve taken costume designers, directors, and friends to P.S. Kitchen which is around the corner from The Broadway Theater where “West Side Story” will one day again be performing.
Also, Ladybird by Ravi Di Rossi;
and Gangster Vegan Organics in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
What’s your go-to late night snack?
Cereal with oat milk. Or my mother and grandmother’s recipe for arroz con leche (but with oat milk).
What are you currently binge watching?
“Fleabag”, “The Expanse”, and rewatching “The Other Two” on HBO Max.
What are you currently reading?
If you could speak a new language, what would it be and why?
Elephant or octopus. They’re all so smart and I feel like there’s something they’re not telling us.
Favorite story you read on Vocal by another creator?
“Alex Padillo and Deb Haaland are Helping Change the Face of American Politics” by Cheryl E Preston
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Andrew! We're so grateful to have a beauty industry icon such as yourself as a member of our creator-driven platform.
Having read your work here on Vocal and observed your work as a makeup artist, we've noticed some common ground between the two very different art forms. Casual readers might not realize how much time, effort, and skill it takes to write in the thoughtful and detailed manner that you write in—not for a lack of intelligence, but because of how naturally it reads. Similarly, when you look at some of the work you've done in makeup, it's so elegantly simple and complementary to your model/actor's natural features.
Even further, this natural theme carries over into your debut luxury fragrance line, Oracle Jaynes Station. All OJS products are "made with organic, wild crafted, and Fair-Trade certified ingredients, but without the artificial fragrances we’ve been peddled for far too long." Your artistry, in all of its embodiments, is a breath of fresh air.