Pro Makeup Artist Essentials: Part 2

On an overnight shoot for “Whaling City” in 2010. This was the first feature film I worked on, and I learned a lot.

Now that you’ve read Part 1–thank you–and know what you need in your kit, it’s time for the rest of the list. This list covers the items I think you need to make your day easier and more comfortable, as well as some essential intangibles. This is just as important as the list in Part 1, so listen up, friend.

Snacks. You can usually get a hold of water on a corporate or commercial set, but the food available (called “craft services” or “crafty” on a film or on a job with people who work in film) may not always be to your liking. I’ve seen it range from tables of crappy junk food to corner of a counter with a few sad looking pieces of fruit and some crackers. I have a gluten allergy and a list of other things that bother me, so I always bring snacks with me. You might want to do the same on set, and at a wedding job if you’ll be there for long enough that you’ll want to eat. Sometimes there’s a big wedding-morning-spread or a bride asks what you want when lunch is ordered, but usually you’re on your own.

Phone Charger. A “full day” on a commercial or corporate set is generally considered to be anywhere from 4 – 10 hours, and it’s not unusual to go over the 10 hour mark. I don’t know about your phone, but mine will start draining battery after a while, especially if I’ve been answering emails during breaks. That’s why I always bring a phone charger to set. As long as the makeup is being done inside (I’ve done my fair share of parking lot, field and garage makeup setups), you should have access to an outlet. If you’re doing a wedding and will be with the bride all day, I would also recommend bringing a charger and plugging it in whenever you can.

The Right Clothing. I’ve worked in freezing cold warehouses, on exterior shoots in January in New England and blazing hot houses in August where the a/c couldn’t be turned on because it would affect sound. And some studios are kept icy cold even in the summer, which is great for the talent because it keeps them from sweating, but unbearable for people like me who get cold if they hold a drink with ice in it for two minutes. So, I suggest bringing a sweater in the summer and if you are going to be in a studio, and always have a jacket with you if you might be outside and temps are cold enough for one. As far as being too hot, tank tops, shorts and sandals are not appropriate for corporate or commercial work, so lightweight clothing is key. At a wedding job, you can get away with a light dress as long as it’s not revealing (and not white!). Sandals are also fine for weddings.

I was wearing that dress with sandals. Appropriate wedding outfit, inappropriate corporate or commercial shoot outfit. Photo: Brittanny Taylor Photography

Business Cards. As a makeup artist, you will meet a ton of people. If they are in your chair, you might be having anywhere from a 5 minute to a one hour conversation with them. You might find that the talent you are talking to has a daughter getting married next year who needs a makeup artist, or the bridesmaid you’re clicking with owns a real estate company and wants makeup for marketing photos of her team. You’ll also meet crew members who might work on a future project that needs a makeup artist, and if they have your card, they can easily refer you to a producer. All of these people are unlikely to remember your name (sorry) without a business card, so why risk it?

Contact Info & Parking Instructions. Before you go to any job, make sure you have a contact phone number, parking information, building name or hotel room number and any location/entrance details ahead of time. If you wait until you get to a location to try to find out this information, you might be S.O.L. There’s no reason you can’t request this info a few days before a job. Clients like prepared makeup artists and your stress level will like that too.

A Full Gas Tank. You’ll do some jobs where you stay in one location all day, and others where you drive around to several locations. Unless you know for sure that you won’t be changing locations, make sure you have a full tank (especially if you have a long drive home). I’ve done political campaigns ads that required stops at five different locations in a day, some with 30 minute drives in between. You’re not going to have time to stop for gas in that type of situation. In fact, I don’t even recommend stopping for gas on the way to a job. Why add something your plate the day of when you might need that extra time if you get caught in a traffic jam or the parking lot you were told to park in is full? Fill up the day before and give yourself five points for preparedness.

A Book. On some jobs, you’ll have a lottttt of dead time. You may also be in a location where you have no signal and there’s no WiFi around (like working on a commercial in a field for 12 hours, which I’ve done).  Maybe you’d be fine using that time to re-organize your kit, talk to someone (if there is anyone around) or, I don’t know, meditate, but I usually have a book with me in case my phone is useless and I’m in a far away hair and makeup room by myself. That way I don’t die of boredom during an hour-long camera and lighting set up or wedding ceremony (waiting for the bride to get back for a pre-Cocktail Hour touchup).

If you’re sitting in the makeup room for an hour during a set up and you can’t use your phone (or even if you can), this is a great read.

Set & Wedding Etiquette. This is a monster of a topic. Set etiquette covers who you talk to, when you talk to them, the lingo you use, where to position yourself, when to move, what to wear, etc. If you want to work in film, this is a good read. It’s a little different on a corporate or sometimes commercial job, but these worlds often cross over. There’s no set at a wedding, but there is wedding etiquette. Like say “Happy Wedding Day!” or something similar when you see the bride, don’t wear a white dress, don’t take food or drinks without asking, don’t move things without asking (if you need the space for your setup), don’t talk about breakups/divorces, don’t drink on the job (you will be offered mimosas at some weddings), etc. Some of it is common sense and manners, but you’d be surprised what I’ve seen and heard about from other companies and in reviews I’ve read.

Professionalism. That means always be on time, don’t have inappropriate conversations, don’t take care of personal To Do list at a job, don’t disappear from set or while you’re supposed to be working on clients, invoice accurately, clearly and quickly, etc. You can be the best makeup artist in the world, but if you get a reputation of being unprofessional, you won’t get far. I either have to stop this paragraph here or write 97 more paragraphs about it, so let’s stop.

Between this post and this last one, I think I’ve covered all of the big stuff. Being a makeup artist–at least a successful one–means doing more than evening skintones and filling in eyebrows. It requires preparation, tact and professionalism. The beauty industry has become a very competitive place to work, so my recommendation is to learn everything you can before you start so that you can be more prepared than the other newbie makeup artists. I hope this helped, and I wish you the best of luck in your career.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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