Recently we asked the MUA community what advice they would give to those just starting out on their MUA career – and what was the one thing they wish they had known when they started out…
We had some great and varied responses (a huge thank you to everyone who replied!) – but we managed to distil them down to five key points…
Click to tweet: What I wish I’d known before I became a makeup artist…
Invest in the good stuff straight off.
Be it brushes, makeup, makeup case or equipment, lots of our resident MUA’s wish they had spent the money and invested in quality goods sooner as it makes life oh so much easier.
“I never invested in great brushes and I regret it constantly. I’m trying to save a lot right now so I can just buy 5 sets of great brushes” – Briana Danielle Chapman
“I used to carry all my stuff in boxes which made finding and organising things difficult. I finally invested in two makeup cases after a year or so and I really wished I’d spent the money sooner! Suddenly things were easier to find, I was better organised and more importantly, I looked (and felt) more professional” – Ashley Kay Gifford
It can be a slow start…
To get work you need a portfolio showcasing your fabulous skills. However, therein lies the problem – you can’t get work without a portfolio. Catch-MUA.
Unless you have unlimited funds to pay for lots of different models and photographers, you’ll have to get photos using the TFP system (Trade for Photos) – essentially you work for free but get the photos to build that all important portfolio.
“You can’t show anyone your work without a portfolio and trying to get models and photographers for TFP shoots is so difficult, especially in a town where the selection is so limited. It’s not what I expected” – Nina Anita
Getting your portfolio doesn’t happen overnight and you will probably end up doing a lot of unpaid work in the beginning. However don’t sell yourself short – doing work for free is great but if it’s for a rubbish photographer you’ll have done free work and won’t be able to use the photographs in your portfolio. So do your research. Not sure where to begin – check out our blog post on creating an awesome portfolio.
It’s all about your network
And who you know rather than what you know.
“Good association is going to get you further than any makeup you do….cynical, but I’ve found it to be true” – Sandra Bermingham
“I built up a great network where I was from, but then obviously had to move to NYC to get the right kind of clientele. I then had to rebuild my network, which was basically like starting over again. Then I realized I hated living in NYC and moved to LA, where I AGAIN had to basically start over. Though it was easier to start over each time, if I could have kept the clients from NYC and LA I would probably be much farther ahead” – Briana Danielle Chapman
“Connections, marketable skills, and a great personality are far more important than formal training” – Nick-caves-moustache, Reddit
As in other careers, building relationships is going to a key to your success and a bad reputation can be hard to get rid of.
“Remember that you are a brand, and treat yourself as so” – Jules Cummins
YOU are your business. Whilst on a job, on social media or talking shop, remain professional at all times. Remember that a good client relationship takes work – but results in a happy client, happy MUA and importantly may lead you to future business.
“Connect with your customer or client and listen closely” – Faye Eisan
You can read more about networking in our blog post on the topic here
It’s a business, not a hobby
Being an MUA isn’t all about the makeup (although that is pretty awesome). Even though you are lucky enough to be doing something you love, remember that at the end of the day it is a business
“Take business classes and learn how to utilize social media. Makeup Artistry is a business not a hobby and you need to constantly work at it” – Michele Ahiswede
Be prepared to run your business – learn at least basic colour theory and sanitation before you start. This isn’t a hobby, so get yourself clued up on the business side before you start. Get systems in place to sort invoices, scheduling and bookings, and get your kit together before you start taking clients. It’s quicker and easier to do this at the beginning before realizing that you’ve double booked/not been paid/haven’t got the right equipment on a job which can cause major headaches.
And with what seems like a constant refrain on this website – backup, backup and backup again as losing everything is a major headache.
It’s not all glamorous photo shoots. And you should never stop learning.
Being an MUA isn’t (for the most part) going to be all glamorous photo shoots with people fighting to book you.
“Just because you go to school doesn’t mean when you are done that you will WORK. There aren’t clients lined up” – Nina Anita
Mostly it’s about hard work in a hard industry. Hours are long, it can sometimes be thankless and client abuse is rife. So you’ve got to LOVE it and don’t take it personally.
“I wish I’d known about the client “abuse” you receive, never knowing if your client is truly satisfied with the look and that if you want a counter job your qualifications mean nothing unless you have sales skills” – Raheen Jackson
“Not to take things personally and not to let the hardness of the industry get you down” – Wendie Hetherington
As the industry you’re in is constantly evolving, you need to keep developing as an artist to keep yourself at the top of your game. So training will never end.
“Training is forever and learning never stops. I get surprised by some young people who did some kind of makeup training, then think they are the best and don’t need more training…” – Martha Mok
“I also think it’s so important to always learn from other artists, you are always developing your craft…” Jules Cummins
“Never stop learning..you have to love it..lot of long hours. And always be you not another artist” – Jenelle Forde
And a final piece of good advice for any business – always strive to be better tomorrow than you are today
“Being the best isn’t enough. It’s the nice attitude that will lead the makeup artist far away in his career” – Alice Capdeville