“I am a big believer in energy,” proclaims makeup artist Monika Blunder. “I can feel someone’s energy because I work with so many different types of people. I’m really positive and I try to live my life like that. I don’t like to be around negative people. They just kind of bring me down. I would definitely say I’m optimistic.” The Los Angeles–based, Austria-bred artist is not exaggerating—with more than 20 years in the industry, she has made up a lot of faces, including the flawless ones of devoted clients like Rosie Huntington Whiteley, Jessica Alba, Amanda Seyfried, and Heidi Klum.
Blunder, who views her makeup-given ability to make women feel beautiful almost as a superpower, became enamored of her profession-to-be at age 15, when visiting her director older brother on film sets. “Especially in Austria, where I’m from, makeup is not a profession anyone chooses, and there’s not the right schooling for it,” she explains. Not easily deterred, she enrolled in a makeup school in Germany at 18, then went on to work at a theater in Munich. Later she assisted Norbert Cheminel, an artist who solidified her love for fashion.
When she was 22, Blunder moved to California to work with some of the greats, including Kevyn Aucoin and Paul Starr. But her big break arrived in the supermodel era of the mid-‘90s, when she worked with Rebecca Romijn and Heidi Klum on numerous shoots (including some Sports Illustrated covers). Eventually she met Molly Sims and began doing her makeup for MTV’s House of Style. She has been on the rise ever since.
Lately, Blunder has been dedicated to building her new blog, Highbrow, and her YouTube channel, which boasts more than 130,000 subscribers. “I just started Highbrow, and it’s something I’m going to take in multiple directions,” says Blunder, who is consistently brainstorming new content with cofounder Zoe Brenneke and conceptualizing photo shoots with her husband, photographer Jin-Woo Prensena. And although she feels as if she could have been a baker in another life—she has never bought a birthday cake for her children, instead whipping up fantastical cakes and cookies at home—she couldn’t imagine ever giving up makeup. “I love it too much,” she says. “It’s the best outlet for inspiration.”