With thousands of artists soaring into our halls from around the world each year, our classrooms have become dynamic global communities under the unitedly diverse banner of our Blanche World – a United Nations of creativity! In a glorious culture clash, our International students import a vibrant collection of new customs, insights and inspiration that colour our world in exciting new ways. The leap from their home countries to our corner of Canada comes with big change, courage and incredible journeys. Speaking in the international language of passion, we sit down with our global talent to talk the dreams that brought them here, the challenges they overcame, and all about the power of being an artistic representative in a new country. Meet the burgeoning stars that have joined us from around the globe in our UN storytelling!
“Italy, Paris… the big Fashion cities! I want to get to that point when I’m the one that people call when they need a look for the runway, for photo shoots – all of that High Fashion work.”
Blanche Macdonald Global Makeup student Evelina Helgesson is not one to mince words when it comes to voicing her goals. After all, she’s made big moves to be here in Vancouver, studying at Canada’s #1 Makeup School. Growing up in small town Gothenburg, Sweden, Makeup was a distant, but eager dream for Evelina ever since her pre-teens.
“My mom gave me this blue eyeliner when I was twelve, and I put it all over my eyes,” Evelina laughs. “People kept saying that it was good and even though I knew it was probably bad, I thought, ‘Oh, maybe this is my thing.’ You go through that period where you’re just trying it out and it looks like hell but you do it anyways. After a while, I started doing Makeup on other people and really enjoyed it.”
It was a visit from an international agent at her high school that planted the idea that she could study beauty as a career – she’d just have to be willing to leave her Gothenberg nook.
“I asked what the best program would be, and they were like, “Blanche Macdonald – no question. Go there.’ ”
That was all it took. Her small town sent her the eager 19-year-old off, thrilled with her grand plans (so much so that they ran a full article about her adventure in the local paper). It was her first time away from home, and her new journey took her halfway across the world. Upon arriving, Evelina’s fierce energy and high ambitions charmed International Admissions Director Lina Lee, who recognizing in her also the uncertainty of starting in in a new city alone; she decided to take Evelina under her wing.
“Lina was my first friend here, and would take me out in the city to show me around. That was really great because coming here, I didn’t know anyone or know where to go, what to see or what to avoid. And she gave me that whole package, just for me. It’s been great. She’s been so helpful!”
Since then, Evelina has not only learned her way around the city, but has been expertly navigating the creative community, working with top photographers on private and commercial shoots, and making new friends.
“It’s a really pretty city and there’s a lot of outgoing people. I’ve had people ask for my number right away after meeting them because they want to hang out, which I still think is kinda weird (that’s not how we do it in Sweden at all, we’re really hard to get to know!), but I’m a really outgoing person and I love to make new friends, and to talk about their experiences, so it’s great!
“I’ve been meeting and working with a lot of photographers lately too. There are a lot of art and photography students in Vancouver that are looking for Makeup Artists, but you still need to stand out. I’ll email a few times telling them that I really want to work together, asking them when we can collaborate. I just keep e-mailing until they set a date. And once you get that one connection, they all start flowing in.”
Evelina is glowing in her accomplishments, as she rattles off a slew of her latest, most exciting projects. Though, she’ll admit that things didn’t feel quite so bright and easy when she first started in at Makeup School.
“I was really nervous. We learn English from second grade all the way through high school, but there are so many words that you don’t learn. After my first class I was crying and in a really weird spot, wondering, ‘Why did I think that I could do this?’
“Because of the language barrier, getting myself out there for volunteering was definitely something that was really hard for me in the beginning too. I didn’t even know what to write in an email to these people. I was just really scared of having them judge me for not being able to speak English, or that they wouldn’t know how to use me. But then, a few months in, you start to feel like, ‘OK, I got this.’ I’m more secure now with what I’m doing in Makeup. In the end, you just have to try it out. I was really really scared but I just did it and after that first time it wasn’t so bad.”
Today, Evelina’s pronunciation is cool and confident, and she urges that those coming here with English as a second language keep their head up, and feet out the door throughout their stay.
“Everyone actually thinks it’s cool that I know a second language! People here don’t judge you because you don’t know a word. That helps a lot. You just have to get out there; even if you don’t know the word, just try to explain it. You learn to live with it, and pick up words as you go.
“Looking back, I would get out there much earlier. I would get right out there in the first weeks. Every volunteer opportunity that I could find I would do. It’s so important to get out there and get that experience – even if I do have that experience now, I could have had twice as much if I had started earlier.”
If she had a late start, she’s making up for it with a vengeance. In school, like out in the creative community, Evelina has been doing exceptionally well, impressing her instructors with resolute artistry and diligence in learning.
“My favourite instructor so far is Sydney – he’s just so helpful and he’s kind of like a diva. He’s GREAT. I just love him. And Leanne. she’s an amazing teacher; she really gets in there with the Special Effects! You might be wondering how you’re going to get through something, and she’ll be really patient throughout. She’s good at telling you when you’ve done something wrong, and when you’ve done something great, which I really appreciate.”
Instructors aside though, her favourite course, she says, is and will forever be, “Fashion. I am a Fashion girl. This is where I want to be. I want to go to Paris! I want to work on runways!”
With her boldness in dreams, and her initiative in making industry connections, she’s already well on her way. She’s been recording her journey on a blog these past months, filling in her portfolio with creatives in the hopes of one day presenting it to international clients. Evelina is eager to take on more daring moves, but for now, she’s proud of the one she made in choosing to study Makeup alone in a new country.
“I’ve definitely grown a lot; when you move away from home, you start to get to know yourself. At my age, you’re just trying to figure it out, and sometimes you try to be something you’re not because people expect you to be a certain way. Coming here and feeling like my instructors and new friends were seeing me for me, instead of who they wanted me to be, has been such a great experience. I’ve been getting to know myself and learning how to be comfortable in myself, how to be proud of what I can do. I’ve learned to step back and tell myself, ‘Ok I did this well. This is a good Makeup.’ ”