makeup artist's guide to surviving a creative slump

Your Makeup Career

The Makeup Artist’s Guide to Surviving a Creative Slump

When people picture an artist, they’re probably picturing someone set up with paints and an easel – not a makeup artist! But “artist” is in the name of your career for a reason. As any beauty enthusiast knows, makeup is an art. It’s all about self-expression, skill, and beauty – whether that’s found in glamorous red-carpet looks or incredibly realistic special FX. As a makeup artist, creativity is built into your job description!

Sometimes, though, that creative side gets a little worn out. Like writers experiencing the infamous writer’s block, makeup artists can hit creative slumps where the inspiration just doesn’t seem to be coming. Don’t worry, though – it’s not the end of your career! Read on for our top tips on getting your artistic inspiration back in shape.

Take a break

Have you ever found yourself just staring at your makeup kit, waiting for inspiration to strike you? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there (and if you haven’t, trust us – it’ll happen!). Maybe you’re out of ideas for Instagram posts. Maybe you’re struggling to think up the concept for a new shoot. Maybe you just feel like your regular makeup artistry work is stuck in a creative rut.

Whatever the challenge, the ideas just aren’t coming. So what should you do next? Take a break!

It might seem counter-intuitive. Hard work pays off – as a freelance makeup artist you know that better than anyone. But creativity works a little different. You can’t force ideas. Trying just wears you out. Sometimes all you need is some time away from your work, whether that’s an hour walking your dog or a few days’ vacation.

take a break

Even switching tasks can help get you inspired. Step away from Instagram. Read up on some cool new products from your favorite makeup brands instead, or get a head start on your (ugh) tax returns. Setting aside whatever you’re stuck on keeps you from getting frustrated. Plus, it gives your creative muscles a much-needed break.

Look for inspiration…

Get back on Instagram – but check out other makeup artists’ profiles. What kind of content are they posting? What looks have they been creating recently? What are their new favorite makeup techniques or products to experiment with? You might see something that gets you thinking, and then bam – your own original idea hits!

Don’t limit yourself to looking at other makeup artists’ work, either. Spend some quality time with your Netflix account and catch up on that TV show you’ve been meaning to watch. Pick up a magazine. Head over to the mall to window-shop (or impulse buy – no judgment). Go see a movie. Check out that new exhibit at the art gallery. You get the idea.

As a makeup artist, you’re all about the details. Sometimes all it takes to get you thinking is a special color, pattern, product, outfit, accessory… you get the idea. Soaking up other people’s creativity is the perfect way to kick-start your own!

… But don’t get too sidetracked

You take five minutes to scroll through your favorite beauty icon’s latest Instagram posts… but next thing you know, you’re on page forty-eight of a Scandinavian dog trainer’s blog and three hours have passed. Oops.

The Internet is a wonderful resource, but it’s also a minefield for distraction. It’s tough to find that balance between looking for inspiration and mindlessly scrolling through page after page of cat pictures. But someone (you) has to do it.

Creativity takes time, and as a freelance makeup artist that’s something you always seem to be short on. If you find yourself too rushed to sit down and brainstorm, think about where you can cut back. Do you spend an hour on Instagram every day? Cut that in half. Thirty minutes looking at other people’s awesome posts, thirty minutes working on your own stuff.

While you can’t force creativity, it does need some space to grow. Giving it that space might be all you need to get your makeup artistry muscles back in shape.

finding inspiration for a makeup artist

Dig deep

Sometimes a creative block is just a creative block. And sometimes it’s not.

If you’ve been hitting that creative wall for a while now, sit back and think. What else is going on in your career right now? What about in the rest of your life? Are there people, projects, or situations sapping your makeup artistry energy? Is your work as a freelancer not going where you want it to go?

Deaths, divorces, and other rough personal issues can all contribute to a makeup artist’s creative slump, but it doesn’t have to be something so severe. Maybe you’ve been working with a string of difficult clients, or you’re stressed out about a major editorial shoot that’s coming up. Maybe your beauty blog isn’t getting the reach you were hoping for, and you’re finding it hard to get the motivation to keep writing.

Whatever the situation, think about how you can cope. If it’s something you can change, come up with a game plan for getting things back on track. If it’s out of your control, you may just have to ride it out for now. Even if that’s the case, reminding yourself that there’s an end in sight may be all you need to get those ideas flowing again.

Have you ever struggled through a creative slump?

Besides Instagram, did you know you can check out QC’s Student Showcase for inspiration? Here’s our latest roundup of the best student looks!

Celina is a blog writer for QC Makeup Academy, providing expert advice to makeup artistry students.

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