We all want to be successful makeup artists, right? Whatever "success" means to you, there tends to be a few common factors in the road to success, which are uncovered in this blog. Over the last 10 years, I have experienced what works and what does not on my personal journey. For whatever reason, I have always had an obsession to research what it takes to be successful as a makeup artist. I would stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning on school nights, read books for hours on end, and watch countless videos on success secrets. I also have had the amazing experience to interview over 40 makeup artists, 25 in which are Oscar or Emmy winning makeup artists.
Are you just starting in your career? Have you recently decided to pursue makeup as a career? Are you a freelance MUA who has been working for a few years, but seems to be struggling? Have you been working for almost 10 or more years and still feel that "success" is still beyond your reach?
Needless to say, I have gathered for all of you just a few of the most profound success secrets that I have come by. Between the countless books I've read, 40+ artists I've interviewed, and a lot of real life experiences, this is my top 5 Success Secrets! Enjoy!
"Have passion, Not ambition"- Joel Harlow
This quote has always stuck with me. Joel Harlow, for those of you who may not know him, is a highly respected FX makeup artist. He is Johnny Depp's personal makeup artist, is a 2 time Oscar Nominee, and an overall amazing artist. During our interview with Joel for What It Takes, he mentioned this quote, "Have passion, not ambition." He further explained that he sees too many artists today try to become makeup artists for the "fame" of it, rather than the artistry. Therefore, ambition is at the forefront of their purpose in makeup instead of true passion.
Passion is what will stay in your heart, it will be what fuels you when shit goes crazy. Not ambition. For those of you wanting to work with celebrities, or maybe make a big name for yourself as an artist, there is nothing wrong with that! If passion is what drives you to do that first and foremost, you'll be golden!
Assisting and continuing education is VITAL in being successful as a makeup artist. Whether or not you went to a formal school to learn makeup, and no matter where you are at in your career- this is a MUST. Assisting will give you experience, and you will learn so many things that can only be learned by assisting. School is great, Don't get me wrong! But experiencing what to do and not to do on set by assisting is invaluable.
Eryn Krueger Mekash is a multi Emmy award winning makeup artist who has worked on American Horror Story, Feud, Glee, etc and she STILL assists other artists. In her interview on What It Takes, she mentions how she loves learning from artists at all stages of their career. How amazing is that?!
We can ALL learn something by assisting, NO MATTER what stage we are at!
Continuing education is also a major part of growing as an artist. This is so crucial for so many reasons. Our industry changes on a daily basis now. We have to be able to keep up with all the trends, PLUS be able to have knowledge of past trends (for ex. when a director or a photographer suggests a certain look. They might reference a very specific movie actress from the 40s and expect you to know exactly who that is and the look they are going for)
Continuing education doesn't always have to stop at just the artistry though! We are business owners, don't you forget! So learning about how to handle your business as a freelancer is so helpful, and it is something that changes every few years due to new tax laws, rules and regulations, new union rules, etc.
Personally, I think this is probably the most important success secret. Goals are what push us to stay motivated and reach for our dreams. They are constant reminders to ourselves to stay on track. I have always been a major advocate of writing your goals down on a daily basis. I remember all the way back in middle school writing out my goals for each week... I've always been super goal oriented I guess haha
There are different types of goals too; your personal goals, financial goals, career goals, etc. And what I have found is that by not only setting goals on a consistent basis, LOOKING at them every day will help you immensely on your journey.
What happens psychologically is that your subconscious mind is trying to calculate where you are, if you have reached that goal, and why you have or have not reached it. There is a really awesome way to set your goals for yourself by using "MTO" goals. What this stands for is "Minimum goals" "Target goals" and then "Outrageous goals." So Start off by giving yourself a Minimum goal (ex. research makeup artists to find a mentor). Next, set yourself the Target goal (ex. your target is to reach out to a major artist to mentor you ), and then set your Outrageous goal (ex. work with your mentor)
Don't be afraid to give yourself what feels like CRAZY goals. Dream big, peeps! My outrageous goal back in 2013 was to work on American Horror Story ad campaigns, and 3 years later it came to fruition. Working with Kerry Herta was (and still is) a dream come true! I still pinch myself to this day. And what is even better than working on the campaign is having Kerry as an amazing mentor in my life and career. So don't be afraid to set your goals HIGH, but also make some small goals for yourself as well. The bigger goals will almost always take more time than the smaller ones.
