Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pro Or No

I recently witnessed something on twitter that made me think. Lady of the Lane has a post written up about it and I am not interested in getting into that particular occurrence but it did lead me to think about makeup artistry. This post might be a bit piece meal but I've been thinking of it for a few days now.

The arts fields in particular are very cutthroat and I think everyone has a bit of pride in regards to their profession but when you create something, I think you get a bit more defensive of your trade. Many art fields require years of schooling and years of grunt work. It takes something special for someone to notice you and make you a viable living. For many makeup artists, schooling or not, it usually involves either highly marketing yourself and networking (knowing someone famous or a respected artist is also helpful) and or working at counters to develop further skill, which can produce a rather paltry salary. Back when I was thinking of making the switch from desk jockey to makeup artist in my own career, the salary of a counter makeup artist was depressing and if you wanted benefits too, you had to be married to a rich husband or living at home. So it's understandable how someone values not only their skill but the work they have put in to get where they are today.

I went to school for Architecture. It was insanely competitive even before we got there. The Architecture school of the college I applied to had a 9% acceptance rate, 9% - on par with the likes of Harvard. Competitions among students were often, the work was hard, sleep was rare. You had to be good enough to not get into the bottom few or else you were politely suggested to leave the program. Even though we were friendly, there was always competition; if it meant staying in studio till 5am instead of a classmate's 3am to make your bricks look more textured in your final pin up, you did it. Anything to live your dream and be great and potentially be the next great Architect.

That being said, many great makeup artists start off in a completely different field, some are self taught and then put themselves out there as helpers of more knowledgeable gurus (for lack of better word). It is my belief that most people that have creative bones in their body can do makeup. Sure, as most art professions go, it takes knowledge of history, trends, how to use products, etc. I don't think you need a school or a plaque on the wall to proclaim you are a makeup artist (though some countries/states require this). To be a makeup artist, you need to completely believe in yourself and be proactive. You need to do as many faces as you can. But you need to believe in your skills and dare I say, be a little cocky. You are the expert. Why would they pick anyone else when they can pick you? I was watching some IMATS footage, and I saw the body painting. Many artists can do that, makeup or otherwise.

So what am I really saying here? To be quite honest, I'm not entirely sure. I empathize with the artists who believe someone that didn't go through their own hardships to suddenly getting the fame or money they may have desired weren't well deserved. I know makeup is fun and everyone kind of wants to take part. I personally haven't done freelance work since my back troubles so I'm not 'in the field'. As I said, in any art professional, it is going to be competitive and your competitors aren't going to welcome you with open arms. You need to be your best marketer, your best PR, the face of "Sally Sue Makeup Artist".

Even after applying makeup on 100s of faces, I didn't have the guts to call up a local well known artist to shadow them. I knew no one. You need to know everyone.

Just some thoughts.

(Sorry for the ramble/long post)

If you came over to read this post, please read the comments too. I have some really awesome readers and they raise some really thought provoking points as well!


Olivia said...

This is the thing, you get people who get fame from youtube who aren't professionally trained. And, you get the professionally trained ones who are jealous of them. It is a hard business and one has to realize are you doing it for fame and a glint of that spotlight or are you doing it as a true career with passion and the ability to make anyone of ANY age not just the youthful skinned ones look good in real life and on camera. Anyone can be a make up applicator-mua but not everyone can be a make up artist-MUA.

I am by no means the latter, I am just an anal retentive mua LOL. Yes, certain things do bug me about the consumer world and certain products surpass the cosmetic counter brands but will the average consumer understand the real difference of these products? No.

As for the ones who get fame via youtube and speak at IMATS, well, first IMATS is a business and it has to sell products.

Jeweled Thumb said...

@Olivia: I am so glad you came over and commented.

