Sunday, January 13, 2013

Breaking Into the Industry

Let me start by saying that this blog post is going to be as real as possible.  Many that know me know that I don't sugar coat.  I'm not mean about it but I'm not going to make it pretty and wrap it up in a bow for you.  The last thing I want to do is send you on your way thinking that you're going to start makeup today and become an all star tomorrow.  I don't do it to discourage you, in fact I do it to encourage you.  Because when you finally make it to where you want to be, you know that you put all your blood, sweat and tears into it.  That the prize you wanted at the end of the road was every single bit worth it.  And that feeling is glorious! With that said...

Breaking into the industry, no matter where you live, is never easy.  It takes hard work, dedication and patience to become a makeup artist.  Here's a list of things you'll need:

1. Images of your work
Without images of your work you basically don't exist.  Start working on a portfolio ASAP!  People can't hire you if they don't know what they're "buying".  In order to get images of your work you need to test.  Test, test, test!  Get a team together consisting of a hair stylist, photographer & wardrobe (if it's fashion/editorial).  Wardrobe usually isn't needed if you're just shooting beauty (bare shoulders and up).  Know, that you can do the best makeup in the world but if one element is off (hair looks bad, nails not manicured etc), your whole image will fail.  And no, you cannot take images with your smart phone.  That is just unacceptable!  When I had my 9 - 5 job I would test after work and I would test on weekends.  I basically had no life for a while.  But this is what I wanted to do so I worked hard to build my portfolio.  I'd see my boyfriend (now husband) when I could.  I'd test in the morning on weekends then hang out with my friends once my shoot was done at night.  If you're not working, you should be testing.  If you're at home on a Saturday morning watching TV, you're not being productive.

Practice, practice, practice!  I cannot stress enough how important this is!  Just when you think that you can’t practice anymore, practice again!!  Practice on friends, family – aunts, uncles, husband, boyfriend, mom, dad…whatever it takes.  You can’t ever get enough practice and no matter what stage of makeup artistry you’re in, you will always learn something new.

 Leave the feathers and rhinestones home!  Nothing more screams amateur than a portfolio filled with blue eyeshadow, feathers, rhinestones, glitter and crazy colored lashes.  We all need to have those creative days, I know, every now and then I like to smudge a little yellow paint across someone’s face.  But I do it because my book is filled with a ton of clean work.  A client doesn’t want to see how good of a orange smokey eye you can do or how well you apply crazy eyelashes.  A client wants to see how well you make the skin look.  Master the clean look on all skin colors and ethnicities first and then reach for the crazy stuff.  Also, clean work is what pays the big bucks.  Pretty much anything commercial such as Dove, Neutrogena, Colgate, Olay, etc. are the kind of clients you want to have if you want to pay your bills.

2. Website
Once you have a couple of images that you're happy with in your possession, acquire a website and start building your online portfolio.  Even if you just have 6 images, it's a start and something is always better than nothing.  Look at other makeup artist portfolios so you have an idea of layout and what kind of content should be up there.

3. Physical Portfolio
I did a whole entire post on Portfolios a while back.  Check it out here.

4. Business Cards
Business cards are such a great networking tool.  Give them out to clients and if you're into doing weddings, most bridal shops allow you to leave some cards behind so that customers can take them.  Trust me it works!  When I was doing weddings, I'd leave my cards at bridal dress shops, cake shops, flower name it, my card was there.  I'd get brides or even friends/family of the bride calling and booking me for their wedding.  When I asked them where they found me..."I saw your card at so-and-so bridal shop".  For a "how to" with business cards, check out the full blog post I did here.

5. Assist
I find that there really isn't any better way to learn, than by assisting and watching others.  I know what I know because I assisted a particular makeup artist for 4 years and another for 2 years.  Those artists took me under their wing and made me the artist I am today.  I started out as the runner girl.  I got water, coffee, food, whatever they needed!  Then I was upgraded to brush washer.  I washed brushes endlessly.  I never really touched a face for almost a year!  No pay either!  None whatsoever.  I wasn't there for the pay.  I was there for the experience, to learn, to watch, to see what it was like on a real set with real professionals.  Eventually I was allowed to prep the face which eventually led to touching up on set which led to doing just foundation which led to doing a whole face which ended up with splitting the work!  If there were 8 models, the key did 4 and I did 4.  Eventually I did get pay but it started out small.  Some days I'd get $50, some day's I'd get $350.  I eventually went on my own.  Sometimes I still assist these artist because I appreciate everything that they did for me.  What they taught me and what I learned was something special and something that I will never forget.  For more info on assisting please check out this blog entry.

6. Patience
Be patient!  Being in this business requires a lot of patience.  It will not happen overnight.  Again, I don’t say this to be negative; I say this to be truthful.  The jobs you want will come.  Might not be in 2 years or 5 years or even 7 years.  I’ve known artist that didn't really start seeing constant work come their way until their 7th – 10th year.  Very few have been fortunate in their 5th.  There will be days where you don’t even want to look at your kit and you want to quit.  We’ve all had it, heck even I’ve had it!  But, if this is truly what you want to do, NEVER give up.


  1. Thanks Yisell! I really respect how you've kept this post very grounded and factual - thank you for this!

  2. Thank you, this really is encouraging!

  3. This is an awesome post! Thank you so much for this info :)

  4. Such a REAL and great post! Thanks!

  5. this was beyond real, it was inspiring! This is exactly what I needed. Thank you so much :)