#BizTalk – Come on Baby Finish What You Started

makeup to go blog makeup San Francisco makeup Los Angeles Tania d Russell come on baby finish what you started

One of the main challenges, shall we say, in my life…

has been my tendency to start things – projects, tasks, you name it – with vigor and energy only to see my enthusiasm peter out in a matter of months (days, minutes…). I’m better at it now than I used to be, but for 2016 in particular, one of my rules has been to FINISH WHAT I START.

Case in point, I happen to be on set right now as this is posting, however I’ve been tied to a desk every night for the past 2 weeks on this blog. Why? Because an opportunity for the blog recently presented itself but in order to take advantage I had to go back and clean up older blog content. Long, boring, and tedious are just a few of the words I could use to describe the task, HENCE I’ve been putting off doing it (it has to do with going from the old timey theme I used early in the blog’s life, to the modern-day theme I currently use and a whole bunch of other tech-blog stuff I’ll go into some other time). With real opportunity staring me in the face, however, I could play it off no longer. For an entrepreneur of any kind, the ability to push through and complete tasks enable us to complete GOALS that propel us in our careers. Here’s my thoughts and tips to finish what you started.*

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Makeup to Go Headquarters

That Whole Planning Thing

Spontaneity and the ability to improvise are important traits – I believe – for a creative professional and I think they’re some of my best qualities. That said, I have had a lifelong tendency to jump first and think later. This has landed me in many a pickle wherein I then felt overwhelmed, and next thing you know I’ve quit on a task and/or project.

This blog is a perfect example. If I’d taken a minute to learn about some of the inner workings before just launching, I very likely would not have had to do the work I’ve had to do over the last 2 weeks. If I’d thought more about my focus and my intended audience, I likely would not have had to stop and start quite so much. Now I’m more clear on all that and things are flowing much more smoothly. And it only took 7 years! LOL! 😀

Planning helps you work smarter instead of harder which is important because…

Enthusiasm is Not Enough

At least not for me. I’ve started out enthusiastic about every single project I’ve ever started in my life, doesn’t mean I’ve always finished it. The projects and goals that have gone the distance were the ones where I felt compelled in some way. Either by a consequence of NOT finishing it – like losing this opportunity if I didn’t clean my blog up – or by a deep drive to see it through. When I think of a deep drive, I think of my makeup career itself. While that drive has definitely ebbed and flowed, becoming a professional in the industry and then staying here has been adequately compelling for me to weather those storms and keep on trucking. Simply “liking makeup” would not have been enough to keep me going through everything I’ve gone through in this profession.

Speaking of drive…

Do The Hard Stuff First

This is a habit I got into via my baking. Periodically I do pop-up sales and farmers markets and I’ll have bar cookies, pies, maybe cupcakes, etc. Making apple pie is great, peeling and coring apples is not. But ya can’t have yummy apple pie without apples so ya gotta do it! HOWEVER if I do all the brownies and blondies and easy stuff first and then say “ok time to bake my pies”, guess what isn’t getting baked.

Way back in the day I used to only focus on the fun parts of being a makeup artist – buying product, doing creative photo shoots, etc. – and never attacked the less fun parts of filing, invoicing, marketing, etc. Eventually the less fun parts snowballed to the point where I needed prayer to get through everything. Nowadays, I just get that part over with. It’s still wack, but at least it’s a manageable part of the overall puzzle, and I do not feel like Rover* is coming to attack and overtake me.

Once the hard stuff is under control…

Do A Little Bit Everyday

Using the blog, again, as an example, I’ve had long stretches where I gave the blog no energy whatsoever so of course it didn’t grow. Contrast that to the way I’ve approached my makeup career – particularly when I was first on the come up – and the difference in result is clear. If you want something, you need to work on it EVERYday. If you want to shoot more editorial, you need to be reaching out to photographers who shoot editorial EVERYday. If you want more advertising clients, or get on the sets of films or TV, or whatever the case may be, you need to be working on some aspect of making that happen EVERYday. It doesn’t have to be a big thing everyday, but it needs to be something that will propel you forward towards your goal. By applying this principle to the blog and my goals for the blog, I’ve gotten more done in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years.

