An Interview With Carl Ray, Washington's Top Makeup Artist

by Sophie Pyle · January 4, 2012

Michelle Obama is a style icon, not only due to her impeccable taste in clothing and jewelry, but for the beautiful face she puts forward in the public.

We got to know her makeup artist, Carl Ray. Carl's first canvas was his mother, and he has grown to become the top pick for high profile brides and A-list social functions in Washington--glamming up everyone from Ashley Taylor, to Supreme Court Justices, to Paula Abdul and beyond.

So here we go: 10 questions with the fabulous Carl Ray:

Tell me something about yourself that most people don't know.

When I was growing up as a young man, I was enamored watching my mother apply her makeup. One day I asked her inquisitively if I could assist her in doing makeup. I was always an artist growing up and I believe that is why I was drawn to the craft of makeup artistry.

Who are your favorite characters in history?

Marilyn Monroe. She has shown women that you can be beautiful and graceful and that you don't necessarily always need to display those talents. And Steve Jobs. He has ultimately changed the way we think about and use technology thus putting his name on personal computers, and the music industry. I also am a fan of Kevin Aucoin. His books, artistry and talent were and are still an inspiration to me.

[Socialite Ashley Taylor and Carl Ray]

Who are your favorite characters in real life?

Meryl Streep. She is a wonderful actress if not one of the best of our time. I had the pleasure of doing makeup on her 3 lovely daughters, the Gummer girls, for the Kennedy Center Honors. They were a lovely vision on the Red Carpet. I also admire the Men and Women of the Armed Forces for their continuous selflessness and courage to protect our country and freedom.

What is your favorite place to go when you don't have to be anywhere?

I like to go to Italy. Capri and the Amalfi coast in particular. My partner (Rick Raines) and I visited again this past August for our 21st Anniversary. We love the Region, it's people and their passion.

What would your last meal be?

Mashed potatoes & Gravy.

What has been your proudest moment?

Being our First Lady Michelle Obama's Makeup Artist.

If money wasn't an object what one piece of artwork would you want in your home?

Being an avid contemporary art collector for many years I would like Picasso's "Girl before a Mirror."

[Michelle at Buckingham Palace, May 2011]

What constitutes making it?

Being happy and passionate about what you are doing at this moment in time.

What's the best 2k that you have spent?

Traveling around the world with my partner.

Who do you think deserves more time in the spotlight and who deserves less?

More music videos. Less Kardashians.

Visit Carl Ray on the Web!

photos courtesy Carl Ray and Getty Images