Celebrity makeup artist and QC Makeup Academy tutor Nathan Johnson gives the inside scoop about his career, his ambitions, and his inspiration.
Makeup is a career unlike any other. For over 20 years (I started when I was 6…I hope you believe that!) it has taken me around the globe and given me experiences that I still find unreal. It’s a career that has allowed me to live a dream. When it comes to what I love about being a makeup artist, the list is too long to measure. I will share with you the ten that fall at the top:
Makeup does not hold a schedule the way that most other careers do. Every bride, event, celebrity and photo shoot will have its own call time. Some may be in the middle of the night and some could be in the middle of the afternoon. I love being able to set a schedule of my choosing. You can accept the jobs that coincide with the life you are living and refuse the ones that are not. In other words, you will be working to live around your schedule, not living to work around someone else’s. That’s why this career is so great for moms, students, or people trying to transition out of a job that doesn’t satisfy them. You can take on clients that match your available hours and set aside the funds to change your world.
Makeup has taken me all over the world. I have seen so many beautiful places in the process of doing my job. Beauty has taken me to the heart of the desert, several different continents, beaches, abandoned buildings and even right back to my own hometown. It is a global marketplace and people will bring the talent they love to their location. Getting to see the world and experience new cultures can be a great perk of the job.
The “Feel-Good” Factor
I love the power makeup has to change a person’s personal outlook. Everyone has beauty, but people often forget that. When someone doesn’t see their own light, how can anyone else? A touch of makeup is often all it takes for someone to see their own beauty for the first time or all over again. These small additions allow them to walk through the world with their head held high. Confidence is a powerful thing! I believe if everyone felt a little better, they would all live kinder lives. I love being able to show people just how beautiful they are.
I have been doing this forever and I still get a flutter of excitement every time I start. This art happens in the moment, so ideally, everything would be perfect the first time. I want to keep my client feeling comfortable and secure in my ability. I still make mistakes or change my mind while I’m working. Of course I do! I’m an artist and a human being. I keep my remover and cotton swabs close so that no one knows but me. The flutter of excitement at the process and wanting my client to be happy is a feeling I hope will never go away.
I can wear whatever I want! I am not one of those men who was born to wear a suit. In fact, I don’t even own a dress shirt. The idea of wearing one makes me break out into a nervous sweat. Being an artist, I am able to—and encouraged to—dress exactly as I would like. Yes, I always dress professionally, but I may be wearing a chartreuse shirt with my jeans instead of a button down. This may seem minor, but I love being able to dress to match my mood instead of dressing to match the other robots who are forced to meet a dress code.
Some people say makeup is not a dependable career, but I beg to differ. There are so many opportunities available. And it is recession-proof! If you are passionate, you will find a place for yourself in the industry.
Makeup is a career that you carry at the tips of your fingers. Yes, it is great to have our kits with us, but in a pinch, we could get everything we need from a drug store and still make magic. How many people can say that? You can walk out your front door with only your imagination and a small bag on your shoulder and come home with wads of cash! Is that amazing or what?!
I have been fortunate to meet so many beautiful people. Makeup is a very intimate thing, so people tend to open up and share. I have had brides and models tell me the most amazing and sometimes inspiring stories about their lives. I have had celebrities and legends tell me deep secrets and once, even cry in my arms. This is a beautiful career that really allows you to connect with people on a deep level.
In working with so many people, and hearing about their insecurities, I have been able to reflect on my own. Taking the time to do so has made me a better and kinder man.
To be a successful makeup artist, you have to always approach a task with the eyes of a beginner. Trends and products are always changing. I love to learn, so new trends, techniques and product knowledge are like air to me. I take in all I can, from everyone and anyone, and I share as much of it as possible. That’s why I love teaching at QC! I am able to share a classical application technique as well as the tricks I have collected over a career that has spanned two-decades. Nothing feels better than sharing my favorite secrets with people. I hope you will always do the same!
This list could go on and on, but now I would love to hear from you. What do you love most about working in makeup and why?