El Segundo High School

The Starving Artist Project wants to make a difference

As an aspiring 17-year-old musician, last week I had the opportunity to participate in a photo shoot with Los Angeles based The Starving Artist Project–a business that models social responsibility.

The Starving Artist Project (SAP) is in its inaugural year.  It produces photo portrait sessions with celebrities who donate their time. These photos are sold to Getty/Wire Images.  The proceeds made on the sale of these photos are used to provide up-and-coming artists with free headshots.  Here a “starving artist” is gifted with a photo shoot, headshot, and also makeup, styling, and even brand donated wardrobe.

SAP is the innovation of celebrity photographer Michael Bezjian who saw where he could make a difference in the entertainment community. He understands how cost prohibitive it can be when you’re a starving artist; the expense of updating your headshots prohibits many artists from having a quality headshot of themselves.  With SAP, he strove to create a community where artists can support each other’s success.  Some giving,  some receiving.  Some donate their photos for sale.  Others donate what they can afford.  Some donate nothing, and walk away with a headshot from Bezjian. Actors, models, musicians, comedians and other artists participate.

Bezjian is assisted by celebrity make-up artist Jade Martinez and her all-natural Moonstar Cosmetics.  Her team of hair, makeup and stylists donate their time to create a camera-ready look, complete with full makeup and hair styling. Martinez is responsible for transforming a slew of Tinseltown’s starlets into drop dead gorgeous red carpet beauties for SAP.   Moonstar Cosmetics has become a favorite with Hollywood’s A-listers, international royalty and women of note across the globe. Created with collagen to fill in fine lines, Moonstar Cosmetics is designed to erase imperfections, which is vital in Hollywood.  Because Martinez is an animal rights advocate, the line is not tested on animals.

Some notable celebrities that have participated in SAP in its first year of operations include: Oscar winner J.K Simmons of “Whiplash”, AnnaLyn McCord of 90210. Aaron Carter, Courtney Bingham, “Nashville” star Jill Mitchell, American Horror Story’s Naomi Grossman, Chelsea Handler, Loni Love, Andy Dick, “Glee” star Lauren Potter, and cast members from the Emmy winning series “The Bay.”

And, this is what I experienced as part of the Starving Artist Project.  The effervescent Martinez sat me in natural sunlight and in 45 minutes took me from 17-year-old high school junior to rock star.  Once hair and makeup was complete, I had the option of using wardrobe from the SAP costume closet, filled with donated brand name clothes.  I had spotted a pair of shoes during my perusal of the wardrobe closet, and at the end of my shoot Bezjian told me to pick any one item I wanted from the closet.  Innocently I picked a pair of white hybrid tennis shoes- only to find out they are $400 shoes that were donated to the SAP initiative.

And so, I entered the white room.  A cloud of white walls, floors, ceiling.  The only thing in the room besides white was Bezjian, his camera, me, and natural sunlight.  And as the sound of the camera clicked, the sun beamed into my eyes like a shooting star, and here my image of Cece Jane the musician was captured.

I encourage all aspiring musicians, artists, models, actors and comedians to check out the Starving Artist Project. Who knows you just may be the next future celebrity whose essence is captured at SAP, If so, please remember to “pay it forward.” Use your status to create a world of change, where you give back to the community, and empower others to reach for the stars.


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