Graduate Feature: Karin Elam - QC Makeup Academy
Karin Elam master makeup artistry course graduate

Name: Karin Elam

Location: Bremerton, Washington, USA

QC Online Makeup Courses:


Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am a 23 year old living in Bremerton, Washington. I have a three year old son (and very best friend) named Landen. I am a freelance makeup artist and enjoy collaborating with other artists. I love helping people! I realize how cliché that sounds, but allowing people to see amazing things within themselves is my true passion.

Why did you decide to go into makeup artistry? What about it appeals to you?

When I was a little girl, I used to love watching my mom put on lipstick. She didn’t wear much, but it became fascinating to me. I would steal her makeup products and brushes and spend hours trying to replicate what she did. I would cut out pictures in magazines of makeup looks I liked and spend my whole allowance on lip glosses from the Dollar Store.

In fifth grade, I was notorious for wearing glitter on my cheeks and in my hair. Every. Single. Day. In college, for fun and a few extra bucks, I would paint peoples nails and do their makeup before going out on the weekends. I would do anyone’s makeup who would let me; friends, family, people I barely knew.

It wasn’t until my sister said once, after doing her makeup for a dance, “Hey, you should make this your job!” that I actually started considering it seriously as a career. Since then, it’s been everything to me. It’s my therapy, my creative outlet, and the way I feel most blessed to help other people.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

I still feel like my career is in the baby stages, compared to the potential it has. I guess the highlight would be my brides. I absolutely ADORE wedding season. I love making someone feel their most beautiful on the most important day of her life and being an intricate part of a memory that will last forever. That’s incredible, and so humbling.

You mentioned that you’re going to be starting your own YouTube channel! How do you think this will impact your professional career?

Karin Elam Graduate Feature

Doing makeup full time would be a dream come true. I mean, come on, everyone wants to do what they love the most AND get paid for it, right? As far as impacting my career, I feel like this is the next step since wanting to get myself “out there”. A ton of gorgeous, talented people are on YouTube with tutorials, product reviews, and their perspective on the makeup community as a whole. I have friends and followers from all over the world whom I’ve met through social media. But they’ve never heard my voice, watched me do makeup, or seen how goofy and ridiculous I am. I think the element of video really helps with one’s own unique brand. Above all else, I hope to portray who I am as a person and as an artist to better network with other artists.

You used to work for Estée Lauder and now work as a freelance makeup artist, congrats! Is there a noticeable difference between working behind a beauty counter/department store versus working for yourself? What would you recommend for makeup artists just starting out?

YES! There is a HUGE difference. For someone just starting out, I do think working at a makeup counter is great. You get a lot of knowledge about the industry standards, professional courtesy, and (if you pay attention in school) products and skin types. Almost every counter has a specialized school you attend quarterly, biannually, or annually, to learn about new trends and products. Although a lot of this was specific to the brand (Estée Lauder), I have definitely used that same information with my clients freelancing. You also get a lot of experience working with different skin types, skin tones, and styles.

Working for myself is fantastic. I get to choose what products I use, and I’m not tied down to one brand. I get to recommend things without trying to sell them. There is a lot more freedom. An extra plus that you don’t get working in retail: since I’m representing myself, I can refuse to work with people who are mean. If you’ve ever worked retail, you know how valuable this is.

All that being said, I think it’s a great first step to work at a makeup counter first. It gets you the experience and background you’ll need to branch out on your own!

How do you think QC Makeup Academy has prepared you for working in the field?

Karin Elam Graduate Feature

QC, above all else, really teaches you a lot about being a professional. There is only so much you can learn from someone else about how to do makeup. I think most of the actual application and technique comes from good old fashioned practice. But giving me the confidence to reach for things—like applying for a cosmetics job with no experience, and booking my very first wedding with someone I had never met, that’s something I got from QC. Knowing I had the training and the practice to make me successful.

If you could only use one makeup product for the rest of your life, what would it be?

YIKES! Only one?! Probably highlighter. It’s my very favorite to purchase and to use. Realistically speaking, it’s probably not ideal to use exclusively or by itself, but hey, ya girl’s gotta glow!

Dreaming of going freelance? Learn how to build an attention grabbing portfolio that will make every client want to hire you!

Author Celina Feng

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