For those who aren’t familiar with the Makeup to Go! story, I am a career media makeup artist meaning I work in makeup for photography. At this point in my career I am very fortunate that I mostly work for good-sized to major commercial and lifestyle clients, and then being in LA I also get a smattering of celeb work here and there. No project, however, is too big OR, necessarily, too small and schedule permitting I love working with private clients and I am always open to working with smaller and/or more independent projects.
It should be needless to say that working with private clients and on independent projects is quite a bit different from working with a major media client. Unfortunately, the experience can oftentimes be needlessly stressful for both the client AND the artist. In my experience this happens for a few reasons but it basically boils down to managing expectations. Here are my suggestions for how to have a great experience when hiring an artist and what we as artists can do to make the experience great for our clients.
Tips for Clients
- Makeup Artists Are Not All The Same
Makeup artists are just that: artists. A good artist will have range, yes, but we all have our own style and approach to makeup. A makeup artist’s portfolio will tell you all you need to know about that person’s style and aesthetic. Almost every artist has heard at one point in time “I like the way [Artist X] did/does my makeup”. That’s totally fine because everyone has preferences, but in that case it would likely be easier to go hire Artist X again, instead of expecting the artist you are currently working with to be an Artist X clone. If you want that really “beat”, full-opaque makeup look, I – for example – am not the artist for you. If you want a really clean, natural beauty do not hire someone with an entire portfolio of “beat” “edgy” makeup. There is an artist for everyone, just take your time and find one that really fits you.
In a similar vein…
- Bear in Mind What You Are Hiring For
Not all artists do weddings, not all artists do films, etc. Likewise, some artists are newbies, some are Junior Artists, some are Senior Artists, some artists book directly, some artists book via an agent, etc. All of these variables will factor into finding an artist who is a right fit for you. Again, the website and portfolio of a professional artist should provide you with this information.
- Please Be Specific
The more information an artist can have about a given project, the more prepared an artist can be and hence the more successful. For whatever reason people become extremely vague when inquiring about hiring an artist, and I have to say this is not just limited to personal clients. Many media clients have kept me guessing during the negotiation stage as well. It’s just bizarre. Not only does that effect the artists’ ability to give an accurate rate quote (people invariably want to know rates first but we need to know what, exactly, we are bidding on), but it can effect what the artist does makeup-wise. Tell your artist as many details about the project – what it is, where you’ll be wearing this makeup, if it is for photography and if so how it is being shot, location, where makeup will be performed, etc. etc. – as possible to ensure the best result possible.
- Try to Avoid Doing Too Much At Once
Due to budgetary constraints, smaller projects will often try to do and/or photograph a zillion things in one day. Say you are shooting a Lookbook for an up and coming clothing line and you have 10 models requiring full makeup and hair, and 8 of the models are women. In a best case scenario makeup and hair will take a minimum of 30 mins for each woman, and that is if you have a fast artist (with a good assistant). Don’t forget: the male models need some level of grooming as well. If you schedule a 10 hour day for this shoot, can you realistically expect to get individual shots, group shots, video and multiple hair, makeup, and wardrobe changes for each model? No. That is just a recipe for disaster. Not only is that not going to happen, but there is no way the artist (or any other member of the crew) would be able to do their best work under those conditions so you would not be happy with the finished result.
- Avoid Rate Shopping
Having a budget is one thing and most artists fully understand and have a certain amount of flexibility in negotiating, but rate negotiations need to be fair on both sides. For any given job – from headshots, to weddings, to commercials to what-have-you – there is a Fair Market Rate determined by the going rate for a given type of work in a particular market combined with the experience level of the artist. For example, if the going rate for wedding artists in your area is say $200-$500 for the bride, I am sorry to say that there is a reason someone would only charge $50. I have students who have been doing makeup for less than a year who routinely make more than that. Likewise I have had people who have said they found me from my website and then tried to hire me for $75 for whatever project as if that was a full rate. Um, no. Nothing personal but while I may not be Rachel Goodwin, I am an established working artist and people are willing to pay me my rate on a regular basis and $50-$100 is not my rate. If you are working in a realistic rate realm that just happens to be below my rate, I can often refer a Junior or assist artist who I know will do a great job for you. And again, if it’s a fantastic creative project and my schedule can bare it I will do it for free. But trying to undercut and go cheap is a no-no. Decide what you want and what you can afford within realistic market rates, and then proceeding accordingly. You will be much more successful on all levels than you would be trying to hire the cheapest artist you can find.
Tips for Artists
- Know Who You Are Working For
…and what the job is. I said earlier “It should be needless to say that working with private clients and on independent projects is quite a bit different from working with a major media client.” I said “should be” because apparently it does need to be said. I have read lots of complaints about what an artist did not get or how they were treated on this or that job, but really it was the ARTIST who did not go into the job with realistic expectations. First of all, as professionals we have to ask the right questions before we agree to a job. Secondly, if you do not want to do a job then just do not do it. Be professional and do not take a job and then complain about it or worse do a half-way job of it. As Yoda said, “Do or Do Not”.
- Be Courteous
Be it on working with a personal client or on a full-tilt media job, we are often the first contact and we can set the entire tone of a project with our energy. Being upbeat and friendly yet professional in all of our communications and dealings with the client – from the first email to the goodbye after the job is completed – can make all the difference between success and failure for you AND for your client.
- Be A Good Listener
Learn to ask the right questions and then listen to the responses. The job is always about the client being happy. The best way to ensure this happens is to know what, exactly, the client wants. If you really are not the right artist for a given client, it will be better for both the client and you if you just say so from the get-go. I know it can be hard, but do not be so eager that you put yourself in a negative position. Honesty is always the best policy.
- Be Good At What You Do
I always say that the onus is on us as artists to be worth paying for. Stay educated, keep your skillset sharp, maintain your kit, BE CLEAN, etc. Staying on top of your game helps you deal more confidently with your clients. And again, if you really cannot do something, please be honest. For example if you style hair but you have never worked on Afro-textured hair, or if you’ve just never worked on darker complexioned talent before, a wedding day or a photo-shoot is not the time to “wing it”. Just be honest and then go attain those skills so you will be ready at the next opportunity.
- Be Professional
This ties in with everything above. It all begins with you and your professionalism, particularly nowadays when everyone with a caboodle kit and an eyeliner pencil has decided to call himself or herself a makeup artist. The onus is on you as a professional to know your business, know the going rates in your market, know realistically where you fall within the rate structure, make sure your skillset is on point and that you are worth paying for, and for heavens sake do NOT undercut rates to try to get work. If you are an undercutter know that you are very much the problem with maintaining livable rates. Your duty as a PROFESSIONAL artist is to be an asset to whoever hires you, and for you to do your part in the client having a good experience. Not only might they spread the word about you or hire you again, but also it is in this way that one develops a career where people are looking for and hiring YOU specifically, and not just whatever artist happens to be cheap and available.
These suggestions are just that and this is hardly me handing down edicts from up high. Well, not undercutting rates is an edict. Otherwise, these are all lessons I have learned – some easy, but many the hard way – in my many years of being a working artist. The more I get it that everything in this biz is a collaboration, the easier, happier and more smoothly (most of) my jobs seem to go.