Speaking of getting more done…

Use Progress to Propel

Anyone who has ever had to lose weight knows the feeling; it’s hard to stay motivated with a goal if you aren’t seeing any results. Blind faith can get you started but it might not be enough to help you cross the finish line. For me its important to assess where I am with a goal. It helps me to see what’s going right, what’s going wrong, if I should keep going or if I should drop it. And when I am seeing progress it’s beneficial to me to acknowledge it because success is motivating straight up. I think I still have a copy of the first check I ever received as a professional makeup artist. That was a proud moment for me and it made me want more hence it made me want to keep doing the work necessary to get more.

If it feels like you’re toiling and toiling without seeing any progress on a particular project or goal…

Are You Sure Its Something WORTH Finishing

How do you know if something is a compelling project/goal worth seeing to completion or if it’s merely an infatuation? Aye, there’s the rub! When I was researching project completion at the beginning of this year I came across this article by Scott H. Young that I really like. I like the idea of finishing project as a habit to be cultivated, first of all, but secondly I like the idea of thinking of some things as experiments and some things as commitments. Again, using the blog as an example, that’s basically what shifted. Initially Makeup to Go Blog was just a sideline/experimental/loosey-goosey/let’s see what happens thing adjunct to my makeup career. But over the years I became committed to it as a part of my makeup career that I want to further cultivate, hence I’m doing the work necessary to get it there.

Everyone doesn’t need to blog. No one needs to do – or can do* – every single social media outlet (*unless you have help). Maybe every makeup artist on the planet loves one particular method of kit storage and you hate it. Maybe you just work better with a slightly cluttered work area and constantly worrying about organizing it isn’t worth the time. Tasks and projects and goals and wanting to be better is great, but people are individuals and we don’t all operate the same way. I think it’s important to discern what is a goal that will add genuine value to your life and what is an aspiration that might be a needless waste of time. I went through a phase of trying to have an extremely minimal, all completely bare surfaces, spartan work area and it was a joke. Just thinking about trying to keep my space that way added more stress to my life, not less. #NOPE!

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15+ years later, I’m still hustling in this thing called being a pro makeup artist. 7 years later something is keeping my butt in this chair working on this blog. Both goals are still compelling to me, therefore I’m gonna keep pushing through all the tasks and projects I need to do in order to reach my goals.

What are you going to put your mind to doing and finishing?


Leo Bautista – Zen Habits
Zen Habits is a mindfulness blog (mindfulness being a principal of Buddhism, but it’s not a blog about Buddhism, I actually don’t know if he practices Buddhism or not). If you need pretty graphics and whimsy, etc. this is not the blog for you. But if you are looking for helpful nuggets on living simply and efficiently this is a great blog.

30 Days at 100 Percent (Affiliate Link)

Crystal A. Wright – mentor, career coach and former Makeup/Hair/Wardrobe agent penned this 2nd book as a life-improvement tool to help you eliminate bad habits that hold you back and cultivate the positive habits necessary to focus on and achieve personal goals. (her first was the Hair, Makeup, Wardrobe Career Guide that I’ve mentioned before several times 😉 )

*Rover was a mysterious prison enforcer you did NOT want to encounter from the 60’s TV show “The Prisoner”

This blog post title is of course taken from the Van Halen (Van Hagar) song of the same name…
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#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.

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#HaveYouSeenThis – the Illustrious Career of Riccie Johnson

CBS makeup artist Riccie Johnson  makeup to go makeup to go blog

CBS makeup artist Riccie Johnson still werkin it

Makeup as a profession is a long-term gig. What I mean is that most of the action really doesn’t begin to start until 5, 10, 15 years into your career and that most of the artists that people truly admire and do coveted work with coveted clients, etc. have been in the business in excess of 20 years. Which really if you think about it, if you love makeup to the point that you want to pursue it professionally, it’s a good feeling to know that makeup is not something that you’re going to do for a few years and then be forced out like a professional athlete. This can be a lifetime journey.

Such is the case of Riccie Johnson who has been a lead makeup artist at CBS for – get this folks – 62 years. And she’s still going!!! Think of all of the amazing people she has met, stories she has heard, and experiences she has had through the profession of makeup. She was there when “60 Minutes” started, and she’s still there! She groomed the Beatles for their legendary debut on the Ed Sullivan show, y’all!

Click the link below to see her remarkable story.

60 Minutes Overtime story on CBS Makeup Artist Riccie Johnson

#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

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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 🙂