#BizTalk – When You Do Not Get Paid

makeup to go blog when you do not get paid

Quote from Tupac Shakur, edited because this is a “Rated G” site
Image shot on location by Tania D. Russell

When you do not get paid

I am now about to say something that I’ve not said publicly ever before…I was never paid for the last courses I taught for the MKC Beauty Academy.

There, I said it. People associated with me at that time kind of knew, and of course I told my family and close friends, but I’ve never explicitly stated it publicly. I worked for MKC Beauty Academy as an Instructor from January 2010 – December 2012 when the physical location of the school abruptly closed. At that time I was owed about $2000, which I have still yet to receive.

Imagine my surprise, then, to recently discover that they are once again hiring for Instructors. Hmmmm…

makeup to go blog when you go not get paid

I have been ruminating over whether or not to post about this incident for quite some time. Seeing the Help Wanted ad for new teachers finally put me over the edge because quite frankly that left me feeling some kind of way. However, if you’re thinking that now is the time that I launch into how horrible MKC was, how horrible the owners were, and what a terrible experience I had, you would be wrong. I loved teaching at MKC. Loved it. I loved my students, I loved the administrative staff, I loved my fellow instructors, I loved the curriculum (MKC was focused on beauty/fashion makeup for photography as opposed to most L.A. schools that focus heavily on FX), and I loved working with the owners. I loved everything about it for most of my tenure working there. And then everything changed…

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m still here to tell the tale and the tale made me a better artist and a better professional.

Understand, I’ve been not paid before. In fact, in fairness to MKC, they weren’t the only non-payers that year. 2012 was a banner year for me with the non-paying clients, as I had three! One entity had to be sued by the entire crew and that eventually settled, one entity finally paid me in full after months (and MONTHS!) of emails and phone calls, and then there is MKC who – to this day – is the only client who has not settled their debt to me in any way. The vast majority of my jobs, obviously, pay me. It’s fairly common for a client to pay on an invoice a little late, but not getting paid outright is – thankfully – a rare occurrence.

Being not paid is obviously problematic for a professional artist as this is my livelihood, not a hobby. Having over $8,000 just vanish was not great to say the least. But in the case of MKC the non-payment was also quite hurtful. It’s one thing to lose money, but it is quite another to feel that a relationship was betrayed, and that’s how I felt about MKC. There were a number of professional and personal repercussions for me stemming from that incident, and it took me a minute to recover from the whole experience. Here’s what that time taught me…

Clients Are Not Friends
I’m not saying do not be friendly and appreciative, people hire folks they like being around. I am saying that your clients are not your homies, and as a professional it is important to recognize this boundary. Good or bad, this experience definitely taught me to develop a callus on my emotions with regards to my professional relationships. Even when you’ve worked with someone for a long period of time, they are still your client, they are not your home-skillet. (Please Note: that’s callus – as in the callus that develops on the heels of your feet, not callous as in having an insensitive disregard for something.)

Pay Attention to Red Flags
The Buddhist in me knows that a goodly part of the blame for this whole episode lies firmly at my own feet. When I say everything changed, I do not mean it happened on any one day or even in my final week of working with them. That’s just when things came to a head. The change evolved over the course of my final year working with them. Signs that things were amiss were clearly there and I ignored them. I did not want to believe it was possible that they would do me wrong, and as such I stayed at the party too long. And it cost me, literally. As Radiohead said;

…and that’s why it really hurts.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable
As a freelancer, you just never know when a rug is going to be pulled out from under you. I lived through that in full in 2008/2009 when the economy crashed and I lost every. single. client. I had. Either they went out of business or they closed up shop on the West Coast or all the staff that used to hire me was let go, etc. Teaching became that safety net when other things didn’t work out. Job cancelled? Oh well, I’ll be teaching another course soon. But then what do you do when the safety net gives way? Not only did I lose the money they owed me, but it was obvious I lost a client that used to hire me on the regular. THANK HEAVENS I never stop hustling. It wasn’t easy, but I had to hustle some new situations STAT. For a minute there it was ooogly, but ultimately things have worked out for the better.