Visualization and meditation (in my opinion) go hand in hand with goal setting. When we set goals, what do we do? We envision ourselves doing whatever it is that we set our intentions to do, right? Right! With that being said, getting CRYSTAL CLEAR on your goals by visualization will help increase your mind to embody what you need to do in order to achieve those goals and in turn will bring your goals to fruition. It sounds crazy, I know. But let me tell you from personal experience: this shit WORKS.
Do you dream of working with a certain person? Do you dream of working on a certain show? Do you dream of being able to simply make a comfortable living as a freelance makeup artist?
These are all things that pretty much all of us can answer, "yes" to. But we all want different things, essentially. So, what you need to do is ask yourself EXACTLY what you want. Visualize yourself doing it, and then meditate on it.
I am telling you from experience that this works. I've manifested apartments, money, specific jobs, traveling, and so much more. All from getting so clear in my visualizations and meditations. If you have never done this, I highly recommend just trying it out and see where it takes you. But please... be warned that this is not me telling you that if you spend one evening visualizing yourself making a million dollars and then meditating on it, that it will happen over night. It doesn't quite work that way lol
Take 100% Responsibility
Last but not least- take 100% responsibility. What this means is that where ever you are at in your life, just accept it and take responsibility for it. Some circumstances are out of our hands, however.... the way you react to them is 100% in your control. For instance, if you worked with someone in the past who didn't pay you in the time frame they promised, YOU have 100% control on how you will react to that situation. Yes, it sucks. But it happens. I've had this happen to me many times in my career, and I have reacted poorly in some situations, and others I have acted professionally. And guess what? The times that I acted poorly, I have never heard back from the people ever again. The times that I acted calm and professional? Well, come to find out, the production was behind for reason X, or they actually sent the check out but for some reason it never got to me... you get my drift. Sometimes we have no idea why things happen... and we react with what our imaginations are eluding to. It can get ugly if all you do is assume the worst.
By taking 100% responsibility, you start to realize your patterns. Whether it be negative or positive. You'll notice that how you react can and will effect your career. Do you want to be a highly successful makeup artist? I'm sure you do! But take a moment to think about the last week. How many hours would you say that you spent on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Snapchat? Now think back on how many hours you took to promote your freelance career (reaching out to potential clients/contacts, applying for jobs, going to networking events, learning something new, etc). My guess is that the social media surpasses the number of hours you spent on promoting your freelance career.
Trust me, I get caught up on social media too! It's incredibly distracting lol but remember: YOU have control over not giving in to it and instead being a BADASS at honing in on your dreams and goals for yourself!
It is THAT TIME OF YEAR! Can you believe it? The holidays are amongst us! You know what that means: lots of holiday festivities, food, and ...... less jobs?!...
If you are a freelance makeup artist like myself, or looking into becoming one, you know that the holiday season can be as slow as a damn snail walking across the 405 highway in Los Angeles (there are 6 lanes!). The jobs are there, but so few and far between, because... why? The lovely hiatus season of freelance artistry. Ahh, Gotta love it!
In my 10 years of experience, I have taken notes every year of the busy and slow times within this lovely industry of makeup artistry. And, yes. Nearly every single year, my freelance work goes down significantly during this time. I am sure if you are reading this, you know this all too well. This time can be GRUELING for some of us, and financially terrifying at times if I am being completely honest. Looking back at some of my experiences, I can recall feeling extremely defeated and lost as to what I could do in order to even pay my bills! Eek!
Having that said though, there are still plenty of ways we as makeup artists can make money! Over the years, I have tried MANY things to make money, and I have created something very very special for all of you!
15 ways to make more money during the holidays!
