Former CONEL Hair and Make-up student’s joy at ‘literally painting a smile on people’s faces’

Anna Formela’s talent as a professional make-up artist, face and body painter has seen her work on everything from children’s parties to music videos.

Her artistic flair has seen her create many spectacular colourful and vibrant designs on themes of animals, sci-fi, beauty and horror to more avant-garde and abstract imagery.

Anna, 38, who is from Poland, successfully completed a Hair and Media Make-up Level 2 Diploma at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) in July.

Prior to studying at the college, she had already established her own face-painting and make-up business but admitted it was not a career that she had considered while at school.

She gained a BA (Hons) Public Healthcare and later learnt English in Liverpool before taking part in exchange programmes to New York and Belgium either side of an MA Pedagogy in Poland

“I saw a face-painter at an children’s party in Brussels. She was working with all the colours and making everyone happy. I thought this is such an amazing job, I want to do this job,” said Anna.

Anna returned to the UK and took a one-day course with a face-painting and body art business based in Hackney to increase her product and health and safety knowledge.

“I volunteered to do some face-painting for school fairs. I began to get more and more bookings for kids’ parties, office parties – it just started rolling from there. I always had a job on the side, but there came a point when I thought this is what I want to do full time.”

Anna took a business class and began networking and promoting her work on social media. Through this and word of mouth she went on to gain work for corporate events, festivals, theatres, short films and music videos. She also began teaching her skills.

“When I paint something on someone’s face or body and they look in the mirror and they smile, it’s priceless. I’m getting paid for being creative and making people happy. I’m literally painting a smile on people faces. Even if you’ve turn them into a zombie, they still smile,” she said.

Anna explained it was her love of working with people that turned her attention to make-up rather than working as a lone artist in a studio.

“I think I’ve always liked to paint on something different to paper. I remember my mum being upset when I was a child because I liked to draw on walls and different surfaces,” she said.

“When you paint in a in an art studio, usually it’s just you. It’s the human aspect of what I do and having a living, breathing canvas that gives me the biggest satisfaction.

“I cannot teach creativity, but I can teach techniques. Like everything in life, if you practice enough you’re going to do much better,” said Anna.

Work dried up during the COVID pandemic, but Anna continued teaching online while gaining financial help from a government scheme to provide income support for the self-employed.

She decided to enrol at CONEL to further develop her own skills, particularly in classical make-up and hair, which she had no experience or a recognised qualification in.

“I found there was the potential for more bookings if I was able to do 60s and 20s hair and make-up, and I wanted to add that to my services. The class was very diverse, so we were able to learn from each other and practise on different ages and skin colours,” said Anna.

“My teacher had worked in the industry and was always giving us tips. For example, if you want to work in theatre, then you also need to know about wigs; or during demonstrations she might say, ‘That’s good eyeliner but the foundation is a little off.’”

Anna, who is neurodiverse, also praised her teachers and staff at CONEL for the extra help they gave her with written assignments during her studies.

While at college, Anna came first in the Student Character category of Warpaint Paintopia Makeup Competition 2022 at the United Makeup Artists Expo in Liverpool for her version of the Marvel comic character She-Hulk.

She said: “I went into the competition just wanting to add another piece to my portfolio, and was very surprised to win because I’m the kind of person who is never satisfied with my art.”

Anna’s achievements earned her an Excellence Award from Capital City College Group, which includes CONEL along with City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and Capital City College Training.

Find out more about Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy courses and apply here.

Music student spotted on Instagram releases first professionally recorded song

An aspiring singer from Westminster Kingsway College has released her first professionally recorded song after being spotted by a music producer on Instagram.

Music student Elizabeth Azuero, 22, who is originally from Ecuador, co-wrote and recorded the track No Te Confundas, meaning Don’t Get Confused, in Spanish under her stage name Eli-Beth.

She was contacted by a Colombian music producer called Kenny Beach in December and recorded the song at Hazey Studios near her home in Southwark earlier this year.

Elizabeth said: “I received a notification on my phone that someone wanted to send me a message. He told me he was a producer and was looking for female singers and that he had been checking out my music on Instagram and he liked it.

“He showed me the lyrics and a demo of the song. I really connected with the chorus but wasn’t sure about some of the other lyrics. I said give me a day and I will give you some other lyrics, and that became the final song.

“It’s about a woman who gave a man a chance and enjoyed a night with him and he wants more, but she now realises it was a mistake and doesn’t want him to keep calling her.

“We both had our own expectations for the song. From the top he was saying how much he liked my voice and was excited to be working with me on this project.”

Elizabeth moved to Spain with her family when she was six months old. She spent her most of her childhood years growing up in Parla, near Madrid, before moving to the UK aged 16.

She started writing songs when she was 11. She discovered she could sing in her mid-teens and recorded her first song at 20. Her style has been inspired by her love of RnB, hip hop and soul.

“For me, the best way to write a song is to imagine a scenario in my head and put myself in that situation, said Elizabeth.

“Around every person there is life. Some situations you can experience though your friends and family, such as separation or divorce, without living it yourself.”

Elizabeth’s music has been heard online by people in UK and around the world including the United States and across Latin America.

She lists Adele, Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran among her favourite artistes who have influenced her, along with Latin American singers Karol G and Selena Quintanilla.

“Selena was one of the best Mexican-American artistes from the late 80s and early 90s in my opinion,” said Elizabeth.

“She started her own clothing brand and did so much in less time than other musicians. She made so many songs in different genres with many people and was very influential.”

Elizabeth is in the first year of studying for a Music Level 3 Diploma having previously completed a Music Level 2 Diploma at the college.

She said: “I was looking for a college where I could not only perform as a singer but also learn about music production. The course has covered a lot of topics I am interested in about the music industry, production, performances and management.

“I‘ve learnt a lot. When you like a lesson, it is because the teacher knows how to get your attention and capture your interest. At WestKing they are very supportive and have always been there for us if we’ve needed anything or help with our assignments.

“Performing is one of the best feelings. Even if I’m nervous, I really enjoy it. I know I need to work more because I’m just starting, but I want to be successful in music. It would be a dream come true.”

No Te Confundas is available on apps including Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Tidal and YouTube.

Find out more and apply now for Music courses.