As a working MUA, I get messages and calls almost daily from aspiring makeup artists. There are lots of self-proclaimed “pros” on Instagram and Snapchat showing you how they have perfected their makeup daily, but there are a small percentage of us actually thriving and running businesses. I thought I would share a few tips with those interested in a career in the beauty industry. Don’t take it personal, this is straight with no chaser.
1. Being a makeup artist is not a solution to your mundane life…this is work!
It’s a career. It’s not all fun and games. Expect to work the same long hours and put forth the same professionalism that you would in any other job. Anyone who hires you in the future will expect you to get there on time and be prepared. No one who is paying you will give a crap about how beautiful your makeup is when you get there! Especially if you can’t produce the skills on others that you display on yourself, in a timely and efficient manner. Hell, I don’t even wear makeup to my gigs half the time anymore. You know why? They don’t care! My job is to make the talent look and feel amazing. Keeping that in perspective, is what keeps them calling me back.
2. Get a license.
Do you need a license to do makeup? I get this question often, and in my state (North Carolina), the answer is no. In most states, the answer is the same. However, I encourage any MUA to get a Cosmetology License or at least an Esthetics License. Why? You should know the basics of skin care and how to spot diseases and keep things sanitary for clients. Trust that your future client will care much more that you keep your tools and products sanitary, than the fact that you have the newest MAC lipstick color! I’ve been saying this for years.
I’ve watched many artists that I’ve worked with at counters end up going to school in the end to further their knowledge and become certified and credentialed. Education is something no one can ever take from you. Not to mention it always feels good to tell anyone that’s hiring you, “Yes, I am licensed and certified.”
3. Take your time.
It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. I don’t care if it’s being a janitor. If you spend 10,000 hours at it, you’re going to know some things about cleaning that most people don’t, simply because of your experience in it. It’s no different with makeup. One or two makeup classes don’t make you an expert. And one or two “celebrity” faces don’t make you a “Celebrity Makeup Artist”. This industry will stretch and pull and make or break you. Be willing to endure and put the time to get where you want to go. Piggy backing on my first tip, the makeup industry is not a fast track to boosting your ego nor is it a solution to not having to work hard. If you’re not expecting to put major time in, then you may not be as passionate about it as you think you are. I’ve been in the game 10, almost 11 years and I’m juuust starting to see from ripe and delicious fruit from my labor.
4. Work in the industry.
With the above said, I always encourage aspiring artists to get a job at a counter. It’s the realest experience you’ll ever get in the makeup biz! You will not only learn how to approach makeup on all walks of life (young, old, any ethnicity, any skin type, conservative, bold, etc.), you’ll learn products and their uses in detail, and hopefully sanitation as well. It gives you experience as to how to deal with people and you may even start developing relationships and building a clientele. Be mindful, that this is a job. A potentially fun job, but a job. Show up on time and be a team player. This is the groundwork for developing the professionalism you will need in your own freelance business.
5. Do your research.
What kind of makeup do you want to do? In what way? In print? On red carpet? Television? There are different things you need to know for each genre. If your deepest desire is to work on film sets, find out how and who are some of the hottest in the game in that genre. If it’s to do body art, find out who are the best in the industry and follow their careers. Their journeys will help you find your path.
In the beginning of my career I just wanted to do makeup, but I soon discovered my passion for fashion, and wanted my work to be in Vogue. I had to start changing my approach to the industry and am still on the journey to getting there. Once you find what’s for you, start finding those that are where you want to be. Saying you want to work on celebs is not enough.
Here’s a hint: many of them won’t be the most popular!! They are too busy working to be posting stuff all day. *Tuh*
If you get bold enough to approach one of these great artists about assisting or mentoring you, be as professional as possible. We don’t really care about how well you can do makeup and we don’t want to see your work unless we actually ask you to. And 9 times out of 10, we don’t need your help, so don’t assume that we do. If you really want to approach an established professional, first introduce yourself and sincerely express your interest in learning. If they are interested, they may need you to assist with basic duties (washing brushes, carrying bags, sending emails). This will show how invested you are and IF you may be a good fit. No established artist wants a wild rookie around the clients they have taken time to nurture and build with!! So don’t take a “no” or non-response personal and be mindful of how you approach anyone you respect about their time and influence.
Hope that was helpful!!! And no matter what, keep going after your dreams. All things are truly possible!! Kisses!
Joy N. Randall is an award-winning, professional makeup artist, and cosmetologist. Her resume includes NASCAR Productions, The Color Purple Broadway, DNC.com 2012 , and The David Letterman Show. She is a full time freelance artist under her own brand, Flawless Makeup Art in Charlotte, NC.