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INTERVIEW: Sandy Linter, make-up artist

Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll and an incredible spirit of hard work. Sandy Linter is one of the longest working makeup artists with a 40+ year career that took her around the world with Patti Hansen, on set with Helmut Newton, and famously posing on a chain link fence with Gia Carangi.

Surely, Linter’s stories of glamorous elbow-rubbing and endless nights at Studio ‘54 could fill a book, but it's her makeup work that is truly of note. Soulful, expressive, and era-defining, Linter’s hallmark makeup looks are unlike any that came before and have not been rivaled since.

She shares about her inspiration, her makeup icons, and her next dream here.

JJ: You did your mom’s makeup before she went to work, what was it about makeup that captivated you so young?

SL: It was the 1960s, the grooviest years. Makeup was in a revolution. If you look at makeup done in the 50s, the 60s really changed the way women looked. Girls were wearing mini-skirts, false eyelashes, and pale lips for the first time. Everything was revolutionary.

Sandy Linter doing Gia Carangi's makeup

JJ: You’ve cited Barbara Daly as one of your favorite makeup artists early on.

SL: Oh yes, she's a major inspiration. She came along in the 70s and I noticed her work around 1975. Every time I saw anything she did it just stayed with me.

JJ: Your work was so era-defining and truly your own, were you just listening to an instinct inside of you?

SL: I was inspired by magazines. Magazines in those days were just amazing. It started in the 1960s when I was looking at my mom’s Vogue’s. I was 15 looking at Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. What drew me to the page were the faces.

Makeup by Sandy Linter for her book Disco Beauty, 1979

JJ: Can you describe the process of designing a look for an editorial shoot?

SL: I’m not really good at collaborating because I’m going by instinct. If somebody wanted to know what I was doing, I never knew how to explain what I was going to do because I wasn’t taught anything. I just looked at the girl and the clothes and environment. All of those elements inspired me.

I wasn’t someone who collaborated because I didn’t know how to. It was the 70s, which was a really inventive time. When you’re on that wave of inventing things, how can you describe it?

Iman photographed by Francesco Scavullo

JJ: Can you point to a moment in your early career that was a defining moment for the rest of your career?

SL: There was a photographer who I worked with very often in the 70s called Deborah Turbeville. She did the famous bathhouse shoot. One of the models named Sunny Redmond was looking at the skylight above. The light fell on her face just so. I copied the way the light and shadow fell on her face with my makeup.

Deborah Turbeville, from the 'Bath House' series, Vogue 1975

JJ: You lived during the most glamorous time, with the most glamorous people–what is glamour to you?

SL: Glamour for me is a beautiful haircut and color. Beautiful makeup. I still love that–the hair, the makeup, beautiful clothes and shoes, a bag. If you can't afford all of it, pick one thing. But make yourself look glamorous. You can. Everyone is capable of doing it.

JJ: What is the greatest adventure your career took you on?

SL: I went to India in 1977 with Patti Hansen and Shaun Casey. Albert Watson was the photographer and Garren did the hair. It was very special to go to India in 1977 because when we got off the plane we knew we were in an exotic land. It was not like home. It was very far–13 hours by plane. That was a pretty cool trip.

And just meeting the fabulous people I’ve met–can you believe the people I’ve met?

Patti Hansen shot by Helmut Newton

JJ: Do you still have a next dream for your career?

SL: I just go to work every single day and whatever I do that day I am reaching my goal. Look at how many years I’ve been going and I’m still interested in working at 74 years-old. I’m blessed that I still love it. I just enjoy my days with what I am doing. I enjoy every day.

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