This morning I received a heartwarming Email from a reader hailing from France. This girl, Jill, had questions about becoming a makeup artist and thus inspired me to formulate an entry for anyone who has ever wanted to know…
You can read my “About” section for how it all began with grandma’s red lipsticks and mum’s liquid liner. In high school Biology class I started painting my lab partners’ faces. During my second college I befriended photographers, experimented with my makeup styles and did makeovers on my roommates. By the time I began attending my third school I had been hooked on skin care and makeup.
Reaching out to anyone with a camera and access to models I began my journey.
My kit was as big as a lunch box. Yes, a lunch box. I had a plastic one with Power Rangers and a tin one with Lenore on it. No jokes. My makeup was cheap and I could count my brushes on one hand. Quite frankly I shat my pants every time I entered a studio, but none-the-less, I braved my way and picked up skills through working with a limited kit.
Outside of shoots I was going to school full time as a computer animation major and worked full time as a graphic designer. This went on for nearly three years as I had to support myself and my makeup habit as the shoots were never paid.
Through luck I hooked up with a photographer fresh out of school who was trying to make her way into the industry as well. Together we worked on fashion shows and shoots until an agency began to notice our efforts. Needless to say the work paid off and I was signed and repped (after 3 discouraging meetings due to me not having the slightest idea of how to put a book together) and dropped out of my third college for good to pursue my career. I was signed as the youngest artist in the agency.
I had to learn to do hair. I had to learn about blending. I had to learn patience. I had to learn how to work with difficult clients.
I’ve never been to a single class. I’ve never worked behind a counter. I did a 3 month stint at a spa and left because I’m a terrible sales person when I don’t believe in the product.
Four years ago I became a freelance artist which, in Chicago, was close to a nightmare. I traveled with a scout for two years and traveled all over the US, visiting places I would never trek to otherwise. Over a year ago I moved to Los Angeles and am absolutely in love with this city.
I’ve worked with photographers from all over the world. I’ve built two kits, one for makeup and one for hair, that is ever-growing and over-flowing. I’ve worked on fashion and commercial shoots, music videos, shorts and features, documentaries, etc. I update my book constantly.
- build a versatile kit – you don’t have to have every colour and every brush imaginable to perform on a professional level from the get-go
- test with as many photographers as you can, preferably with models that are repped to get your name out there and your book started
- learn about cleaning and hygiene
- make tons of mistakes
- collect images you adore and replicate them
- use your friends/family as a canvas to perfect your skills
- move to a city where you can find work outside of weddings and salons
- sharpen your “clean face” skills, less is always more
- watch YouTube tutorial videos (like mine)
- stick rhinestones and feathers everywhere, this is a clear sign of an amateur
- get discouraged when someone doesn’t like your work, find out why and do better next time
- be afraid to start over
- say you can’t do something, figure it out and get it done
- flake – you’ll burn tons of bridges and dig a hole for yourself
My Two Cents:
Jill is one of the few fortunate ones who will have the honour of going to the MAKE UP FOREVER Academy in Paris. I totally approve. Though there are plenty of great schools and programs out there that will provide their students with a great education and connect them to networks from the get go, from what I have seen I think the best artists are self-taught. Many programs tend to teach their one way of painting face which makes things difficult on a job that allows personal creativity.
You can do anything!