Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections of the Past Year - Goals for the New Year!

So as this year comes to a close I can't help but think what a different place I'm in from this time last year.  I head into this new year feeling happy and optimistic about what the future might hold.  Yes, of course it will continue to be an uphill climb but I feel I'm up for the challenge!  I haven't felt this energized and happy in a long time!

What a change from last year!  This time last year I felt aimless and like I wasn't achieving all I could and I was sort of just drifting along.  I was depressed.  I was in an unhappy relationship which in turn was making me unhappy and stressed.  I wasn't being true to myself and going after the things I wanted.  I felt like I was sort of spiraling downwards and I didn't really know how to stop it. 

I think one of the most positive changes that came from last year was getting out of the unhappy relationship I was in.  This is not to say this person was/is a bad person we were just bad fact I wish them nothing but the best and I really hope they find happiness in the future. 

During the relationship I sort of felt paralyzed like I was falling deeper and deeper into a black hole and I didn't know how to get out.  I was scared shitless when it first ended b/c I had to find a new place and I was pretty broke at the time and literally had almost no belongings (b/c I gave them away before I moved to Shanghai) but you know what I'm a survivor and like many other times in my life I picked up the pieces and moved on and I know I'm DEFINITELY stronger for it and it was DEFINITELY the best thing for fact I wish I would of had the balls to do it sooner!

After I moved out I started to feel like myself again.  I would find myself smiling as I walked down the street w/ a renewed sense of self...something I hadn't felt for awhile.  And you know what...w/out getting too bullshit, sappy, mystical, the secret on you -  it's true what they say - you throw positive energy out into the universe and it will come back to you!

Moving out also gave me a sense of urgency about my career.  I knew I had been wasting way too much time and not focusing on the things I should have been focusing on b/c I was just too unhappy and hopeless feeling.  I started to tackle the things on my New Years Resolution list from last year.  And you know what I looked back on it and I actually did a pretty good job!  I did do more editorial shoots, I built my bridal website, did my bridal photoshoots and REALLY worked on my hair skills!

I think the biggest accomplishment for me this year has been seeing just how quickly my bridal business has grown.  I really wasn't expecting it to be so successful...esp. since I didn't get my wedding website up until May!  I've also worked w/ a lot of other great artists on weddings and really built a great network of artists to call on if I need help or they can ask me if they need help on a job.  It's important to remember that every artist has their own style and we shouldn't treat each other as enemies or the competition but instead learn from each other and lean on each other b/c there is way too much bullshit, stress and fake ppl in this biz to be making unnecessary enemies. 

Another HUGE accomplishment of mine this year has been supporting myself through makeup artistry w/out having a side job.  Of course some mths are tight...very tight but it's nice to know that I'm on the right track and I really feel that I will only go up from here!

I've also gotten the opportunity to go on a couple of really awesome trips this year!  It's not career related but traveling is an important personal goal I have so I'm really proud and excited that I got the opportunity to go to Hawaii, London, England and Paris!

Late in the year I feel I've finally also started to get somewhere w/ another BIG personal goal for myself - my weight!  Anyone who has followed this blog from the beginning knows my weight is a HUGE struggle for me.  If you read my blog while I was in Shanghai you  know I lost a SHIT LOAD of weight and I felt SO GOOD and PROUD of myself.  Unfortunately, when I came back to Toronto I put a lot of it back on.  Sort of a cycle thing - I ate b/c I was unhappy and I was unhappy b/c I ate and was putting on weight.  I've been going up and down a bit this year but after I came back from Europe I decided to get serious about it again!  I've been really good at working out this entire year which is great but I really needed to look at my food choices.  After seeing how puffy I looked in my Europe pictures I knew something had to change.  I've lost about 12 pds since then (although a couple have come back on b/c of the holidays...hey I'm only human lol) and I plan to keep on going and hopefully lose another 10-15 lbs.  My goal is to fit back into my Shanghai skinny jeans!

So after reflecting on last year let's look to the future and goals I have for myself in this upcoming  year!

1. Keep working out, eating healthy and losing weight - Fit into those God Damn Shanghai Skinny Jeans!

2. Grow my bridal business even more - ideally I would like to DOUBLE last year!  Also redesign my bridal website...not happy w/ the first one I did.