You raise something I was also something about. The whole fame thing. I think a lot of artists don't necessary want "fame" but want to be recognized for being good. The truth is, most professional makeup artists won't get recognized on the street. Many don't have their own consumer brands so why should consumers know about them? In my opinion, some of the best artists are the ones you don't know, special effects artists specifically. They get their awards but you don't really know who they are.

It's only recently that ""real"" makeup artists have gotten on youtube. Personally, I had no idea who the Pixiwoo sisters were before youtube and even if you do magazines, the names are teeny tiny in print and does anyone really notice/read them?

You're right. It is much easier to do makeup on beautiful people.

More rambling on my part. Your comment was much more pulled together. Oh wise one. =)

Olivia said...

Let me ramble more LOL. If the virtual world were just a pea size universe like it was before, the "fame" of some would like you said would not be noticed. It was just reading the fine print in magazines.

And yes some of the true MA's will never be recognized on the street or on Youtube but they are the ones that are continuously working and earning money in a career that is cutthroat. A new generation pops up every minute ready to slide into "your" career. Fame is not going to keep you afloat, skills, flexibility, and professionalism and not to mention the etiquette of some unwritten rules in the makeup artistry field will get you ahead.

I don't know who actually tweeted about LL but I don't think it is professional of them to do it. The best thing to do in a business of any cut throat caliber is to keep your mouth shut and ONLY worry about yourself in this business and no one else.

Sorry, for rambling again.

hillary said...

Interesting topic I have actually thought about at length recently. The term professional was originally defined by someone working in a vocation that requires training or special education or working in a field with the goal of a gain. But the term is also used informally with varying definitions one being to differentiate between someone who is paid for something vs someone who isn't.

And my mama always said it best that people who give ya flack are usually the ones the most jealous.

I personally think that the term Makeup Artist is used too loosely now a days but I tend to think it more means a person who is working in the field and is paid for it or a person who is educated in it. I think it was totally uncalled for for who ever did that to do that to LL. She obviously has established herself at this point and IS making money. Shame on them. Haters gonna hate which is stupid sayings but frankly true.

Lillian Funny Face said...

This was a very interesting read. I can sort of empathise. I'm an artist and illustrator but because of my shyness I am not comfortable approaching galleries or publishers and showing my portfolio. And if i can't do that then basically I can't get work. It's hard :(

Jeweled Thumb said...

@Olivia: "The best thing to do in a business of any cut throat caliber is to keep your mouth shut and ONLY worry about yourself in this business and no one else." - I couldn't agree more. I think you see who really cares about their work/profession and those looking to achieve fame through it, though we hope the ones that deserve it get the fame in the end.

@Hillary: I agree that the term Makeup Artist is a casual term now, especially since you don't necessary have to go to school for it. Interesting analysis re: professional. Hooray for having smart blog reader-people! That kind of reminds me of an HR thing, exempt and nonexempt. Which is interesting, because many of these 1-2 year coursework type of professions would not be considered professional/exempt according to FLSA classifications.

@Lillian: Oh, hon. I feel for you so much. I really hope you are able to get somewhere with your work and having anxiety makes it so much harder, as I know all too well. This is one of the reasons I decided not to go the full time artist route. I'd be happy but poor. And personally, I always tend to 2nd guess my art abilities. I hope one day when I retire I can do art/makeup full time and not have to worry about money!

Phyrra said...

This is something I've thought about. I've had people ask me to do their makeup and normally I say no, unless I know them really well. I'm not a guru. I only know what I've learned through trial and error and by reading books but I've never taken classes, so I don't consider myself a Professional at all. I definitely don't have the marketing/PR thing down, nor do I think I want to.

Charlie said...

Great post and thank you for the link back! Its certainly an interesting topic isn't it!

Jeweled Thumb said...

@Phyrra: I think a lot of artists don't go to school for this but I understand you hesitation. =)

@Charlie: You're very welcome. Your post was well written and a bit more coherent than mine! It is definitely something that I think about. The blogging/youtube world has certainly changed things a lot.

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