What’s the Haps?

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

still here just grindin makeup to go blog makeup artist los angeles makeup artist san francisco makeup educator


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”

#BizTalk – Sick and the Freelance Makeup Artist

makeup to go blog sick and the freelance makeup artist

…first time for everything.
Admitted into the hospital for surgery 4/24/15

Sick and the freelance makeup artist

If you are a regular visitor of the Makeup to Go Blog or particularly if you follow me on Instagram and or Twitter, you know that I have been down temporarily and in fact was hospitalized due to a knee surgery. This is a first for me in my career. For me prior to this when I’ve talked about being sick, I was talking about I have a cold or maybe even a real bad flu and getting knocked out for a week at a time. Being sick at all as a freelancer is terrible because you’re just watching work and money walk out the door, and G-d forbid it should be a new client who’s never contacted you before! LawedT! But the reality is that even though people treat us like we are not, freelancers are human too and so therefore at some point in our lives we will get sick, possibly seriously so. Now that I’m on the other side of surgery and back on the mend, I’ve thought about what it takes to make it through episodes like this as a Freelancer. Here are my thoughts…

makeup to go blog sick and the freelance makeup artist

Here’s the thing:

– I was for real sick. I had no idea how sick I really was. This was no simple strained ligament situation. In addition to the time spent in the hospital, I had a 6-week at home course of treatment I had to complete during which I was not medically allowed to work.

– I could not have worked if I wanted to. Once I was discharged from the hospital and sent home I could not get out of bed for more than a few minutes at a time. The only way I could amble around was with a walker. I needed help getting into bed, getting food, taking my medicine, pretty much everything (except going to the restroom, thank G-d).

– I was discharged from the hospital on 4/28. It wasn’t until mid-June that I was beginning to walk with a cane. About a week later I could walk up and down limited stairs again. A week after that I could drive my stick shift car again.

– The illness aspect is completely gone and has been for a while Thank Heavens. I’m in physical therapy now and I am doing well, but still nowhere near where I was before I got sick in terms of walking, endurance and mobility.

So if surgery was at the end of April, and I couldn’t walk or drive really until the end of June, that sounds like that was over 8 weeks, doesn’t it? Why yes. Yes it was. And my work still isn’t done yet. I am still – as of 7/16/15 when I’m putting the final touches on this article so it can go up live tomorrow – walking on a cane and having weekly physical therapy. And I’m BEYOND GRATEFUL that my health is where it is now.

So what do you do when you get a complete smackdown that is out of your control?

Be it health, family, or what-have-you? Now that I am out of the weeds and looking back on my experience (instead of still being in the thick of things as I was when I first started this post), here are my real thoughts on surviving a major ordeal. And I’d love to hear from other people who have gone through this in the Comments. 🙂

Needless to say, the more planning you can do before you GET sick, the better off you will be. New & “teenage” artists tend not plan for any type of contingency and just do not give themselves enough of a margin of error. (By “teenage artist” I mean length of time in the makeup profession, not the artists actual age. See this article for an explanation). Anything can potentially happen at any time. You need to have savings. This is why you cannot work for $50 a face, this is why you cannot work for “exposure”, etc. etc. Obviously different people have different financial situations but even if you are in a two income situation, losing one of those incomes can really hurt. And then of course if you are the sole breadwinner responsible for your financial well being, losing income can really really hurt. In either case you do not want to leave life to chance. In my case not only did I lose income during this period, but I had additional medical expenses (mostly hella co-pay fees) in addition to my regular living expenses. Not fun.

In addition to a financial contingency plan, you need to have a contingency plan for your clients.

African-American Anthropologist and novelist Zora Neale Hurston once famously wrote “…all my skin folk ain’t my kinfolk.”, meaning just because someone looks like you it does not mean they are down for you. You cannot trust all makeup artists, not matter how nice they may seem online. People calling themselves makeup artists undercut, steal clients, and engage in all manner of unprofessional behavior all the time. Unfortunately for me, I had to refer several jobs to other artists as I clearly could not work myself. Fortunately, I have cultivated a solid makeup family where I do not have to worry about my generosity making me a patsy. Also, I do not want to refer a wack artist – skills wise or professionalism wise – to my clients. That makes ME look bad. It is nice to know that I can refer jobs without all level of mayhem breaking out. No matter what type of job you are talking about, it is vitally important to the reputation of your business to *never* leave a client hanging. If you were to get sick at a time when you have a 15 person bridal party booked, deposit already paid, etc., would you have a backup plan in place in order to serve your client? No? Time to get on that.