All of these have worked for me, and I know that they can work for you too! This was originally a free online workshop that I put together in November, but I got such great feedback on the workshop and people asking for the replay afterward that I decided to re-film and make it a free online training video available to everyone! For this blog, though, I kept it nice and simple by listing out each way to make more money. If you want the details of these, make sure to click below for access to the video where I go in length about each way! There are TONS of goodies and inspiration that you will LOVE!
To have access to the FREE full length training video, simply click the photo below, or CLICK HERE!
It might seem a little redundant, but go and apply your resume to some of your favorite makeup counters and stores! Sephora, Ulta, MAC, Nordstrom, etc. these all give you the opportunity to stay within the makeup industry which is great! But! Don't forget that there are THOUSANDS of other stores that may be a great fit for you as well. If you love shoes, try Aldo. If you love candles, try Yankee Candle, etc. Plus you could get an employee discount. Hell ya!
Another option is freelancing for a specific company such as Stila, MAC, Aveda, etc where you travel to certain locations and are brand support for these companies. Pro: they pay really well and you get to travel. Con: the sales goals are really high, so if you don't like the pressure of having sales goals, this may not be for you.
Lastly, salons are BOOMING right now during the holidays. Try to see if your local salons need extra hands with cleaning, folding towels, or reception work!
2. TEMP JOBS/AGENGIES
Google temp agencies and call them up to help find you work! I know SO many makeup artists who utilize temp agencies during this time, one in which has been employed for 2 years now through a temp agency!
3. DIRECT SALES
This sometimes has a bad rep around it. Direct sales can be so much fun! Just make sure you don't become super crazy when it comes to selling to your friends and family...or people you barely know on Facebook. I've had to block some people for this reason haha so don't go TOO far!
I used to work for The Body Shop 10 years ago for their direct sales line and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences. I loved the company, their products, and especially loved doing the at home parties. They were seriously a BLAST!
Direct sales can be very lucrative during this time! Some of the top direct sales companies include:
Rodan + Fields
DoTerra (totally not makeup but, omg I love this company! I totally would work for them if I had the time lol! It's worth checking out if you like essential oils)
And no, I do not rep any of these listed above, nor am I being sponsored! I just want to make it easier for all of you to click and check them out :-)
4. AT HOME PARTIES
These can be so fun, and you can get SO creative with them. Some ideas:
-"How to" parties
-Face painting parties for kids
Some tips on how to charge: You could charge a door fee for tutorial parties, or individual prices per application, you can have raffles going on at a makeup event that you host or GNO parties, and for kids parties you can charge per child or a flat rate.
The options are really endless! I have done so many of these and brought in some really nice extra income from them!
If you are in the direct sales, you could also sell the products you use at these parties for even more extra side money.
5. MAKEUP FOR HOLIDAY EVENTS
Everyone loves getting their makeup done during the holidays for special events! Maybe a store or company is having a huge celebration and would love to have a makeup artist at their event! Who knows :)
6. GLAM APPS
I know some people hate this! However, you can totally rack in some extra cash during the holidays with these as they are incredibly busy during this time. It's worth it to just check out!
The Glam App
This is only for licensed professionals! But a great way to get some extra money during this time of year. Everyone needs their hair cut or colored for all the holiday festivities, so if you have a license, take advantage of this extra income opportunity!
8. CONTACT EVENTS AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES
This is different than doing makeup for people that are GOING to an event. For example, if your city has a holiday event such as a school fair or community event, you can offer your services. Just google "Holiday events in (your city)" and there will be some options that pop up. Click on the ones you feel drawn to and then look up the supervisor for that event. Call or email them and say "HEY! I would love to add my services to your amazing event. Who would I talk to about this?" And they will tell you who to get in touch with. Rates will be determined by what you agree to do for the event, their budget, etc.
9. CONTACT PREVIOUS CLIENTS/NETWORKS
Go through all the productions you have worked on and contact the actors, models, photographers, directors or producers you have worked with. See if they have anything going on (productions are slow, but they still happen!), and at the end of the email, mention that you are available for personal makeup applications if they or anyone they know has a holiday event that they would like their makeup done for!
