Babs Forman has beat an unusual path to being a full time makeup artist. After several years pursuing a successful career as a lawyer, Babs decided to follow her heart and retrained at the prestigious Delamar Academy at Ealing studios. She is now a full time makeup artist in London, and in this article discusses her three top reasons she’s glad she took the leap, as well as sharing some advice she wishes she’d had when starting out.
As a lawyer-turned-make-up artist, it sometimes feels like I have led two separate lives in separate universes already! They really could not have been more different, on so many different levels.
The first question people usually ask me is *why*?! (often in sheer disbelief). Invariably, the second question is – ‘do you regret your decision’? And I can emphatically and honestly say no, I do not regret my decision. Although there are days where things are tough, there has not been a single day on which I have wished I was back in an office leading my lawyerly life. And that goes back to question 1 – the reasons why being a make-up artist is great. And there are many.
To give you my top three:
Make-Up Artists are great people
(I say, completely unbiased 😉 )
One of the main reasons I was unhappy in my corporate life is that I did not feel particularly inspired by the people I was working for. I did not see them as people I aspired to be. I have, however, met so many incredibly great and inspiring make-up artists! And the key difference is I think in their love and passion for their work. People who love what they do for the majority of their day are likely to be much for happy and balanced overall, and therefore more fun to be around!
As a make-up artist you are constantly working with people, all day long. Not only that you are working on people’s faces. You are quite literally in their face – a sort of forced invasion of personal space and intimacy. And it means you get to know people quite quickly. Even by the end of the session all that means is that they don’t like to talk while being made up! But the range of people I have encountered and worked with and the stories I have heard – from backstage gossip to moving personal tales – is really remarkable.
You get to see so many interesting places
As well as the people, the places I have encountered have often been very memorable – places all around the country, often buildings that are not open to the public, or fantastically beautiful locations that have been professionally scouted. I do sometimes have to pinch myself.
Some advice I wish I had been given as I was first starting out as a Make-Up Artist
However, life as a make-up artist is not all sunshine and chocolate. It is a constant struggle to find new clients and get work and especially the first years are quite hard. You need to be determined and you need to be focused to succeed. What I found hard when I first qualified was that there did not seem to be much support for people like us. Having gone from a very comfortable regular salary to nothing at all in one fell swoop caused me some level of anxiety.
Also losing the social structures of having a routine, a workplace and colleagues can be quite frightening. Although those things make some people feel very constricted, they do provide some structure and an incentive to get up and do things that needs to come from within as a self-employed freelancer.
I would therefore like to share a few top tips that I wish someone had told me about when I was first starting out to help with the two most difficult aspects of freelance life: financial and emotional.
My main message is that there *is* help out there. It’s just hard to find. And you may need to be a little creative to get hold of it. Here are some examples:
Samples – Do not underestimate the power of make-up samples! And do not be afraid to ask for them. Especially as you are building up your kit it’s totally fine to have sample sized products (you can always say it’s in the interests of keeping your kit bag manageable, which is also true!). Some counters are really generous with their sample sizes and one little pot/tube will last you several faces. If it’s a shade on the extreme end of the colour spectrum, or a very particular look you are doing for a one-off shoot, chances are you’ll only use it once or twice and the sample will all you need!
Creative Skillset – This is a brilliant organisation that helps fund courses, and has a host of information on finding work, using social media etc. I was able to take part in some specialised training only because Creative Skillset funded 80% of its cost through its Diversity Fund.
The Prince’s Trust – One great resource is the Prince’s Trust. Sadly I was too old when I started out to take advantage of this, but if you are a make-up artist under the age of 30 it’s worth contacting them to see if you are eligible for help with training/support and advice, or financial help for a business idea.
It can get quite lonely as a make-up artist, which is ironic because a lot of people choose the profession precisely because of their personable natures. But the fact is that you will not work every day. What do you do on your days ‘off’, and who do you talk to? How do you motivate yourself to get out of bed? It’s really important that you figure those things out and make them work for you. What I found really helpful was joining a creative community and hot-desking on my days off rather than sitting at home.
The Creative Hub is amazing! It’s fully funded by the EU and everything they offer is free- from make-up training by leading make-up artists to training on business skills, social media skills and other skills, as well as their hot-desking facilities in the heart of Soho.
The Creative Hub is also able to pair creatives up with a mentor, something I would highly recommend. It’s someone external who can give validation and encouragement, advice support and guidance – all of the things that would otherwise come from colleagues or a boss. It helped me see things more clearly, and to focus my energies on specific goals and has been absolutely brilliant.
Even if the above do not work out for you, use them as evidence for the fact that that there is support out there if you look hard enough! And be generous with sharing things if you do find them – one hand often washes the other in the make-up industry, and the more you share the more will come back to you too.
To find our more about Babs are check out some of her awesome work, visit her website at www.BabsForman.com