#BizTalk – Movin’ On Up

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Many of my BizTalk posts are geared towards those starting out in their careers, but this one is for folks in what I call the “Teenage Years”; The 3-6 year doldrums. I have witnessed and lived through this career phase and it seems to be a break point. It can either be an amazing time of growth and career transformation, or it can be easy to get stuck in a rut. I’ve been fortunate to have worked on very good projects throughout my career, but this phase almost took me out. I remember feeling SO stuck and SO lost and SO in need of some help and direction. Help came in unlikely places and “luck” manifested after some very hard work. Fortunately, I was able to go in the upwards/transformative direction ultimately signing with my first agent around this time. Are you feeling a little lost, alone and abandoned? Here are some tips to keep ya going and hopefully rise on up!

I put this first because this guides all the other suggestions to follow. You cannot get anywhere if you do not know where you are trying to go. When you are first starting out it makes sense to try everything and get as many experiences as you can so you can see what this industry is really like and what you really like to do. After a while, however, it is really in your best interest to start honing in on what it is SPECIFICALLY that you want to accomplish in your career and start doing it. Getting into the Union and becoming a Department Head of Makeup for feature films requires a completely different path from working Runway and becoming a lead artist for Runway shows. This is not to say that you can never do different things, but it is to say that you cannot do everything all at once. AND it is also to say that if you decide that you do want to completely change streams, that may require starting over again from scratch. Therefore it is beneficial to take some time to plan out what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you plan to get there.

Test Up Not Down(tm)
This is a phrase I coined a long time ago on a wayback makeup message board (which my phrase was wrongly attributed to the founder of that board and a bunch of other wrong folks. NOPE.
This is a Tania D. Russell original).

Basically what I’m saying is that EVERY TIME you test, you should be striving for better than what you’ve had before. And if you are not shooting with Tier 1 magazines all the time and turning your book over that way, you should be testing regularly. A lot of why people’s portfolios never move is because they’re basically doing the same thing over and over. And if you’re working in photography – or if you want to work in photography – if your portfolio doesn’t evolve, neither will your career. Period. ALSO check the folks you’re shooting with. If they are not evolving, it may be time to find some new people to work with.

Know a When to Fold ‘Em
There comes a point when you need to let certain types of jobs go because they are – quite frankly – beneath your station. Continuing to do them will not only not get you anywhere, but they may actually drag your value and cache down. I know out of Freelancers Fear, I personally kept doing headshots and model tests for far beyond their expiration date. Yes it was a little bit of money, but it wasn’t much else (not adding to my portfolio, not adding to my clients/resume, often not great working conditions, etc.) After a while you need to ask yourself,

If you’re doing such great other projects, why are you doing this little job?

Because trust me, other people are wondering the same thing.

Network, Network, Network!
And I do not mean Social Media. I know when I was in the doldrums, I spent too much time online on places such as the message board I just mentioned, the original incarnation of Model Mayhem, etc. Going to these places made me feel as though I was doing something when actually they served as a distraction from the real work I needed to be doing; meeting people in real life. I see it happening now on Facebook and the like. Social Media is great and it can be a great tool HOWEVER it is just a tool. Life still happens in real life, not all Virtual all the time. What broke me out of my rut was arranging meetings with any and everyone who would agree to meet me and look at my book. Eventually word of mouth kicked in, I started getting referrals for little gigs here and there, I met photographers, and the ball started rolling again.

Promote, Promote, Promote!
Unless your name is Pat McGrath (or Tom Pecheaux, Dick Page, Charlotte Tilbury, and the like), you cannot take it for granted that folks remember who you are. Once folks start working, it’s easy to get out of the habit of doing your promotions, particularly if you have a few regular clients who keep you busy. DO NOT FALL INTO THE TRAP. Keep your promotions up! Change can happen at any time and it may not be a change you want or like. The commercial production company you work with may merge with another company or close up shop entirely. The photographer you shoot with all the time may move. The staff who used to hire you regularly at the e-comm company were all laid off and the new folks do not know you and have their own crew they work with. And so on, and so on. All three of those scenarios have happened to me at least once. The onus is on you (or you in partnership with your agent if you are represented) to keep your name in circulation so that you do not have massive work droughts.