Do Not Be Ashamed
For whatever reason, I felt a lot of shame about the incident and for a bit it undermined my professional confidence. I really had nothing to feel ashamed of, but I did take the situation as a personal failure. While it’s true that I ignored some signs, it is also true that I am entitled to the money that I have worked for. Artists – women in particular – are often made to feel like being paid for our work is the “cherry on top”. No. With all of my clients, contracts are signed, rates are agreed to, and I work for and earn my money fair and square. Further, I am not only a professional artist, but I am a professional artist of demonstrated skill and experience and my knowledge and expertise have value. No one is doing me a favor by paying me.

To Sue or Not To Sue
Of the instructors who were left unpaid for their work, I believe I was the only one to actually sue MKC. Understand that this was not a decision I took lightly, but in the end I decided to go ahead with a suit. My reasoning was that if they were really having this level of financial difficulty it would not be long before they would have to file Bankruptcy and/or dissolve altogether, and I wanted to be sure I’d be counted amongst the creditors that would have to be satisfied. A similar scenario actually happened to me in 2011 with a client I worked for in 2010, only in that case their lawyers contacted me to settle my outstanding invoice. By contrast by the time I decided it was time to go ahead and sue MKC, any communication on when I could expect to receive my payment(s) had basically stopped.

There is a lot of controversy within our industry as to whether or not you should ever sue a client. A lot of people feel that you never should sue a client, reason being that you will damage a relationship, damage your chances of future work with said client, and potentially damage your reputation. I think these decisions have to be made on a case by case basis. That said, in all likelihood the relationship is already irreparably damaged when a client opts not to pay an invoice for work performed. Likewise, I cannot think of losing a non-paying client as a real loss. The potential to damage your reputation, however, is real and I think how you choose to handle the situation if you do decide to sue makes a large difference. As I mentioned above, not only did I not “go off”, this is the first time I am even talking about this publicly at all. For me the emotional component has (mostly) passed and this is merely a matter of business: I performed this work and I would like to have been paid for it. In a music video it may be exciting, but in real life it is probably best not to go Rihanna when a client owes you money.

makeup to go blog when you do not get paid

I’m sure you’ve seen variations of this quote floating around social media. While it is easy to become cynical, I have found the above quote to be untrue. Since moving on from MKC I’ve gotten great new clients and I’ve also landed in a very positive teaching situation. I got to that place where I could “leave the pieces on the floor and move the ____ on”, and it’s a very freeing place to be.

Your best clients will pay the best rates, pay on time if not early, and in general demonstrate their appreciation for you in every element of their treatment of you.

If you that see a client who once treated you like Royalty is now starting to treat you like the Court Jester, it is probably time to walk away while you can still do so amicably.

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 – Movin’ On Up

makeup to go blog makeup Los Angeles makeup San Francisco Tania d Russell moving on up

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.

makeup to go blog biz talk movin on up

#BizTalk – Getting Ready for 2015

makeup to go makeup to go blog getting ready for 2015

My (scary, ever-growing) 2015 Makeup To Do List

It’s December. Can you believe it? Same thing happens to me every year: the year starts out slow and steady, picks up some speed going into summer and then next thing I know the year goes into Hyperdrive and BAM! it’s December. For people who work traditional jobs December is adequately stressful just with work, the holidays, family, travel, parties, etc. For the freelancer we get to do all of that PLUS start sowing the seeds for the coming year. Every year at around this time as work is still coming, but definitely slowing down, I take stock of how the current year went and start prepping for the new year. It’s both an act of setting an intention and an act of starting to do the WORK necessary for the intention to manifest itself. Here is my plan for getting ready for 2015.

1 – What’s the Plan for 2015?

For me, the first thing I’ve got to do is plan what the heck I want for the coming year. Note my choice of words: I want to PLAN what I want for the coming year, not daydream about it. Planning is more than “I want XYZ”, planning is plotting what steps will be necessary to GET XYZ. If you want to go from counter or bridal to freelancing for media what will that entail? If you want to move to a new city, what resources do you have and what resources will you have in your new, desired location? If you want to approach agencies, what do you need to do to make your presentation on point so that an agent might be interested in working with you? Whatever my given goal might be, I like to take each action point and break down step by step how I will actually make it happen. I then like to take my list to a calendar and give myself timeframes and deadlines. Sort of like an Editorial Calendar that a magazine might use to plan their issues (or that I need to start doing for this blog 😐 ).

