Blanche Macdonald

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With thousands of artists, stylists and designers 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 celebration of culture, 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!


Fresh faced and humbly confident, Andrea offers a huge smile from her red-slicked lips immediately upon meeting me. Her rolled ‘r’s and charming Spanish accent make every word so melodious, it’s hard not to be hypnotized once she begins speaking of her native Guadalajara, Mexico and her passion for her artistry. Only half-way through Blanche Macdonald's Global Makeup program, she’s already achieved some incredible milestones - being one of 10 chosen winners of the Backstage with Pat McGrath Instagram contest and a spread in Harper’s Bazaar Mexico and Vogue Italia. Despite this, it’s clear her gratitude for everything she’s done serves only as a fire that fuels her desire to do and learn even more. With a penchant for ‘pretty’, a style that is ‘natural but with light touches’ and an aim to delve deep into the Fashion / Editorial Makeup world, this driven soon-to-be powerhouse has her sights set on fashion capitals New York, Milan, Paris, London and beyond. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before she gets there!

Blanche Macdonald Centre: Let’s get straight to juicy details. Tell us about your time with Pat McGrath and the contest you won!

Andrea Palomec Urrea: It was so good! I stayed in The Mondrian which was so nice and she left little handwritten notes in our rooms saying that she would see us all for breakfast the next morning, there were about ten other artists there. Suddenly, we were backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger RTW spring 2017 show! We got to do makeup on the models and got direction and feedback from her team! Her team really is amazing, they work so differently from anything I’d ever seen. Even the way they put moisturizer on models, it’s so specific. They do everything with their hands and they’re always so, so clean with everything. I even met Jenna Kuchera (Blanche Macdonald graduate)! She made a point to find me and say ‘Hi’ - she was so sweet. Pat McGrath is super nice, just the best person. I felt so lucky the entire time.

BMC: That’s SO amazing! And how did it all come about?

APU: It started with a photographer friend I have in Mexico. When we were working together, he started helping me with my social media. He started tagging artists and brands in our photos and of course, Pat McGrath on our best images. One day she liked a photo and so I started tagging her in more and more on my own. When she messaged me telling me I’d won the Backstage with Pat McGrath contest and I almost started to cry! I actually didn’t hear anything for months. So I reached out and asked if it was still happening and she got back to me and said it absolutely was so I waited some more. Randomly in the gym one day I checked my email, I’m really bad with my email, and there was a message from her saying I needed to be in LA for this certain date and it was like two weeks away! But I got my ticket and made the arrangements to go.

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Sci-Fi and Special Makeup Effects: Twin Passions for Instructor Rachel Griffin


From a Vancouver basement to the sets and FX shops behind global hits like The X-Files, Millennium, Stargate, Supernatural, Fringe, Once Upon A Time, Battlestar Galactica, Falling Skies, iZombie, Lone Gunman, Harsh Realm and countless others, Makeup superstar Rachel Griffin has proved that passion and practice can turn a fan into an industry insider.

“I blame it on my father,” laughs Rachel, relaxing in a classroom at Canada's #1 Makeup School, her home base for inspiring the next generation of makeup magicians. “I grew up on a steady diet of cheesy sci-fi. We’d watch things together like Star Trek, Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, Time Tunnel and Dr Who. When I was 16 or 17 Dad took me to see Star Wars. After that I knew I wanted to do something in film.”

Rachel’s done more than “something.” She’s become a fixture in the Vancouver Film and TV industry, starring in the city’s most creative FX shops and continuing to be producers’ favourites when they need an experienced hand on set. It’s more than a job to Rachel. She’s doing what she’s always loved.

“I’d watch sci-fi shows and think, how do they make these things? So I started buying special makeup effects books like Tom Savini’s Grand Illusions; that’s a bible for makeup effects people. I had a lab in my Mom’s basement! I made a little Star Wars movie in my bedroom with the toy figures and a Super 8 camera. I basically learned what not to do.”

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If life had turned out the way Tracy imagined, you’d be visiting her on the deck of a luxury cruise liner. But it was her piqued curiosity that got the better of her and forever set her life on a new path.

