Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Importance of Assisting and Testing

Anyone who knows me knows that's I'm a huge advocate for assisting and continuously building your portfolio.  I've blogged about it many times.  How to approach an artist about assisting and what to do when you get there.  But I've never really mentioned why it's so important.

While I've met some artists who never really assisted I firmly believe that it's a crucial part to learning the craft correctly.  And not just about how to apply makeup but about how to properly behave on set.  To actually see how a real set with real working people who actually do this for a living, works.

You will experience and learn different things depending on who you assist.  But one thing is certain. 9 times out of 10 you will not, I repeat, will not be getting paid.  But why, do you ask?  Because getting chosen to assist is a privilege.  Sure you can go to a school and learn makeup till the cows come home but a school wont really teach you how it is in a real working environment.

In the beginning of your assisting "career" you will get coffee, you will wash brushes, you will do pretty much anything that the key artist needs you to do. It's called paying your dues.  Think of it as the "wax on, wax off" of the makeup industry.  Everyone who is in the business and is successful has, at one point, paid their dues.

I'm not saying that you won't get paid ever but don't expect it to be much if you do.  Especially when you're starting out.  Maybe $50.  Maybe $100.  But don't ever expect money.

Test, test, tesssssstttttttt till your arm falls off.  I always say, if you're home sitting on your couch munching on Cheetos, then you don't want this bad enough.  You should be testing!  You should be doing productive things that pertain to getting your makeup career started.  Make your business cards, set up a Facebook page, set up your website.  DO SOMETHING!  Sitting there watching re-runs of ::insert fav show here:: will get you nowhere fast.

Testing is another thing that will not pay.  The point of testing is to build your portfolio.  Gather a team that is also in need of portfolio building and build your books together.  If you don't have work to show, no one will hire you.  Whether it's a bride or a commercial client, people want to know what they're buying.

Testing is also necessary to build your skill. Work on different skin colors, skin textures, bone and muscle structure (that's right people, learn that too cause it's not just about slapping makeup on someone face).  Perfecting your craft no matter how little the detail is key.  Maybe you have trouble applying lashes.  Maybe you can't get eye liner on straight.  Test so that you can work on it.  

Everyone who is testing with you is there to perfect something.  The photographer may be trying out new lights.  The hairstylist may be trying out new products.  Maybe the pictures aren't going to be as good in the beginning.  But one thing is for sure.  You walked out of there and learned something new.

Being a makeup artist is so much more than just applying makeup.  It's learning lighting, bone structure, skin types etc.  Ask questions.  Yes, that's right, ask the photographer why that light, why that position, why that lens.  There are so many aspiring artists out there that would do anything for a chance to assist and learn.  They are eager to soak up this knowledge.  So, when you get there, don't screw it up!  Below are some links to past posts that I've written about the industry.  I hope you find them useful.

And please, any questions at all (there are no stupid questions) please feel free to ask me.  My email is always open and I always respond. 


  1. I complete agree. Thanks for putting this resourceful info out!

  2. Thank you for this article. Assisting and Testing is the one thing that I have not gotten a chance to do yet but it is one of my goals for 2014.