What’s the Haps?

Makeup-ing, Blogging, and how Tania is getting her groove back…

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I hadn’t planned to write anything, I just logged into my blog as I do periodically to check on the back end technical stuff and make sure everything is OK. But in doing so I realized: Whoa! I haven’t made a post in a while!

I forget this because – in my mind and in the “behind the scenes” – I’m actually working on the blog all the time.

I am! Truly! I’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again;

My appreciation for the full time bloggers has grown immesurably in the last year ‘cos as I’ve been gaining new insights and skills and working on how I want this blog to go I’ve come to realize that those folks work hard. H-A-R-D. So hat’s off to them. But here’s a quicky update on what’s been going on and what’s upcoming here in Makeup to Go! world.

1 ) I had a severe loss of mojo there for a minute.

Subscribers to “Speaking of Makeup” (my fab newletter to which you should subscribe) got a note back in February that with everything going on in the world, talking about makeup had become challenging. I still kinda feel that way at times. You can read that newsletter installment – Makeup in the Hour of Chaos – here.

2 ) I had a severe car accident in March.

While working out of town on a job. Not fun. I am, however, very fortunate that I walked away with minor injuries, considering. I’m just happy I walked away, frankly. I’ll decline to go into it and/or post pictures but suffice to say it was no minor fender bender. This was the kind of accident where walking away was NOT a given. (I finished the job I was up there for, too…).

3 ) I’ve had a severe UPSWING in freelance work!

This is a good thing, and this is also probably the main thing holding my back from making Makeup to Go great again. After The Great Illness of 2015 it took a minute to get back into the swing of things. But by the Fall of 2016 – I’d say – things were back a’swinging full force.

And as for Makeup to Go the business and the Blog…

4 ) I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes learning.

I took the end of 2016 to enroll in some courses specific to blogging/social media and I’m actually planning to attend my first blogging conference this summer. I believe in Makeup to Go and I want her to grow and flourish but in order to do that I needed to learn some things. I had to humble myself and realize that while I may have a lot of experience as a pro makeup artist I had pretty much ZERO experience as a pro blogger so I need to step my game up because…

5 ) I really want to teach, but not really at a makeup school.

I’ve learned a lot teaching in schools, not the least of which is I’ve learned that I prefer working for myself. I’d really like to resume Makeup to Go’s original purpose of being a vehicle for my education and consulting arm of my business so be on the lookout for those elements coming back into play. However…

6 ) First and Foremost I have reached a point where I cannot do everything alone

Nor do I want to. Not only do I need to get help with the logistics of Makeup to Go, on the blog front I also want to invite new voices and make MTG more collaborative. This does not mean that I will start taking random submissions for content (please do not send anything, I’ll return it without even reading it the way Studios do). I still very much want Makeup to Go to remain a curated experience based on the knowledge of pro, working, Media makeup artists. Fortunately for me, I know a lot of those types of folks :). I’ve had guest bloggers on Makeup to Go before, as well as regular Maquillaje Para Go contributions from my makeup homie Delia, so look for that to expand, particularly in the product reviews. I cannot try every product out there, another artist may love something that I hate, and I think it will just be a further enhancement of Makeup to Go’s goal of being “Dedicated to the Art and Craft of Makeup” to have more pro voices in the mix.

So that’s what’s up with me, now tell me what’s up with you? Aside from Publishing more consistently, what would you like to see from Makeup to Go? What types of content would you like us to cover? Please tell me in comments :).

Have you signed up for the Makeup to Go Blog newsletter yet? Join the fun for exclusive content, giveaways, and other assorted fabulosity! Makeup to Go Blog Newsletter – “Speaking of Makeup”

So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist 10 – Avoiding Bad Makeup Classes

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The “So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist” series is original content conceived and written by Tania D. Russell, all Copyrights reserved.

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me in action teaching Airbrush makeup.

As you may know, in addition to being a working artist, I am a makeup educator.

