THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF MAKEUP ASSISTING
Dear New Makeup Artist,
There are many rules in this wonderful industry when it comes to proper code of conduct amongst colleagues. We must first start at the beginning when you are a new fledgling, to this circle of madness we call freelancing.
Over the years as a professional makeup artist, I have noticed that for one reason or another some artists are somewhat clueless on proper etiquette when it comes to assisting. I want to give you some helpful information to you new artists out there by creating a wonderful name for yourself in this industry. Following these basic rules will put you on the fast track of a solid makeup career.
1. THOU SHALT BE AN ASSISTANT. NOT THE STAR OF THE SHOW
You're not there to make friends with the clients or give your opinion on anything regarding the shoot, unless you are asked. These are not your clients, they are the artist/mentor you're assisting. Your job is to work, learn and help the mentor artist do an excellent job for their client. Always remember that!
2. THOU SHALT NEVER PASS OUT ONES OWN BUSINESS CARDS
When you're assisting other makeup artists, never pass our your business cards while on set. Also, DO NOT TAKE cards from anyone. If you're caught doing this, the trust will be gone and the artist you're assisting will never hire you again.
If someone hands you a card and you feel awkward saying “No thank you" inform the person you're assisting that the client gave you their card. Secondly, NEVER use that contact information. Your loyalty should lie with the person you're assisting, especially if it is someone you are working with consistently.
Out of respect to any artist you assist, you should always inform them if this happens. This also goes for contacting people off call sheets. This was not your job, not your client and not your contacts. Stay in your own lane.
3. THOU SHALT INFORM THE MENTOR IF CLIENT ASKS TO CONTACT YOU DIRECTLY
Did the client contact you after you assisted on the shoot and ask to use you? Check in to be sure it's ok you work on a shoot with them.
Did they tell you not to say anything?
Yes, that sounds wonderful but again, you need to go back to your artist/mentor you assisted and inform them this client asked to contact you directly. You also need to inform the client that if they wish to use you, please contact the artist you assisted and speak with them about it before proceeding. This is an unwritten rule of assisting and it shows the person you assisted you can be trusted and it shows the client you have integrity. That integrity carries far.
Listen, it seems like a situation you can only win from but if word gets out you are a client stealer, then your reputation is on the line. Believe it or not the industry is a lot smaller than you think.
4. THOU SHALT BE RESPECTFUL OF MENTOR'S CLIENTS WHEN MENTOR HANDS OFF WORK.
Oh happy day has come. The artist you're assisting finally feels confident in you to pass a job they can't do and it's one of their regular clients. Hot damn! But wait. The rules remain the same! What?
Once again, if this client contacts you and bypasses the artist/mentor you SHOULD NOT take that job without clearing it with the mentor artist as common courtesy.
If the mentor agrees with you and they are willing to pass that client off to you in good faith then its okay. But, ALWAYS clear it with them first!! (If it is a new client that the artist has never worked with before, this might be an area where the client and you can decide if working together goes well to continue the relationship. In good faith, you should still inform the artist that passed it off as good manners).
Why am I insisting that you be so honest and forthcoming with all this information? It's only to better you later on down the line in your career. To build a good honest name for yourself, not as a client/contact stealer. Earning a reputation as a user in this industry is not something anyone should strive for.
I can tell you that at half of my jobs have come from referrals from other working makeup artists and hairstylists. Why? Because they know I do a good job. They also know I am a professional and I will pay it back to them in the future. This is how relationships are formed and careers are made.
5. THOU SHALT LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCE
Assisting and or having a mentor will provide you with some of the most useful information you will grow from in your career. Watching someone else work that you respect not only shows you other techniques and products but starts to build a base name for yourself.
I can't tell you how many times people ask me "Do you have any good assistants? I can't seem to find anyone I can trust!". Getting a clientele is hard, but when you have a reputation as a client stealer it will become even harder. Don't chance it.
6. THOU SHALT BUILD AN HONEST NAME FOR ONESELF
Starting off on the right foot, building a good name for yourself is critical. When you're not assisting making your own contact list and reaching out to other clients, photographers, etc assisting is how you will start to build your own business base. And if you have worked with someone long enough they will be certain to pay you back with jobs and clients to better your career.
7. THOU SHALT NEVER TAKE PHOTO CREDIT ON WORK YOU ASSISTED WITH
We know that you would love to build your portfolio, but as a makeup artist assistant, this was not your client, this was the artist mentor you were assisting. At times, seasoned pros will give credit to the assistant as "Assistant", but the bottom line is, this is not your work. Never put up work that isn't yours in your portfolio.....without permission from the mentor you assisted. You may be surprised that they may allow you if they trust you and believe in you.
8. THOU SHALT SHOW UP TO JOBS ON TIME
Punctuality is key to any career and makeup artistry is no different. Showing up on time means you are reliable, dependable and not a flake. This good faith shows the artist that you are trustworthy and you have your act together. And when you have your shit together, you will be hired more often. Showing up 15 minutes early is always a good idea.
Tardiness to jobs is always a red flag and most of the time you never get hired again if you're late. If you are late, own it and drop the excuses. No one wants to hear them. Everyone that is there is already working and idol chatter isn't needed, or wanted.
9. THOU SHALT HAVE GOOD TASTE IN WARDROBE WHILE ON JOBS Showing up in full club gear to a shoot a corporate commercial is going to get you some funny looks. Find out from your makeup mentor what kind of client you will be working with and keep your wardrobe in good taste. Generally, ALL BLACK is your best bet. Overdone makeup and crazy outfits are some of the sure fire way clients won't take you seriously.
10. THOU SHALT BE FRIENDLY AND PLEASANT WHILE ON SET
Remember Commandment #1 that you are there to assist the artist with their job and gain valuable WORK experience. This isn't a time to think you know more than anyone else and it's not a time to have a rotten attitude. Consider the job your good fortune and smile happily on set and do a kick ass job!!
ONE FINAL NOTE......