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Blanche Macdonald

Grad Success


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

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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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BLANCHE MACDONALD ESTHETICS GRAD AND BLU HARBOUR WELLNESS'S SPA LEAD TRACY CHERNIAK: NORTH VANCOUVER'S SUGARING EXPERT

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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!

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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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BLANCHE MACDONALD PRO HAIR GRADUATE ERIN MURPHY FLOURISHES AT JUJU SALON

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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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LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! A BEHIND THE SCENES PEEK INTO LIFE WITH BLANCHE MACDONALD'S BEST & BRIGHTEST FASHION SCHOOL GRADUATES

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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 FREELANCE MAKEUP GRADUATE AJ WOODWORTH BRINGS SOPHISTICATION TO YALETOWN WITH THE GLAMOURY

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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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JEWEL FROM JAPAN - MAYUKO TSUJI SPARKLES IN THE CLASSROOM AND ON THE BIG SCREEN

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!

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Global Makeup Graduate Mayuko Tsuji has quietly captivated her audience since day one at Blanche Macdonald. Her charming demeanour, enthusiasm to challenge herself and commitment to learning have been nothing short of inspiring. Quietly brave and fearlessly bold, it's hard to believe this Osaka-native moved all the way to Vancouver on her own - despite speaking very little English.

Mayuko wasted no time getting comfortable, eagerly immersing herself in a new culture and navigating her way through a foreign city. She then settled into her studies at Canada's Top Makeup School where she continued to demonstrate gratitude and benevolence to anyone that crossed her path. Her soft spoken words are articulated with profound sincerity as she recounts her experiences of coming to Canada.

"I am originally from Osaka, Japan. Japan is an incredible country for so many reasons, however, it is a difficult place for an aspiring Makeup Artist. When I was growing up I was very interested in Makeup and I was always reading fashion magazines and watching video tutorials about makeup. I remember this time a friend asked me to do her Makeup. I was surprisingly pleased with the outcome and it was after that experience that I said to myself, 'This job is amazing. I could make people really happy'."


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SHEAR TALENT: PRO HAIR GRAD JASHPER PARAS GUARDIAN OF LOVE AND BEAUTY AT B-BOMBSHELL SALON

They're the pruners of our strands, the keepers of our secrets and the masterminds behind those picture-perfect balayages. These Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair graduates are just getting their feet wet in the whirlwind world of Hair, but already, they're making waves in their new careers. Spanning the scene from stylists and barbers to Pro-Educators and entrepreneurs, our grads own their very own hair salons, hold the hottest seats in top salons, and work behind the scenes to create stunning editorials. Armed with the knowledge of our internationally recognized training, and a pair or two of super-sharp shears, these remarkable individuals have heard the entrepreneurial call of the Hair world and they have answered back. With Contessa Awards and other prestigious national and international competition wins under their collective belts, our grads are climbing the ranks of local and international scenes one snip at a time. It can be hairy, but they're ready for anything!

Top Hair School Graduate Jashper Paras, Stylist at B-Bombshell Salon

What happens when you mix a spot of South Park, a dash of Pokémon and a heaping tablespoon of competitive cheerleading and shake it up with a little somethin’ extra? You get Blanche Macdonald grad and wearer of infinite hair bows Jashper Paras! With such eclectic interests, it’s no surprise that Jashper has found his home at B-Bombshell Salon “Where Geek is Chic.” Jashper is here, in charge and ready to rock your hair world with a dazzling smile that just happens to bring out the cutest dimples you ever did see - and let’s be real, a dramatic cape flourish upon entrance. With a penchant for everything and anything from easy everyday looks to crazy fashion colours, there’s nothing he can’t do - including a darn good bouncy blowout. Skills? Check. Entertaining? Double Check. Enter your new stylist Sailor Jashper Paras: Agent of love, beauty and killer hair days.


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CZECH MATE - GLOBAL MAKEUP CO-OP GRAD EVA SVOBODOVA PLAYS A WINNING MAKEUP GAME

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!

UN Profile: Meet Eva Svobodova, Blanche Macdonald Global Makeup Co-op graduate from Vojkovice, Czech Republic!

Beauty. For Global Makeup graduate Eva Svobodova, it has been a lifelong fascination.

At University in her home country of the Czech Republic, Eva earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree studying the question “What is Beauty?” analyzing the theories of critics, philosophers and art historians who, like Eva, were searching for the answer.

Now, halfway across the world, Eva explores that very same question as a professional Makeup Artist in Vancouver, Canada. Moving from the theoretical to the practical, and from the pen to the brush, Eva creates beauty through her daring and dazzling artistry. Through her bold, colourful work she challenges us to question, to interact with and marvel at the medium of makeup.

In her short career Eva has graced the podium three times at the IMATS (International Makeup Trade Show) Battle of the Brushes, and she is already working as an in-demand Freelance artist for editorial, fashion shoots and films. With all that Eva has achieved just a month after her graduation, you would think she was born a makeup artist. But before she stumbled upon Blanche Macdonald two years ago, she didn’t even know makeup schools existed.

“I was 27 and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was googling one day and I found Blanche Macdonald by chance. I didn’t know you could actually study Makeup Artistry! So when I found out about the school, I knew I wanted to do it.”

UN Profile: Meet Eva Svobodova, Blanche Macdonald Global Makeup Co-op graduate from Vojkovice, Czech Republic!

Eva had always loved art, but she was left unfulfilled by her academic studies at University. Hoping that things would become clearer with a fresh perspective, Eva decided to travel and improve her English. She obtained a work permit for Canada, and landed on the West Coast ready for an adventure. But after a year in Vancouver, the only thing that was clear was that she wanted to remain in Canada. With work permit options exhausted, she decided to apply for a student visa. But to study what?

“I wanted to do something creative,” she recalls. “That was when I discovered Blanche Macdonald. I came and met with a director, read the reviews and it was all great. Everyone was so excited about this Makeup program. The atmosphere was so professional and everyone was so nice. I was really excited. So I said okay, let’s do it! And I am glad I did it!”


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