Keep Assisting
I would have loved to have had more of an opportunity to assist in my career, and in fact I’d still be open to it. I am slayed by the number of young artists – including a lot of my former students – who start working a little and think they’re above assisting now. Oh my young Padwan! What you do not know is a lot. Amongst the many reasons I can think of; There are certain types of jobs/clients that you will *never* get access to without assisting, since the marketplace is so glutted with “makeup artists” a lot of agencies will want to know who you’ve assisted, and these are still artists who’ve been in the biz longer than you and who have experienced and know more than you. Period. Humble yourself and you may learn something that can help take you to the next level.

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#BizTalk – Let’s Talk Undercutting

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Are you more focused on pennies than the bigger picture?

A long time ago I was on a makeup chat with my makeup buddy, Ohio based artist Kendall Stolz.

She said something that has stuck with me literally to this day. We were talking about various marketing techniques and she was saying that she was planning to revamp her website, change her collateral, etc. because she was “upping her Brand”. This was a zillion years ago, well before personal branding became all the rage as it is now, and certainly well before *I* had any consciousness of my own branding. And Kendall did it. She got herself to the point where even in her smaller/tertiary market she was working for major clients, doing major editorial, had an agent in another state, the works. Clients knew they did not have to bring in another artist from New York or Chicago, Kendall Stolz was just as good if not better. In short, she separated herself from the pack and put herself above the fray.

My oft-quoted mentor, Crystal A. Wright recently made a Facebook post to this same effect. Apparently someone in her circle was complaining about rate undercutting in their market and here is a part of Crystal’s response:

You see, while someone doesn’t want to pay you $250 to do their face for a wedding, someone else is paying another artist $650 and much more for the same service. So what’s up with that?


Today when I read the blog about this idea of the horrible undercutting freelance artist who is beating everyone else out for services I snapped! Quite frankly I think it’s a crock. Are we all to believe that just because someone doesn’t want to pay the price that you charge for a service and they go to another vendor YOU are being undercut.

It’s as ridiculous as thinking that Morton’s Steak House should go around complaining about the person who goes to McDonalds for a piece of beef.

This is the the truth, folks. YES. There are folks who will seemingly work for $5. YES there are clients who will try to take advantage of that. However, YES at any given moment there are artists working great jobs at great rates all the time. All. The. Time. So what really is going on? Obviously, the whole picture is more complex than the Mortons vs McDonald’s analogy, but the premise is the same; the onus is on you to position yourself above the fray where people would never compare you to the $5 Wonder Artist. This is what Kendall did, this is what all successfully working artists do. It takes hard-work, smarts, chutzpah and a little bit of luck. And by “luck” I mean the kind of luck that is created via hard work, smarts and chutzpah. As always, I based my articles based on my own experiences and mistakes made. Here are some ideas which have helped me over the years…

1 ) Control What You Can Control and Let The Rest Go
There will always be people who charge too little for their work and there will always be the clients who hire these people. If you think about it logically, it is not a good idea for either side. An artist who under-charges probably does so out because they – for whatever reason – cannot get more. The client who hires said artist might be getting a bargain, or they might be opening up Pandora’s Box and setting themselves up for a re-shoot. What YOU can control is YOUR artistry and YOUR career: Staying educated, being professional, being pro-active, and just generally being on point. Focus on yourself and furthering your own career and you will not have to worry about what Mr./Mrs. $5 Artist is doing.

2 ) Know Who You Are
At a certain point, I believe, in order to maximize your career you have to start making choices. Am I going to be more of a niche artist – like for example, a body painter – or am I going to be more of a generalist? Am I going to specialize in beauty or am I going to specialize in FX? Do I want to stay local/regional or do I want to expand into other markets? These are all decisions that will ultimately chart the course of how you should proceed. Choices are hard because once a decision is made, you have to live with the consequences and there are plusses and minuses to any decision. However, to paraphrase Crystal Wright yet again, a lot of artists careers never really go anywhere because they never took the time to PLAN where they wanted their career to go. Hence they put themselves in a position where they have to take any sort of work, which opens the door to having to work for low-ball rates.