Most freelancers I know in the photographic/production industries have some of the WORST habits when it comes to self-care. Not just makeup artists, most everyone on that set. From skipping meals and late night eating (and drinking and all whatever else), to working nonstop without rest, etc. We are rewarded for our “grind”, but the only people we’re hurting is ourselves. I know of much worse health crises that have hit artists younger than myself (cancer, strokes, you name it). I am not the first Blog to bring up this very real problem within our Industry. What happened to me was acute, and a bit of a fluke. I was healthy and pain-free before this episode occurred, and I am once again healthy and largely pain-free after receiving excellent medical care.  But a lot of freelancers are wearing themselves down with harsh work-related lifestyle choices that will catch up one day. Get in a habit of self-care now.  OH and for heavens sake GET MEDICAL INSURANCE.   I’d surely be permanently disabled or DEAD (literally) if I didn’t have it.

So that’s the pre-planning. Once you are already sick…

You’ll heal up faster. As I said, when I first went down I had all these illusions of doing this that and the third. Once I realized this was all based on fantasy, I stopped trying to push through the illness and let it just run its course. My reality was – and to an extent still is – my energy level was diminished, I needed a LOT more rest, I could not physically do what I used to do and my thoughts were scrambled (thankfully, that last issue is no longer the case). There was absolutely no way I could do the things I was doing before my illness, no matter how badly I may have wanted to. This is extremely difficult for a freelancer because it is nearly impossible to disengage from your business without worrying about what is going to happen to your business. And that’s real, I had to turn down a lot of work over the weeks I was down. But it’s not like I could do anything about it, and worrying adds stress which delays healing.

Speaking of stress, nothing is more stressful than worrying about money which is why my #1 suggestion is to plan in advance. However, that doesn’t always happen and with things being as expensive as they are…

Quite frankly, even if you did have a contingency it just might not be enough to cover your need. In such cases, you might look into Crowdsourcing. For medical emergencies the crowd source of choice seems to be gofundme.com. If you search “medical crowdsourcing” you will see a few other options that are specific to medical donations. I do recommend finding something that’s specific because generic Crowdsourcing options like Kickstarter and Indiegogo and the like fund their own operations by taking part of the donations in a campaign. Whereas most of the medical crowdsourcing systems do not take their fees from the recipient of the campaign. Also Kickstarter if you don’t hit a specific target you don’t get **anything** whereas with gofundme you can specify a goal amount but the recipient will still receive whatever funds are raised. The variable for success or failure with this method is – of course – your crowd. If you have a crowd of good folks who have money and not just well wishes and intentions then it can be effective. Also if you can branch out to a larger net of people then it can be even more effective. Otherwise if your crowd is just ten broke friends who don’t know anyone else, that won’t get it done LOL

I did not know this existed until one of my doctors brought it up while I was still in the hospital. If you go on permanent disability, you cannot work again or you lose your disability benefits. Temporary benefits are just that: Temporary. Temporary Disability is designed to assist in short-term times of need. In addition to money, you may be able to get some of the other needed services such as temporary disabled parking permits, etc. NOW – I didn’t end up utilizing this. I am not sure what happened to my application, actually, but if you’ve ever been on Unemployment – particularly in California where I am – you know that they can have issues with Freelance workers. However if your state has a Temporary Disability program, it is worth looking into. Goodness knows I wish I had that temporary disabled parking placard!

Stay as active as you can on social media. To be clear, I’m not talking about playing Candy Crush and talking about nothing in makeup groups (OK I do still play Candy Crush). I am talking about taking advantage of a productive activity that you can do even when you are still bed-bound. If you follow me on Instagram (@tdrussellmua), you may have noticed that I posted #ThrowbackThursday and #FlashbackFriday images with a hashtag counting down how soon it would be until I returned (#BackInFourWeeks, #BackInTwoWeeks, etc.). I kept my Facebook page going and relevant, in the Facebook makeup groups I belong to I offered useful advice which often allowed me to unobtrusively mention my blog, on Twitter I tweeted other people’s content along with my own personal updates, etc. The types of jobs I do are not the kinds of jobs that hire artists directly off of a given social media platform (sometimes, but not often) but my social media strategy worked in the sense of keeping my name and work in circulation until I was ready to make my actual comeback.

At about the 6-week mark, when I was starting to feel better and some of my mobility was returning, I started to conceptualize my return to working and doing the things necessary to make that happen. I knew I needed to;
– collect any outstanding images I had
– update the designs/layouts on both my Blog and my Portfolio website
– do an email promo to existing clients
– do a promo blast to new clients
– start writing new blog content

and so on. Again, if you are ready, you do not have to get ready. Therefore I didn’t want to wait until I was physically ready to be working again to do all the prep work. I did not want to wait until the day before I planned to relaunch the Blog to start writing content. I did all that prep work in advance so that I could get work rolling back in once I was physically capable. Probably the most important item on that list was contacting my EXISTING clients. As I have said before, people who already know and like you are more likely to give you a call than a new client that needs time to cultivate. They are also more likely to make some concessions for you. On my first shoot back I needed to sit frequently. Whereas a new client who has not worked with me before might have been turned off by that request, this long time existing client knows me and my work and that I do very much pay attention on set. They kept a chair on set for me and it was all good.

