Erick Gerson: Meet the Man Behind the Makeup
Photography by Phrené Hoeksema
This is a series on local style talent, where I will introduce you to some of the most stylish top talent in West Michigan. These creatives, professionals and entrepreneurs are at the top of their respective fields and have put in the blood, sweat and tears to get where they are today. They're dedicated, hard working and most of all, kind, good people. You can find them busting ceilings, re-inventing and re-thinking industries where another name, website or business is just another drop in the bucket, all while managing to help others along the way. They're the workers, the dreamers and the go-getters who are the best at doing what they do, and they do it in style.
Back in 2012 when my hubby and I were getting hitched, I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted a makeup artist or not. I was pretty good at doing my own makeup, proud, in fact, for how far I'd come since my Drew Carey Show, Mimi days. Then, I came across Erick Gerson. He came highly recommended and was very responsive to emails and questions that I had, which is and was important me. I checked out his website and portfolio and I was very impressed with his work, so I booked him, and as you can guess, this is where our story begins. Let me introduce you all to the man, the legend and the makeup that is Erick Gerson Rodriguez.
wow, that was dramatic...
The Man: "Chocolate, Shopping & Makeup"
For those of you who don't know Erick, he's a brilliant, self-employed professional makeup artist and educator with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He has recently been featured on the cover of Grand Rapids Magazine, local television news, and as Kesha's makeup artist for her recent tour stop in Grand Rapids. He has also been featured in Wedding Wire, The Knot, Hot Pink Brides and countless other wedding websites and blogs. There are tons of great reviews and his ratings are always close to perfect. You can view his work on our wedding party here.
He has participated in local fashion shows, done movie makeup (he even has a IMDB page!), and has won style contests like Style Battle, a local runway competition. Check out his instagram, but first make sure you have about 30 minutes to just...keep...scrolling because it's amazing. I've included a few of my favorites below. Gerson also teaches group and private makeup lessons. You can book appointments for those classes on his website.
Gerson, originally from an island in the Gulf of Mexico called Carmen City, or The Pearl of the Gulf in Mexico, has called West Michigan home for the last decade. Although he is one of, if not the best makeup artist in the area, he didn't always know that he wanted this career. "It was very hard for me growing up trying to choose a profession, something that I really enjoyed. I wanted to be graphic designer like my dad. And went for it, but I never worked as such. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a make up artist. When I experienced this for the first time, it was and eye-opener for me and love at first sight." On an average day, flexibility is key, according to Gerson. "My day is very unpredictable. Sometimes I can have the day off, and all the sudden I will get a call to do make up for a television interview or somebody needs makeup for an event, which I love. It's great being busy, but also having a schedule that is so flexible. I can set time aside to do other things like go to the gym after work, shop, meet my husband for lunch or just stay at home working."
"Guilty pleasures? Chocolate, shopping and of course, makeup."
Gerson currently resides in the trendy Alger Heights area with his husband, Jeremy, in their beautiful, one-of-a-kind, interior-design-blog-worthy home. He works out of a beautiful home studio with tasteful touches of gold and a chic vintage feel, including a vintage makeup display cabinet.
Other than teaching and styling, he enjoys traveling and hiking. With regards to his most recent hiking road trip, he says, "Well after our last two week trip across seven states, doing over 100 miles in hikes, we're taking it easy and going to las Vegas and NYC this year." Gerson dreams of visiting Spain one day. When asked what his favorite movie was, he replied, "A movie that I love, but has always made me cry is 'Life is Beautiful' because it's a movie that really gets to your heart and shows you that life can be beautiful even in the worst scenarios. But I won't say much, watch the whole movie if you haven't seen it." He says he closely identifies with the beautiful and powerful Maria Felix, who is a Mexican Actress from the Golden Era, who made herself known as a star being a confident, empowered and outspoken female personality. Gerson has an incredible view on work-life balance, which I'm finding I need help with in my own endeavors. "I love work and being busy, but you need to respect your body and give yourself time to enjoy life as well. Travel, enjoy life, otherwise your life becomes very monotonous and sadly you start losing the interest in what you do."
Not only is Gerson extremely talented in his field, but he is also one of the kindest, most genuine people you'll ever meet. He gives back to his community and cares very much about the well-being of others. "Growing up, I always wanted to do something to help people and animals, like a doctor. If I saw a homeless person on the streets, I would ask my mom for money to give to him or her. I've always been super sensitive when I see people or animals suffering or being mistreated. Fortunately, my job has been a great source to reach out and help people. I've been a sponsor for various cancer awareness events and organizations, and will continue to be every year. I've provided my services to the Women's Resource Center, teaching classes to women who are struggling. I help them with makeup on how to look presentable for job opportunities and more. You can watch and read about Gerson's experience with the Women's Resource Center here. I also visit homeless shelters, and making a difference by providing makeovers."
