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A blog for makeup artists, but nothing about makeup

Feedback: Are you brave enough to ask for it, and smart enough to demand it?

Most human beings have a natural positive reaction to praise and acknowledgement, and a resistance or fear toward constructive criticism. Often people are disappointed when they receive none of the first, but are more than happy to receive none of the second. Recently I have been both the receiver and giver of “feedback”, and as much as I am utterly uncomfortable in both scenarios, I have built a muscle over the years allowing me to put both experiences in the category of “essential growth process”.

As entrepreneurs we have an ethical and social responsibility to provide excellent customer service. It is essential to our brand elevation and presence. Further, it is what we deserve and expect for ourselves.So, why as a human being would you not want to provide that for others?When you are offering a service or are working on a team, your performance, efforts, and ways of being are the anchor points to an excellent experience by others.This will dictate more business down the line as people will hire you again, and refer others to work with you. If you promise to deliver something, you are responsible for meeting your word about that product…not just by basic standards, but standards of excellence. If for some reason you are unable to deliver something in excellence, be prepared to receive feedback about it.

The Glorious Release of Completion

Coming to the end of a year we often look back at all we have a accomplished (or not accomplished) and we weigh our lives against how far we have come…

If I ask myself what the most satisfying, joy-inducing experiences in my life are, I’d say spending quality time with the people I love and fully completing ongoing projects. Anything that gets in the way of these I identify as a challenge, and the struggle to overcome it effects me emotionally. Though I will always find ways to be with my loved ones, it’s completion that’s the heavy hitter for me.

Are you selling out on your dreams to pay the bills?

“Where’s my next check coming from?”
If you are Freelance makeup artist, (or a freelancer period) that question is probably not only familiar, but brings a disdaining shudder to your whole body.
When we have it good we wouldn’t trade our freelance career for the world. The freedom to make our own schedule, the luxury of saying no to work without penalties, the possibility to make in one day what you might make in a week elsewhere (that’s the best), having a business that is your own… Doing what you love.
But when shit gets tight we often ask ourselves “If only I had that weekly paycheck, something I could rely on”. In a moment of down times, there are days we’d give it all up to just feel secure and know we can pay the bills. Sometimes it gets really scary…if you can’t make your rent or you have more than one mouth to feed.

Insta-famous or Insta-fraud?

Over the past few years there has been a ongoing conversation between industry professionals about the rise of YouTube/Instagram make up stars and how it may be devaluing the craft of professional makeup artists. Some of my dearest colleagues who will openly rant about popular Youtube or Instagram stars not being “real” make up artists, or how simply using a web cam and filter to take selfies is insulting to those of us who have worked for years on our craft. We built our knowledge and expertise from the ground up, we shouldn’t be fighting for notoriety next to people who have barely done the work.

I wanted to explore this more intricately because it’s not just as black-and-white as it may seem. I wholeheartedly believe that internet stardom is not synonymous with technical skill. But it’s also important to see what are these people doing right they were not giving them credit for.

Jack of all Trades, Master of None?

I was in Alcone the other day buying some post fashion week organization containers when I bumped into Angelina Avalone. In catching up with each other on work we had an in depth conversation that most artists I think would find absolutely fascinating, though to us it’s the norm. The conversation was about being “a jack of all trades” in your industry, and how important it is to have a ton of skills underneath your belt, and how if she and I did not, we might be up shits creek with our careers.
Now I know you are probably thinking “but what about the second part to that saying? “Jack of all trades, master of none?” While there is a lot of truth in that statement, there’s also some key understandings that make the difference between being an expert in your field, or a wandering nomad with no focus.
 
Let’s examine the intention of that saying, and the truth that lies within it. In this industry people have a mega short attention span, and the ones doing the hiring are looking for someone masterful at developing whatever specific vision they have. If we aren’t a specialist, we’ll be passed over for someone who is. That’s why it’s not wise to have too much going on with your website and promotional material, too many genres of makeup. It will seem unfocused, and in a sense that you are a “Master of None”.

Juggling Many Balls and Dealing with Overwhelm

With Fashion Week starting up – a time where many makeup artists are juggling several balls, and when I personally experience the craziest schedule perhaps all year – I thought that examining how to handle “overwhelm” would be appropriate. You’ve got juicy goals, a crazy work schedule, friends that are dying to hang out, and it’s been way too long since you’ve seen your mom,…what do you do?! You can’t stop time (I’ve tried), and life will keep throwing you curve balls. If your go to response is “I’m too busy/tired/overwhelmed” it’s time to reevaluate! How can you juggle all the pieces without falling apart?

