career as a makeup artist

From the Experts, Makeup Tips and Tricks, Your Makeup Career

Part 2: What I Wish Everyone Knew When Starting a Career as a Makeup Artist

A few weeks back, I began a topic about what I wish every makeup artist knew when they were starting out. The subject was so broad, I was only able to share a few points. Today, I wanted to go a little deeper and share a few more insights that might just get you on the road to success a little bit faster. All of these deal entirely with you…. From the inside!

You are not aspiring. You are a makeup artist.

As you are learning, the temptation will be to undersell yourself and your services. Very often, people will list themselves as an aspiring makeup artist in their online makeup profile. Are you aspiring or are you actually a makeup artist?

By definition, aspiring means “directing one’s hopes or ambitions toward becoming a specified type of person.” Now, you are doing more than directing your hope, you are actually taking physical steps! You are in an amazing makeup program and you are practicing on as many people as you can, as often as you can. How is this any different than an actual makeup artist? It isn’t!

A great artist is always learning, just like you are right now. A great artist is always practicing, just like you are with each unit, right now. Known artists may get paid a bit more to play, learn, and grow, but you’ll get there!

Advice for starting a career as a makeup artist

When we see ourselves as aspiring, we undervalue what we do. There may be a temptation to do makeup for free on everyone. Don’t do it. When people get you and your services for free, it will be very hard for them ever to add financial value to what you do. Yes, the folks you practice on for you and your own personal growth should not be charged, but anyone who asks you to provide a service to them, even a quick touch-up before a date, should be.

Your education costs money. Your products cost money. And, when someone asks you to use your craft, you should be paid for your time. I want you to memorize what I am about to tell you, because it is very important:

Once people know you as someone who works for free, they will always, always see you that way.

Yes, you can have friends and family rates, and they can be very low, but I would suggest adding value to what you do from the very beginning (that being said, don’t ever charge your mom or your sister!).

The best way to start properly valuing yourself and your services is to change your mindset. If you see yourself as a makeup artist and not an “aspiring” one, you’ll realize that you are a trained artist who is always learning and growing. That little shift will give you the same mindset the professionals you respect have. And you’ll be on the right track. You have worked hard and will continue to. Don’t ever undersell yourself or your services! You deserve it.

Personality matters!

When it comes to having a successful career as a makeup artist, who you are is just as important as what you do. I have never claimed to be the best makeup artist in the world. I see myself as a constant work-in-progress and there are plenty of artists out there who are probably technically better than I am. But, time and time again, I have seen that personality matters just as much as skill.

Be yourself and let your heart shine.

Makeup is an intimate thing. There is a greater chance you will land a makeup job (and keep it) if people like you. This is true whether you are working with a bride for one day or traveling as the personal makeup artist for a celebrity. Who wants you around if they don’t like you? I am not suggesting that you put on a routine, I am simply suggesting that you be yourself (and likable)!

Having fun career as a makeup artist

There is a tendency among new artists to show up in all black, ask way more questions than they actually need to about the client’s desires, and then fall into total silence while they work (or worse, ask the mundane questions everyone hates; “So… what do you do?”). Unless instructed otherwise, I say, show up dressed as who you are. I wear jeans and a colorful T-shirt when I meet my clients. If I am backstage, I wear jeans and a black T-shirt. But that’s me, I am a jean and T-shirt kind of guy.

Makeup is not a job that requires a suit (usually), so feel free to be yourself. People will know who you are and it will immediately put them at ease. Plus, you’ll be more comfortable. As you work with your client, let them guide the level of exchange. If they are quiet, go with it. If they are not, be yourself with them. If you are funny, for goodness sake, be funny!

I can tell you, talent and skill will get you pretty far, but when you combine it with a genuine, open personality, the sky is the limit!

I intend to share more on this topic in the future, but for now, practice valuing yourself and your skills and let your heart shine!

Are you ready to start your career as an MUA and be instructed by celebrity makeup artist Nathan Johnson? Check out the selection of professional makeup artistry courses with QC Makeup Academy!

Nathan Johnson is a film, television, celebrity, and real women’s makeup artist with 18 years experience in the industry. Nathan believes in education and empowerment—his personal mission is to make America more beautiful one woman at a time. He brings product reviews, makeup tips, and personal experience to the QC blog.

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8 responses to “Part 2: What I Wish Everyone Knew When Starting a Career as a Makeup Artist”

  1. Alexis says:

    This was a great post. Made me feel so much better. thank you!

  2. Ashley Phillips says:

    Great Article! Exactly what I needed to boost my confidence even more. Thanks Nathan

  3. Mel says:

    When is your next makeup course in southwest and how much please

    1. Mireille Pitre says:

      Hi Mel! QC offers online makeup courses. You can sign up at any time, and complete the course at your own pace. There are 7 different courses to choose from to meet your career goals, each with its own tuition fee. You can learn more about the online courses here! Hope this helps 🙂

  4. Lilian Engel says:

    This sure boosted my confidence! I’m not half way done with my studies but I practice a lot on my self and models. This is so much fun!

  5. Tiara Longley says:

    I love the encouragement. Thank you so much!

  6. Desiree says:

    This is nothing but the truth and it definitely stuck with me!

  7. Tvarscki says:

    This was dead on…..I loved it….

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