Friday, September 17, 2010

The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Makeup Artist

So it's Fri. night a little after 10 pm and what do I find myself doing?  Cleaning makeup brushes and preparing for my Sat. 7 am wedding job of course! 

Yes, this has become my typical Fri. night fun brushes, packing my kit, printing directions and trying to go to bed at a reasonable hour...although that never happens lol.  I know, I know...far cry from the glamorous life of photoshoots, models and fashion that I show in my behind the scenes pics but it's the reality of the biz.

Being a makeup artist is not a glamorous job!  Don't let the media, magazines or anyone else fool you.  The's fucking hard, tiring, tedious and even boring at times!  Don't get me wrong I LOVE what I do but it's not easy. 

I remember when I was in university studying Theatre a professor once said if you can imagine yourself doing anything other then acting and being just as happy then do it b/c it's a hard life and job and the only reason someone should do it is b/c nothing else would make them near as happy...hence why I left acting and went into makeup lol.  But the same can be said for makeup artistry...literally the only reason someone should become a makeup artist nowadays is b/c they can't imagine doing anything else w/ their life!

So you might be asking what gives Jessica...why are you being such a downer?  Well I'm just trying to keep it real lol.  Here are some of the not-so-glamorous aspects of the job.

1. Erratic & Unpredictable Schedules
 One wk you're crazy busy and working 6 days straight the next wk you don't have anything scheduled and you're worried you're not going to make rent!  That's the life of a Freelance Makeup Artist.  You're always worried the job you're on is going to be your last and are thinking about where your next pay cheque is going to come from.  Just last wk I only had 2 jobs this wk and then last Fri. I ended up getting booked w/ 3 more jobs for this wk...amazing but you know what I've had the opposite be true too!  I've thought I was booked and then jobs got cancelled or re-scheduled and I was left going Oh Shit...hmmm there goes my visa payment.  Freelancers have to live like camels storing water in their humps b/c you never know when the water around you might dry up!  Plus be prepared to cancel or change plans on the fly b/c of shoots being changed, things going into overtime etc...there is no 9-5 in makeup artistry so there goes your social life or any sort of predictable schedule lol.  If you're not good w/ change and unpredictability freelance makeup artistry is definitely NOT for you!

2. Early Calltimes & Long Hours
Tomorrow I'm getting up at 5 am for a wedding job (yes I know I should be in bed right now) and then after that I have to rush to another booking...all this makes for very long and sometimes stressful days.  This happens a lot too...weddings and film work often call for very early call times and w/ film work the days are often esp. 10-12 hr days are the norm...sometimes longer!  Again, say goodbye to having a normal social life! 

3. Fun Work Usually Pays Crap!
So often ppl have these illusions that being a makeup artist is all glamour and fun, creative play time...umm no.  Usually those "fun jobs" are either done for free or paid very poorly...also those "fun"  jobs are never as fun as they look videos sound really "fun" they aren't a lot of the times.  They are often paid really poorly and not that "fun" at all.  You know what pays well...really boring, plain corporate stuff.  I did a job this wk where all I had to do was grooming for 1 male.  It literally took 10 mins...easy money you say!  Well sort of.  Yes, my actual time applying makeup and fixing hair took like 10 mins...of course I had to be on hand to powder between filming.  So basically I sat around for 10 hrs...not exactly the creatively stimulating adventures ppl associate w/ makeup artistry lol but it did pay well enough and this also leads me to my next point.

4. Hurry Up & Wait!
Usually everyone on set wants everything done like yesterday so it's important that a makeup artist is good under pressure and stress.  So a lot of times you have someone breathing down your neck about how quickly you can get things done, you rush and get everything done in good time and then you wait...yes that's it you sit and wait!  That's film work...lots of waiting!  Which goes back to that whole thing I said about work not always being stimulating or fun.  I don't know about you but I HATE just sitting around and's so boring!  And you know what I do when I'm bored on film sets...I eat...uggh the Craft Service Table is my nemesis!  I'd rather be busy for 10 hrs any day then sitting around doing nothing but powdering every so often. 

5. Bridezillas & Divas
I'm going to be real...knock on wood I've been EXTREMELY lucky w/ the brides I've gotten this year.  They've all been really nice and overall easy to work w/ but that doesn't mean they are all like that.  In makeup artistry you sometimes have to have the patience of a saint!  I've had trials that literally drained the life right out of me but I have to keep my happy face on always make the customer happy.  Even working weddings where everyone is a delight is draining.  It's fast paced, stressful at times, weird hours and you really have to think on your toes.  This is why I cannot for the life of me understand how or why anyone would undercut in the bridal really is just too much work to not get paid a good amount for it.  Even if the bride herself is a dream she can always have a crazy mother, nightmare sister or high maintenance maid of honour to deal w/!...I mean it feels like there is always one lol.  Plus, I didn't even touch on the divas you can get on set! don't even know!

