He is best known for his bold statement looks that deliver an abundance of theatricality, but Senior Artist John T. Stapleton is no stranger to understated elegance, either. From working with celebrity clients, backstage at fashion weeks and on photo shoots, Stapleton turns his hand to a wide range of looks, sometimes all within the space of a single day. It’s a challenge but well within the capabilities of this adopted Californian.
Stapleton credits his upbringing in Brooklyn with giving him confidence in his convictions. “My mother always told me to keep my wits about me, which made me streetwise,” he explains. These days he has mellowed and enjoys a wide range of opportunities afforded by his career, whose origins were less than conventional.
It was not so much a love of beauty as its polar opposite that first brought about Stapleton’s interest in makeup, as he recalls being obsessed with horror films and Fangoria magazine. “I had a cigar box with products I ordered from the magazine to make scar effects for the horror films I would make with my friends,” he explains. His introduction to the industry could not have been timelier. Shooting onto the scene as a model and working in Los Angeles, Stapleton had an early insight into the role makeup played backstage. He started wearing heavy kohl around his eyes, peaking his interest in makeup and prompting him to apply for a role with M·A·C when his modeling career drew to a close.
The ghoulish theme wasn’t to end there, however. While working with veteran makeup artist Rick Baker on his Halloween collection, Stapleton’s work appeared as part of the The Monster’s Bride campaign in M·A·C stores internationally, launching the young artist onto the international stage. Throughout his career, Stapleton has drawn inspiration from films such as The Stepford Wives, After Hours and
Female Trouble. He counts Kelly Osbourne, a fellow goth aficionado and daughter of Ozzy, among his favourite clients.
Yet it’s a surprisingly straightforward beauty regimen that Stapleton’s prescribes. “Drink lots of water,” as he maintains that no amount of makeup can replace vitality. “While I love to create a beautiful mess, my main drive is to help people feel confident and to be creative,” he explains.
It’s this attitude that has carried Stapleton through countless fashion weeks internationally, and won him acclaim early on in his career. It also explains why, of all the items in the M·A·C range, he finds himself returning to key staples such as Strobe Cream as he admits, “It makes me look shiny and young.” Lip Conditioner because “cracked lips aren’t cute,” and Prep + Prime Beauty Balm SPF 35 “for the sun protection.”