I started with my own private lessons which grew into workshops and then I began teaching in schools, first at a school in Los Angeles and now at a school in San Francisco. I actually very much want to resume teaching my own lessons and workshops but there is one thing hindering me: the rise of the bad makeup classes. It seems to be a cyclical phenomenon where sometimes there are lots of classes and sometimes there are hardly any. Right now the class/workshop/school situation is at Full Tilt. Some of them are by all accounts excellent, like Erica Carr’s Hairstyling courses which I am interested in attending myself. But some… ????? Seeing some of these workshops and schools makes me wonder WHAT exactly people are looking for in education and HOW are they vetting those to whom they are giving their hard earned money. Here are my suggestions for avoiding bad makeup classes and upping your chances of finding quality education.

– Do Not Shop Price
Do not be dazzled by an over-the-top high price thinking “oh it must be good”, and don’t shop the discount bin hoping for a bargain. Do your research and find out what you are getting for your money. Good classes will not come cheap. In fact I have a #BizTalk Friday MTG post coming entitled “Why I Can’t Teach You Makeup for Free”. NO good instructor will. Classes are expensive to produce, our knowledge is valuable and we deserve to be compensated fairly for our time and skill. Save up your hard earned $$$ for quality instruction. Good instruction will pay for itself quickly. If a class is too cheap or crazy expensive, keep looking.

– Find All About Out Who Is Teaching The Class
Real Talk: credits are very easy to find. A simple Search should pull up all types of credits and references for any actually working artist. Frankly one of the first things that should come up in a Search is a professional website with current work as any working artist would readily have (or an agent’s site if the artist works exclusively through an agent, or an IMDB profile if they work primarily in Production).

Even more frank, this info should be detailed prominently on the website for the school or workshop.

A working artist who does the work they say they do has nothing to hide. If you have to hunt, peck and squint to find out anything about the who is teaching the class or who is running the school, let that be a Red Flag.

– For Real Though – WHO Is Teaching???
There is an online advert I saw recently listing a workshop from a “celebrity makeup artist”. Not only is there no link to an artist’s portfolio of any kind, there is NO NAME listed. Yeah, no. I see this a lot, actually, particularly with a lot of these fakey schools. A potential student cannot possibly make an informed decision about a school or a class without knowing who is teaching and what is that teacher’s professional background. This information should be readily available. You shouldn’t have to search for it, you should not even have to ask for it.

– Do The Pictures Look Like Work You Want To Do?
No? Keep walking. Just as a client shouldn’t hire a makeup artist whose portfolio looks like mine expecting that they are going to do Alexis Vogel-style makeup, if a school or workshop is not posting images of the kinds of work you hope to do, keep looking. And if all they have are amateur/snapshots/Instagram photos, definitely keep looking. OH and make sure the photos are really theirs as well. Photo theft is rampant in the industry nowadays. If they have a bunch of bridal photos and then all of a sudden a photo of Beyoncé, one of these things is not like the others…

– Not All Credits Are The Right Credits
As great as my classes are 🙂 I focus on media makeup because that is what I do. Hence if you are looking for a great Bridal course, my classes would not be for you. Particularly if you want to learn the ins and outs of building a Bridal business. I don’t know the first thing about it, I don’t do Bridal. THAT SAID do not look to a Bridal artist to learn about being a freelance media artist. Unless they do both – which some artists do – someone who does Bridal exclusively or primarily does not know the ins and outs of my world. Likewise; do not take an editorial makeup class from an artist that primarily does TV, do not take a theatrical class from someone who primarily does clean beauty, do not take an FX class from someone who does not have a strong FX portfolio and background, etc. These things are all different and you should find someone whose work reflects what it is they teach. AND let me add this – anyone claiming to teach celebrity makeup should be a celebrity artist themselves. This is where the trade shows are great because they afford one access to that top tier artist whose schedule often does not permit too much time for teaching (The Makeup Show NYC*, for example, just had Troy Surratt and Nick Barose as Keynote speakers). Being a “celebrity makeup artist” does NOT mean an artist who did one random reality show person one time.

