Being a Make-Up Artist is not as glamorous as you may think!
You have probably seen multiple media images, be it in commercials, movies or TV shows, where makeup artists are seen working with high roller clients and celebrities in a somewhat glamorous setting. All the while these MUAs look fresh, chic and relaxed, and are dressed all in black (of course) rocking some killer heels.
Only about a quarter of the content of these scenarios is based in reality for most Makeup Artists. This is just a look into my own personal experience; by no means is this what every Artist will or does experience on a daily basis, but we can all dream, right? Every successful person had a dream that they pursued that eventually became reality.
The MUA Fantasy
Every makeup artist, whether they would like to admit it or not, has the dream to land that big name celebrity client, and be their go-to beauty guru. But the path that leads to these clients is paved with very hard work, incredible talent, timing, some failures, and a lot of luck.
I will be completely transparent here and say that yes, I have huge aspirations as far as my client list goes the same aspirations I had as a wide-eyed makeup student.
But I am also a realist. I have only been in this industry about 5 years, so I still have to put my time in, work on my skills and put myself out there. My only competition is myself; a hard thing that you need to tell yourself as you try not to compare your journey to others.
I am the on-call makeup instructor at VCC which was a huge personal goal, but I really believe that the learning never stops in any aspect of life. And neither does the hustle if you are at all ambitious.
Many Instagram feeds show behind the scenes looks at celebs getting red carpet ready and being primped and primed by their very own trusted artist, having a blast. Getting Lady Gaga ready for the Super bowl would be a dream come true for anyone in the industry.
We are in interesting times now where the inner workings of so many things are shared widely on social media. If you are so inclined, you can find out the exact lip colour that was used on Emma Stone for the Oscars, or what a celebrity’s vacation looks like. It all looks so tempting; to be able to say you have celebrity clientele is the holy grail of artistry, but this sky-high goal also shatters many dreams.
The MUA Reality
As I said, this is my reality, and may not reflect what the reality is for some artists. Yes, those crazy wake-up times you may have heard about are real. The earliest call I have ever had was 6:00 am which meant a 4:00 am wake up for me in order to be ready and look polished, and still travel to my destination, full kit and chair in tow, and wearing flats, not heels. Thank goodness messy bed hair is a look; my dry shampoo has saved me many times!
Then there is backstage. This is not always the fun, bustling place that it is portrayed to be. As in any profession, there are some people with giant egos and only their own best interests at heart; the word team does not really matter to them. But like the many times in life that we have all experienced this, all you can do is kill them with kindness, and in my experience, it usually pays off.
Over time I have definitely become more confident, but I am a perfectionist, so self-doubt always eats away at me. “What could I have done better, why was I so slow” these are my inner demons.
But along the way, I have had fantastic opportunities have met terrific people, and I realize that like many things, life is what you make it.
There have been some unexpected aspects of this profession that have cropped up also, like areas where I would never have expected that my makeup skills and knowledge could be useful.
I was the first makeup artist to ever adjudicate a Provincial Government Scholarship for a student that was going to attend Vancouver Film School for her post-secondary education. This was a first for the Dogwood program, and of course, I was very excited that someone shared a passion that I have and wanted to attend post-secondary school to reach her goals.
And then there is the fact that makeup can heal, and I have seen this first hand.
I recently had the opportunity to volunteer with Night Shift Street Ministries in Surrey BC giving mini makeovers to homeless and underprivileged women. Many of these women are in or have left abusive relationships and have suffered unimaginable violence on the street and at home. Many bear both the physical and emotional scars that tell the tale of a life that has not been kind, but these women are kind and resilient.
It was a very special experience to be involved in; helping these women to see that no matter what, people care about them, that they do matter, and that they are beautiful. I am looking forward to helping with another of their events in June. If even one of these women gets back part of their self-esteem, and regains their strength to realize that they matter, this beyond anything would truly make me the happiest, most successful artist.
Makeup is transformative, makeup is healing, and makeup is living, breathing art. It is my creative outlet and my passion. It is so much more than just “doing makeup.”
Peace, Love, and Lipstick,
Next week: Makeup Mistakes and How to fix them Like a Pro