3. Make more money...and not just from bridal work but also do a lot more paid commercial or on set work

4. Get an agent - I had one, we didn't click but I think I'm ready to get one again and I think it's the only way I'll be able to get to the next level for paid commercial work

5. Continue to network w/ great artists, photographers and stylists in the industry and really make an effort to work w/ more ppl and new ppl on different projects

6. Continue to work on my Hair Skills and get EVEN better...also work on my airbrushing...started last yr but there is always room for improvement

7. Start aggressively paying off some of the debt I've accumulated from school, Shanghai and building my business...also start investing and saving for my future.

8. Repeat from last year but I think I can do EVEN more this year - Update My Blog More!

Well that's all I can think of off the top my head at the moment but I think it's a pretty good list to start with!  Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and you're feeling as Motivated, Driven and Excited about the Future as I am!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guess What Time Of Year It Is - IN BEAUTY MAGAZINE TIME :)

Hope you all had a lovely holiday season whatever it is you celebrate or don't celebrate this time of year.  I just got back from my annual trek down to Windsor, ON for a little Christmas Family Time, which is always small doses lol. 

Didn't really get that many beauty products to tell you about...oh wait that's a lie.  I got a Nulawaver and a Caruso Ion Steam Roller Set...kind of forgot about them b/c they were gifts but I actually ordered them myself b/c well it's just easier that way sometimes lol.  I'll be doing reviews on each of the products after I use them a couple of more times :)

Anyway, it's also that special time of year where my FAVOURITE magazine comes out - IN BEAUTY Magazine.  It's always like a little mystery when I'm going to stumble upon the little treasure or get an email updating me about it's arrival.  I know it comes out twice a yr and usually in Dec. and June but I'm never quite sure of it's exact arrival.  If you haven't read my previous posts about this b/c it seriously is the best magazine for Hair & Makeup trends out there!

The Toronto distributor Frank (who I have mentioned before) was actually nice enough to send me an email updating me on the fact that it was coming to stores but it actually arrived about a wk after he told me.  Which meant for a solid wk I was walking into my local International Presse starting at their wall and walking out.  Finally, on Dec 24th I got a call from the store notifying me of the magazines arrival...which was kind of weird b/c I must have told them a long time ago to call me whenever the magazine came in b/c I haven't given them my number recently lol.  I told them I'd be back on the 28th and made them promise to save me a copy.  Upon my arrival back into Toronto one of my first stops after dropping off my luggage was to go get my second stop was to the gym but that's a whole other story lol. 

So I now have in my possession my FAVOURITE magazine EVER for Makeup & Hair inspirations!  I'm sure I will spend countless hours staring at the pictures and fantasizing about all the shoots there is NEVER enough time to complete...but hopefully a few will happen. 

If you're in Toronto apparently it's also available at Complections Makeup School in their store so that's a good place to check out if you too are obsessed w/ the magazine like me and can't wait to get your hands on a copy!

So hope you're all having a lovely holiday season and an even better New Year!  I'll make sure to post all my New Years Resolutions in the next couple of days...I have to admit they are somewhat similar to last year but you know what after looking over last years I did a pretty good job of accomplishing them!

Btw here is the cover if you want to know what you're looking for!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Assisting Do's & Don'ts

Today I got the opportunity to give a little talk to a couple of students at my old makeup school SOMA and it got me thinking about a couple of things.  I know for all the new MUAs out there just getting started in the biz can seem a little overwhelming...well maybe not just a little ;).  Where to begin, how to make contacts, how to get work...these are all questions every MUA struggles w/ at some point. 

A great way to start out whether it be straight from school or even w/out any schooling is to assist or intern w/ a senior artist.  Assisting or interning w/ a senior artist is a great way to get your feet wet on set and learn how a proper set works (which is very different then any classroom environment you'll ever be in) plus you learn all sorts of tips & tricks from another artist which is invaluable in itself.

No one should ever think they are above's important to remain humble in this biz b/c there is ALWAYS someone better than you that you can learn a thing or two from!  I know when you leave finish school you might think you're the shit b/c you were top of your class but trust actually know NOTHING lol...the quicker you realize this the better! I wish I had more assisting experience actually b/c there are SOOO many fab artists that I'm sure I could learn so much from...I'm positive there are a ton of things I could be doing quicker and more efficiently (esp. w/ hair) but I just don't know b/c no one has ever showed me a different way!  What's funny is I'll be completely honest...assisting freaks the shit out of me more then keying in a sense lol...I'm always paranoid I'm suddenly going to find out that I don't know how to match foundation or I'm doing something completely wrong lol!

