Thursday, January 7, 2010

So you want to be a makeup artist?!

I get numerous emails from so many girls, and guys, wanting to be makeup artists.
Many want to know where to start, how I got started, can they shadow me, intern with me, teach them, etc., but my 23 year career did not happen overnight. It's been a long, wonderful, very rewarding career and one that I still cherish and enjoy to this day.

But, before you start, you may need to ask yourself a few questions before taking on such an incredible journey as a makeup artist.
Do you love making others look and feel good?
Do you love to travel, make a lot of money and meet interesting people?
Do you love playing with makeup and creating beautiful new looks?
...those are the plus sides of being a makeup artist. Now consider this:
How about working long hours, nights, weekends, sometimes holidays, and having no set schedule?
Do you like not knowing when your next job, or paycheck may be?
Are you good at promoting yourself to get clients?
...then this may be the job for you!

The best advice I could give is to someone wanting to be a makeup artist is to get your cosmetology license for hair and makeup or check out the fabulous makeup schools such as: Joe Blasco, Westmore Academy or MUD.
My esthetician teacher once gave me the best piece of advice, "the more you know, the more you are worth."
Many schools today have teachers that are actually working in the field today, so their first hand knowledge really adds to the curriculum. There you can learn the basic fundamentals of makeup application, prosthetics, special effects, and so much more.
And in todays economy, with most major companies cutting back, his advice is still holds true to this day.
There are very few openings as full time makeup artists with television studios or production companies these days, and the ones who are there value their positions and are the best in the industry, or they wouldn't be there!

The majority of makeup artists work freelance, that means working for several companies, as an independent contractor, throughout the course of your career.
It also means being "on call", 24/7, whenever a production needs you, the call goes out to find a makeup artist, ASAP... and more often than not, whoever answers the call first, gets the job.
As a freelancer, that means, you must be willing & able to accept any job that comes along if you want to get paid, or eat!
There are no benefits, sick days or paid vacations being a freelance makeup artist. You pay your own health insurance, and find your own clients, find a replacement if you are ill...quite simply, if you don't work, you don't get paid.

But when you do work, those jobs can be very exciting.
It's best to have a portfolio, or photos of your work, if you want to get hired or have an agent. They need to see what your makeup skills look like in print in order to hire you.
If you don't have one, find yourself a reputable fashion or commercial photographer in town, and offer your services in exchange for pictures for your portfolio.
You will have to do a lot of volunteering and assisting at first just to build up your resume.
I also suggest working in the department stores, or a hair salon, to develop your skills. There you have unlimited access to make up different faces on a daily basis. You can also begin to build your makeup kit as most companies offer gratis to their employees, as well as training.

Work can also be found by calling the television & local cable stations, newspapers, magazines & local film office, and volunteering your services. But, most companies have their steady artists that they call upon regularly, so getting hired right away can often be very difficult.
There are always job postings on Craigslist looking for makeup artists for independent films. They usually don't pay, but it's a good way to break into the film business and get your name in the credits.

Once you establish your name in the industry, that is just the beginning. You must form good solid and trusting relationships with your clients to keep them returning.
There is no room for mediocrity, and sloppy makeup application- you must strive to be your absolute best, on every job, as only the strong survive in this highly competitive market.
That means not only being the best makeup artist, but: arriving on time, having a clean, organized makeup kit, avoiding gossip, and knowing on set etiquette and being able to deal with talent of all backgrounds, races, religions, sexes, political parties and respecting their individual opinions and privacy.
It also goes without saying, but one MUST have: a cell phone, computer, printer & a car these days as many job details are sent via email and even text. (NYC is one of the few places that you won't need a car to get around town).

Remember, you are hired because of a specialized skill and unique talent that you bring to the production, and one that involves not only makeup, but making the talent feel comfortable and at ease as you are the first one they meet.
Honor this profession, and remember the Max Factor's, and George Westmore's of the world who have paved the way for all of us to continue to strive and excel in one of the best jobs in all of show biz.

written by: Patty Bell
model- Tiffany Fluhme founder and CEO of Fluhme Cosmetics
featuring: Fluhme Cosmetics

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