3 ) Present Yourself Well
Get the “Wix” banner off of your site (and out of your URL), get the “This Card Printed by Moo” ad off your business card, avoid silly names like “Frou Frou Tra La La Makeup”. Up your game and present yourself like the professional you claim to be. I think a lot of new artists get into the habit of thinking that they’ll do whatever “for now” and then they’ll magically be better “some day”. Well, your entire career you should always be striving to be better, that’s just a given. That has nothing to do with not giving your best right now. If you cannot even spend $5 to get the Moo ad off of your business cards, or to have the Wix banner taken off of your website, why should a client pay you more for your services? You’re telling the world in clear language that you are a either an amateur or a cheapie, discount artist. (I made this mistake once, too. Not only did I have “printed by VistaPrint” emblazoned all over my first business card, I used one of their generic stock cards instead of making something Custom. I think a Custom card from VistaPrint costs a whopping $10? :-|. Yeah, I never made that mistake again…)

4 ) Know Your Market
In any given market, there is a median rate that freelancers are getting for certain type of jobs. For example, an average rate for an artist who does Bridal in Milwaukee may be $200 for the bride. In Los Angeles let’s say the average is $400 for the same bride, and in NYC the average may be $600. This means a couple of things: First of all if you are charging $200 for a bride in Los Angeles chances are you are undercharging. Secondly, those averages. You do not have to be average. A median is a middle point of a range and you can be higher or lower than the median. To go back to Crystal’s example; no one is wondering why Morton’s charges more than McDonald’s. No one is wondering why the Ritz Carlton costs more than Motel 6. They provide different levels of service and are in service to a different clientele base. If you find that people are not booking you at your desired rate you might be too far out in left field, however chances are there are holes in your business that you need to go back and re-work in order to prove your worth.

5 ) You May Have To Lose Work to Get Work
As I mentioned in my previous article on rate negotiation, you may have to let certain jobs go. Speaking for myself, I just have a rate threshold that I just do not go below. Not only because I believe that I am worth more (and I do get my rates), but because low-tier jobs have proven over and over to be more trouble than they are worth. A bride who wants herself and her 6 bridesmaids done in 3 hours for $500 total is going to be a Nightmare Client straight up. Let Mr./Mrs. $5 Artist deal with that client, you have bigger fish to fry.

6 ) Make Friends Not War
Of course there is a certain amount of reality that artists do compete for work, and that in any given market there is only so much work, particularly for certain types of jobs (i.e. in most markets there will always be more Bridal than there is media work, etc.). That said, in the creative industries, love is not a battlefield, folks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, by far my BEST allies in this business have been other makeup artists. When I encounter one of these aggro-undercutters – which is frankly rare because they usually are not usually playing on the same field as me and my artist friends – they seem like sad, lonely, desperate people who need a hug. The field where me and my artist friends play is one of encouragement, sharing resources, job referrals, fun pal times at Trade Shows and industry events, and being genuinely happy for someone else’s successes. Look at it this way: There are artists who have been in the biz 30, 40, and even 50 years. Do you really want to work in an industry where you have to be angry and have a chip on your shoulder for 20+ years? No. No one in their right mind does. A career is not meant to be an endless episode of Survivor and trying to “bump people off the island”. I do not know about you, but I have ZERO interest in living like that.

Let’s face it’s easy to have a “cash flow situation” as a freelancer of any kind. A slow work month coupled with a slow paying client can make any work that will actually pay you start to look good. And for artists in the early stages of your career where paid work is more catch as catch-can I’m not even saying “don’t ever take those jobs”**. What I am saying, what Crystal is saying, and what Kendall was saying lo those many years ago is this: You have the capability to control where your career goes. If you plan well and work accordingly you can put yourself in a position where low-rent artists vying for low-rent jobs will have a minimal effect on your business and career.