So where to begin...hmmm...I guess first might be how do I become an assistant?  Well, research artists in your area that you admire and email them!  Ask them if you might be able to take them out for coffee or lunch and pick their brains a bit about the biz, or ask them if they wouldn't mind looking at your book and giving some advice to a new artist.  Yes, it might sound scary b/c you might think these BIG, IMPORTANT Makeup Artists might be snobby bitches but the truth is I've found most of the higher up makeup artists to be very humble and very generous w/ their information.  Esp. if you write to them in a well thought out and sincere way.  Most understand what it's like to start out and how hard it was and therefore like to help new, enthusiastic makeup artists. 

Personally, I'm always very flattered anytime anyone asks for my opinion about products or their work so I'm always more then happy to try and help out.   Maybe after you've built up a little rapport through email or if you meet for coffee then you can enquire about the possibility of assisting them on a shoot.  A lot of big makeup artists get tons of emails of ppl wanting to assist them so sometimes it's nice if they have a little bit of a relationship w/ you first b/c they don't just want to bring any stranger on set b/c that could make them look bad and that's the last thing they want!  Plus if you just email them w/ no introduction about yourself or your work and just say "hey can I assist you?" they are going to go next b/c they already have a bunch of other ppl asking.  Think of asking to assist a makeup artist like applying for a job.  Make a cover letter if you want, send them references of your work or a CV, tell them your goals and why they should bring you for a job w/ them. 

If you have no real experience and you're looking to assist an artist you might have a little bit of trouble finding an artist to take you least for paid jobs.  This is b/c nowadays an assistant basically has to be an accomplished makeup artist in their own right and often (at least in my experience) the assistant will basically be an assistant hair person...remember how I keep banging into your heads the importance of getting good at hair!  If you have no experience or very little experience you might be brought on in more of an unpaid intern sort of level.  Again invaluable if you're looking to learn.  You might only be doing things like cleaning makeup brushes or powdering noses on set while the Key Artist continues working on other talent but it gets you on set experience and it's a foot in the door and the more the artist begins to trust you the more responsibility they will give you!

So let's say you are being brought on as an assistant for a job - whether it's paid or unpaid there are some very important rules to live by.

1. BE ON TIME!!!!  In fact be early...I always try to live by an old actor rule that was burned into my head during theatre school - Early = On Time, On Time = Late, Late = Fired!  Of course Life happens but really really try to be on time...or at least call the Key if you are AT ALL going to be late.  Hell I call/text photographers when I'm going to be a min or two late...and most of the time I don't even end up being late..but again On Time = Late to me ;) lol!  With that being said if you do arrive before the Key wait for them before going into the studio probably.  Or call them and let them know you are there and they can give you further instructions. 

2. Ask beforehand what the Key expects of you.  Different MUAs have different rules.  Some want you to carry their bags and set things up for them and bring them a coffee.  Some want you to just be on standby in case they need you.  Some want you to bring you makeup and hair kit b/c you'll be working right beside them while some will just have you work out of their kit. 

3. Save your questions for after the job...or at least when there is some free time.  I know there is so much going on and you're so excited to be working w/ this artist that you just want to ask them everything they know about everything and it's great that you're enthusiastic BUT when you're on set as an assistant it's better to just be quiet, keep your head down and work.  Things need to be done quickly and you're there to make everything run smoother and more efficiently therefore the Key doesn't want to be distracted trying to answer questions about everything they are doing to the talent and why.  If they are free w/ that information while they work great but don't expect them to be a fountain of information in the middle of a job. 

4. Going along w/ that...just be quiet and don't give out too much information or talk to much and don't GOSSIP.  This is something that I have actually struggled w/ b/c naturally I sometimes just start talking esp. if someone is talking about something that interests's a bit of the former bartender in me lol plus I have a sort of bold sense of humor (if you didn't gather from the blog already ;) ) and it can be misinterpreted w/ strangers sometimes.  This has actually gotten me in trouble in a couple of situations...esp. when you don't know someone and they don't know you you never know WHAT is going to OFFEND them.  Trust me I've said things that you would think nothing of and somehow it offended someone and then I got in shit for it :S

