Jacqueline Kalab | Advice for budding makeup artists - Jacqueline Kalab
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Advice for budding makeup artists

Advice for budding makeup artists

Posted by Jacqueline Kalab in Advice for Budding Makeup Artists, Blog, FAQs

As I am asked much advice for budding makeup artists, I am putting together this information and hopefully it helps  🙂

Frequently Asked Questions:

How did your career get started?

I was extremely fortunate.  I fell into it.  I had always has a passion for painting and the arts, and later studied fashion design.  I absolutely loved makeup but didn’t really even think of getting into makeup artistry, even though I was doing the makeup for family and friends and later fell into doing makeup for events.  One day, a friend, knowing I was obsessed with the art, asked me to assist her on a tv commercial.  I was grateful to be there and helped wherever I could.  This turned into me being given the opportunity to work on more and more.  On one of these commercials, a cameraman came up to me and said “You’re really good!  Here’s the number for my agent – give them a call.”

I called them and they represented me for a while.  And this turned into getting more and more clients and eventually being established.

Is the industry very competitive?

Yes, definitely.  Without wanting to dampen anyone’s spirit, there are hundreds, even thousands, of want-to-be makeup artists.  And, many of these are brilliant artists.  Yet, there may only be about fifty top jobs.  This doesn’t mean that no-one can make it, but it does mean that it is very competitive.  This may cause someone to mistakenly think they should claw their way to the top – putting other artists down etc.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, the bulk of your work is likely to come from other artists.

Do you have any advice you can offer me to give my career a boost?

Absolutely!  There are many things you can do to boost your career.  I don’t believe that there is one big thing to cause your career to be boosted.  I believe it’s all the many things added together that form your career.

1. Established artists sometimes might get offered five jobs for the same day.  In this instance, they will pass work on to those they consider trustworthy, that will respect the artist’s clients, and who they know will do a good job.  So one of the best things you can do is help other artists wherever you can.  And treat their clients as you would want yours treated.

2. Assist, assist, assist.  You will learn so much about on set etiquette, how to deal with clients, tips and tricks to makeup, and much more, by assisting.  I know very famous makeup artists who will STILL go and assist on the Paris runways for free etc.  Assisting an artist is really a privilege.  You are partly representing them on set. Assisting is very rarely doing actual makeup – it involves anything that speeds the

up, helps them do a better job, and helping them keep their energy.  You may be required to carry heavy kits, keep the kit clean and organised, get coffees, painting nails and toenails, moisturising and making up legs and arms of models, etc etc.

3. Hang in there.  Really, just like a fine painter, the skills of makeup and hair are extensive and take years and years to really master.  I often tell people that once you’ve been doing it about 10 years, you start to really know what you’re doing.  Once you have this kind of experience, the competition is much less, too!  Practice wherever you can and never stop learning.

4. Work on free shoots, short films, etc, such as those made at the film and photographic colleges.  These films may or may not go anywhere – however – you will start to get great insight as to how the different cameras, lighting, films stocks etc, work.  You will also learn a lot about on set etiquette and the runnings of a film shoot.  Another benefit is, if you do a great job you almost always make contacts that will use, or recommend you in the future – creating future work for yourself.

5. “Be bothered” and work hard.  It is not uncommon to come home from a shoot with every muscle in your body aching from working so hard.  Put everything you can into your work.  Stack the odds on your side.  Work hard.

6. Be ethical and do a great job.  Even when it seems that the unethical slack-bum is getting an edge over you in some way, this so rarely actually so that you’re far better to ignore such ideas and do the best you can do and be the best you can be.  At times I mistakenly thought the person who was schmoozing and not working, was winning the game, but it only appeared that way.

7. Be nice to everyone.  Treat everyone you meet with great manners.  It’s a very small industry and you never know who knows who!  Also, most celebrities and top people respect you more if they see you being good to everyone from receptionist, to janitor, to the CEO.  I once had a model completely cut me off and take a disliking to me because she mistakenly thought I was being rude to my assistant, when my assistant and I got along wonderfully.  It ruined my day.  It was all in her mind but still goes to show how important is to people that you treat others well.  Conduct yourself with professionalism and manners at all time.

8. Be reliable, and do everything you can to get a job done.  This industry operates at such fast pace.  Everyone has a job to do by yesterday.  Producers are going to call the people they know will give them and immediate “yes” and can be relied upon.  You may not get a second chance, so do whatever you can and be trustworthy.

Hopefully this has answered much of your questions.  Please don’t hesitate to email me via the “contact” page if you have further questions. like me to add more information here.

Hi Jacqueline, wondering if you were able to give me any tips on how to break into the film/TV industry please? I read your post on how to become a makeup artist which I found so so helpful, but I wanted to ask about approaching production companies for work or other makeup artists. I really have no idea where to start or what to say! I understand you must be very busy but If you could email me back it would be greatly appriciated, looking forward to hearing from you!

Your question is a tricky one –  have friends who are amazing makeup artists, who have worked in television for 15 years, who are struggling to get work – so i have no really great answer for you.  I know when new makeup artists contact me, asking to assist me, there is very little they can do except help me in my office, as I cannot bring anyone with me to most of my work.  Most of my work is private/ confidential and some even needs security checks and clearances.

Makeup artists that work more on fashion shoots, rather than celebrities, may like a hand on those days, and you can offer to assist them unpaid, to learn a lot.  It’s a very small industry and pretty much everyone knows each other.  The more you genuinely help people, the more likely you are able to build up a name for yourself, and most of your work will likely come from other makeup artists, as we may have seven clients all try and book us for the one day that we’re already booked.
When it comes to production companies, they generally require someone with many years experience.  This is for many reasons.  If a tv commercial costs $100,000 to make for example, no one can risk hiring a sound guy who may end up botching up the sound, or camera man who might not film it correctly, or a makeup artist who makes the talent look a bit weird, or their face reflects white, or they look too made up…  The only way I can think of approaching production companies is to get a good folio together.
To be honest, in my opinion, it takes years to become a working makeup artist that can actually support yourself as such, the pay is not very good – especially in the past ten years, pay has gone down considerably,  but it is certainly rewarding and enjoyable.  There are times when the pay is fantastic – and you have several weeks of loads of great work, then you may be living off a shoe lace for many months.  I would only recommend it as a career if you can supplement it with other work of some kind.  All the makeup artists I know do hairdressing or the like, for their main source of income.
That said, persist, build a folio, be good to EVERYONE you meet, be as helpful as you can, learn, learn, learn, and you will likely build momentum.
24 Dec 2012 no comments

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