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!
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!