Ten years ago, makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic wasn’t quite sure who Kim Kardashian was — he was trying to jump start his career and she was starring on her first season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Now, a decade later, he’s created countless looks on Kardashian, which have set the beauty benchmark for many aspiring makeup artists, not to mention the thousands of people who travel the globe to learn his secrets at his Masterclass. And with over three million Instagram followers, Dedivanovic is not only a fixture in the beauty world — he’s personally transforming it.
We spoke to the pro about his favorite products, his partnership with Clarisonic, and exactly how he became one of the most famous makeup artists in the world. Below, everything you need to know.
How did you know you wanted to be a makeup artist?
I had never thought about beauty or makeup until I was 17. I’m from the Bronx, so I went into Manhattan to look for a summer job and Sephora was a brand new store in the United States. I walked in with my mom and I just remember being overwhelmed with chills all over my body. They hired me as a fragrance consultant because I had no experience or knowledge about beauty. On my first day of work — my job was to stand at the door and just welcome everyone to Sephora — a woman asked me to help her choose a lipstick shade. I was supposed to say, “I’m sorry I work in fragrance, I’ll get you somebody that works in color,” but I just went and helped her. I handed her a shade and she tried it on and she was like, “I love this, thank you so much.” I’ll never forget that moment, it just hit me. I was like, “This is it, I want to be a makeup artist.”
What happened after that?
I remember my first makeover; I asked my manager at Sephora if I could do one. It was my first time I ever applied makeup on someone and it took me three hours. She was like, ‘Honey, you gotta be quicker than that.’ Eventually I was hired as a makeup artist at another Sephora store and from there I was recruited by different brands as a regional makeup artist. I began building my portfolio because this was pre-social media — back then you really had to pay your dues. I was working with photographers and then I began assisting makeup artists and working on set. And I did that on and off for six years; I assisted lots of the greats, from Billy B to Kabuki. I was doing anchors’ makeup at Fox News on the weekend as a freelance gig. I was working for Armani Beauty at Saks, I was working at Henri Bendel, anything I could do to make money. At 21 years of age I got my first agent in New York and I was working with this photographer named Fadil Berisha in New York and he started putting me on the Miss Universe winners, Miss USA, Miss Teen and I started getting little bits and pieces in my portfolio.
Kim Kardashian has gone from your client to a friend through the years. How did you two meet?
A photographer friend of mine called me and said, ‘Hey I have this shoot tomorrow, it’s at 7 AM and I need you to come. There’s this girl named Kim Kardashian and she has reality show and we’re shooting her for the cover of Social Life Magazine.” I said, “I don’t think I can do it. I don’t want to take off from work.” He begged me, so I looked her up and I kind of knew who she was — she was on season one at that time — so I did it, and we really hit it off. When we were done with the makeup, she was like, “This is gonna sound crazy but would you mind taking me shopping right now? I want to buy everything that you used on me.” At this point I was already late to Fox but I couldn’t say no to her, so we went to Henri Bendel and she bought everything I used. A couple of months after that, she was starting Dancing with the Stars and really gaining national fame. For someone who didn’t have global fame, she worked everyday–there was always something going on. So I worked with her in New York and then she started flying me to LA and we’ve worked together ever since.
What’s one of your funniest memories with Kim?
Kim and I were once working on a magazine cover in Miami. This was when she really liked a lot of makeup, and she was really adamant about wearing false lashes. But the photographer kept coming up to us and saying that we couldn’t have lashes on this shoot, so Kim was like, “Let’s go in the bathroom. Bring the lashes and the glue.” Her show was filming and followed us into the bathroom, but when you’re filming for hours you don’t realize that the cameras are there. So we’re in the bathroom putting full on individual long eyelashes and we come out and the photographer is like, “Hey, do you have lashes on?” She said, “No, I don’t have lashes on, I have naturally long lashes.” The show airs and you see us in the bathroom putting lashes on and we’re both like, “F—k! We promised that we didn’t put any lashes on and now we’re busted on national television.”
What’s been the most exciting moment in your career?
The Master Class – it’s something that I started like eight years ago with twenty people and years later having it be with me onstage, standing in front of thousands of people who are clapping for me and who all came from literally every continent in the world to come see me do makeup and it’s kind of those moments where it’s just overwhelming, like how did I get here? It’s like an epiphany really. Those are the things that make me feel the most fulfilled like I’ve done something right.