“Initially, I wanted to work in tourism. I had a friend who had registered for the Spa and Esthetics program at Blanche Macdonald and I thought it sounded so cool! I didn’t know anything about esthetics, or even what to call it, but I made an appointment with the school to have a tour and the next thing I knew, I was enrolling in the program. I liked the idea of a service industry, but this was much more realistic and with so many more opportunities!”

The opportunities that followed a world class education at Canada’s Top Spa School were almost immediately discernible to Tracy.

“I did do a bit of research on other schools, but nothing jumped out at me. I decided that I would call some local spas and ask whose graduates they would hire and everyone said ‘Oh, Blanche Macdonald grads are the best!’”

That was over 13 years ago. Now firmly planted in the Esthetics industry, there’s no other place Tracy would rather be. She’s the Spa Lead of North Vancouver’s Blu Harbour Wellness + Spa, the area’s only spa certified in Medical and Advanced Esthetics, which has been her home for the last 6 years.

“This location is fantastic. And my clients here are really wonderful. One of the estheticians we hired here was actually the one that covered my maternity leave at another spa in the area so we’re like a big family! And the owners are great - they’ve given me the opportunity to really grow my career and expand my skills.”

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Fashion Fervour: Blanche Macdonald Global Fashion Marketing Graduate Janelle Knihnitski Shines At Cos Vancouver

With their unique fashion voices, these Blanche Macdonald Global Fashion Marketing graduates are taking the industry by storm. Articulating their story to the world, our grads have navigated their way through fashion's ever evolving terrain, bridging the gap between knowledge and success: from luxury retail brands and glossy magazine offices, to prestigious PR firms and leading buying agencies. Our grads are 'serging' ahead of the trend, climbing the ranks of local and international scenes one fashion forward trend at a time. Meet these burgeoning fashion mavens that have become part of this thrilling community in our Fashion Fervour storytelling!


As the Visual Manager at the highly-anticipated Vancouver opening of Swedish modern-minimalist brand COS, Blanche Macdonald Global Fashion Marketing graduate and Saskatoon-native, Janelle Knihnitski has successfully circumnavigated the Vancouver fashion scene, testing fate and ambitiously pursuing her goals to land herself in this coveted role. Besides being aligned with Janelle’s values and personal aesthetic, another fulfilling aspect of life with COS is that Janelle has already had the opportunity to travel to Montreal, New York, Toronto and Miami in her new position. Maintaining this sleek and resplendent space is no easy feat, but Janelle has demonstrated she is up to the task. Enthusiastic to learn, eager to grow and excited for what’s next to come, meet Janelle Knihnitski, accomplished, adventurous and a visionary in her creative field.

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You’d hardly expect to find your hair’s next best friend deep in the corridors of one of the city’s busiest train stations - but that’s exactly where you’ll find Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair graduate Erin Murphy. Nestled in Vancouver, a city famous for its artists and creatives, Erin has managed to build a steady clientele at her salon, carving a niche out for her instantly-recognizable hair skills just a few years after graduating from Blanche Macdonald’s Pro Hair program. Recently recognized by both Allure and Teen Vogue for her superior holographic hair creation, Erin’s Instagram (@erinm_hair) teems with her most luscious creations : from silky smooth balayages to dizzying dollops of the most electric colours you could possibly paint! Stunningly sweet, gracious and humble, Erin is here to whip your locks into the frenzy you’ve always wanted.

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Vanessa Giles Brings Movie Makeup Secrets to Blanche Macdonald

Top Makeup School Graduate Instructor Vanessa Giles

If you find yourself in one of Vanessa Giles’ classes at Blanche Macdonald, pay attention to every word. You never know when you’re going to be treated to a magical story from the daily adventure that is the TV and film industry.

“On Once Upon A Time I was working with Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays Snow White. In a horseback scene Ginnifer was knocked to the ground by a horse. Our lead lady literally flew face first into the ground as hooves landed all around her! Ginnifer, being the trooper that she is, got up with her face covered in blood and the crew tentatively applauded her as she walked off to get treated. She asked me to accompany her to the hospital for stitches on her brow. It was up to me to calm her nerves about the prospect of scarring. I promised I’d do everything I could for her to continue shooting. We returned to the makeup trailer where I counter-shaded her swelling, covered her bruising, reshaped her eyebrow and camouflaged her bandage as best I could. She was able to return to set that same afternoon and I received flowers from production the next day for allowing them to keep shooting as planned.”

