I first met Kathy Price circa 2004, as she gently brushed powder onto my cheeks and styled my hair for a Wolverine Worldwide runway show. Over the years I found myself in her make-up chair a handful of times in working on catalog shoots for Leigh’s Boutique or Amway. Kathy’s humble air and laid-back spirit tended to calm my anxious nerves before treading on any catwalk. In her make-artistry, Kathy creates the look or image of people in front of cameras and on-stage, mostly for the commercial and entertainment industry. She has traveled extensively all over the globe from Milan to New York City and Los Angeles. Whether selling cosmetics, clothing or creating a character in a movie, there is usually an emotion or spirit that needs to be triggered. Through visualization and interpretation, Kathy makes sure the subject looks the part. In addition to my familiarity with her in the local Grand Rapids fashion scene, I began to see Kathy Price’s name attached to several other artistic endeavors as well. Kathy has always been so humble and modest regarding her behind-the scenes work. I was curious to know more about what her journey has been like — what has inspired and motivated her to achieve her dreams?
“Everyone in front of the camera needs a certain level of care and I try to adapt to every situation, as there are many situations. Often, I am the first experience they have at the shoot and I try to make it positive and comfortable,” explains Kathy. “Sometimes the art of my work is in knowing what not to do. Sometimes it is change or subtlety, and other times the look is the driving force and ‘bigger than life.’ It is ultimately about knowing what is right for the situation.”
Kathy recounts that she always wanted to do hair and make-up from a young age, ironically enough since she classifies her childhood self as “a tomboy riding dirt bikes and playing sports.” At 17 years of age, straight out of high school, Kathy enrolled into Chic University of Cosmetology. Soon after, she traveled to England to study professional make-up at Complexions International, London School of Make-up. After a year in London she returned to Grand Rapids, portfolio under arm and started knocking on photographer’s doors. “I thought I would need to move to Chicago or a bigger city to pursue the commercial industry,” says Kathy. “But I found out as I got out in the field, we had quite a lot of work and there was quite a niche to be filled locally.”
Having worked in the make-up industry for the entirety of her adult experience, she sees much of everyday life as a photo opportunity. She sees life as imitating art, and with a love for nature, this is where she draws endless inspiration. “Of course I have mounds and mounds of magazines — European and American — that I will not let go of until all great ideas are cut out and filed for reference.”
Inspiration is also elicited from others working on set with Kathy: photographers, stylists, art directors, models, and actors. Kathy explains that it’s really a team effort. “We all play off of each other and bring our own game to the mix.” She recognizes and respects the talent in her colleagues who have ultimately returned to Grand Rapids after working all over the globe for the industry. “They’ve chosen to come back here and hang their hat, so to speak.”
Kathy can say the same for herself. She’s worked in several markets of the industry, including Miami, New York City, and Chicago, yet ultimately she’s chosen Grand Rapids as her home market. In regards to her national exposure, Kathy notes that it’s “Good for buzz and portfolio, but I appreciate the bonds I have made with artists I have come to know and love right here.”
Having traveled all over the world, Kathy has had so many adventures to speak of, yet has found that the most memorable projects are those done for little or no money. “Nothing like a community of like-minded people creating a vision together, just for the sake of creative expression.”
Over the years, Kathy has worked with many clients on a regular basis. On a local level she’s worked with Amway, Meijer, Wolverine World Wide, Kellogg, Herman Miller, Steelcase and Whirlpool, as well as local catalogs and commercials and the occasional film. In addition, Kathy has worked on editorials for many national magazines and for several years worked with Redken, and created the make-up looks for trend shows in major cities across the US including HBO and A & E channel.
Kathy has worked with some top names in the business as well, including Kurt Cobain from Nirvana for a 1994 cover story in Rolling Stone, entitled ‘Success Doesn’t Suck.’
“I was a big fan and working with photographer Mark Seliger was a great experience. It was the last shot of the day and they had to take off for a concert. It was a very important shot for Mark to have; it was almost like the whole day was for that shot. We had to work quickly once Kurt arrived on set.” Sadly, Kurt died shortly thereafter. Kathy’s work with Mark Seliger for that shot was chosen for a subsequent cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.
In listing other big name collaborations, Kathy had many: “Desmond Tutu (he blessed me), Arnold “powda only” Schwarzenegger, Kurt Cobain and David Grohl (that’s what I am talking about), Michael Moore (always an adventure), Nathan Lane (as funny as you would expect), Jane Seymour (my dad’s favorite), Rue McClanahan (a starrrrr!), Stephanie Zimbalist and Peter Scolari (think 80’s), The Maytag Man (rock star), Katie “where is my diet coke” Brown, countless sports guys from covering a superbowl for HBO, of which I only remember George Foreman. Oh wait, that was from the boxing match, and lots and lots of politicians! What am I saying here?”
She developed her client base with a strong portfolio and work ethic, reliability, loyalty and quiet confidence. “Word of mouth has carried me. I never stop testing ideas and expanding my body of work. You have to keep reinventing yourself to keep up with the ever-changing shifts of style and popular culture. A lot of self-motivation is required.”
Recently Kathy has been enjoying collaboration in a portrait series with photographer Mitch Ranger. “These are timeless images that leave a little room for the imagination and leave the viewer to decide what is going on in the photo.” Some of this work was recognized in Communication Arts Photography annual 2010 and Graphics Photography Annual 2010.
Kathy Price Summer make-up tips: Don’t get too detailed or try too hard. It’s summer, it’s hot, let your skin glow through! Use a light sheer base and manage shine in T-zone with blot papers and blot powders. Use a lip pencil that matches your lip color, and fill in lips to softly define and add a tinted lip balm or sheer color over the top. A wash of natural color over the lid; accent and extend the lash line a bit with a dark shadow or pencil. Apply mascara to open the eye a bit. Use soft color or a bronzer to slightly contour the cheeks.
Kathy has recently taken on a new business venture with Dancing Goat Creamery. She purchased the business in November of 2011 alongside a business partner. Kathy Price may be contacted at
Ruthie Paulson Gomez thinks, dreams, and loves in 2 languages: English and Spanish. She modeled professionally in Milan and Nice and now works in the nonprofit sector in West Michigan. Other past-times include tango dancing and sunflower-raising.