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 has taught thousands of budding artists and inspired them to become the best makeup artists they can be.
As an artist, you should constantly challenge yourself to grow and evolve. Continual action is the only way to stay on top of the ever-changing world of makeup. No matter how talented you are, if you rest on your laurels, your makeup artistry will eventually become stale and stuck in the past. There are many different things you can do every week to improve your artistry and stay relevant to current trends. Here are just a few of my favorites.
1. Practice your craft
Here’s the bitter truth—no one practices enough! The only way to become the best makeup artist you can be is by putting in the same amount of practice a classical musician would to music.
Both makeup newcomers and seasoned professionals can benefit from more practice. Many new makeup artists tend to rush through the basics, hungry to do the more complex looks. But those who rush through the basics don’t have a strong foundation to stand on. Without a thorough knowledge of how to use basic techniques, your creative looks won’t look half as good as they should. That’s because all complex makeup looks are simply a combination of basic techniques. If you master the basics, you can figure out how to do anything.
Mastery of makeup basics is essential to a long and versatile career. You’ll need hours of practice on a huge variety of faces and skin types to call yourself a master in makeup.
2. Be adventurous!
Once you’ve got your basics down, it’s time to get creative! You should always experiment with new looks and new combinations of techniques so your artistry never becomes stale. If the last time you practiced was 10 years ago, chances are your looks will probably look dated.
My practice recommendations:
- Duplicate looks you see on current celebrities.
- Invite your friends and neighbors over and apply any makeup style they desire.
- Practice popular makeup trends from every decade.
- Duplicate the advertisements from major makeup brands.
The competing makeup artists in your area are probably not practicing. If you practice weekly or daily, you will blow them out of the water!
3. Stalk (your way to the latest trends)
As a certified makeup artist, staying on top of everything that is happening in the makeup industry will help you track new trends and techniques. If you’re not enrolled in a makeup course, you won’t have an industry expert holding your hands, informing you of the latest and greatest out there. It’ll be up to you— and the amount of effort you put in—to research trends.
Keeping up with professional artists will allow you to see 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 makeup artists, agencies, celebrities, beauty magazines, blogs, etc. Stalking the leading artists in the industry will keep you motivated in building your skills. This brings me to my next point…
4. Find a makeup artist you admire
Firstly, by staying on top of the makeup industry, you’ll always know exactly what is on-trend. As long as you keep your work current, you’ll never be dated in your online presence. Secondly, you can find a pace-setter. This means finding a makeup artist whose style or work your look up to. Remember, once you’re a professional makeup artist, all other makeup artists are now your competition.
When you follow a pace-setter who is phenomenal and does incredible work, you will always have a goal to reach, and surpass, for the quality of your own work. If your makeup skills aren’t on the same level as theirs, keep practicing!
5. Take (and try) free makeup samples
As a professional makeup artist, you should know about as many products as possible—both professional- and consumer-grade. You may not use all of these products in your makeup kit, but your clients might! And your clients are going to ask you questions about everything, so you better know your stuff! If you take makeup and skincare samples and play with them, you’ll be able to offer your clients an educated opinion on everything they ask you about.
Many makeup brands will include samples of their best-selling or new products with every order. Sephora, for instance, offers two or more samples per order. You can also spend your Insider points on deluxe samples! 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!
6. Teach new techniques to your clients
Every time you apply makeup on someone (friends, family, or clients), teach them a small 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. By doing that, you break it down for yourself, too.
When you give people the tools to enhance their features when they do their own makeup at home, they will love you for life. And don’t worry, giving away your makeup tips and techniques won’t hurt your makeup business. It is rare that a makeup novice can ever do what the professional does, even when they learn directly from their artist. 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.
What other tips did Nathan miss? Leave us a comment!