Vanessa’s always ready to save the day. The Blanche Macdonald Makeup graduate-turned-instructor has a dazzling résumé, working on blockbusters including The Chronicles of Riddick, Watchmen, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, War of the Planet of the Apes, 50 Shades of Grey, Sucker Punch, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Night at the Museum 2 (which narrowly missed an Oscar nomination for Makeup), The Assignment with Sigourney Weaver, and the forthcoming Tully, where she was the personal Makeup Artist for the legendary Charlize Theron. Pretty impressive for someone who didn’t even consider herself an artist until towards the end of her high school career.

“I really wasn’t the best artist until I had an art teacher, Mr. Sandvoss, who showed me Georgia O’Keeffe’s work,” she recalls. “I’d never seen anything like that before. A switch went off in my head, and all of a sudden I could draw and paint.”

From that moment Vanessa knew she was going to be an artist. She just didn’t know what kind.

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Vancouver, A.K.A. Hollywood North, is home to towering mountains, lush rainforests and stunning ocean views. It’s a small slice of filming heaven which has helped make the past year one of the busiest and most exciting in Canada’s Film and TV history. In and around Vancouver you can find alien invasions and fairy tale endings, Super Hero battles and monster truck adventures. It was a blockbuster year that saw studio space become limited due to an ever-expanding line up of productions from X-Files and Prison Break reboots to comic book juggernauts ArrowSupergirl and The Flash fighting crime across the Lower Mainland. In a historic move Hollywood studio giant Skydance opened up one of the world’s longest and tallest stages right here on the West Coast, breathing Altered Carbon to life in Netflix’s biggest creative endeavor yet! With impressive scenery, diverse shooting locales and an incredibly talented pool of TV and film crew, the decision to utilize everything British Columbia has to offer was an easy one.

Vancouver boasts some of the world’s best TV and Film Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists, a previously exclusive club that’s now parting the ropes as high demand for their skills continues to skyrocket. With our city playing host to gruesome hits like SupernaturaliZombie and Deadpool our Blanche Macdonald Hair and Makeup family is beyond busy creating epic looks and winning major awards. In the past year they have been recognized with multiple Emmy, Canadian Screen Awards and Leo Awards for their outstanding work and dedication to their craft. The diversity of the abilities throughout our Fashion scene is becoming more involved and the Film & TV industry is taking note! They are scouting local talent and our contribution is only growing. From Vancouver to Prince George, film productions dotted the landscape in this momentous year and Blanche Macdonald graduates and instructors were lucky enough to take on leading roles.

At the forefront of many of the main costuming jobs that roll through Vancouver is Blanche Macdonald Costuming for TV & Film instructor Derek Baskerville. As an industry veteran with titles like I, RobotUntold Stories of the ER and Wedding Bells behind him, Derek has an innate understanding of all the demands and responsibilities that come with a role in the costume department of any production. He also has an excellent eye for those students of his who possess such gritty sparkle. Students such as Fashion Marketing graduate Madison Douglas, who is excelling as an assistant to Derek on a number of his upcoming projects! Luckily for our Fashion Marketing and Design students, Derek is also an extraordinary mentor and has placed many Blanche Macdonald Fashion students and graduates behind the scenes of multiple productions.

“One of my greatest pleasures when hiring Blanche Macdonald graduates is that within a very short time they make themselves indispensable with their willingness to take it all on, ‘own it’ and have fun at the same time. In the industry we are always looking for people with fresh ideas and ways to make challenges work while working on tight timelines.  We are looking for people who bring enthusiasm, courage and a positive attitude when they join a new costuming team!”