– Beware of False and/or Unsubstantiated Claims
Anyone who actually works will tell you that becoming a working makeup artist is NOT easy. It takes time and a LOT of work. I believe it was Forbes magazine who recently ranked Makeup Artistry #6 most difficult profession to enter versus how many people want to do it. It is not Mission Impossible, but it is mission difficult (to paraphrase Sir Anthony Hopkins character in MI:2). Therefore any place that talks about how you’ll be working in a week or this or that is just a scam straight up. Also I was reading an ad for a class that claimed all students would receive a Certificate that would allow them to get cosmetics for 60% off. :-|. First of all, a sheet of paper from a one day workshop is meaningless. Here in California, for example, Schools must be Accredited. Becoming Accredited itself is not easy, a course outline must be defined and approved by the appropriate governing body, courses must be a certain number of hours, etc. Therefore most Workshops are not even eligible for Accreditation. Secondly, no cosmetics company gives a Pro Discount of 60%, cosmetics companies are in business to make money. Most companies set their Top Tier at 40% and to get said discount, you have to prove that you are a WORKING artist, not just that you took a class. Shenanigans like these are why more companies are starting to charge for the Pro Discount, but let me not digress right now. A good course does not need to make things up, the value of the course is in the instruction itself. When it sounds too good to be true, it is. Run don’t walk in another direction.

If a potential student does their research, there are a lot of very good schools and workshops out there. If your plan is to be a professional makeup artist, then you should be a professional from jump. Do not become starry eyed and fall for the first handsome suitor that looks your way. Research and make a potential school or class earn your business. You owe it to yourself and your career.

And if you’re wondering, yes, I learned all of this first hand the hard way. A zillion years ago I paid a good sum of money (I want to say maybe $1500) for a class that promised I’d be working once I completed the course. I took the class without researching the instructors or the owners (who it turned out were sued several times for similar scams) or doing any kind of vetting whatsoever. Of course I never got any work out of it, in fact I did not even receive what most people would consider a complete class. Lesson learned.

Previous Installment: So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist Revisited

You Might Also Want to Check Out: So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist – Good Instruction

*CORRECTION: I originally posted that Troy Surratt and Nick Barose were Keynote speakers at IMATS NYC. This was an error on my part, they were speakers at The Makeup Show NYC. My apologies for the error.

The “So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist” series is original content conceived and written by Tania D. Russell, all Copyrights reserved.

#BizTalk – Rate Negotiation

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Aside from the question of being a makeup artist assistant, the other question I am most frequently asked is about rate negotiation and knowing what to charge. Being a professional (at anything) means being PAID for the work that you do. Not liking something, not being good at something, etc. People actually PAY you and your work is your livelihood. Therefore in order to be a successful working artist, knowing how to set your rates is paramount to your business.

In a makeup group I belong to on Facebook the question came up of whether or not to post ones rates on your professional website. Artists who do so are – generally speaking – those for whom wedding/private client comprises a goodly part if not all of their business. They feel that posting their rates helps them to separate the wheat from the chaff, and cuts down on the number of inquiries from people who are merely rate shopping. In that world, it may make sense to have a standardized rate schedule. In fact my respected makeup homegirl Yisell Santos has a recent blog post about dealing with just such inquiries (click to read).

I am a media makeup artist and I write from the perspective of media makeup. In the media makeup world it is different. Here is an article I read recently that perfectly illustrates why I am on #TeamNO when it comes to the question of posting rates…

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click to see larger image

What you are looking at is an actual bid prepared by a photo shoot producer on behalf of a photographer bidding on a job. You will note the hair/makeup rate submitted on the bid is $250 for a half day. Sounds low doesn’t it? Well IT IS. And before you start saying “Well, maybe that’s the rate in this artists’ market…”, here is what the shoot producer himself had to say about it;

    Hair/Makeup Stylist: This is typically much lower than the rate I’d include for a hair/makeup stylist, but they were local to the remote location and offered to work a half day at this rate. We originally anticipated that the stylist would travel in with the assistants, and I’d typically anticipated a day-rate of up to $1,200 if that was the case. However, I wasn’t going to argue with the local stylist’s rate, especially since we knew the travel expenses would likely put us over the client’s suggested budget of $15,000″

(note – italicization & underline added by me for emphasis)

$250 for makeup/hair although they were prepared to pay more.

