Makeup artistry has never been so popular. In my 12 years of being in this profession, I have seen a huge change in how makeup is perceived as well as how it can become a career path.
My career started with me practically working for FREE for a whole year, working on low budget horror movies, music videos for "aspiring artists", London Fashion Week and collaborative projects. I met some incredible people, but I was always wondering how was I going to make this a career and earn money?
I loved the creative side of makeup, concentrating on prosthetics and gore (I know complete opposite to what I do now!) I managed to build up a good network of colleagues over that year, and started to get "booked" for projects, as I had built a great credential list and portfolio.
(Photo by Amanda White)
I think today that working for FREE is not always the best route. You have to be careful of exploitation, and whether that person is gaining from you by not paying you. For example if they are using your services for any advertising content - Look books are particularly bad for this. I do however believe that the working for free experience helped shaped me to be the makeup artist I am today. I had to work hard to achieve and earn my successes. I used all the opportunities I came by as creative ways to boost my portfolio. You never know who you will meet and where that will take you. I learn't MANY a people skill, and how to be a chameleon adapting to varying personalities.
I found that Bridal was eventually my calling, as I found making people FEEL amazing with the power of makeup outweighed the creativeness of film makeup. I also quite liked that the hours were less crazy, and I could see a career forming. Being hugely family orientated I found the balance that the bridal industry gave me, refreshing. I wasn't as stressed, I was happier and felt better, so for me the work life balance was in harmony.
My career is still teaching me and pushing me creatively, which I love! I am grateful to be able to look back on what I have learn't and allow other aspiring makeup artists to take note of some of my findings.
6 Tips On How To Become A Successful Makeup Artist.
1) Work with people who inspire you, and who are in tune with your style and ethos
Research the people in the field of makeup you wish to pursue, or are passionate about. If you love their work write to them, contact them and do so in a genuine manor. Some of my best opportunities came from me contacting makeup artists whose work I loved and was inspired by. I actually came into the bridal industry after contacting fellow bridal makeup artists, to "watch" how they worked as I had never done a wedding before. Had I not done that I don't think I would have picked up half as many skills as I own today. I still work occasionally alongside them to this very day!
2) Learn your craft
I can't highlight enough how important this is. I know today there are more makeup artists being self taught and there is nothing wrong with that, especially with so much amazing content on Youtube and Instagram. BUT how do you learn knowing about tones of skin, how to adapt and harmonise, how to tackle problem areas? How do you learn hygiene? What can be used on which skin type? All of this I fear isn't focused enough on the internet, and it is integral to the foundations of being a successful makeup artist. Any good course will teach this, and then the rest is to practice. I still book on courses today - you never stop learning, which leads me onto my next step...
3) Practice, Practice, Practice
I know that this seems like an obvious step, but trends come and go, and popular products and new tools are always popping up, so we need to stay aware and to keep on practicing our skills and techniques. This comes with lots of time, and varying faces. This helps you master your skill and your style of work. I often see some incredible makeup artists who do wonderful things, but it is the same look repeated on varying faces. The beauty of makeup, is it is adaptable and in my eyes a true professional makeup artist is one that can blur the mould and create looks that suit each individual, giving true varying looks. A makeup artist that can manage problematic skin, or know what to do with a certain eye shape is nailing his/her craft!
This one I have learn't during my time in the bridal industry. Although whilst working in TV and film you have to listen to the Director and what he/she wants from you, the art of listening in my opinion came when I worked on regular clients. All of a sudden there was a shift from what a look should LOOK like, to what a look should "FEEL" like. The bridal industry I fell in love with the moment I knew about this shift and it just resonated with me. Makeup can make you "Feel" AMAZING, It should make any bride to be feel like the very best version of herself. So cue the listening element. You cannot, and I repeat CANNOT "wing" bridal makeup. It is incredibly personal, and you really have to listen to a clients concerns. They almost always want to still look like themselves. You have to understand what that is in order to create. Listening and also noting body language has become a skill set I have picked up over the years. You will know if a makeup doesn't "feel" right for them.
(Photo from Amanda's Bride)
In the last 5 years never has this been more important to get yourself noticed! When I started out you literally just had to have a website and to literally phone people. Now EVERYONE is a "makeup artist" so how do you stand out? This one I have found hard. Its a constant slog, and as a creative, we always want to be out doing creative things and not doing the boring parts. However if you wish to be current, to be found and get paid, then unfortunately promoting yourself comes with the job title.
You need to stay true to you, and what you are about. What do you love to create? who is your dream client? Showcase that, and they will come to you :)
As social media is a huge power house its definitely something you want to stay on track of. It can be hard managing the time, but its crucial in today's world that you have content and you are "active" alongside a very well put together website. You don't have to spend hours online, but just do a bit consistently. Social platforms can be a great way of networking, I actually found one of my very good makeup friends through Twitter (although I am not very active on there these days, since Instagram is the biggie!)
6) Be Calm
Lastly its super important to create a calm environment for our clients, particularly brides. I always try to minimise stressful scenarios. I find the best way to create a calm environment is to have a schedule for the day and stick to it. If timing is on track then it feels calmer. This is my best advice to those working in weddings. I always take brides away from chaotic rooms if they are looking stressed. I put music on from my phone to calm nerves and help in anyway I can on a wedding morning to make things run smoother. This is the above and beyond part of our job title. (willingness permitted)
There is the other side of staying calm and their will be situations that will arise in our careers. We are working with people, on people and if you are in the bridal industry this is a very emotional day of brides lives. Whilst most of our clients are wonderful we do often come in contact with these rare occasions where you just want to cry in your car...
We should not tolerate bad behaviour thrust upon us, but we do need to keep our cool and remain professional even if we want to poke someone in the head with a tail comb! (very much a joke!)
I absolutely love my job, and if you are thinking of becoming a makeup artist, its a brilliant career and one that is very fulfilling. The wedding industry is a brilliant network of people, and the thrill of being a part of a wedding morning is hugely enjoyable.
It is however not a light hearted job, its hard work, and it isn't just about making people look pretty. It has layers. You will run a business, and that involves many varying cogs to make that a success. Lots of behind the scenes work is required, like clear marketing goals, being active on social media and keeping your skill set up to date are just the basics.
Its great being your own boss though, and allows a certain amount of freedom to balance your work and life, great for having babies as you can mould it around them (This is a recent bonus! My son Josh is 2 in November) BUT as it is your business you also will find you will always be working in some shape or form. If you love your job then it won't feel like work anyway!
But enjoy the adventure makeup artistry brings, its never a dull day, and you get to go to some amazing places, and meet some incredible humans. Some with incredible cheekbones that you can't wait to get photos back from!
Let me know if this helped you at all? I would love your feedback below :)