A few things have come from this approach: A ) It makes the work more approachable. Instead of one, big overwhelming project I now have a series of small actionable steps. B ) I tend to actually make things happen.

Helpful resource(s):
The MUA Planner (by famed Film/TV artist Marietta Carter Narcisse) – It’s easier to plan your Calendar if you know when things are happening. From Awards Shows to Trade Shows to educational opportunities, you name it, The MUA Planner is a fantastic resource. NOTE: The website has not yet been updated, but I emailed and the 2015 edition is in production as we speak.

2 – How Are Your Skills Looking?

Several years ago I was particularly slow over the Holidays and into the start of the new year so I went Sally Beauty Supply, got a practice head (I have miss Suzie pictured here), and just sat down with every hair tutorial video I could find. I am a makeup artist who has been basically forced into doing hair due to market demands, so hair had always been an area where I lacked confidence. Relative to my skills as a makeup artist I am still less confident about hair, but hey – I’m not losing a $1K/day job because I was too scared to do some beachwaves.

Whether you have a specific weakness as I did, or you want to add to your skill set, improve your business skills, or just learn something new, education is – in my opinion – VITAL to staying fresh and relevant in your profession. You can get fantastic education for as little as the price of admission at your local tradeshow, or you can go more in-depth by availing yourself of any of the myriad of workshops offered by artists and industry professionals (myself included). And it’s FUN! I find continuing education stokes the fire and keeps me excited about being a makeup artist. I do recommend creating an education fund so that when the Workshop Of The Millennium comes up, you won’t have to pass it over because you could not afford to attend. Even saving $50/mo will land you $600 by years end.

Helpful resource(s):
Watch this page to see when my workshops will take place in 2015. Most of my workshops happen in both LA and SF.

3 – How Tired Is Your Portfolio, Anyway?

I always try to do some testing and general portfolio “freshening” this time of the year. Particularly if – as has been the case for me in 2014 – I have not done a lot of Portfolio Enhancing jobs. What do I mean by that? Well, I did my magazine work and that was great HOWEVER most of what I did this year was e-commerce / catalog, motion advertising, private clients and teaching. Neither private clients nor teaching – while I love doing both – yield anything for one’s portfolio, motion is great if and when I can get the production company to send me the finished work (or if I can find it and rip it from somewhere), and e-commerce?

makeup to go makeup to go blog getting ready for 2015

for Chase54.com makeup hair grooming by moi

Yeah… That’s fine in small amounts if that’s part of the type of work you do – which I do – but no client looking through your portfolio wants to see endless pages of e-commerce. Since work is generally slower for everyone at the beginning of the year I try to shoot some beauty and if I get lucky some editorial so my book stays fresh and compelling. Newer makeup artists should be testing all the time anyway because you have to, but if you’re a Vet who has been resting on your Existing Portfolio laurels, it’s probably time to tighten and brighten.

4 – What Is This Social Media of Which You Speak?

I’m amazed at how many artists are so bad at Social Media in 2014. Y’all – it’s not even “new” anymore, so that excuse is over. This is FREE marketing and promotions at your fingertips, folks! I’m not saying that you’ll necessarily get hired from a Social Media post (although some artists have) but it is a way to build a presence and build your brand so that decision makers and potential clients of all kinds know who you are. It’s also great for building community with other artists. You never know who might see your work. So whatever your issue is with Social Media, let it go and get to posting. At least get on Instagram. Instagram is visual so it’s perfect for visual creatives – hence we’re all on there – and it rocks.

I’ll be doing an entire series on Social Media usage in the coming year. I will say that if you use Social Media – particularly if you have multiple accounts or use multiple platforms – you’ll want to know what you’re wanting to say on each one. It’s boring and you’ll lose followers if your multiple Twitters, multiple Instagrams and your Pinterest all say basically the same thing (I know this from personal experience).

5 – It’s Decemeber 5th. Have You Sent Your Client Gifts Out Yet?