Actors and models tend to be slow during this time as well, which means they have the extra time to fit in some last minute head shots. Contact anyone you have worked with in the past and offer your services to them! Or google headshot photographers and email the ones whose work you admire, and let them know you are available for hiring on their next shoot! Headshot shoots can bring in some really great money. Anywhere from $50 on the low end to $500 on the high end, and they only last 1-3 hours! Yes please!
11. ASSISTANT WORK
Try calling up other artists to see if they need an assistant! They might be on a big job and need some extra hands, you never know. Also, don't discount that assistant positions such as a PA job on a set, can really bring a foot in the door with people you want to work with. If you are in a smaller city, go to your local news station and see if they have an assistant position open. Develop a good relationship with them and possibly work your way into being their in-house makeup artist!
12. PAID ONLINE SERVICES
These have worked pretty well for me in the past! I actually got a job on productionHub and have been working with that particular client for 4 years! Each of the websites listed below are always active in sending jobs via email, so take a look and see which one might be a good fit for you. They range in price, as well as what they offer.
-24/seven (agency, $0)
13. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING/NETWORKING
Social media is incredible! Make use of going in the Instagram/Facebook/Twitter rabbit hole and meet endless amounts of people who you could potentially work with! Connect with actors and models to offer your services for headshot, contact photographers to work on their next shoot, connect with other aspiring directors to work with on their next film! If you contact 25 people over Facebook. Instagram, or LinkedIn, I can promise that you will get a reply from atleast one person who will respond with potential work! Just make sure they aren't people with millions and millions of followers because your message will get lost in the shuffle of everyone else who is trying to reach out to them lol!
14. SELL ARTWORK/SELL YOUR STUFF!
We are all creative individuals, I mean come on! We create art on other people! So, why not utilize that and create your own art to sell during this holiday season! Make jewelry, sew some cool purses, paint or draw really awesome artwork and sell it on Etsy! You can also gather items that you don't use anymore and sell them on Amazon, Ebay or Facebook Marketplace. All ways that are great options during this time of year as SOOOOO many people are in the buying mood :)
15. PAID STUDIES
Last but not least! Now, this isn't quite in the artistry side of things, however! It is a great opportunity for artists such as yourself to get some extra money by giving your time for case studies, giving blood, or secret shoppers. I have made collectively almost $700 with these options! For one case study, I was paid $150 to give my opinion on a commercial for a fast food restaurant and it was only about 2 hours of my time for simply giving my opinion. Another study I did was for Chevy as I am a Chevy car owner. I did 2 studies for them, each were paid $200, and it was about 45 minutes of my time. So definitely check these options out if all else fails!!!
-Adler Weiner Group
-Giving blood (check with your local blood bank)
And those are the 15 ways to make more money during the holidays! I hope you all loved it and will be able to make more money this holiday season with some of the ideas and suggestions I listed. Like and Comment below if this helped you!
Also, be sure to sign up for the FREE video training I have created just for you that goes along with this blog, but in MUCH more detail, there are actually many more suggestions and ideas in the video I made, so you won't want to miss it! CLICK HERE to access the video completely free!
I wish you all the best this holiday season! May you all be, inspired, motivated and on your way to a successful career as a makeup artist <3
It is FRIDAY!!! And wow, has this year gone by SO FAST!... With Thanksgiving coming up this week, I am blown away that we are nearing the end of the year, and already amongst the crazy busy-ness the lovely holiday season!
This week, we are featuring an outstanding artist based out of Sydney, Australia! (Some where I have always dreamed of visiting!) Michelle Dube is not only a makeup artist, she is the true definition of a successful female entrepreneur. Between staying busy on sets and being in charge of her online business, she still makes time for continuing education, it's amazing! She even wrote a book, Makeup Artists Inc. which is all about the business aspects of being a freelance makeup artist, how amazing is that?! I'm sure you can see why I am so AMPED for this interview, as I know every one reading this will be able to learn from Michelle on so many levels!
