Robbie Miller is Head of Global Education at Dinair, the first legendary brand of airbrush makeup for the beauty industry created by Dina Ousley and George Lampman in 1981. Robbie's carrier in airbrushing is the stuff of dreams, in less than two years his passion and dedication allowed him to achieve amazing creative and professional results. While continuing in his role as instructor, Robbie actively collaborated on the creation of the first line of airbrushable semi permanent hair colors called Dinair Vivid Hair, as well as securing a high profile collaboration for Dinair with TLC television network. It was a pleasure to sit down with him at Dinair's North Hollywood headquarters and ask him about his inspiring story.
Let's start with something about your background...
I grew up poor in West Virginia, in a little town of just three hundred people called Robson in the Appalachian Mountains, then I moved to Virginia Beach and I went to Paul Mitchell school there, and that's where I was introduced to Dinair, through a workshop.
|Model Zuzu wearing 100% Dinair makeup by Robbie Miller|
Paul Mitchell is primarily a hairdressing school. How did you decide to focus on makeup?
I love hair but I really love makeup. The school's curriculum doesn't touch a lot on makeup so I was scared of it, but then they brought this speaker in, her name was Jane and she was a representative of Dinair, and I thought "oh my God, I CAN do this type of makeup", it felt so easy and natural in my hands. So I just kept practicing more and more.
Was your family supportive of your career choice?
Initially my dad thought that there was no money to be made in the beauty industry... but I proved him wrong! Of course there wouldn't be much in a small town, but in Los Angeles there certainly is a lot of money to be made from this craft. Now my parents are very happy to see me travel with Dina and do everything that we do...
How did airbrushing become your main focus?
Right out of beauty school I started working at a hair salon in Vigina Beach and I got really good at airbrushing, and being the only makeup artist who had perfected this skill the salon had me doing about five weddings a week!
How did the big move to LA come about, and how did you become Dinair's Head of Global Education?
|Makeup and Hair airbrushed by Robbie Miller|
When I moved to Los Angeles a little over a year ago I had never been here before. I just had a dream and a salon job that I had lined up previously. But Salon work is not for everyone and it really wasn't for me. So about two weeks after I moved here Jane (the lady who had taught me in my first Dinair workshop) passed away, and I posted on her memorial Facebook Page asking for a ride to her memorial service as she had meant a lot to me. The person that responded to that was actually Dina. So in the car I told her my story with Jane and she said to me "I'm going to make you and educator". About two weeks after that I was working for Dinair full time.
What an amazing story! So when you started learning was there any aspect of the technique that you thought was a little harder to master?
Well it took me a while to realize that airbrushing wasn't just putting product in this wand and pulling the lever. The airbrush is a tool and it takes practice and the proper education to become an airbrush makeup artist. Of course color theory and placement still apply, but there are techniques that you need to learn as gradient, distance and pressure create different looks. As I was starting out I probably didn't realize all that. The most difficult thing to learn was probably eyeshadow and getting that blended look. It's all about how close you are, how far back you're pushing your lever and the angle that you are holding the airbrush at...
|Hunger Games looks by Robbie Miller with Dinair|
What's the most common mistake that your students do when they are learning airbrushing?
Definitely overspraying. Basically airbrushing is like having Photoshop in your hand, so you have to be very sparse and precise when covering the problem areas and then apply a light pass on the rest to blend everything in, as opposed to a flat all over application.
Is there an aspect to the teaching that you enjoy less?
A lot of makeup artists just want to go straight to creating a look, but there are a few technical aspects that need to be taught before that. They aren't the funnest to teach but they are necessities because without the foundation techniques you will not be able to create the rest.
Dinair is one of the most dynamic brands in the makeup industry, with an incredible growth in the output of new lines in the last couple of years alone. What is your own favourite line?
|Airbrushed grooming by Robbie Miller|
I really like our Soft Glow foundation line. It really does stay put, and gives a nice glowing effect. Even though it was meant for oily skin types any type can wear it, and that's my go to. Each line we have is best suitable for a different skin type, but if I had to choose one to start my kit I would definitely go with Soft Glow. Then of course there is our Glamour line, which allows for the most natural looking skin. It's also the best for men grooming because it's undetectable. From a consumer's perspective, the fact that the airbrush wand is a "cool tool" also makes it easier for man to use for covering skin imperfections without thinking about it as makeup.
In your opinion what is the greatest misconception about airbrush makeup today?
There are actually two: one held by consumers and one made by pros. The consumers think it's too difficult, and the professionals think that they can't create the same look with the airbrush as they do with their brushes. Of course we live to prove them wrong [laughs].
Although it's only been a about two years from when you started with Dinair you have already been part of a lot of remarkable experiences. Which ones stand out so far?
The TLC Say Yes to the Dress filming experience was very exciting. The host of the program Monte Durham is a friend of mine from the same home town, so I suggested that he include makeup in his the show. He said he had been thinking about it and asked us if we'd be interested in collaborating on Say Yes to the Prom, so after months of planning and training artists all around the Country we were able to participate. We did a four city tour (New York, Miami, LA and Dallas) giving prom makeovers to deserving your girls who are less economically advantaged but have great academics. They received gorgeous dresses, jewellery, hair and makeup and then they were part of a runaway show. We had 120 airbrush makeup artists, 30 for each location, and it was great for them to be part of such a huge production. The show focused on four principal girls, and each of them was assigned a makeup artist so Dina and I plus two of our star artists were part of this group. [The show aired in May, 2016. Press coverage included a spread on People Magazine]
|Robbie, Dina, the Dinair Team and Monte Durham on Say Yes to the Prom!|
What is working with Dina like?
|Working with Dina on Mario Lopez|
Dina is such a wonderful mentor. She's an Emmy award makeup artist who has been in the industry for fifty years, has a celebrity clientele and still works on film and TV, yet she is humble and so giving. Dinair is the result of her love for the industry.
I know that you are also an actor, so was coming to LA a way to put your great passions together?
Yes, I love anything in front or behind the camera. I studied at Amy Pollard's school for improv and took acting classes on the East Coast, I just love creating for the camera, whether it's hair, makeup or performing it's all part of the same big dream...
What is the next dream you would like to achieve?
Being here at Dinair and being able to inspire new generations of makeup artists to believe in themselves and their dreams, or helping someone like a burn victim with a workshop on camouflage, that is so much more rewarding to me than doing makeup in a salon. I love inspiring people to be the best they can, and whatever their dreams are to take a leap and believe in themselves. Right now I am writing a book on my journey in the past few years, and that will hopefully be completed soon, so I am very excited about that.
Do you have any advice for new airbrush makeup artists?
Keep learning, don't just do foundation and blush. Get specialized. I know that the more specialized you are the more attention you get whenever you are on set. If you are quick and efficient they will remember that. Just as it happened in this last show for TLC. They told us makeup had never been on time before. We were able to get finished early every time with forty minutes to spare.
|Robbie and Team on shoot for Vogue Italia|