I had the realization on my last work trip in San Francisco;

Oh wait. When I get back home it will be the week of Thanksgiving and my Birthday and then it will be DECEMBER. OMG!!!!

And I make my client gifts so… yeah.. I had to get on that. Quite frankly, you should really be sending out those gifts today or tomorrow at the latest. Your contacts will start peeling out for the Holidays/vacation soon AND delivery (USPS, UPS and even FedEx to some extent) gets slower at this time of year due to increased volume. You’ll want to give adequate time for your client to receive and appreciate your gift. Coffee cards will do in a pinch, but never forget to acknowledge those who have hired you. My gifts are going out today…

Helpful resource(s):
Rock Scissor Paper Stationary – Owned by my friend Heidi (and her biz partner and sister, Suzie), this groovy little company based in LA makes cards for all occasions, personalized stationary (click to see mine), gift tags, wrapping paper, coasters, mugs, tote bags, you name it! I am one of those people who keeps cards and gift tags on hand at all time so I’m ready to go.

So how are you getting ready for 2015? Do you have any particular methods/routines/rituals? Leave me a comment about how you get ready for the New Year.

Here’s to a joyous Holidays and a Prosperous New Year!

#BizTalk – My Aim Is True

makeup to go makeup to go blog my aim is true staying true as an artist

So it’s Halloween yet again. I hate Halloween. Yep you read that correctly. In fact I have never particularly liked Halloween, even as a kid. I do not have a problem with the holiday itself, or with other people celebrating, that’s not where I’m coming from at all. I’m just saying that Tania does not like Halloween. I do not like horror, I do not like macabre, I do not like being scared, and I’m indifferent about dressing up. All of my social media streams drive me insane as my fellow makeup artists posts photos of zombies and mummies and all other manner of Yucky McYuck that I don’t want to see. Every year I have to scroll quick and brace myself for what I might see for a good solid month, and every year I cannot WAIT for Halloween to Just. Be. Over.*

This all pretty much rules me out of the Halloween spirit, doesn’t it? LOL! At this point you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wow. That’s really strange for a makeup artist to not love Halloween and dressing up.” Yes it probably is. And that brings me to the point of this edition of biz talk: staying true as an artist.

Here’s the thing; I don’t care if every other makeup artist in the universe loves Halloween and they all look forward to it every year. In fact it feels like that’s the case. That said I feel absolutely no pressure whatsoever to participate in Halloween, and I have declined any and all Halloween makeup requests and I have done so for years. I don’t like it, I’m not doing it. Period.

That pretty much sums up the way I approach every facet of my makeup artistry these days. In order to be a makeup artist and not just a makeup applier or the like, my makeup has to come from within me. And if I am trying to do something that is not authentic to my aesthetic – a.k.a. if I’m trying to do something I don’t really like – then it’s never going to be an authentic representation of myself as an artist. As we know I also teach makeup and whenever I start with a new group I always ask them what do they want to do. More often than not I will get some kind of non-committal “Oh, I’m not sure” or “I love everything”.


That’s like folks who say they like “all kinds” of music. No they don’t. No one likes “everything”. Further – and maybe this is just me – but I wanted to get into makeup because I LOVE MAKEUP. And I could tell anyone exactly what I loved about it, what got me excited, and what I hoped to do in a career. When people say “I’m not sure” or “I love everything”, where’s the passion, where’s the excitement, where’s the fire? I’ll tell you where: The passion, excitement, and fire are all buried underneath fears, manifesting themselves in people doing what they think they OUGHT to do vs. pursuing what it is they really WANT to do. Case in point, when I first started my career, Los Angeles being the Film/FX town that it is, I got shuffled into doing film even though that was not at all what I loved or what got me excited about makeup. After attending University, I was told I should go to makeup school in order to pursue a career in makeup. So that’s what I did, studying film makeup with emphasis on character and FX makeup. Short version: Hated. It. With the fire of 10,000 suns. I. Hated. It. And when I started doing indie films and trying to get the ball rolling on a career I hated it so badly that I quit doing makeup altogether. Had I not been introduced to the print/photography creative community in Los Angeles I would never have stayed a makeup artist. Once I got my foot in the door with makeup for photography, there was no stopping me whatsoever. THIS is the world I wanted to be a part of! THIS is the world I dreamed of!!