1.Tell us about yourself
I am a makeup artist from the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia. I specialize in makeup for print and tv advertising. I have wanted to be a makeup artist since I was in high school. I remember driving past a shoot one day and saying to my mum that that was what I wanted to do. I just wanted to be on set. After highschool, I took a more traditional approach to job hunting and ended up working my way up the ladder to become a TV producer, but makeup was always in my heart. One day I just said to myself it was time to do what I wanted to do and it was then that I started working in makeup on counter at Bobbi Brown. I haven’t looked back!
2.Did you attend School.
I call myself a self taught makeup artist because I didn’t attend a college or get a degree in makeup. I have, however, done a lot of short certificate courses and workshops with amazing artists and I’ve assisted some great makeup artists. I think the best training I received was during my time working on counter at Bobbi Brown. Bobbi was always one of my hero’s. I loved her philosophy on makeup and I loved her style. Working on counter for Bobbi Brown meant I was constantly being trained and always had faces to practice on.
3.What is it like working in Australia as a makeup artist? You’re always busy with gigs. How do you pursue them?
Working in Australia is great! I love Sydney. I am really lucky to have found my “tribe”. That’s one of the things I talk about in the book – finding the people you work best with. People work with people they like, so find your tribe of like minded people and the work will come. I love advertising, I love the people, I love being on set with big crews and small crews, I love working with ‘real people’ as well as models and actors. Working in advertising gives me the opportunity to do this. Getting work is about building relationships and then being the best makeup artist they have ever booked! Being helpful and flexible on set is very important. The most important tool you will ever have in getting gigs is building a list. Again, this is something I talk about in Makeup Artists Inc. build your list, build your relationships and be awesome on set! You can’t fail!
4.Your work is flawless , Where do you get your inspiration from.
Firstly, thank you! Inspiration comes from so many places but to be honest, I actually find it difficult to find inspiration. I know a lot of artists who say “oh I find it in nature, or architecture or music” but I don’t! I find inspiration in the creative process of actually doing the makeup. For example, In the picture of the gold painted model – we started that shoot with white body paint as the main idea. As I was painting I really liked the texture I was creating. Then we shot a few shots and we just built from there, adding gold and the inspiration was coming from the actual creating. I was constantly saying “oh what about this?” “what about if we tried that?” Those shots were published in Laud Magazine. Inspiration for me can also come from a word or a brief. Example “Gold” or “Pop of colour” or “summer” or some thing along those lines and then just create!
5.What is your favourite piece of work you are most proud of that you have worked on.
Without a doubt my greatest pride is my entry into a makeup competition here in Australia called Face2Face. Years ago I had set myself a goal to win this competition. I had entered several times but had never managed to get a place. In 2016 I put everything I had into my entry. I lived and breathed it. I practiced. I made the headpiece. I envisaged it. I dreamt about it. I even printed out a picture of the model and did the makeup look on her photo so I could see exactly how it was going to look. It was a highlight in my life to take out first prize for these shots. I’ll never forget that moment they called my name and afterwards holding that trophy and having my photo taken. I’m so proud of them.
6.You have created an online business which is amazing. Tell us about that.
I started Makeup Artists Inc. earlier this year after I had received yet another email from an assistant asking how they get paid and “how do they send an invoice”. I couldn’t believe that students could go to college for 1 year or more, spending more than $10,000 to learn how to become professional working makeup artists and yet they didn’t know how to get paid. I then started asking questions and was stunned to learn that most students graduating from makeup school actually don’t go on to be makeup artists. It seemed to me that it was because they just didn’t know how to become successful working artists able to financially sustain their careers. They knew how to do a great makeup but they didn’t know how to run a business as a makeup artist so they gave up. This, to me, was so disappointing. That there were all these gorgeous young makeup artists out there not living their dream because they didn’t know how! So, I decided to try and help them. I decided to put all my knowledge into a book. It started with “I’ll just show them how to write an invoice” and ended up as a 15000 word e-book. I am now taking pre-orders for a hard copy as I’ve had so many requests and I am also looking to expand into other downloadables, such as contracts, a bridal business bundle, deal memo’s etc. I really want to help these girls. I have just started private coaching calls for artists who have specific business related questions they need answered. I am also just about to launch a podcast with another makeup artist interviewing top Australian makeup artists about their journey to where they are now. I actually can’t wait to do that. I have so many questions!!! It’s called “Behind the Brushes”.