#1. Just accept you will need to become a superhero.
Someone once told me “If you have a lot on your plate, then switch to a platter”. When you are going to be up to a lot in your life, it is not possible for you to handle it all by doing things the way you have always done them.  You will need to approach it with a different way of thinking, a creative way of thinking.  You will need to step into the nearest phone booth (if you can find one that actually exists anymore) and change into your “super suit”. As your super self you can handle anything, you will see ways to do things differently, and no matter what it looks like you will be committed to getting it done.  What’s the trick to becoming your “super” self? Just keep believing (even if you don’t know exactly how, or what it will look like) anything is 100% possible for you to complete, 100% of the time. My favorite quote from Einstein is “you cannot solve a problem with same manner of thinking that created it.”

Balancing vision with action

Yesterday I was watching my 23 year old brother peruse the internet very intently. When I asked him what he was doing he replied that he was looking at beachfront properties to see how much it would cost  to buy a house on a beach. Apparently this was research to see how much money he would need to make to afford it, therefore dictating what kind of job he should have. With my usual eye rolling and snarky responsiveness I asked him “Don’t you think it would be more practical to research a job that will afford you a place that is not on my couch?” We both laughed.

Even though my “responsible” side wanted to support a more grounded approach, I had to admire my brother.  I saw a lot of myself in him which I would describe to be thevisionary.  I have often caught myself in a whirlwind of looking to the future, focusing on my big dreams and goals, but not thinking about the plan or the everyday steps it will take to get there. Even when I do think about and plan for it, its uncomfortable, irritating, and quite frankly I’m impatient to get to my desired end. Why does this happen? Because it’s my personality and make-up.  It’s the comfortable go-to and it is where my talents lie – seeing the result or desired end. On the other hand, my husband’s go-to is to figure out the everyday responsibilities that allow us to function and sustain ourselves. He is what I would refer to as the linear thinker. He does the finances, the budgeting, needs to know the X, Y and Z’s of everything before he agrees to move forward. It drives me bonkers sometimes, and is the base of most our disagreements. But it is his talent, his gift, and without it I’d probably either be homeless or in a psych ward. (Totally exaggerating, but not by much.)

The most important ingredient for making your dish of success delicious

As you may remember, in the last article we discussed the five ingredients a makeup artist could embody to enrich their positioning the industry. If you missed it, check it out here.  Hopefully it opened up some awareness for you on how you present yourself to others, where you stand with your client relationships, how much attention you give to your education, and how creative you are allowing yourself to be while building your portfolio…..

However the most important ingredient sets the base for all the rest of the flavors.  Without it, the rest of the ingredients though spicy and sweet have no sustenance. It’s like leaving crust out of pizza, or the macaroni out of macaroni and cheese (apparently the food choices are coming from one of those cravings I get as gluten challenged person).  Even if you could manage the other ingredients without this main ingredient, I find the others will not sustain or hold weight.  Its a simple one, yet you would be surprised how many of us in a given moment stop and realize we do not practice it…. This key ingredient is Gratitude.

Interview with Chris Milone on how to apply the top 5 ingredients

When thinking this week on who I would want to interview when considering someone who embodies and practices all the key ingredients to developing an enriched career in our industry, there were a few names that came to mind.  But there was only one person who I have seen do it not only in a short amount of time, but with such positive energetic commitment and grace.
I met Chris Milone when he had just graduated from MUD, and he was on my team for my first full blown production of Cirque du Maquillage: Temptu’s 25th Anniversary Party in 2005.  He was super sweet, reserved, but ridiculously talented and authentic. Since then I have asked him to join me for countless projects like Marc Jacobs, Fashion Week, my Monster Mash Salon, and even took him with me to work with Gaga. He is someone I always can count on whether there is a big budget or small budget.  He is one of the most unassuming, humble makeup artists I know, and with the credentials he has built he has the right to brag loudly, but doesn’t. Chris has gone on tour with Madonna, done fashion week with Dick Paige, worked on popular TV shows such as The Americans , was head of department for movies starring Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgard…and that is just a few of the great accomplishments. I asked him to answer some of my questions because he does in fact do a lot of work to be where he is, while being married to a beautiful partner, owning a house, and having a blast.

Top five ingredients to enriching your position in the industry

I have been on such a crazy journey of growth these past few months in expanding my brand to its next level, and it amazes me what shifts and changes have occurred to get me where I am.  I look back at the last few years even, and love observing the directionmy mind has gone let alone may actual career. It has inspired me to hone in to what some of the key ingredients there are that I have, and other artists have taken on to not only distinguish them, but enrich their career.

I was once one of those people that thought “If I could only meet the right person who realizes my talent, and gives me an opportunity that will set me up for life”. I would say I wish it were like that, but knowing what I know now, I am actually pretty happy and confident that what I am going to share with you today will have you be more in control of where you are, as oppose to wishing and hoping and leaving it up to fate.

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