5. You are there to be a second pair of hands to the Key NOT to mingle and network w/ everyone on set.  Of course it's polite to meet ppl and get their names and say hi and everything.  If your Key is nice she/he will probably introduce you to everyone.  However, you are not there to try and network w/ the client or photographer.  You are there to make the Key look BETTER!  This might sound stupid but suprisingly it has happened - NEVER HAND OUT YOUR BUSINESS CARDS ON SET WHEN YOU'RE ASSISTING!  It makes you look BAD and unprofessional and it makes the other MUA look BAD and remember your job is to make them look GOOD!  One thing that is not tolerated in this biz...and it's a very tiny biz is backstabbing and trying to steal clients or contacts from another artist...easiest way to get blacklisted and no one wants that right at the start of their career lol!  If someone does inquire about your information refer them to the Key or talk to the Key about the situation.  I've tried to set my assistants up w/ the photographer's assistants on things.  I figure they are both starting out so that's a good networking relationship to have. 

6. If the Key wants you to do something and you don't know how or you are unsure about what exactly they are asking don't be afraid to let them know or get clarification.  I'd rather someone ask me a couple of questions or have me explain something again then have to redo all their work b/c they didn't know what they were doing or I didn't make myself clear enough the first time.  After another explanation if you still don't think you can do it let the Key know you don't feel comfortable.  Personally, I'd rather know something was beyond your skill set then have you screw it up completely.

7. Don't text or call ppl while you're working.  Again I know it sounds like an obvious one but hey it's got to be said. 

8. Also, don't look bored or impatient like you are dying to leave.  Yes sometimes being on set is boring...we've all been there.  Hell chances are if you're bored the Key is bored BUT you have to remain professional and that means not complaining.  You're there to get experience and guess what being bored on set is actually a real experience so get use to it lol!  Also don't ask if you can leave early or anything like that.  Unless you have arranged ahead of time w/ the Key that you have to leave at a certain time b/c of prior obligations understand that you are there until they tell you that you are done. 

9. Wear comfortable clothes, shoes and clean but professional makeup.  You might be standing for long periods of time and the last thing you want to do is be crying inside b/c your feet are killing you or constantly pulling on that really cute mini skirt you're wearing.  Also, I know newbies think that makeup artists must all look really glamorous and "MACed" out on set but the truth is from my experience we're not!  I'm their to watch over the talents makeup NOT to be preoccupied checking myself out in the mirror making sure my black eyeliner is still on my waterline.  Of course I wear makeup on set, I need to look professional afterall but I keep it pretty clean and basic...I'm not the focus - the TALENT is!

10. Remember you are basically an extension of the Key for that day meaning your hands and the work you do is pretty much the property of the Key.  I know this might be a hard one to comprehend but basically you're carrying out their vision.  They have instructed you on what to do so even if YOU execute THEIR vision the final work is still THEIRS.  So even if you assist an artist and do hair prep usually the final styling is still theirs and they give the final yay/nay before it goes on set therefore any pictures produced from that shoot are theirs and not yours and no you can't use them in your portfolio so probably don't ask unless they say you can...but they probably won't.  Remember you're assisting to get EXPERIENCE not pics for your book.  A photographer's assistant sets up lights the way the photographer tells them to...yes the assistant did the labour but the concept and final product is still the photographer's b/c it was their vision and their final execution that created the finished picture.  If you're lucky the MUA will try to get you an assisting credit or they will write you a letter of reference or something but don't expect these things b/c it all goes back to you're their to make the Key look BETTER and you're their to learn and it's the EXPERIENCE that is INVALUABLE!

So I hope this helps you guys out and give you some useful information.  Great things can come from assisting beyond just all the great tips & tricks you'll learn.  Once the MUA knows and trusts your work they'll pass along work to you that they can't do or that is below their budget.  You'll get to meet new ppl and get tons of on set experience on jobs that you would have had NO WAY of working on otherwise. 

Any amazing and talented MUAs reading this - YES I'M AVAILABLE & WILLING TO ASSIST :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Woohoo Sponsorship!

So my blog has been contacted by some really cool skin care and cosmetic websites for sponsorship and I'm totally excited about this...and you should be too!  Why you ask?

Well soon I'm going to have my first Giveaway Contest...yeah how exciting is that!  Plus, I get to try out and review new products so you'll get some awesome info on products. 