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"Blanche Macdonald is the Harvard of Makeup." - Eve Pearl, five-time Emmy Award winning Makeup Artist


We’re so excited to introduce you to the pillars of our Global Makeup Artistry program, the creative forces that drive it and the graduates who are continuing to gain world-wide recognition for their unmatched Makeup skills. Our commitment to the global artistry community has only strengthened our dedication and reputation for excellence. Throughout the years, we have been fortunate to have forged incredible relationships with some of the top artists in their field who contribute to the successes of our programs and our graduates even now.

We are so humbled to be recognized as the “Harvard of Makeup” by someone of Eve Pearl’s stature. As a five-time Emmy Award winning Makeup Artist and one of the leading authorities on beauty, Eve Pearl is also a highly successful entrepreneur behind the international cosmetics brand Eve Pearl with over two decades of experience in TV, film, print and theatre.

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Makeup is different for everyone. For some, it’s designated to special occasions; for others, it’s an essential daily routine. For Blanche Macdonald Freelance graduate AJ Woodworth, it’s a sacred ritual, deserving of respect in an appropriate space and environment. Upon graduating from Canada’s #1 Makeup School, that’s exactly what she set out to create. AJ’s dreams of a private and comfortable makeup studio have come to fruition in The Glamoury – Yaletown’s newest luxury styling salon.

“Before I did anything in makeup, I was a musician and there were always TV segments, performances or rehearsals that I had to be done up for, usually super early in the morning. I do not go out without my makeup on so the idea of going out to a store to get my makeup done, if they were even open that early, was horrifying. I always wanted something that was really private and that gave the clients an experience, which didn’t exist. So that’s when this idea started to take hold in me.”

With the idea firmly planted, AJ took the plunge and began searching for the perfect location to create her makeup heaven.

“Yaletown was a natural place to be in my mind. I was putting my business plan together and I contacted a leasing agent. I told him what I wanted and he basically told me it would be impossible! Weirdly enough, he called me a few weeks later and was like ‘I found your space!’”

Armed with a business plan and now a place to set it all up, it was time for AJ to decide exactly what aesthetic and feel she wanted her dream studio to take on.

“I can’t take credit for the beauty in here! The one thing I can take credit for is the fact that I knew I wanted something different, something that would make a statement and feel luxurious when you were in it. I knew I wanted lights around the mirrors, lots of privacy – hence the partitions – and an old Hollywood vibe but without the sparkly chandeliers. So I started working with the team at Ste Marie [design studio] and they presented me with this colour palette of reds, eggplant, brass and wallpaper and I just fell in love. They basically took everything I wanted, combined it all and bumped it up 1 million percent! We also worked with Glasfurd & Walker [branding and identity design studio] who did all of our branding and signage.”

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Amidst the sprawling metropolis of New York City, film fanatics and beauty aficionados flocked to Pier 94 New York, New York this past month to take in everything Makeup at the prestigious International Make-up Artist Trade Show (IMATS). Held annually in only six mega makeup hubs across the globe (LA, New York, Vancouver, London, Toronto and Sydney) IMATS is a cosmetic wonderland and an opportunity to rub shoulders with the best of the best: from tip-top Makeup industry veterans and innovators, to Award-Winning Artists and YouTube/Vlogger sensations. This year, two superstar Blanche Macdonald Makeup prodigies – recent Global Makeup graduate and first time competitor from Ottawa, Ontario Aurezo Sanari as well as Global Makeup Co-op graduate and two-time competitor from Monroe, Michigan, Erin Geer – were selected to compete in the hotly contested Battle of the Brushes competition at this renowned event. With thousands milling about and Facebook live feeds streaming away, these two took to the stage with a carefully selected group of outrageous new makeup artists to battle it out for those coveted podium spots.

Blanche Macdonald: How did you prepare for this event?

Erin Geer: With the Battle of the Brushes Prosthetics category you aren't told how many pieces  or even what exact pieces you will be getting. Because of this, there is only so much prep you can do. I practiced at home for the last two months, making sure I knew my layers and the order I would do things in so that I didn't get lost. This helped a lot in my time management.

Aurezo Sanari: I received the news that I was a finalist seven weeks before the show, which is exactly when the preparations began! In terms of preparing for the day itself, I packed doubles of every product I used just in case something didn't work!

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