That artist limited themselves out of possibly as much as $300 more for a half-day rate. And I do not mind saying that it makes me feel some kind of way that the artist – a Key/Principal on the shoot – was paid less than the photographers assistants. Nah, son. Maybe that is the going rate for local jobs in this artist’s area, but this was not a local job. This was a goodly sized production coming in from out of town. The production would still have saved some money by hiring a local artist and not having to pay travel and accommodations, apparently it was a direct booking so there were no agency fees, etc. etc. You as the artist do not have to give the farm away for free.

So how do you avoid this happening to you? Here’s what’s helped me over the years…


Being prepared for your negotiations requires some advanced leg-work. Find out the rate range for given types of work both in your immediate area and for the industry at large. Rates for things such as weddings will vary depending on your market, but commercial rates – particularly when you’re talking national clients who may shoot anywhere in the country – are pretty standard. Obviously a more Senior artist might demand a bit more than a more beginning artist, but the rates are not helter-skelter all over the place. Also this is where developing a “family” of makeup artists comes in handy. Being able to ask fellow artists what’s what in the marketplace is invaluable.

This is a tough one. When a potential client asks you your rate, the knee-jerk reaction is to just throw out a number and most of us try to throw out a number that we think the client is going to want to hear. Experts from Crystal A. Wright (motivational speaker/educator and former agent/owner of The Crystal Agency) to Eve Pearl (founder of Eve Pearl cosmetics) all say the same thing: Don’t Do It! Eve Pearl brought this point home in her lecture at IMATS Los Angeles this past January. She had an audience member participate in a mock negotiation and the participant made the typical rookie mistake of just throwing out a number without asking any questions for further information or keeping the door open for further negotiation. How can you know what number to quote to your potential client if you do not know the parameters of the job?! Ask the right questions and then…

When we get that initial inquiry it is just human nature to become excited and to want to do whatever it takes to get the job. As we grow in our career we become more selective, but it takes some time to learn how to quell that “Pick me! Pick me!” voice all us freelancers have in our heads. Do not start out your negotiations by talking, start out by listening.

Once you are ready to offer a number it is important to leave the door open for further negotiations. This is particularly true nowadays as much of the time negotiations happen via email. I always try to get the client to tell me what their makeup/hair budget is FIRST, before I respond with my rates. If/When I cannot get them to answer, I will generally say something to the effect of; “My normal rate for this type of job is $XXXX, however please let me know your budget as I am always happy to work within a clients’ budget”. This is an open-ended answer that invites further dialogue. When you get to the point in your career where people are hiring YOU instead of just “a makeup artist” you will have more room to be more rigid in your rates. Also, things can change when you’re talking about a repeat/regular client. In most instances, however, you will need to let clients know that you are open to working with them. HOWEVER…

Thanks to Mary Erickson for that term because it says it perfectly. Being open does not mean being desperate. Some jobs *are* just bad and some clients are just looking for ways to not pay an artist. Also once you get a reputation for being “The Discount Artist” it is difficult to break out of that caste. Master film makeup artist Marietta Carter-Narcisse taught me a long time ago that you have to be willing to lose the job in order to get the job. If the going rate for a given job is say – $850/day – but the client comes back to me that they have a budget of $300 for the day, that is a red flag and I’m asking questions. I have had two outcomes happen to me fairly consistently in instances such as these; A ) I had to let the job go, or very commonly B ) When I said I could not work at that rate all of a sudden someone found some more money. Yep. Do not be fooled. Shoots have budgets. As illustrated in the photo-shoot estimate above, it is more a matter of how the money is to be allocated. It is up to you to make sure you get your fair share. In fact…

