Nathan Johnson (@nathanwalnut) is used to working on famous faces. His work has been featured in Glamour, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. As the executive makeup artist for QC Makeup Academy, he ensures that everything we teach is in line with the latest and greatest within the beauty industry. This month, Nathan lets us on in how to become the best makeup artist you can be.
As an artist, it is essential to constantly push and challenge yourself for growth and evolution. Continuous, consistent action is the only way to stay on top of the ever-changing world of makeup. No matter how talented you are, if you settle into old habits or rest on your laurels, your makeup artistry will eventually become stale and stuck in time. There are hundreds of things you can do every week, or even every day to ensure that you are relevant and ever-improving…here are just a few of my favorites.
1. Practice your craft
No one practices enough. The only way to be the best makeup artist you can be is by putting in the same amount of practice a classical musician would.
This is the advice I would offer to both the newcomer and the seasoned professional. As a beginner, many new makeup artists rush through the basics, hungry to do the more complex and complicated looks. The problem with that is twofold. First, mastery of basics is essential to a long and versatile career. To truly master them, hours of practice have to happen on a huge variety of faces and skin types.
2. Master the Basics
I know this may sound boring, and maybe you feel you already know them, but without exceptional basics, anything more complex will never be as beautiful and precise as it could be. Secondly, all complex makeup looks are simply a combination of basic techniques. If you master the basics, you can figure out how to do anything.
If instead of learning through application and practice of the basics, you watch YouTube how to’s and learn one complex makeup look at a time, you’ll never master the skills necessary to create complex looks without having to watch, and copy, someone else’s how to tutorial. Master the basics (through practice) and you can create anything. If you practice, as one would an instrument, your skill and talent will multiply in unfathomable ways–and fast.
3. Be Adventurous!
As a seasoned professional practice is just as important. You should always be trying new looks and new combinations of techniques so your artistry never becomes stale. If the last time you practiced was 10 years ago, I assure you that all of the makeup looks you do look like they are from 10 years ago.
My practice recommendations: duplicate looks you see on current celebrities. Have your friends and neighbors over and apply any makeup style they desire. Practice makeup from every decade. Duplicate the advertisements from the major makeup brands. Your competition is not practicing, if you practice weekly, or daily, you will blow them out of the water.
4. Stalk (your way to the latest trends)
As an artist, it is essential that you stay on top of everything happening in the industry. This is how you will keep track of trends and new techniques. It is also how you will know the caliber of work that is being done in the professional world. The only way to keep yourself in the know is to stalk! You should be following an assortment of artists, agencies, celebrities, beauty magazines, blogs, etc. This stalking will give you many positive benefits.
5. Find a makeup artist you admire
First, by staying on top of the makeup industry, you’ll always know exactly what is on trend and as long as you keep your work current, you’ll never be dated in web and social media presence. Second, you can find a pacesetter. This means a makeup artist whose style or work your look up to. Being a professional makeup artist means that all the other makeup artists out there are now your competition.
When you follow a pacesetter who is phenomenal and does incredible work, you always have a bar reach, and surpass, for the quality of your own work. If your work is not on the same standard as theirs, keep practicing!
6. Take (and try!) free samples
As a professional, you should have knowledge about as many products as possible–both pro and consumer. You are not likely to use all of these products in your kit, but your clients might! And your clients are going to ask you questions about everything. If you take the samples and play with them, you’ll be able to offer them an educated opinion on everything they may ask you about.
Knowledge is power and it makes you look even more professional! And you never know what you’ll discover when you try new things…you may just find the greatest beauty product you never knew you needed.
7. Teach new techniques
Every time you work with someone, friends, family, or clients, be sure to teach them a little tip or technique. When you make education a part of your makeup artistry, you will learn all the techniques better yourself. When you teach something, you have to really break it down for people, and by doing that you break it down for yourself, too.
This education to others is really a deeper education for you. And, when you give people simple tools to enhance their features, they will love you for life. And don’t worry, giving away your tips and new techniques won’t take away your clients need for you. It is rare that the novice can ever do what the professional does, even when they learn it directly from you. Sharing your knowledge will only make your clients love you more!
Oh…and did I mention the importance of practice?
If you follow these tips weekly, or daily, they will certainly contribute to making you the best artist you can be.