WHY MAKEUP ARTISTS ARE A LOT LIKE CHEFS
I’m about to open my soul way more than I usually do. I wanted to write this post because I know a lot of you pro makeup artists feel the same way.
Ready for my confession?
For the last few years, I won’t lie…I have been a little “twisted” over the whole “Insta Artist” and Youtube “Beauty Gurus.” Not in a jealous way- not at all.
It’s more in an exhausted, frustrated “uhhhhh” sort of way.
Beauty companies are courting these beauty guru’s and they are making way more money than me in one month than I do all year. But hey, I gotta take my hat off to them for the hustle…I’m a business person. I get it.
But my confession is this: As a working makeup artist, I absolutely despise them being categorized in the same occupation as me- as “makeup artist”.
Yes, I do realize a lot of them are working makeup artists…that’s not who I’m talking about here…I’m talking about the “beauty enthusiasts” who are not artists at all. While they are an artist, to their own face, they are far from being artists to the general public.
The longer this trend goes on, the more lines are being blurred. And I don’t want to be in the same category of this type of “makeup artist.” Because truthfully, that’s not the kind of “makeup artist” I am.
Recently, one of my artists did a wedding where the conversation went a little something like this:
Sonia: How was your wedding this weekend?
Artist: It was great! One of the girls in the wedding asked if I learned makeup from YouTube. When I told her no-‘I went to esthetics school to learn about the structure of skin, makeup school to learn about facial anatomy, assisted seasoned artists and have worked in my craft for the last 15 years. ”
You know what she said?
Sonia: No, what?
Artist: “Oh so not with a real YouTube makeup artist.”
IN THE KITCHEN
This morning I was cooking a nice meal for me and my hubby to slow cook all day. It’s been forever & a day since I cooked for “fun”.
While I was chopping and sautéing and going over the things in my head that I had seen recently on social media, I got to thinking….
Makeup Artists are a lot like chefs.
On the menu today is Julia Child’s Beef bourguignon all made with gluten free ingredients. While I was adjusting the ingredients to fit with my gluten free lifestyle, I thought:
“What would Julia suggest I do?”
As a professional chef, how would she make this recipe gluten free where it wouldn’t sacrifice the taste?
- Would she use the same gluten free flour as me?
- Would she use almond flour?
- Would the almond flour have the same texture or flavor?
- Would almond flour screw it up?
- Would cooking it in the crockpot be a mistake?
- If I cooked it in the crockpot, would she turn over in her grave (Yes, I really thought this!)
- Would I need to skip the gluten free flour all together in case rice and tapioca starch screw up my recipe?
- Should I add butter just in case the flour tastes bad? (yes, you should always add butter, damn!)
- I get horrible headaches from wine, could I leave it out? Fuck it. Do the wine, take an asprin.
- Am I crazy for thinking I can make this taste good? Is it hopeless?
While I was obsessing over my recipe and torturing my artistic soul, I thought “Ya know what? It’s not her show…it’s mine. It’s my art. It’s my special recipe…if it doesn’t turn out the way I want, I will make adjustments the next time I have a craving. I can figure out the correct way to make a gluten free Beef Bourguignon, but I may not succeed this time….and then it hit me again….
Makeup Artists are a lot like chefs.
My Julia Child recipe is not going to taste exactly the same as if she made it. Julia made the recipe 100 times before publishing it, I’m sure. And doing a makeup application is the exact same way. What I do to someone’s face isn’t going to be exactly what a Instaartist would do to their own. I know what is right & correct. Just like a chef knows what is right and correct in the kitchen.
Like a chef, you can have all the same tools & ingredients…… hell, even the damn recipe that a celebrity chef wrote….but at the end of the day, how it turns out is entirely on the one doing the cooking. And every time you do the recipe, it tastes different each and every time.
Even if you followed the recipe exactly, doesn’t mean your dish is gonna taste as good as theirs. The famous chef has that “special sauce” to make it special.
I can also guarantee that a chef didn’t try a recipe once and put it out for the world to enjoy. I bet money he or she experimented with that recipe many times to know exactly how that recipe will “behave.”
A chef knows that experimenting with ingredients and technique only makes someone truly masterful as an artist and the experience of cooking that dish several times will truly set his or her dish apart. And you know what? That is what sets us apart from the Instaartists & Youtubers of the world. Real life experience and working with a variety of skin tones, ages, races & situations. We know how to adjust, correct, and problem solve. Youtubers & Instaartists don’t. Why? Because they have only done ONE face. Their own. And that does not make them a beauty expert!