Deep down inside you know what lights you up. When you close your eyes you know what kinds of projects are exciting to you. This does not mean you cannot like or do other things: If you like FX you can still do a runway show, etc. What I am saying is if you do dream of FX (or High Fashion, or Stage or what have you), all the Bridal in the world is not going to quench that thirst. And it does not matter if every other makeup artist you know does Bridal. YOU do not have to do Bridal, if you do not want to. Conversely, if you were the one who grew up coveting all the Bridal mags you could get your hands on and working within the Bridal industry is your dream, go for it! Building a successful bridal business is an art and skill unto itself. If media makeup is not what you’re trying to do, don’t feel pressured to do it.

I have always been a proponent of the belief that your personality will guide you to the aspect of the ‘biz that’s right for you. Over the years that of course may – and likely will – change, but generally speaking you cannot go wrong by letting your artistic passion be your guide. I’m not given to much new-agey speak but when I found my proper zone it really does seem as though things fell in place… I won’t say easily, but they fell into place organically. My career has progressed naturally AND I’ve been happy overall in my career and my artistry. No sugar skulls (actually called Calavera, and actually having nothing to do with Halloween but that’s a story for another time), Zombies or fake Roy Lichtenstein faces required.

Happy Halloween!

*Now that I’m an According to Hoyle, official, certified, grown-up, I really enjoy giving candy out to kids.

#BizTalk: The Art of the No

makeup to go blog the art of the no tania d russell makeup artist beauty writer

Freelancers Union recently ran a story about saying no while leaving the door open for future work with a potential client (click to read that story).

Saying “No” to a gig is a tricky proposition as a freelancer. It is one that, admittedly, gets easier as you become more established, but it never really becomes easy easy. I’ve heard some of the biggest names in the biz speak at various trade shows, events, etc. and many have told cautionary tales of the “the one that got away” client or the “I had it then I lost it” client due to being unavailable. Therefore learning the Art of the No is an important skill for your career. The conventional thinking is that if you tell a client “No” you can just kiss that client goodbye. Well, in my experience that’s a not entirely the case. Yes if a client contacts you and you are not available, obviously they are going to move on. However, I have found there are things you can do to up the likelihood that they will call you again for future projects. As always, when reading this, bear in mind that I have made every mistake under the sun and I’ve learned many of these things the hard way. So I’m not writing to admonish, I’m writing to spare you some of the pain I’ve endured. LOL.

In the Kate Hamill/Freelancers Union original piece, her suggestions were to:

– Express Regret
– Create Demand
– Keep the Line Open

I agree with those, and I have a couple of my own to add on…

1) Express Regret
Make it clear that you appreciate that this person/client contacted you about the job and you’re sorry you cannot work with them on the project, even if the project was in some way wack sounding. Let me repeat: Even. If. The. Project. Was. Wack. Do not convey that feeling in your email/phone response. Save the venting for your friends, Facebook/Twitter (provided the potential client won’t be able to see it), etc. Why? People in the creative industries change jobs/companies all the time. As Sigourney Weaver said in the film “Working Girl”, “Today’s Jr. Pr*k is tomorrow’s Senior Partner”. If you dissed them when they were Producing a shoot for “Little Company X”, your name is not going to be first in line now that they are Art Directing for TBWA\Chiat\Day. A little humility and gratitude when responding to people never hurts.

2) Create Demand
If you do have to say No to a job, make it clear that you are doing so because you are already booked and working. This creates the appearance of demand, yes, but also there’s really no other excuse. Say anything else and the potential client may take it personally. Once again for the folks in the back: Even if the reality is you’d rather stay home and watch marathon re-runs of “The Nanny” than take their “wack little job”, you do not want that to come across in your reply. Also, these people are not close friends, so now is not the time to go into a soliloquy about your upcoming surgery or whatever. Save any drama for your mamma. Whatever the real reason may be, the reason you cannot take their booking is because you are already booked, or at least On Hold, for their date.

