Monday, April 19, 2010

Assisting and Interning

If you want to assist other artists it's always good to send an email.  Let us know that you would be interested in assisting and leave your name, number and a possible link to some work you have done.  I know not everyone is going to have a professional site or professional pictures right when they start out but a link to something (even if its attached pictures) so that we can get an idea of what your work looks like.  Contacting us with no example of your work what so ever will most likely end up in getting your email ignored.

DO NOT get annoying or stalkish.  If we respond saying that we will hold on to your information, then take that as it is.  Don't keep emailing us and calling us.  That will make us (especially me) not want to work with you.  Keeping in touch is different than sending constant "stalky" emails.  We're human and sometimes forget and emails get lost in the jumble of other emails.  After a good amount of time, send a friendly reminder that you're still interested in assisting.

DO NOT ask the senior artist to "recommend" photographers or contacts to you.  We built these relationships throughout the years of hard work and non stop networking.  We aren't going to just simply hand over our contacts to you.  Do your own networking and build your own relationships.

Below are some basic "rules" to follow.  These rules are there because, yes, unfortunately these have all happened to me and other artists I know.

::Artists Belongings::
Many artists don't like their stuff touched and I am one of them.  Do not by any means go into the key artists kit and start looking around and putting your fingers in their stuff.  It's not yours, don't touch it.

::Listen to the Key::
Do what the key tells you to do.  If he/she wants you to clean brushes with soap and water, use soap and water.  If they want you to use a brush cleaner, use a brush cleaner etc.  Don't go ahead and do what you feel like doing.  It will only get you in trouble and make the key frustrated.

::Business Cards::
NEVER EVER give out your business cards when assisting...EVER.  By doing so you are not only insulting the key artist but it looks like you're trying to take the client.  You are there to assist, NOT to network, give your card out or get too chatty with the photographer/other crew members etc.  You are there to LEARN and should consider the fact that assisting is a learning experience.  Not a chance to open your mouth and chit chat.


An assistant is there to make the key look their best and that means by being invisible (whether you are doing makeup or not).  You do what you are told and if it feels like there is nothing to do, then just sit tight and wait for further instruction from the Key.  This is not the time to chit chat and make friends.  You are not to speak to the talent, and/or production team at any time.

::Do Not Fall Asleep::
Sometimes things get slow or there isn't much to do but the last thing you want to do is fall asleep!  The key might or might not say anything to you but know that they are always watching your performance.  An assistant that falls asleep is a lazy assistant.  That means that you're bored, uninterested and you'd rather be home.  Well guess what?  A bunch of way more dedicated aspiring makeup artist would give their left arm to take your place.  And they will because rest assured, you'll never get called back to assist again.

::Do Not Disappear::
If you need to use the restroom or you get hungry and want to pass by the crafty table, that's totally fine!  You're human, you have needs.  But don't just disappear.  Let the key know that you need a slight break.  If they don't know where you are and they need you, it's not going to look good if you're not around.

::Put the Phone Away::
Nothing makes me more crazy than as assistant constantly on the phone.  Put it on vibrate and put it away.  I understand some have kids and responsibilities which is why I never tell anyone to turn off the phone.  But if it's not an emergency, you should not be on your phone.  No texting, no emailing, no checking your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Whatever!  If you need to make or take a phone call, please excuse yourself and make it quick.  Being constantly on your phone means you're not paying attention.

::Dress Code/Hygiene::
We are artists and everyone expresses themselves in different ways but, if you're coming to set wearing short shorts, a V Neck super low cut shirt and your boobs look like they're about to spill out of your shirt at any minute or your clothing are dirty...something is terribly wrong.  If you're not sure about the dress code, please DO ASK the key artist.  We rather have you ask, than you guess and then you show up to set not in the proper dress code.  Try to avoid wearing heavy scented perfume.  You never know if it's going to bother the talent, so its best to be safe and wear none.  Deodorant is a MUST.

If the key artist, for any reason feels that they aren't a good fit for the job and feels that it's better to just not complete or take the job, as an assistant you are to do what the key does.  If they leave, you leave.  In no way, shape or form are you to assume the job of the key for yourself.  You work for the key makeup artist and it is the key that hired you.  This person put their trust in you and brought you along for a close up, first hand experience.  Biting the hand that feeds and letting greed blind you will only result in never working with your mentor again.  Remember, this industry is small and word gets around.  The last thing you want is to be known as the one that stole a client or position.  Stepping on people to climb the ladder is NOT the way to go.

Now, every artist is different and sometimes the rules vary especially when you already know the environment or have worked with that particular artist often.  But this is pretty much the basics.  If you're interested in the more in depth "rules", please feel free to follow the link below:

Rules for Mentoring and Apprenticing by Suzanne Patterson

For another great post about Assisting please visit Deshawn Hatcher's Blog


  1. You rock, Yisell! I'm going to point to this from my are point on! xoxox
    Lisa Johnson

  2. Thanks Lisa! What's the link to your blog?

  3. Yeah for an awesome read...not a rant at all just good solid advice!

  4. I am an aspiring artist in Atlanta, GA. I've been trying to find info on how to approach pro artists for interning/assisting opportunities. This info was very helpful. I work in corporate America and much of what you said applies in the 9 to 5. However, many people think makeup artistry is just fun and games. I respect artist like you and I hope to find someone in my area as knowledgeable. I love the work and I can't wait to develop my skills with a pro.

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  6. Oh, how i laughed at the "rules to follow"!

    To think these examples happened to you - are these assistants cray-cray?! I've assisted once, and it was with a pro celeb artist and i think just using my common sense i didn't do any of the above.

    Great article - put a smile on my face :)