Message to young, budding artists (makeup or non)…
I know you’re starting off in your career and you’re very green. You want to take all the opportunities you can, paid or TFP, thinking that building a portfolio is better than not. I’m sure you’re perusing through all your favorite artists’ sites, fan pages and blogs admiring all their high fashion work on Kate, Gisele and the Kardashians (not an example I really wanted to use) and drooling over their gorgeous fashion spreads for VOGUE, BAZAAR and ALLURE. No, you’re not on first name basis with Anna Wintour and probably never will be. You follow their tweets to get a glimpse in to their lives then quickly realize you’re the outsider looking in. Suddenly, you’re right back in high school and nothing’s changed… The cool clique still keep amongst themselves and you’re eating lunch all by your lonesome. Reality sinks in and now you’re depressed that your career is where it’s at and not where theirs is at. The comparison begins. Then follows, self-doubt, drop in self-esteem and then questioning your talent, experience and business. You think to yourself, you’re never going to make it.
I’m guilty of all of the above.
All the emotions that you’ve felt, the self-doubt, questioning your talent, the pity… all that stuff comes with the territory. You’re not alone. Your career will get there someday, probably not in ways you’d expect, like mine, but someday it will. Billy B didn’t catapult himself into this amazing career right off the bat… For many, many many years, and I’m sure even now , he has had his ups and downs, money issues, emotional roller coasters and his issues with the industry… everyone, unless you’re Nars’s offspring, starts off on the same foot.
My advice to you as a budding, young makeup artist…
- Don’t get sucked into the perve-y guy posing himself as a photographer on Model Mayhem. The chances of those TFP images of that short, out-of-shape Asian girl sprawled over a car in her itsy bitsy bikini will not further your career nor add value to your portfolio.
- Stop following blogs of who you admire unless you like reading postings of their tears of recent work that took them on location to the pristine beaches of Turks & Caicos which just got published in VOGUE. If you find it inspirational, more power to you. If you’re like the rest of us… that momentary awe quickly turns into a reminder of where your career is not.
- Stop following them on twitter unless you like to listening in on what famous people tweet back to each other and the occasional plug on a product, which they probably got for free. I admit I follow celebrities but very few makeup artists. I rarely check my twitter account these days.
- Be careful of who you work with. Make sure you like and respect the work of everyone involved in the shoot. Don’t do TFP just for the hell of it. It will be a full day of work for you without any monetary compensation. The idea is to get AH-mazing photos that will add value to your portfolio. If you aren’t happy with the photographer’s current work, you will not be happy with your TFP images. Remember, you’re working for free so make sure your work and time counts!
- Value your craft and time. Almost always, makeup and hair stylists are undervalued because, to some people, it’ s not a necessity. In most cases, they are always trying to under cut rates even if it’s for commercial use, which the client will profit from in some way or form. I once did work for a widely popular e-commerce site and they were VERY cheap and did not want to pay a fair rate and it was non-negotiable. I took the gig to add to my resume but knew I would not be working with them again unless they paid my full rate. Make smart decisions and stand firm.
- Know your client. Provide work they want and not what you want to produce. Aunt Harriett wants natural but you recall the girl at the MAC counter with her “cool” look purple lips, yellow shadow and red cheeks… now is not the time.
- Be easy to work with. Your next job is not going to come from a client who found you online but the photographer you worked with 3 months ago or the producer who remembered you from that commercial gig a few weeks, months or years ago… People remember and like people who are easy to work with. You’re not Kim Kardashian so save the prima donna act for a later time..
- They are not better than you… unless you really suck as an artist. The big names in the industry are just paid their dues,persevered through a shit ton more, put themselves in the right places and worked constantly with directors, photographers and such who had the same hunger for success as they did. You are not beneath them, potential wise. They just had opportunities placed in front of them earlier on which were vital to their career. You can have that that moment. A lot of talented people don’t get “discovered” or get notoriety they deserve… some want it that way and others don’t.
- Focus on your career and not someone else’s. Getting wrapped up in celebrity artists career is great just so long as it is inspiring you to be a better artist. BUT… if it puts you in a slump and is a constant reminder of how not-so wonderful your career is then it’s time stop the pity party and re-evaluate your own business
Last year, I listened in on a talk by Billy B, famously known for his work on Lady Gaga and Missy Elliott, he, even with his flourishing career, guest appearances and reality show, still went through all the trial and tribulations as everyone else. Naturally… he’s human! Even as a successful artist, he still gets rushed backstage from directors, photographers and stylists to hurry up. He’s just a fraction of a whole vision that gets brought to life.
If there is a will there is a way… make sure you find your way.