**To More Experienced Artists, I AM saying “don’t ever take those jobs”. Undercutting becomes real when we as artists make it real out of desperation…

#BizTalk – If You Are Ready You Don’t Have to Get Ready

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Last Sunday I tweeted the subject phrase – “If You Are Ready You Don’t Have to Get Ready” – and it seemed to resonate with several of my twitter followers. I know it resonated with me when it was first told to me by the “Empowerment Diva” Crystal A. Wright. How many times have you had a friend stop by and you wished you’d straightened up the house when you had time earlier in the day? How many times have you been invited to an event and you realized your perfect outfit needed dry cleaning? I been all of those situations more times than I care to remember. 😐

How many times have you been called for a same-day job and you realized your brushes and kit still needed to be cleaned and organized?

As freelancers we do not have the luxury of taking time for granted. If you are just entering the freelance world you are getting used to the fact that you think you know, but you do not really know, when your days off are going to be. And trust me it only becomes even more crucial as you progress in your career and you start traveling for work, etc. This means that you need to learn to be very efficient with your time. This does not mean never having downtime, but this means having everything in order so that you can really enjoy your downtime and know that you are ready to go when the next thing comes up. Here are some things that help me stay ready so I don’t have to get ready;

Wake up everyday like you have a job.
What I mean is this; unless you have decided to purposely take a day off – which is of course a legitimate option particularly if work-life is going fine (other than writing this, today is a day off for me) – you need to act like a working professional everyday: Get up, get dressed, and be ready to go. Constantly sleeping in or laying around in your PJs is pretty much screaming to the Universe “I Am Not Ready”.

– Clean your brushes & re-organize your kit immediately after every job.
If someone called you and offered you a job shooting a name talent for a national magazine but you had to get to the location ASAP – preferably within an hour – could you do it? That exact scenario just happened to me a few months ago and yes, I was ready and I did the job. I know you’re tired after a long day but before you completely unwind just go ahead and do it.

– Do laundry, clean the house, do filing, get the car washed, etc.
I never leave this to chance anymore. I have learned this one the hard way too many times (manys the time I’ve had to hit the 24-hour laundromat. Not fun.). You look at your schedule, you think you have 4 days in a row off. You decide to chill the first day and then BAM! someone calls with a job for the rest of the week. Now you have to scramble like a maniac to “get ready” and invariably certain things will not get done. Spare yourself this scenario by just never assuming you are going to have extended days off.

– Return those emails and phone calls.
When you are working and/or traveling it really can be challenging to keep up with the constant input and naturally you will start to prioritize what communications need to be returned immediately and which ones can wait. You do not, however, want to wait indefinitely and/or not return calls/emails at all. That’s just rude.

– Keep up your promotions.
A lot of times when we are busy we do not do anything to promote ourselves and then when things slow down we are crying and wondering why no one is calling. This absolutely had to be one of the most difficult lessons for me to fully grasp but it is also one of the most true: effective promotion is constant promotion. Promoting every now and then or “when you get around to it” does not get it done.

– Now… Chillax
Nowadays I am so used to my freelancers lifestyle that I cannot fully relax until I know I have all my ducks in a row. I think a lot people get into the fantasy that being creative is all spontaneity and living a structureless, free-wheeling life. That may be true for folks hanging out in cafes calling themselves “artistes”, but I find that to actually work and make a living as a creative it takes a certain amount of self-discipline.

I also find that sitting with a friend at a cafe, shopping, or going out to dinner is all much more enjoyable once you know all your work is done and you Are Ready.

Thanks as always to Crystal A. Wright for being an inspirational catalyst early in my career!

So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist Revisited

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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.
This article contains affiliate links which help keep Makeup to Go, going. Thanks in advance for your support…

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mosaic of makeup/hair work by Tania D. Russell (copyright respective photographers NOT STOCK IMAGE)

The “So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist” (SYWBAPA) article series was started when I first started the Makeup to Go! blog and had no readership whatsoever. It is hard to believe it has already been 2 years since I started the series! The “So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist” series was written both in response to the numerous inquiries I had received about embarking on a professional career and because I was leading up to a LFAA™ Workshop and I wanted to establish some groundwork.

As “So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist” is an informative and well-written series – if I do say so myself 😉 – so I am revisiting it for those who may not have seen it when it first ran. Also I want to bring some of the information and Resources up-to-date as a lot can change in two years.

So You Wanna Be a Pro Artist – Preview
Pretty self-explanatory, this is just an overview of what I had in mind with the series.