2b ) Do Not Try to Juggle
On the flipside: Being in demand is great and it can be a source of great frustration when you get contacted for one job when you are booked for something else HOWEVER juggling rarely works and you may end up losing everything if you do. If you already said yes to a job and “something better” comes along, it is unprofessional and lacking in courtesy to try to get out of the first job in order to do the second. If you want clients to be loyal to you, you’ll have to be loyal to them in return. Exceptions of course if you were scheduled to do a free test and a paid job comes along, etc. And yes there are times when it can work and can be appropriate to do more than one job in a day: say a headshot shoot in the morning, and a private client event makeup in the evening. Those types of double bookings are completely fine and normal. What I am talking about and what does NOT work is to be booked to shoot an editorial that’s maybe paying $250 for the day and then try to ditch them when you get called for a Lookbook that is paying $500 for the day. That’s unprofesh and no bueno.

3) Keep the Line Open
As I mentioned in my previous piece – Rate Negotiation (click to read) – you always want to respond to inquiries in an open-ended manner.

“Thanks so much for contacting me. This sounds like a great project but unfortunately I am booked during that time. I hope your project goes well and I will stay in contact in case the opportunity to work together arises in the future…”

Sounds way better than:

“Hello, thanks for emailing. I am booked during those dates. Best of luck with your project.”

Even though they are both upbeat, one sounds like “I want to work with you” and one kinda sounds like “Whatevs”.

Again, you never really know what you are saying No to; the small shoot producer became the major Art Director, A photographer who only called you for free tests one day might land an editorial and completely blow up and be shooting the new Levi’s campaign the next day, the c-level actress just landed a recurring role on a hit TV show. You never know, so stay friendly and stay in contact. Do Not Burn Bridges is never more true than in this industry, because please believe if you diss people they will talk.

4 ) Try Not To Say No To Regulars
If someone has already demonstrated a level of loyalty in a notoriously NOT loyal industry such as ours, do not take that relationship for granted. Put those clients FIRST. Serenade them, send them flowers and chocolates, bring them breakfast in bed, do whatever you have to do.* I’ve had two different times where I had schedule conflicts (see 2b), and BOTH times cost me with good clients. Both clients still do call me but not as much as they used to before I had to tell them I was booked with someone else. Real Talk: In hindsight, in one of the two instances for sure, I wish I hadn’t said “No”.

5 ) Send In Backup
When you cannot do a job, do not leave the person who contacted you hanging. I always offer to refer them to other artists if I cannot do the job. If it is one of my regular clients, I like to refer them to one of my artist friends who I know will fill in on the gig, do a great job, but NOT try to gank my client (again – important to maintain that Makeup Family). If it was a new client, I refer them to someone in my extended trusted artists circle and just hope paying it forward comes back to me in some way. Either way, I know I acted professionally and was of service to my client/potential client. People truly appreciate those kinds of gestures and your professionalism will eventually be rewarded.

6 ) Weigh the Pros and Cons
This one goes out to newbie freelance artists in particular: When you are first starting out – and I mean the first several years of your career, not the first few days/weeks/months – you have to earn your spot in the rotation and earn your playing time. Yes that is a sports reference, the NBA season is about to start (hooray!). But what I mean is just because you say you are worth paying for, it doesn’t mean you actually are, you have to prove it. I know a lot of schools and online message boards, etc., are fond of saying never take free jobs and this and that but the reality is that you need to develop a portfolio and/or a resume, meet people, and generally establish yourself as a professional in a market FULL of professionals. A lot of very established artists will still take free jobs IF it is an opportunity that might in some way elevate a career. There are certain people and/or types of projects where if I got the call right now as I was writing this article I would stop what I was doing and run out the door (I’d make sure I was showered/dressed first). I could go on but instead I suggest you read one of my Makeup to Go Classic Articles: The Art of the Freebie.

Remember: as a freelancer you are never assured your next gig, so every booking is a blessing. In my experience if you stay humble, stay courteous, and stay grinding opportunities will always circle back around again.

*I would not actually recommend doing any of those things, except maybe sending chocolate. 😉

Image: © Faithiecannoise | Dreamstime.comDoubts: Choice Between Yes Or No Photo