People aren’t going to book you for work if they can’t see what it is you are actually capable of doing. So the next step in building a successful makeup business is to create a jaw dropping, amazing portfolio.
When you first start it can feel a bit chicken and egg…
“How will I get people to work with me in order to build a portfolio if I don’t have a portfolio to show in the first place?”
Well, there are a few things you can do to start building things up.
Three Steps to Generate an Amazing Portfolio
Step 1 – Trade for Photos
First, you can grow your portfolio by initially offering your services for free, known as Trade for Photos (TFP) work. These are photoshoots usually arranged by a designer, photographer or stylist who want to either build up their own portfolios and work on their own personal projects or are looking for new people to work with and are ‘trialling’ new artists out. As these are usually unpaid, it’s worth trying to find those test shoots of TFP that are in your area so you are not paying out on travel.
To find these kind of jobs you will need to join on-line forums for makeup artists, photographers and stylists. Great places to look for TFP work are on Facebook and LinkedIn in Makeup Artist and Photography Forums in and around your area. i.e. London, Denver or more wider areas such as the counties you live in or even within your country as people post from all over the place. Start looking out for people promoting ‘test shoots’ and collaborations.
Another place that used to be great for finding TFP work was Model Mayhem, though to have a profile which shows your portfolio you really have to pay a monthly fee and seeing as FB and LinkedIn are free, I would stick to the free membership platforms.
There will be a lot of test and TFP shoots rolling around. Don’t do them just for the sake of it. Check out who the photographer, stylists, models are. Then ask yourself these questions:
- Would I be happy with this photographer’s work on my website?
- Does the overall project work towards the type of makeup I want to be doing?
- Will I feel comfortable doing the work they are asking of me?
If you can answer ‘Yes’ to all of these questions, then email them and get creating!
Also, the TFP work you do doesn’t have to be something someone else has organised! You can also arrange your own shoots. Do you have a young, budding photographer you think has some amazing work and maybe a stylist you’d love to work with? Get in touch! See if you can arrange your own dream team collaboration!
Happily there should come a point where you don’t need to do TFP work anymore. I don’t suggest stopping it all together however as it is a great way to work with new people who can lead to other amazing projects and also helps your own makeup skills, but do bear in mind that time is money and that time on free work is at the expense of time making a living. As with everything it’s about finding a balance.
Step 2 – Assist other artists
Second option for building your portfolio is to shadow and assist other makeup artists. Again, join forums and look to see if artists are asking for assistants. This could be for weddings, music videos and even TV work. It may not be the most glamorous thing to do, but you will get to see how a working artist conducts themselves on the job and you may be lucky enough to work on your own things during these ‘assisting’ jobs which means you can add them to your portfolio.
This also goes for wedding makeup artists as well! A lot of wedding artists need help on large bridal parties! Here’s your chance to show what you can do, get paid and have professional photos to show for it!
Step 3 – Co-opt your friends!
Third option for creating a dream portfolio is see if you can get your friends to allow you to do their makeup as well! Friends are great for this! Take advantage of special occasions and holidays and see if they will let you make them over and take some decent photos. Make sure you use a good camera and lighting is always a good idea to have as well. This way you can make the images look professional!
Make sure the images you put in your portfolio are well rounded. Its great if you can do whacky makeup but a lot of people like to see beauty work as well. Maybe have a little bit of avant garde in your portfolio, but more importantly show the different skin types, faces and beauty work you can do. Its great if you can do grooming as well, so get some male shots in there too! Try not to make it all look the same but also don’t go crazy. You want to get the right balance that shows you have the skills to do different types of makeup but that you’re not a ‘one trick poney’!
Preparing your portfolio
The next step, after you have built your portfolio is then to make sure it is showcased. Irrespective of how you do this you must make sure the images are high quality, and so always make sure the photographers that you work with send you high resolution images.
Traditionally portfolios have been leather bound affairs and indeed if your line of work is going to lead you to interviews and meetings with agents etc. then it’s important to maintain hardcopies in a physical portfolio that you can take along. For this you’ll need about 10-12 images that really showcase your best work and also your versatility.
Have the images printed at professional print shops in A4 or online with places like PhotoBox. You will need to get a portfolio book, which can be bought at most stationery stores. Portfolios are usually black and have plastic sleeves that you slot in your images. Nothing fancy! Keep it clean! Don’t spend a fortune getting customised books unless you plan on hitting a million fashion agencies. It is also a very good idea to build a Resume/CV and at the bottom of it place about 4 images to show examples of your work.
For many though a hardcopy portfolio won’t be required straight away, and a digital portfolio will be sufficient. Indeed having your portfolio on-line is an expectation for makeup artists today. It allows you to showcase all your work in one place and you cab forward links to potential employers and makeup jobs you’re applying for. Initially you can show off you work on-line on a Facebook or Instagram page (or ideally both), but eventually you will want to have your portfolio accessible on your website.
In fact as you get established you website will be a focal point for your work and your business. That’s why in Step 5 we’re going to be talking building websites, and growing your online brand!