So You Wanna Be a Pro Artist 1 – Getting Started

So You Wanna Be a Pro Artist 2 – Now Why

So You Wanna Be a Pro Artist 3 – How

These three articles – Getting Started, Now Why, and How are overviews designed to get readers to think about their approach to their careers. Students often kind of buck me on this or they just ignore it but then invariably a year later of freelancing under their belts they come back and tell me I was right. I know I was right LOL! I know because the people who told this to me were right. When I find myself at a career plateau I often go back and re-visit these steps in order to make a plan of what I should do next.

So You Wanna Be a Pro Artist 4 – Good Instruction
I am not as anti-school as I used to be (I mean, I do teach at a makeup school, after-all) but I am still adamant that you cannot trust your career to the first school with a fly website (some schools do not even have that). IF you decide that makeup school is the best way for you to learn this craft, you must must must vet a makeup school thoroughly.

So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist 5 – Going it Alone
Many makeup artists never go to makeup school, including some of the best to have ever worked in the profession. It is entirely possible to be a self-made makeup artist and eventually work at the top of the field.

In this installment I listed a lot of books because I am a fan of makeup books. Many of the books were old and hard to get then, so they are older and harder to get now. Here is one alternate book, as well as two newer books that were not out when I first wrote my article (note – these are Affiliate links);

    Making Faces – Kevyn Aucoin
    In the original article I listed Art of Makeup by Kevyn Aucoin. That is my favorite and in my opinion the most instructional of his books, however it is long out of print and if you do find it, it is expensive. Making Faces was Kevyn Aucoin’s second book and I would also probably say his most popular book. It, too, features many great break-downs, photographs and instruction.

    Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual: For Everyone from Beginner to Pro – Bobbi Brown
    Of all of her books this is by far her best, in my opinion. It is well photographed, has clear explanations, and covers a gamut of looks on a wide array of faces and complexions.

    Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself – François Nars
    This is a visually stunning book using a really innovative overlay technique to demonstrate how to achieve the looks. François Nars is a true master so there is a lot to be learned in this book. This book may be a bit advanced for the average consumer but it is perfect for aspiring Artists.

So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist 6 – Kit Building
A newly updated version of my Preferred Products list is available on the FREEBIES page (click to go there). My own actual working kits have actually changed quite a bit since this post was first created, so I will likely do a new story on that altogether.

So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist 7 – Portfolio Building
So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist 7.5 – The Actual Portfolio
The two articles concerning Portfolios illustrate how much the world has changed in two years. Back then I stated: “Many predict that the newly released Apple iPad will become popular as presentation tools for in-person meetings, but that will remain to be seen.” HA! I cannot live without my iPad. I do still advocate, however, for artists having print portfolios. Many agencies still require them and I still run into people who aren’t into the iPad presentation and would rather see a printed book. My print portfolio book nowadays;

tania d russell makeup artist print portfolio book

(click to see larger size)

…as done by House of Portfolios. They actually got the spelling of my last name incorrect as you can see (it’s Russell with two “L”s), but they immediately shipped me a corrected book at no extra charge.

So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist 8 – Testing
So You Wanna Be A Pro Artist 9 – Marketing Basics
The final two installments of the original series focused on the nuts and bolts of building a book and promoting yourself for work. Needless to say these two topics are intertwined: you gotta meet people to develop a portfolio and then you gotta go show your portfolio in order to meet people to get hired for work.

Most of the resources listed are still valid. If you do read the article, you will see that I have crossed Wix off as one of my resources, they just are not adequately reliable and professional looking in my opinion. Resources I would add:

    Even on the free end, these are very good looking and easy to navigate Flash websites with a mobile “back” to work on iPhones, iPads, etc.

    Moo.com offers high-quality yet affordably priced printing of business cards and postcard (promo cards). They also allow you to order in “packs” where you can have multiple card designs in one order. To try a free sample pack click here. (offer good as of the time I wrote this article. Moo may end the offer at any time…)

I hope some of my newer readers, or folks who may happen to just be drifting by on the internet, take a moment, make some tea or coffee and read through this series. I tried to really make the series both engaging and and chock-a-block with information. If you are interested in working as a makeup artist this series of articles is designed to help! Now that we have revisited the original series, look for future installments coming soon…

Previous Installment: Basics of Marketing

Next Installment: 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.

