The “So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist / So You Wanna Be A Pro Makeup Artist” series is original content conceived and written by Tania D. Russell, all Copyrights reserved. Links may be affiliate links as indicated.


So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist…

That’s a loaded statement, nowadays isn’t it?

It was a pretty loaded statement back when I first wrote it, too and that was clear back in December 2014. Back then, the changes that Influencers would make within the Beauty industry were only starting to be revealed. As such there was a lot of “what is a makeup artist” talk within the makeup community. Since then – needless to say – the What When Why Where and How someone is called a “makeup artist” has changed pretty radically. As they say, however, the more things change the more they say them same and there has been a decided return to makeup artists as makeup authorities as many of us have become Influencers in our own right.

Given all of that, when I look back at that original article, it’s amazing how much of my advice for someone wanting to work as an on set/session artist for print/tv/film really hasn’t changed. At the end of the day, the Industry is the Industry. It’s a firmly established, and well-oiled machine that just keeps on rolling so if you want to jump aboard the train, you’ve gotta have the right ticket.

In my opinion one of the biggest elements of what has changed in 2021 is we as artists have more opportunity to write our own tickets. Whereas some jobs may have been completely out-of-reach without an agent back in the day, it isn’t completely unheard of for an artist to be seen and get booked on the strength of their social media. Or even if we don’t book directly due to our social media, it’s our own 24/7 PR and Publicity machine that we can use to strengthen our clout and showcase our expertise.

For our relaunched blog and the Relaunch Edition of So You Wanna Be A Pro Makeup Artist, let’s go over some tips for getting started in a Pro Makeup career, then and now…

1) Know Your Industry
Then: “Know what the different facets of the industry are a lot and working in one market segment does not necessarily translate to being able to work in another. Example; you can do all the short films you want and that will not get you anywhere closer to doing shows for New York Fashion Week”

Now: This is still true although it is easier to be more fluid through the different facets of the industry. For example I personally know a number of artists who worked in fashion but who have now joined then Union. That’s much more common than it used to be. But at the end of the day each segment has it’s own point of entry and it’s own learning curve

2) Know What You Want to Do
Then: “Take a moment and think about what you like about makeup and why you’re considering doing it professionally. By this I don’t mean vague answers like “I love being creative” or the like, but really try to get specific about what kinds of work excites you. Start what’s called – for reasons unknown to me – a “Morgue” which is a collection of inspiration/aspirational work you’d like to do, people you’d like to work with, etc.”

Now: Again, things are a bit more fluid now. Ultimately, I think you will have to focus in order to reach any facet at a high level, but there is more opportunity to try a lot more things out before you have to really settle down. AND not settling down is no longer entirely a career death sentence. And we don’t need to keep a physical “morgue” anymore, we have Pinterest. 🙂

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Apologies to my Pinterest followers, I’m not much of a user. But it can be a helpful tool when not used as a crutch…

3) Not All Advice is Good Advice
Then: “Find the RIGHT resources that can help you. There is a lot of bad advice to be had on the Internet. Likewise, there are a lot of bad schools. This is where you have to calm your enthusiasm a bit and become discerning. Hint: No one who actually knows the business will tell you it’s easy and anyone can do it and do it fast. That’s just not the truth. Besides, do you really want to do something that anyone can do? Anyone can be a janitor as well. I’d like to think more of the profession of makeup than that.”

Now: LAWEDT this is even more true nowadays. It’s more true than true. There is some ridiculous advice out there on the e-streets. Like WOW. On the flipside, however, many top artists are more accessible than ever. Real information is there for those who really want to find it.

4) Research, Research, Research
Then: “You want to do this? Well, go get it. Researching isn’t just asking people’s advice (although that can be a part of it). There is a wealth of information out there in the world from books to websites to magazines, films, what have you. Seek and ye shall find.”

Now: Still true! Although nowadays I’d say it’s less about people just asking senior artists what to do and calling that “research” (that might still happen in Facebook groups, I don’t know. It was rampant in the days of the Message Boards) and more about the pervasive culture of online “research” being the end all be all of all knowledge. It is not. It’s derivative and unoriginal and oftentimes just incorrect. Books are great, libraries are great, museums are great, and when it comes to finding – or even better creating – work opportunities, the internet can be great. And while it’s great to go in person, many research materials can be accessed online. How many of y’all visted all the great museums of the world when they were all hosting FREE virtual exhibits? Umm hmmm 🤨 Make use of these tools.

5) Use Your Social Media Wisely
Then: N/A

Now: The seeming alpha and omega of all existence. It isn’t, but it can be an important tool in your career if used correctly. Clean up your bio, make sure you’re linking to a working Portfolio website, tighten up on what you post (or make separate, personal Social Media pages), show personality but generally stay on topic, and learn to think of your Social Media first and foremost as a business tool.

Previous Installment: SYWBAPMA – Avoiding Bad Classes

The “So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist / So You Wanna Be A Pro Makeup Artist” series is original content conceived and written by Tania D. Russell, all Copyrights reserved. Links may be affiliate links as indicated.


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