Hopefully, this will lead to MORE websites wanting to sponsor me and MORE giveaways and FREE stuff and therefore MORE READERS AND FOLLOWERS :)

So before my first giveaway I'm allowed to pick 1 product from the following brands to review:

Vincent Longo
Too Faced

Any suggestions on the product you want me to review or a product you think is a MUST HAVE from those brands?

Wow...I Actually Get Hired To Do JUST Hair Sometimes!

Wow...what a turn around from a yr ago!  I remember one of my BIG New Year's Resolutions at the beginning of the year was to get better at hair...esp. Bridal Hair.  And you know what, I have - Big Time!  In fact not only have I gotten better at bridal hair.  I've gotten confident enough to do jobs where I'm ONLY doing hair...not makeup JUST HAIR!  In fact 3 of my bridal jobs this past season have been just hair and I imagine next year there will be more.  The truth is if a bride can only afford one and she has to choose between hair and makeup 9 times out of 10 she's going w/ hair...same goes for bridesmaids.  So why not cash in on that...I like money...I like paying my bills...I like eating (too much lol)...therefore I want to make myself the most marketable I can!

I have to admit a lot of the improvement comes from just being more confident and not freaking out but of course a lot of it is practice as well.  I have to give countless props to my friend makeup artist Ashley Readings who has helped me out a lot and given me a lot of tips and tricks that she's picked up on the job at Blo Salon.  Also, YouTube has helped me out a ton...I've even gotten some great ideas and  learned some great techniques and styles just off of reg. girls doing videos.  The bridal hair DVDs I got also have helped too!

One thing I have to admit though is I'm still not amazing at coming up w/ things on the fly like I am w/ makeup.  That's the one part I still get nervous about...that some bridesmaid is going to show me a picture and I'm going to go "Oh FUCK" (in my head of course).  Fortunately, that hasn't happened yet (knock on wood).  The truth is nowadays most Brides and Bridesmaids want very similiar things...loose soft curls or a lot want the really soft, romantic, bohemian, loose or unstructured updo or half updo styles that are really in right now.  Which is great b/c they don't have to be "perfect" like a lot of the old bridal style updos of the past.  Let me tell you I can do a really awesome unstructured side bun updo a la Taylor Swift or Lauren Conrad!

Another way I have made myself more marketable (and profitable) for hair is I can also make clip-in hair extensions for the bride or bridesmaids if they want.  I made the most beautiful extensions for my one bride Justyna this past Summer and they looked gorgeous in her hair and blended perfectly!  I actually took two colours and blended them together and it created the most gorgeous highlights and lowlights and really helped to blend everything together and make them really multidimensional. 

Another way I try to make myself more comfortable on the job is preparing before the job.  I ask the client for as much information as possible.  I always get pictures of the style the bride wants and I try to get pictures of the styles the bridesmaids want too if possible.  There is nothing wrong w/ asking for pictures beforehand so don't be afraid to ask!  It shows that you are on top of things and I find the client usually likes to have as many details in place beforehand too. I find that as long as I know or have an idea of what I'm doing beforehand I feel a lot more confident.  It's when I'm going in blind that I get a bit nervous. 

So yeah last weekend I actually did a wedding (yes ppl are still getting married in Canada in Dec!) where a bridemaid contacted me to do 3 bridesmaid's hair.  Oddly enough I didn't even really meet the bride.  She was in another hotel suite w/ her personal makeup & hair person.  I gave the bridesmaid my rate for the 3 girls and I actually didn't hear anything back for a bit but then I was contacted about 5 days before the wedding and I was still available so score for me!  I got pics of what the 3 girls wanted and the hair went great that day...esp. my signature side, unstructured updo I did on the one bridesmaid...everyone kept going on about that one!

Also, sidenote...they did hire a makeup artist (she was a friend of a friend).  It was actually kind of weird working a wedding where someone else was doing makeup.  Esp. when her style of work was SOOOO not my style...AT ALL!  They were happy enough w/ it but to be honest there were some things that made me cringe...and I don't just mean the technique...she didn't use disposable mascara wands, didn't clean brushes between girls (at least that I saw) and she undercharged.  In fact she did makeup for 4 girls and I did hair for 3 girls and I still made TWICE as much!

I've said it before and I'll say it again - DON'T UNDERCHARGE!  Seriously, it's too much work and stress to not get paid a decent rate for!


PLEASE BE one wants herpes or pink eye!