#BizTalk – The Art of the Freebie

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© P. De Luna / Makeup and Hair Tania D. Russell

Don’t be duped, but don’t let opportunity pass you by…

There is a fabulous website entitled “Should I Work for Free” which features a flow chart of all the possible if/when situations that a freelancer might face when approached for non paid jobs from a client. It serves as a good reminder that it is not just makeup artists who are constantly approached for freebie “gigs” all the time. All freelancers are, particularly those in the Creative industries, particularly in a down economy. Basically, as you can see on the chart, most roads lead to “No” – which is as it should be. But why is it, as a freelancer, so difficult to say “No”? Because as a freelancer networking is part of the game and you really never know where or when opportunity might strike. People often say “well would your mechanic work for free” and the answer is rightfully No, but that hardline/black and white attitude doesn’t really work in a field where your success is greatly dependent upon constant marketing and networking. Here are my tips for deciding whether or not to take an unpaid gig.

1 ) Tests are Tests and Jobs are Jobs

I test as much as my schedule will allow and so do most of the working artists that I know. What changes are the how/when/why of doing a test but testing is a large part of the game. I am amazed at how many artists fail to realize that testing is not only about building your book, but about creating and building relationships. These are people who now know and have worked with you, hence the likelihood that they would hire you for a paying job is greatly increased over someone whom they do not know. NOW – here’s the rub: There is an absolutely terrible trend amongst newer makeup artists and this whole online “photo community” world of expecting payment (usually a kit fee) for tests. No No No. The only exception is that in certain situations, a modeling agency may set up a paid test. Those are usually with specific photographers and set up as such in advance. Most tests you will do are either for the connection or for the photos or both. The onus is on you to ask the right questions and get the information needed in order to make an informed decision on whether or not it is something you want to do. That kit fee thing pretty much automatically singles you out as a n00b (non-professional) and will alienate you from working with better photographers. Do the test or do not.

2 ) So When Should I Test?

This will change as you change as an artist and your career progresses. Nowdays I am very very specific with what I test. I know which market segments I work in and the types of clients I have and I am trying to attract, so there’s little point of me doing something random, unless I just want to have fun. Fun is fine – I love fun – but I’m a professional not a hobbyist so I have to stay relatively focused. Further, I try to work with talent with whom I am equally yoked or who are a little bit further up the food chain than I am so I can keep my networking moving along. Therefore for me, while I might get a cool picture out of it, I am less likely to work with say a student photographer because really I’m looking for both cool pictures and future work opportunity.

The game is entirely different, obviously, for an artist who is just starting out. If you are really really just starting out – either just finished with a school or if you’ve begun to DIY it – you should do every single shoot you can. You need to build a portfolio which is a very hit or miss proposition and you also need to keep learning your craft which means not only your technique at applying makeup, but being on set, communicating with a photographer and team, etc. etc. Trust me, you will make mistakes, and you want to make them on a test not on a job. Lastly, these folks with whom you are now testing are likely going to be the among the first people to give you a shot at a paid gig.

I wrote a whole thing about putting together tests in my So You Wanna Be a Pro Makeup Artist series. Go check it out 🙂

3 ) Jobs Are Jobs and Tests Are Tests

Didn’t I just say that? No. What I am referring to now is when things start to get murky and grey and when artists should have their Spidey Sense going for them so as to not be taken advantage of. Point Blank: People will try to get artists to work for free on projects that should clearly be paid. In my marketing classes I have a whole section devoted to how to read between the lines of online job listings. First of all it should be noted that most really legit jobs do not post listings. Most good jobs are obtained through marketing, word of mouth, networking, etc. In rare instances a good job will show up someplace like a Craigslist but that is not the norm. That said, when you are in the building phase of your career, obviously you have to start somewhere. Do not, however, be fooled and think that online job listings are the only places where bogus “opportunities” may appear or that this will only happen early in your career. I have been contacted by email from folks who clearly must have seen my website for “tests” that were actually jobs in disguise. I’ve even had people contact my AGENT to see if I would do a “test” that was actually a job in disguise. Lookbooks, corporate videos, promotional/demo videos, and certainly any kind of advertising should NEVER be done for free. Why? Because the entire purpose of creating a Lookbook or promo video or the like is so that a business can promote themselves to MAKE MONEY. Short version – they are trying to make money for themselves off of your free work. That does not sound fair, does it?