7.It’s amazing that you have written a book as well. Tell us about this book, where artists can purchase it and any advice you have to give others who may have the desire to write a book.
The book is the nuts and bolts about starting out. I’ve written about things like taxes and invoicing, social media, building a list, on set etiquette, what to wear!!! I think I covered everything you would need to know if you had just left college and were wondering “what do I do next?” It can be purchased online in my store at makeupartistsinc.com.au. If you have a desire to write a book, my advise is to just start. Don’t think about it too much. Just open up a word document and write your contents page. Aim to write 10 minutes. Everyone has 10 minutes spare. I bet you don’t just stop at 10 minutes. Once you get started you just keep going. Take it one step at a time. My dad always said to me when I was writing Makeup Artists Inc. “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. It is so true. Just one word at a time.
8.All of us go through times of struggle as makeup artists. What do you do during these time to keep yourself motivated?
Yes, I definitely go through times of struggle. Social Media is awful during these times because I constantly scroll through my feed comparing myself to other artists. I know a lot of creatives that really struggle with intense periods of feeling down and self doubt. So, during those times I acknowledge to myself that I’m having a down period and always tell myself it will pass, It is temporary, and then I try and do either a test shoot or some form of education – a workshop or a look and learn. I always find my motivation comes back after a workshop and nothing makes you feel more excited and inspired than an awesome test shoot.
9.What advice would you give to other aspiring makeup artists who want to get into this industry.
OK, I have lots of advice for artists wanting to get into this business. 1. Treat it as a business! Get your finances in order. Organise your tax, bank accounts, invoicing system etc. Get ready to make money! 2. Decide what area you want to specialize in? Is it film, fashion, commercial, bridal. 3. Once you have done that, start reaching out to people in those areas. Don’t be afraid. Just do it. 4. Build your list and keep building it. 5. Assist, assist, assist. Get on set as much as you can. 6. Don’t stop trying. Devote every spare moment to working on your business, sending emails, organizing shoots, meeting people, workshops, practicing. Just keep going.
10.Describe “What it takes” to be a successful makeup artist today.
I think it takes an open mind to be successful. Be open to opportunities, advice, experience. Be open to assisting other artists and doing the yuk work – washing brushes, cleaning a kit, packing the car, anything it takes. Be open to working hard, getting up early, coming home late, working weekends. Be open to learning constantly. Just because you have finished college you still have a lot to learn. I still assist sometimes. I am always learning from other artists. I still do workshops, listen to podcasts, watch tutorials, just take it all in and be open to learning. Lastly, what it takes to be a successful makeup artist is integrity. Don’t steal images, don’t credit yourself for work you didn’t do, don’t undercut other artists, don’t steal clients from artists that have shared work with you. Be a good human!
facebook: makeupartistsinc. https://www.facebook.com/makeupartistsinc/
Are you feeling super inspired now?! I know I am! Michelle is one of the kindest artists I have ever met. I hope to meet her some day, she has so much knowledge of this industry, it's incredible. And her support for other artists is so refreshing to see. I love it!
Be sure Connect with Michelle on social media!
facebook: makeupartistsinc. https://www.facebook.com/makeupartistsinc/
And check her website out as well as her online business where you can buy her e-book!
Thank you for tuning in this Friday. Do you have the desire to create an online business, or perhaps write a book? Comment below!
Be sure to follow us on Instagram @whatit_takesfilm
and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whatitakesfilm
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
Amber Talarico and Kenneth Alexander. Amber is the Director of What It takes, and Kenneth is the producer. Our mission is to motivate, inspire and empower freelance makeup and special FX artists around the world to pursue their dreams by sharing knowledge, encouraging artists at all stages, and bring a voice to our industry as professional makeup artists!