Becoming a fulltime makeup artist and earning a living… how difficult is it?
Let me start by throwing you of a rose cloud. If today I would have to start again, I wouldn’t. I love my job as a makeup artist and hairstylist without any shadow of a doubt, but the older I get, the more I hate the insecurity my job brings. On social media it all looks like joy and fun, but let me tell you, at the end of the month it often feels very different.
Occasionally I get mails from aspiring makeup artists with questions like ‘how do I start?’ ‘which are the best courses?’ and ‘how do I get jobs?’. I can’t really give you the recipe to becoming a succesful makeup artist, there’s no secret or guideline. However, I can talk from my own experience, being a freelance makeup artist for almost 11 years now.
Let me start by answering some of the FAQ’s:
Which are the best makeup courses?
As for myself, I have been mostly trained in the UK and the reason I took most of my courses and masterclasses over there is because they are way more advanced when it comes to skin and trends. Also, different skin colours and tones are much more common in the UK which makes it easier to practice. Often I find that courses in Belgium are still ‘old school’ or have too many rules/techniques which you have to follow. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly decent trainings, but I don’t believe any course offers the complete package, which is the reason I still take specific masterclasses on. I want to stay up to date and improve. Also, I give trainings and masterclasses to starting makeup artists.
I have finished my makeup course. How do I start?
If someone would have given me the answer to that question when I took my first steps as a makeup artist, I would have been happy. Knowing what I know now, and being in 2019 I would not recommend anyone to start as a fulltime freelance makeup artist. It’s f***ing hard! Most of you only see the great side of the job; the fun, the travel, the meeting people, the fashion,… but let me tell you, there’s way more to it!
Extreme traffic jams, waking up in the middle of the night to go to your job, working in the bare cold or the exhausting heat, days of 12 hours and more, getting your invoices paid three months later, working 9 days in a row and than not having any jobs during 9 days,… just a few of the minors.
In case you want a more secure life I would recommend applying for a job at M.A.C, NYX, Bobbi Brown or whatever brand you like. Or just throw yourself in there, but do not expect work come knocking at your door, it takes years and years to build up your network.
How do I get jobs?
Good question. If you know the answer please let me know! I still look for jobs every single day, being a freelancer is being a hustler, emails, phone calls, more emails, more phone calls, over and over again. At the end of the day, it’s getting your name out there and building a network. Most of my jobs come via recommandations of people I’ve already worked with. The fact that I speak 5 languages helps me getting jobs abroad or for foreign companies shooting in Belgium.
Family life & work. How to combine?
Let me point out that I am not married nor do I have children which is a real advantage. I don’t have any responsabilities when it comes to family life. I would absolutely go mental if I would have a person in my life asking me every day ‘what time will you be back?’ I simply don’t know. What I do know is what time I have to start. As I do a lot of commercial work, the call sheet often comes or changes last-minute. The evening before around 8pm is no exception. Can you handle that?
Same goes for when a job comes in. Last week I had to change my hairdresser appointment 4 times, good thing the ‘spray the grey’ bottles exists! Again, calling on Monday for a job on Wednesday is very normal. My friends already know how it works, meeting up often gets postponed or is planned at the very last moment; ‘Hey Katelijne, I’m in the neighbourhood, are you home?’ Good thing I have lovely friends who do understand.
In case you have or want children, and you really want to do this job, make sure to have great people around you who can get the kids from school, give them food or help them with homework. Unless you have a wealthy partner and you don’t need to do the job for a living…
To be continued…
Do you have any questions you would like to see answered? Leave a comment!
Pictures by Dena Huys & Pieter De Smedt-Jans