4 ) Someone May Very Well Be Getting Paid

There are also instances where someone is getting paid, but they are trying to get you to work for free. Say you get contacted by a photographer for a “project” and the initial email has no particular information – aside from the fact that it is not paid – and they are asking if you are available and interested. Before you say “yes” – Stop, Look and Listen. Upon emailing the photographer with an open-ended “what did you have in mind” response (leaving the door open, but not committing) they email you back with a bunch of concepts and looks and a model. Hmmmm…. Stop Look and Listen again. Tests should be collaborative. If you do not even have a say on the look or choosing the model then something needs to give. Do you like the concept? Do you like the model? Do you like this photographers work? If the answers are yes and you think this will add to your book and you want to maintain this relationship with the photographer then it may be worth it to go ahead and do the project. However, I suggest asking one more question: “How is this going to be used?”. Note that they did not use the word “test”, yet most artists will assume that’s what an unpaid project is and agree to it blindly. The most ‘red-flag’ point in that email scenario is that you do not know what you’re being asked to agree to. What is this “project”? It could turn out that this is a magazine editorial and those are often not paid but you get a tear so that’s great. It could just be portfolio development for the photographer and they have teamed up with a designer to have access to clothes and that’s great too if the project works for you as well. Worst case scenario, however, and one that comes up entirely too often is that this is a low budget project for which the photographer is being paid but they are trying to get a makeup artist who will do it for free so they can keep the money for themselves. This is what you have to determine. If you find out – or your gut is telling you – that the Worst Case Scenario is in effect, but it is a really great project that will really enhance your book then you might have to just bite the bullet. If they are already trying to take advantage of you then it may or may not be a relationship worth building but one great picture can send your portfolio into an entirely new realm. Whatever you decide, you should not bite the bullet too often and when you do, you should do so with your eyes wide open. You cannot allow yourself to get duped and then whine about it afterwards. You have to remember that you are a business as well and you have to conduct yourself as a business. Part of your business is vetting what a project is and whether or not a project is worth your time. One tip: If you have to play 20-questions to find out what’s going on, something is likely up. Keep your Spidey Senses on high and proceed with caution.

5 ) It’s The Opportunity Of A Lifetime – Don’t Be A Fool

I want to end on an up-note not just for the sake of a happy ending but because it is true and it has happened to me many times. Many of the best tears I’ve gotten and jobs I’ve done have been because of tests/free projects I worked on. This is why I believe the new mantra of “don’t work for free” that is permeating places like Model Mayhem is misguided thinking. It is particularly sad when you see these same people posting “why can’t I get anyone to hire me for paid jobs?!???”. Real Talk: I never had to ask to get paid or wonder when I should start charging. I focused on building my book and meeting people and before I knew it people were contacting me wanting to pay me. Even to this day I will still RUN out the door when an opportunity presents itself, case in point the editorial photograph at the top of this article. Here’s another shot from that editorial:

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons art of the freebie Blank Magazine issue 58

© P. De Luna / Makeup & Hair by Tania D. Russell

Gorgeous, right? Something to be proud of in a portfolio and trust me, I am 🙂
This tear came about by seizing opportunity. When the photographer contacted me regarding availability, I didn’t start hemming and hawing about distance and kit fees. High-end fashion is very difficult to get in California as that is not our market. This was a clear opportunity to get something of value to add to my portfolio and meet and network with a great photographer, and I jumped at the chance. Do not shoot yourself in the foot. If they are doing the caliber work that you want to be doing but are not doing yet, why are you worrying about a kit fee or mileage or whether or not they are going to pay you? One great image can land you scores of amazing jobs. Don’t be a fool! Run, RUN! out that door and do that job!