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Euphoria Makeup Artist Donni Davy On Why Good Things Happen Outside Your Comfort Zone

I sit down with Donni Davy after she’s gracefully given career advice and taken selfies with a sea of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) beauty and fragrance students following her Refinery29 x SCAD Present Next In Beauty keynote talk. This two-day conference was the first of its kind for SCAD students, who were able to meet some of their favorite beauty idols from their phone and laptop screens.
Several of SCAD’s own makeup artistry club who were also in attendance were incredibly grateful that Davy, the head makeup artist for Euphoria and Half Magic cofounder, overcame her self-proclaimed shyness to speak, a shyness she told the audience would have prevented her from taking on such an engagement just a short three years ago. “I’m really grateful that I got over my insane stage fright,” she tells me later, as we sit on a couch in SCAD’s Poetter Hall, where her talk took place. “[It was] by means of being forced to do it, like one time my husband had to literally push me on stage because I tried to escape.”
It sounds unbelievable to Davy’s fans that someone whose artistry and brand is so loud and bold could be nervous to talk in front of college students. But then again, Davy was once a photography student herself at the Pratt Institute and mentioned during her talk that even then she hid behind the camera. So how did a photographer turned special effects makeup artist end up with an Emmy award? Here’s what we found out…
You began as a photography major in college, and you’re now an Emmy award-winning makeup artist. What advice do you have for navigating a non-linear career path?

I think creative careers are never quite linear or formulaic. So much magic can happen when you don’t overthink something and you just say YES to an opportunity. I’m a really big fan of saying yes to opportunities… I did learn early on that getting out of your comfort zone is one of the best things you can do regularly. Don’t stress if you’re not in your career field that you thought you’d be in. That’s exciting! Life will surprise you. 
What does getting out of your comfort zone look like for you today?

Being in front of the camera, like doing makeup tutorials, I really resisted that for a long time. Now I have Half Magic beauty and I have to get in front of the camera. It’s part of my job, people are relying on me for it. I’ve had to not resist that and I learned, I’m actually good at it, I can do this.  
In the artist community, we have a saying that you’re only as good as your last piece. As the creator of “Euphoria makeup” and constantly pushing creative boundaries, how do you overcome the pressures of doing a greater look than the last?

Better doesn’t mean bigger, it doesn’t mean LOUDER, it doesn’t mean more neon, more sparkly. It’s about re-exploring this thing that Euphoria makeup is … Using makeup truly as self-expression to tell a story, to express how one is feeling, to experiment with color and texture. Exploring different ways of doing things is always the next thing I’m working on. 
How do you take your own work and ideas and scale them for Half Magic Beauty consumers into something they can use and understand?

That’s definitely a big challenge. I think at times certain ways I have presented products have used too much artistry… Too crazy. That’s the really interesting challenge with marketing, I almost have to tone things down for a regular person … My brain is much more artistry bound. My main mission with my products is to make them really easy to use and to make the packaging design and names really fun, disarming, and inclusive. That’s why a lot of shade names are funny or really vibey and the packaging is really fantastical. It’s all meant to be a part of the user experience.

The act of adorning yourself… It’s such a practice of self-love and just figuring out different versions of yourself, it’s essential in growing and growing up.

Donni Davy
What advice do you have for creatives looking to start their own business?

I have a really great team, they’re very small… But it’s definitely not something you can do on your own. You need a team who you can really trust and you need to be totally open to learning things. Learning and realizing I don’t know all the answers is really the best thing I can do … You just have to believe in it so hard, and you have to live and breathe it.
Lastly, how would you relay the importance of using makeup as a medium for storytelling in photography and film?

The director wants to tell the story as best they can, so just go back to the story. Like, Oh I think this look would really help illustrate this in the next scene, especially because the next time we see them, this is the look we already shot so it’s seen before. What do you think about doing it this way? I think it would be really helpful in conveying the story. Always bring it back to the story.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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