Growing up in Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, makeup artist Raquel Cohen says she was always surrounded by “smart, savvy, creative women.” Her mom, Annabel Cohen, is well-known in the culinary arts field, her grandmother, Bertha Cohen, is an acclaimed artist, and her stepmother, Patti Kelter, is an interior designer.
“My mom’s side of the family has all different types of creative artist energy. Just like my mom, I’m self-taught and didn’t have any formal training in my art,” Cohen says.
The Bloomfield Hills resident attended Bloomfield Hills Public Schools, Frankel Jewish Academy and Oakland University.
“I was a theater kid from the age of seven. In high school I started doing stage makeup and teenage girl makeup experimentation. I practiced on myself, friends, my mom, my stepmom,” she explains, “I learned from YouTube and social media and eventually developed my own style. At the time I thought it was just a fun hobby and not a real job.”
In 2015, a friend of Cohen’s was modeling locally and asked her to do her makeup for a photoshoot. This experience became a turning point for Cohen, who has since built a referral-based, word-of-mouth career as a professional makeup artist working on feature films, local TV, photoshoots, weddings, and family and senior portraits. She also teaches lessons on makeup application and serves as a personal shopper for clients who need assistance with selecting makeup and skincare products.
“When it comes to makeup, I love that there are limitless opportunities and endless possibilities and applications. I also love that I’m working with a live canvas and can wash it off if I mess up,” she said. “Makeup is accessible to everyone, and, for better or worse, the way we look informs so much of how we feel about ourselves. Makeup can help someone feel their best – and that is my main mission. I work with a lot of trans individuals teaching them to feminize their face with makeup since they didn’t grow up learning. It is so rewarding to see when their face reflects who they always thought they were.”
Cohen also said that her career as a makeup artist is the perfect job for her as someone who has ADHD and is neurodivergent. “I can talk to anyone. I love meeting all sorts of people from different walks of life. I love their fascinating stories. When someone hires me, it is usually for something important, and I’m focused on giving them my best service since pictures are forever.”
She recently worked on a film with a local filmmaker and hopes to do more feature films, fashion runway shows and teaching in the future.
When she is not perfecting her craft, Cohen pursues other creative interests such as singing karaoke, visiting museums, and attending films, theater and live music shows. She also collects vinyl records. “I have always been a film buff. I especially love historical films and makeup from the 50s, 60s and 70s.”
For those considering a creative career, Cohen shares, “I am constantly blown away and impressed by our local creative talent pool. If you’re pursuing a creative field or art, don’t give up. There is room for everyone in a creative space. I encourage collaboration over competition. I learn more of my craft every day and I still love it and get excited. It’s all worth it to get to do this art.”
Story: Tracy Donohue
Photo: Laurie Tennent