The Style: "I Can't Live Without Jeans."
With killer skin, a style icon like Adam Lambert, and favorite brands like Zara, Desigual and Topman, Erick Gerson is a style force to be reckoned with. Gerson's self-described style is "flamboyant, trendy and simple." He loves shopping anywhere from local boutiques to online to department stores, and says that he absolutely cannot survive without jeans. #preach. What's has been on his summer shopping list? "I need to get new tops. I'm also looking for another pair of gladiator style sandals and new accessories." When chatting about his latest road trip, he raves, "I actually went to a boutique in Denver last week and found some bell bottom jeans that I'm loving right now." (gets distracted and shops for bell bottoms for an hour because I am obsessed with them right now).
"if I could, I would totally rock an outfit from John Galliano's avant garde collection. I really like his style."
The makeup industry is one where the stars are often hidden behind curtains and mentioned in tiny print at the end of the credits. It's an art that is usually only applied to half of the population and isn't often appreciated for the intricate detailing, dynamic canvas and ever-changing standards that make it so difficult. When asked what creative minds he admires, Gerson replied, "I really admire people that are kind, open minded and love to help others by sharing knowledge. Sometimes, in this industry, it can be hard to find people with those qualities, but I do have a person that I've always admired. She works for the today show in NYC. I've met with her few times, and I really love her, so she's on my top list." As far as his admirers go, "people always complement my skin, but I'd like to say my trademarks are my brows and eyelashes. My eyebrows are pretty full but I like to give them a nice, well-defined shape. When I curl my eyelashes, I like to do it with a tea spoon to get them super curly then I apply a mascara that keeps them separate. I don't like clumpy lashes." When it comes to personal style and expression in general, he advises, "when dressing or doing your makeup, don't be afraid of trying new things, don't over think. Otherwise it's going to look like you've tried way too hard."
The Story: "Hit Me Baby One More Time"
As far as my story with Erick goes, when I met him, one of the first great things I noticed about him was how comfortable he made me feel. I felt like I'd known him forever! We chatted about our shared love for MAC's eye kohl pencils, Halloween parties, and all things Britney, As I watched him do his thing, it was hard not to notice how effortless it seemed to him. I may not always know the best products to use for what, but I do stay very up to date on new makeup lines, products and beauty trends, so I was also excited to realize that Erick knew his stuff. It's always discouraging when I'm at a store, makeup counter or salon, and I know more about the products, brands and trends in their area of "expertise" then they do, which has been most of my experience in West Michigan thus far. That was definitely not the case with Erick, and I felt comfortable and confident asking him for advice on products, application or anything related. I even remember us comparing our favorite colors of MAC eye kohl and referring to them by their actual names like "smolder" and "teddy," and agreeing that we can't live without Makeup Forever's HD Finishing Powder.
So naturally, once I started up the blog and decided to do the Shop Local series, I called Erick. Then I thought to myself, there is so much local talent out there, why not do a separate series highlighting the style we have on this side of the state, to really show it off so that more and more people might be comfortable wearing their fur vests, over-the-knee boots and tulle skirts around here. Dressing and styling are just the tools you use to express yourself, and I think it's high time that Grand Rapids gets out of the jeans and t-shirt rut we're in and start showing off the immense amount of artistic talent that we covet here. This is where our story continues. Erick did the photoshoot makeup for the Humanity Boutique post, and will also be the featured makeup artist for the upcoming photoshoot we have at Mia's Dress Boutique.
Erick's photoshoot took place right after our Humanity Boutique shoot, so we headed across the street and grabbed some grub. I wanted to check out Brick & Porter, so we ordered the Ahi Tostadas, which were absolutely delicious, and a round of drinks. Elvis, our server, was super cool too, so ask for him if you head out there. They had a very refreshing cocktail list, which was much appreciated with the 90 degree weather that day. I'm very grateful for meeting Erick and for his kindness, generosity and sincerity throughout this process. It was such a fun time hanging out with him, and I can't wait to collaborate again on the Mia's shoot, so stay tuned for more amazing work from Erick Gerson Rodriguez.
PHOTOGRAPHER: PHRENÉ HOEKSEMA
Phrené is the owner and head photographer of Studio Phrené as well as an adjunct professor of photography at Cornerstone University. She's also the proud mom of a beautiful daughter and primary photographer at Style Logic.
"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination." ~Albert Einstein
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