Monday, September 6, 2010

So... you wanna be a makeup artist.....

There really isn't much point in writing blog articles nobody wants to read, so the other day I asked you guys on Twitter what you wanted me to write about.. and there were 2 topics that really seemed to interest you..

  • How did I become a makeup artist and how can you become one
  • What's in your kit??
I wonder why?.. lol I'm going to do the "what's in my kit" post as soon as I get some decent photos, so I figured I'd start with, well, how to become an artist :)

First of all, this was in the pre-internet age, when all an aspiring makeup artist had to go on was fashion and beauty magazines and tv.
Yup that's all folks.
Around where I lived, nobody had even heard of the term "makeup artist" let alone the fact you could make a living painting faces, and my mom.. well.. let's just say she urged me to keep my steady job. All in all I didn't get much applause for wanting to live my dream, but I enrolled in makeup school nonetheless, soaking up everything I saw and heard, and spending as much of my time as I could practising, practising and more practising.

After I finished the year and "graduated", I needed to find work obviously, and quickly learned a few very important lessons.

  1. that diploma I had worked so hard for and payed serious money to achieve, well it was worth about as much as the paper it was printed on. I can't recall anyone EVER asking me if I went to school (besides maybe the odd model, but none of the decision makers who were going to acutally PAY me, cared if I was educated or not). Not in 20 years of working this job.
  2. I learned that, even though I thought I knew it all, (after all, I had a diploma, right?).. fact was...  I knew NOTHING...  aside from some basic ground rules. Not that the school didn't teach me anything.. but it really is like driving a car. You only get to learn how to do it, after you get behind the wheel on your own, every single day. I "got" that the very first time a real client sat down in my chair.
  3. I realized I would never ever stop learning, which proved to be a good thing for me, because I get bored very easily. Every day is different and every day brings something new, which is exactly what I like.
  4. I learned the hard way that no one was actually waiting for me as a makeup artist, because there were more than enough people who wanted that job. And I spent many a day with the yellow pages in one hand and the phone in the other, going through row after row of photographers and agencies.
    "Cold calling".. not the easiest way of starting up a network, but in the pre-email era there was just no alternative. And I was oh so bad at it, I'll be honest. Out of every 50 phone calls I was lucky to get one "maybe" on my request to make an appointment. THE single most depressing task in the world.
  5. But that one person who said "maybe" ended up being my first client. As luck would have it, I was there for the interview at a very good time. His makeup artist had cancelled for that afternoon, and the job was mine if I wanted it. Yes, a paid job. I had to wait a long time for the next one came along, but it gave me just the boost I needed to keep going.
So is it easier now to become a makeup artist, than it was then, with all the opportunities available through the internet?
The answer is both yes and no.

Yes it's easier to learn about makeup and doing makeup, and to network without even going to makeup school.
But then again, it's easier for everyone else out there too, so the competition is fierce. A lot, if not all, will depend on your talent, your ability to network, your perserverance, a good kit and some very, very thick skin to make it. Oh, and a little trust fund to get you through the first years of testing and building your book won't hurt either.   

Because what hasn't changed is that you will have to work for free a lot, "paying your dues" while you build your portfolio. This may take anywhere from 1 year to 2 years depending on the market you want to work in. And when you finally do start to get paying jobs, there will always be a girl with a kit doing it "for fun" or for a "kit fee". Don't get sucked into this vicious circle! You need to get paid what your worth, and if you allow people to underpay you, you are telling them exactly what you're worth. Remember that lowering your day rate for the right client or job is always possible. Raising your rates is not.

I could talk about this subject for ages, so if you guys want to discuss any of this or have questions, feel free to ask them. I'm always open to discussions so fire away :)

I'd like to also ask a minute of your time for the blog of one of my alltime favorite people, the incredibly talented artist and most generous spirit, DeShawn Hatcher from NYC.
If you guys don't know her blog already, you should really take a look and start following her, because she knows her stuff and she is the kindest person you'll ever get to know. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Tell her I said hi, and keep the comments coming!

Love x


  1. Wat leuk om dit te lezen. Zo zie je er ook een verhaal achter. Liefs, xxxxx

  2. Leuk artikel, leuk om te lezen.
    En ik breng een bezoekje aan DeShawn Hatcher haar blog :)

  3. Aahhh nice :) dankjewel girlz! xoxo

  4. this was really helpfull thanks for sharing!

  5. There will be more posts on the subject so stay tuned ;)

  6. This was a really interesting post, it's not a career I've ever considered but it's great to read about how other people have got into their chosen job x

  7. Super interessant artikel, bedankt.
    ik ben benieuwd naar de andere blog en ga meteen eens een kijkje nemen.
    Bedankt voor al deze info met ons te delen.