As in the case of the photo estimate I quoted above, artists unwittingly undervalue themselves by assuming the cheapest rate will always get the worm. That is not necessarily the case. I have had several jobs over the years where the client’s budget for makeup/hair was MORE than what I would have quoted. Hence I, again, like to find out what the budget is for makeup/hair FIRST before I go into what my rate is. I had a job recently where based on the job description I would likely have said my rate was $1000/day but it turned out their budget was $1500/day. Um hello, $500 more per day! Why yes, I’ll take that thank you very much! Admittedly, that much of a difference does not happen frequently, but even a difference of $50 or $100 more per day makes a difference, no?

There are a number of great resources out there – from blog posts to books, etc. – that can help you improve your negotiation skills. Again, this is the Internet Age so there is no excuse for being caught out there. (NOTE: I would caution against taking the advice of other artists who do not know either. LOL! That is the downside of some messageboards/Facebook groups, etc. You definitely want to get your information from a reliable source.) It definitely took some practice for me to feel comfortable with setting my rates and engaging in negotiations. The only way to get good at it is to do it so don’t be scurred. If you are prepared you do not have to be scared. 😉


Negotiations 101 by KJ Bennett (click for PDF file)

7 Questions for Determining Your Hourly Freelance Rate (slightly different as it is not specific to makeup or creatives HOWEVER this article gives insight into things you should think about as you move into freelancing for a living…)

Many thanks to Rob Haggart / A Photo Editor Blog for allowing me to snip from their blog post for this article. 🙂

#BizTalk: When Things Are Not Going Your Way

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Readers, we’ve come to the end of yet another year. How was your 2012? Were you able to stay positive and proactive? In the Mayan calendar, 2012 signaled the “End of Time”. Many mis-interpreted this to mean “the end of the world” while many others interpreted this to mean a “paradigm shift”. It should be noted that the Mayans probably meant neither of these, and that the date 12/21/12 just represented the end of one calendar and the start of another in the way their calendar system works. Despite the various mis-interpretations, for many of us this year certainly felt like a major shift of one kind or another was taking place.

I am hopeful that most of my readers experienced a positive shift. If, however, you are a regular Makeup to Go! reader, you have probably surmised that mine was not. It was not a disaster year by any stretch, but it was highly challenging to say the least. Now I know that in Social Media Land you are not supposed to say things like that. Every blog post, tweet, Instagram, Facebook post, etc. is supposed to be filled with un-ending fabulousness. As Pastor Steven Furtick once eloquently stated regarding Social Media;

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. ” ~ Steven Furtick

Let me let you in on a little secret that most people selling classes & workshops & seminars will not say: this is a hard profession and if you are fortunate enough to establish a career there will be ups and downs. I would love to be able to tell young artists that this industry is nothing but a non-stop love fest with plenty of work flowing down from the mountains like Manna for all, but lying is not my style. I have been fabulously blessed in this profession – yes – but I have also been fabulously challenged as well. The seemingly non-stop challenge this year has been getting paid for my work. Yep. You can do a job, do a GREAT job in fact, have people love you and all that and then still be waiting weeks, months and in extreme cases years to get paid. What do you do in the meantime? There is the rub. It is challenging to live without your income. This is but one example of the many hardships one can face in this profession. While not always of the financial nature, hardship befalls all artists, and I mean ALL artists of all levels. Even the highest level celebrity artists (read Scott Barnes story in the September 2012 Allure magazine) have experienced set-backs at one point or another in their career. How to get through it and stay sane? It is not always easy to stay in a positive and proactive space, but here is what has worked for me so far;

1 ) Do Something Else
Makeup is my primary profession but it is certainly not my only skill or talent. When I did not get paid on yet another job this past Fall, I focused on my side hustle which is a baking business I have (TDR Bakes). I love baking. I go into the kitchen, play great music and create fabulous food that people enjoy. The sense of satisfaction is very similar to makeup for me. For the first time this year I did a full-on Holiday Bake Sale and I’m very proud to say it was a rousing success. I not only got great support from my amazing friends, but people I don’t know ordered as well (and loved it). This was not only something great for now, but a great first step into possibilities for the future. It gave me something to do, to feel good about, and to keep my head up.