For the last few seasons more and more women are coming into my studio asking for looks that are:
A.) Not technically correct from a makeup perspective.
B.) Not suitable for the person wanting to wear it.
Sure, the photos that float around Pintrest and Instagram are artfully done..some are downright beautiful and look gorgeous on the person wearing it.
But what works for the person doing the look on Instagram & Youtube isn’t gonna work for the person who wants to copy it. And that is where the problem is. The look is not going to look exactly the same as the person doing the look.
A lot like my gluten free spin on Julia Child’s classic dish.
In 2014, after 24 years in the business, I have to “sell” myself to clients all over again to let them know that I know more than the Youtuber or Instaartist….and that is where I get frustrated as a makeup artist. I am perceived as the one that doesn’t know how to do the “trendy looks”. Not because I don’t know how to do the tragic looks, but because with my experience, I know better.
Then there comes the other argument…”Well that’s what makes me feel pretty”.
This is the part I usually go….
DOES EXPERIENCE MATTER ?
I stopped apologizing for my rates several years ago. I know I am one of the most expensive makeup artists in Chicago. Its not that I think I am better than anyone else, everyone has their own unique talents as artists. But I am not a technician, I am an artist. Just like chef is not a cook, he is a chef. And there is the difference.
As a professional makeup artist, I am going to create a look for you, something that suits you, not from a photo you show me from Instagram or Pintrest. I may give you something similar, but I am going to give you my professional opinion on what may or may not be correct for you. The problem is, people don’t even care. They want that particular, over done, technically incorrect look! I know how to do more than one demarcated smokey eye. I know how to bring out your face with more than highlighting and contouring. If I hear one more time you need contouring because the face is “flat” I may stab someone in the eye with my makeup brush. Uh….Hell0! No your face is not flat. You’re not a piece of paper or a pug.
Clients pay me to give them my expertise, not just apply makeup the same way someone did on Pintrest that suited their own individual eye shape and skin tone.
Working with a pro makeup artist is a lot like going to a Michelin star restaurant where the chef is a well known. Dining in their restaurant is expensive. You are paying for their expertise. You are paying for all the times they made mistakes in the kitchen. All of those mistakes that have turned cooks into chefs…. that allow them to charge more for their time and expertise. Because when they make a dish, it was well thought out, planned, created with the only person who could make it taste the way he did and make it extra fabulous for the person enjoying the meal.
Experience matters. Making mistakes matters.
While I know the Instaartists and Youtubers are kicking most working makeup artist’s ass in the way of corporate sponsorships and millions of followers, at the end of the day, the art is really made with the artist doing the job.
And you know what? That’s ok.
When it comes to being a professional makeup artist, you can’t teach someone to be an artist just like you. You are your own unique artist that NO ONE can replicate. You have your own “special sauce.” You can’t teach someone to apply foundation just like you. You can’t teach someone how to apply eyeliner, “just like you”. You can’t teach someone how to have that connection to a client, or even make someone’s day by showing them the power of how to highlight & contour their face correctly. You are the artist. You know the correct way to do things, you understand WHY you are doing the things you are doing…. not the Instagram beauty guru. They are doing it because everyone else is. And that, my friend, is what sets us apart.
In closing, I want to be sure that you know I do appreciate the Instaartists and Youtubers for getting their hustle on and doing some really unique and beautifully creative looks and getting corporate sponsors. Kudos to them! They have dreams like us of doing magazines, TV & movies.
But guess what?
We pros are the lucky sons-of-bitches that get to do the actual work. We have paying clients, celebrities, movies, TV shows, magazines, you name it. And while it doesn’t feel like it on most days, I think most women know the difference, despite quite a few that don’t…. Or God, I hope so.
I love being with everyday women with healthy self esteem that know the difference between the Youtubers and Instgramers of the world. I love the clients I have that trust me. Those clients trust I know more than the Insta artists & Youtubers of the world…This is who I speak to when I write this blog. I have made some amazing friendships in my clients and their kindness and generosity runs deep. And if I make them feel extra special at the end of the day, no Youtuber or Instagram channel can do that. And that, is worth celebrating. And that is why we are here.
So for you pro artists that feel the same way, I feel your pain. But just remember, the Instagramers are not in our occupation as “makeup artist”. Far from it. Challenge yourself you be your own unique artist and be the best artist you can be. Then you will have mastered the art of …..french cooking..I mean beauty.
How do you feel as a working professional artist in the day of Youtube & Instagram?