To say it has been a wild few months doesn’t even really say it

…but I am officially back at work now. I can get all schmaltzy and philosophical here and maybe I will in a future post because this experience has definitely changed me as a person, which will of course ultimately affect me as an artist in ways that are likely yet to be seen. But this is #BizTalk so, for now, I’ll keep it strictly biz. How am I now? I’m great! I’m a bit slower work-wise than I probably would be had I not had to take time off, but because of Proper Prior Planning I am not in a desperate situation at all. I got to take all of the time off that I needed, and ease my way back into working at a pace that’s been comfortable for me. I have great upcoming personal projects and jobs and I cannot wait to share the fabulosity as it happens. The worst is now truly behind me, and I can resume planning and working towards my future. And I could not be more grateful for that.

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

#MakeupMonday – #Makeupwerks Tinsel Tokyo Magazine

Makeupwerks Tinsel Tokyo Magazine

Magazine: Tinsel Tokyo

Photographer: K.Szatmari

Model: Addi Culler / Photogenics

Makeup (& Hair): Tania D. Russell

Time for another edition of #Makeupwerks which is where I feature a breakdown of some of my own work. For the editorial theme of this beauty story, I didn’t want to do something as simple as “glitter” or even “pigment”, I really wanted to play with the idea of Texture.**

makeupwerks tinsel tokyo magazine makeup artist tania d russell los angeles san francisco makeup to go blog

(Click to view larger)

Products Used:
Prep – Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water; Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre
Skin – Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics: TINT tinted moisturizer; Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Loose Powder
Eyes – Fortunate Face Cosmetics: IntensifEYE primer; Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCCMakeup) Loose Colour Concentrate Pigments: Dope, Crusing, Nevar, and Flawed
Lips – Who knows, sorry (I always mix several colors)

makeupwerks tinsel tokyo magazine makeup artist tania d russell los angeles san francisco makeup to go blog

(Click to see larger)

Product(s) Used:
Lips –
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC Makeup) LipTar: Trick, Loose Colour Concentrate Pigment: Glisten; Whip Hand Cosmetics Pure Pigment Loose Eyeshadow: Dangerous

Eye –
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC Makeup) Loose Colour Concentrate Pigments: Crusing, Acacia; Whip Hand Cosmetics Pure Pigment Loose Eyeshadow: Colada, Grouch

makeupwerks tinsel tokyo magazine makeup artist tania d russell los angeles san francisco makeup to go blog

(Click to see larger)

Product(s) Used:
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC Makeup) Loose Colour Concentrate Pigments: Nori (splattered on face)

(** As any artist does, I use a lot of different products and blend and combine to create the desired effect, but the products listed were the main products used in any given look **)

#BizTalk – Temptu Pro Search 2014

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons tania d russell makeup artist Temptu pro search 2014 winner flawless

Temptu PRO Search 2014 Winning Images (mine is bottom row, 2nd from left)

So the secret is now out – ya girl won! My photo is 2nd from the left, bottom row and I was the sole winner in the “Flawless” category. (The categories this year were Flawless, Editorial, Bridal and FX)

Many thanks for photographer Kate Szatmari and model Silja (Photogenics) and to Temptu PRO for the selection! And congrats to all of my fellow winners!

It’s a tiny bit of a stretch calling this a “BizTalk” column but here’s the thing: if you are a freelancer, publicity and creating opportunity are huge parts of the game. I’ve never entered any type of contest before, and in fact I entered this one on a TOTAL whim. I’ll tell you who inspired me to enter a contest is my friend and fellow artist Liza Macawili Ramos. You may remember she wrote the article on this years The Makeup Show Los Angeles for us. Liza is an awesome artist and also an awesome lady. One of the facets of her awesomeness is her willingness to put herself out there. She enters a lot of competitions for makeup artistry. She doesn’t always win (she does almost always Place), but she’s in the game. And you cannot win the game if you aren’t in it. By contrast I have historically been too shy to try. Back in the day I could get away with that because marketing yourself as a freelancer was just different. But in today’s Social Media driven world, shy does not work. So I took a risk and entered.

When it comes to freelancing, put yourself out there every now and then. You never know what might happen 🙂

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

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco tania d russell so you wanna be a pro makeup artist copyright tania d russell avoiding bad makeup classes

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

avoiding bad makeup classes tania d russell makeup artist makeup educator airbrush makeup los angeles san francisco makeup to go blog

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.