6. Bad Hygiene
Yeah I know not exactly the nicest thing to think about but it's a reality of the biz.  Some ppl have bad breath, gross skin, greasy/dirty hair and we have to get all close and up in that shit...not much else to say on the subject.

7. Back Probs & Long Hrs On Our Feet
There are ideal conditions to do makeup in...we often don't have the pleasure of having them though.  I've worked countless hours hunched over, in dim lighting or poor conditions trying to get everything perfect.  Not to mention the hours I've spent standing...God I fear the varicose veins forming on my legs ...comfortable shoes are a definite must!

8. No Days Off
When you're self employed there is a rule that there really isn't such thing as a "Day Off".  The meaning of that is you're always on call and expected to be available.  Also, the idea is to be successful as a freelancer you should do at least one thing every day to push your career forward whether that be work on set, learn a new technique, read a blog, answer an email...something should be done.  Also, to the dismay of others including an ex this also means answering emails or taking phone calls at all sorts of crazy hours.  If a bride emails me at 10 pm and I get the email I respond then b/c guess what she might hire me just b/c I was the first one to get back to her...I don't want to lose work b/c I didn't check my email or return a phone call!

9. Everyone Wants Something For FREE
Because Makeup Artistry is seen as a "fun" job a lot of ppl these days don't understand why you should get paid for it.  I mean getting paid should only happen when you do a miserable, soul sucking, agonzing sort of job not something you actually enjoy right?  Well apparently, that's the word on the street b/c everyone wants something for free these days and there are a lot of STUPID Makeup Artists that apparently don't value themselves, their career or the careers of others b/c they are undercutting and giving away their talents for free which of course does not help the cause.  As a new makeup artist expect to not make a living at this career for at least a couple of years.  Yes, that's right you will probably spend at least 2 yrs as a Freelancer before you'll actually be able to make a living at makeup and nothing but makeup...and I'm being very nice when I say 2 I hope you like having a second job and hustling  your ass off.  You'll spend thousands on your kit, schooling, supplies and then toil away for a couple of years building a book, contacts, references etc. before you'll even start to break even.

10. Makeup/Hair Kits are a Pain in the Ass to Carry
I pack light for a makeup artist...seriously I do.  I've seen very few artists that condense like me.  That still doesn't mean my kit isn't a bitch to carry around!  I condense b/c I take the TTC in Toronto...that's public transit for you not in Toronto.  It's really hard to look glamorous when you're balancing a makeup kit on one shoulder and a hair kit on another shoulder while trying to squeeze through crowds of ppl in a subway or pushing up the stairs.  And let me tell you - NO ONE offers a seat on the bus to the girl w/ a makeup kit lol!  I won't even get into the drama of traveling w/ a kit during a Canadian winter!  Even if I drove that doesn't mean I wouldn't have to contend w/ studios w/ no elevators, finding parking or a million other hassels.  Another reason for the sensible matter how hard you try you can't look glamorous stumbling w/ a kit in 3 inch me!

I'm sure there are a million other reasons makeup artistry isn't glamorous but it's late and I have a super early wake up call tomorrow so I have to get to bed and try to look fresh and beautiful on 5 hrs sleep for a nice 12 hr day!


Anonymous said...

i just cleaned my brushes & packed my kit for a wedding tomorrow morning, went to take one last peek @ facebook & saw this, needless to say i can relate!

Amina said...

thank you so much for this post! I bookmarked it! I knew that Makeup artistry is very demanding but I had no idea it also involved very long hours!
Thank you for shedding light and sharing an insight look on your profession!! Can you share with us more and especially what keeps you going, best moments? cheers

Petite said...

Hi, I'm a makeup artist from Sweden and I have to say I agree, It's not glamorous at all at times. And its poorly paid in the beginning.

Fri I was working all day, 12 hours.
Came home grabbed my wine and where of to a friend for some catching up when the phone called. "We need a makeup artist tomorrow morning at 10:00" YAY there went my evening.

So every time I meet someone with the dream of a makeup artist I ask them why. And they all have this idea that its so easy and fun.

well, its fun at times, easy ? no.
But they wont listen :D

Vicki Millar said...

Really accurate and a great read! I especially loved the part about carrying your kit around. I understand that all too well! :)