With becoming a makeup artist seemingly becoming a popular career choice, I am constantly getting asked for advice on the best things to do, courses, how to start assisting etc etc. It’s such a huge industry right now and there are SO many paths you can take to becoming a pro, but I just wanted to share with you a handful of tips and a bit of advice if you are starting up, thinking about it, or maybe feeling a bit lost in this crazy world.
1) Don’t broke yourself out by spending ££££’s on expensive and long courses courses. Do something short (House of GlamDolls do great short courses), that won’t take a huge chunk out of your life (and money). Makeup courses will teach you the foundation, the real lesson is getting out there on the field and getting makeup on faces! PS Instagram isn’t a makeup course. 🙂
2) Move to London. Or near. If you want to work in celebrity/fashion/editorial/commercial/music. It’s harsh but true, it all kind of happens in London ; if you want to assist, everyone lives in London, all the agencies are here and all the big studios are here or near. If you are wanting to do more bridal/private clients then you won’t need to make the move to the big smoke, you can build your own business anywhere you have people and needs.
3) TEST TEST TEST. Build that port. Work for free.Reach out to photographers who are also starting out as they will want the same as you ; great images for their portfolio. Book as many test shoots in as you possibly can and join sites (free ones!) that allow you to network with creative teams.Don’t be disheartened when you aren’t getting paid the big bucks. It can takes decades. Really. That’s why my next point is important.
4) Get a PT job. In a makeup shop, for a brand, in a bar, whatever gives you a bit of cash and flexibility to keep working on your freelance jobs and building that up on the side.
5) Work Hard. Be Nice. Stepping on people’s toes, trying to claw your nails into other people’s clients, and being a ruthless fucker may get you part of the way, sometimes quickly, and we ALL see this happen….. but longterm, it just going to shoot you in the foot. You will get a terrible reputation and this makeup world is small, people talk and ultimately you will lose out in the longterm. I have seen makeup artist career’s been destroyed, quite literally, in a week by some really stupid decisions ; deceitfulness, lies, stealing people’s ideas & work etc. Just no.
6) Network. Your A$$ off. You need to make a (good) name for yourself and you need to meet people within the industry for opportunities to arise. Go to that fashion party even if you can’t be bothered, always take your business cards with you, get on social networks and build a basic website. You don’t need any money for this and it’s a great way for people to get to know your name/face. In my first month in London I happened to meet a very well-known/signed MUA at an art open gallery. I ended up giving her a lift to a party afterwards and I’ve assisted her for like 8 years now and on some of the most amazing shoots!
7) Set goals. Realistic ones. You aren’t going to be signed to Streeters within 2 years. Start off small, know your area of expertise and where you want to go. Test, Assist, learn , be inspired and keep learning. I think when you first start out you need to realise a lot won’t be paid, that’s just the way it is unfortunately. You need a portfolio and substance before clients will start paying you. Give yourself monthly targets and goals to achieve in your journey to get to where you want to be ; whether that is a signed artist, having your own bridal agency, being a first assistant to Charlotte Tilbury or to simply earn enough money to live in a job you love doing.
8) Stay inspired. Another great reason to be active on social media, particularly Instagram. You can see what other aspiring artists are doing, trends, tips and I always love to keep checking all the looks straight off the runway for fashion weeks ; keep tabs on your favourite and most-inspiring artists. I am forever gawping at @PatMcGrathReal @TheValGarland @De_maria @AndrewGalliMakeup @CTilburyMakeup @KirstinPiggott @MoisesArtNYC @DailyDimmick @PeterPhilipsMakeup @KennethSohMakeup
9) Be organised. You need to be on it. You are your own business, your own PR, your own driving force when you start so you need to be able to self-motivate and keep your business organised. Have a folder (online or real) with all your invoices, payments, agency contacts, client contacts, business cards, ideas, goals, tax information etc etc.
10.) Keep your head up & be strong. Maybe one of the most important things….it’s a tough industry, it REALLY is. You will go through moments of failure, turmoil, self-doubt, anxiety, jealousy, envy, confusion, even bullying and backstabbing. Keep your head high and keep your wits about you. We all go through this and unfortunately, it’s normal. You are about to enter into what is simply a very competitive, tough and bitchy industry. Keep grounded and know your worth!