If you’re good at something else, do it. It is easy to become attached to the title “I Am A Makeup Artist” and to see doing anything else as failure, but really the most interesting people in the business are those who are multi-faceted, anyway. While it may seem to be taking a step back, it can be a ticket to making a positive step forward. Doing something else – if even for a short while – gives you the mental space to think and not just sit around and stress the heck out.

2 ) Re-Focus on Promotions
I hate promotions like most freelancers do, but if you do not do it you will not work so there’s that. As my year became more difficult, I became more lax in my promotions which is not a good thing to do. I do not recommend it. What saved my life for the most part this year were my regular clients so I will definitely make sure I stay in contact with them FIRST. Make sure you market to those who you know like you and will hire you, not just to prospects. As I was creating in other areas, it gave me ideas of how I can be a bit more creative in my marketing. Promotions are always scary because no one likes rejection, but nothing ventured nothing gained so ya gotta do it!

3 ) Do Work You Normally Would Not Do
By this I do not mean take every free piece of junk job that rolls along. I do mean stretch yourself, work outside of your comfort zone, do something new. If you normally do print, do a short film. If you normally only do beauty, do some FX. It will stretch your artistry and hey, you just may like it 🙂

As a Key artist I’m usually working by myself, particularly on Corporate gigs, so I find I am not always meeting as many other people in the industry as I would like. Once you’re established and working, that is actually a fairly easy trap to fall into and a few of my fellow artists have said the same time me, particularly if you are not a huge party-goer which I am not. This year in addition to my normal paid work (commercial/lifestyle/advertising) I did a couple of fashion shows, I went back in the way-back machine and did a couple of music videos, I am hoping to do a couple of things at the coming IMATS-LA, etc. These are not jobs that I normally do but they allow me to “see and be seen” and meet some more people, be creative and generally keep the positive energy flowing. These jobs may not be my “norm” or pay my usual rates, but doing those gigs has been and will be a much better usage of my time than sitting at home.

4) Create An Opportunity
Part of this business – and of being a freelancer in general – is to create opportunity where seemingly non exists. If you are not doing as many shoots as you would like to do, organize some. If you are not getting as many brides as you would like, starting next week hit the phone (bridal shows, coordinators, bridal shops, etc.). There really is work happening almost all the time, including the Holidays. When my commercial clients either were not booking or were slow paying, I did a large amount of private makeup clients for Holiday parties and events. The onus is on YOU as a freelance professional to find it and to put yourself in a position to receive it.

5) Create, Create, Create!
You are a creative entity. Do NOT let your creativity be limited to whether or not your career is going the way you want it to go at any given time. Do not let your worth as an artist be wrapped up in the actions of others. Craft, write, sing, bake, draw, take photographs, do whatever. Do whatever you have to do to stay in your creative zone as an artist. Trust me, I know from very personal experience that the worst thing you can do is let your mind spiral into a zone of apathy. Keep yourself mentally as well as physically active and a new clear path will eventually present itself.

Here’s to a prosperous and fulfilling 2013 to everyone!

BizTalk – Email Scams

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For any freelancer, at any point in their career, there is nothing more exciting than being contacted about a potential job. That joy is short lived, however, when you realize that you are being contacted by someone trying to sell you a service or worse yet, you are the target of email scams.

As a freelance artist, it is very important these days to be able to recognize email scams. Generally these scammers have elaborate plans in place to defraud you of your money. Oh yes. I have heard of artists falling for these scams and losing hundreds or even sometime thousands of dollars. Basically how these scams work is that client is almost always based out of your town if not in another country and they are coming to your area and are in need of a makeup artist. These scams are often based around needing an artist for a wedding, although I’ve heard of a few scams involving pageants, fashion shows, etc. View Post