Celebrity Make Up Artists & Fashion Experts Share Tips For Creative Careers On The Beat & Snatched Tour

April 21, 2014  |  

Aspiring creatives gathered last week for the 2014 NYC Beat and Snatched Makeup Class Tour hosted by celebrity makeup artists Mia “Mimi J” Johnson (far left in the image above) and Jeremy Dell (on the far right). The twosome boast a celebrity clientele that includes Toni Braxton, Mary Mary, Kenya Moore, Keri Hilson, and more.

The event ended with an expert beauty/fashion panel that included industry vets (from left to right in the middle of the image above) Claire Sulmers, editor-in-chief and founder of Fashion Bomb Daily; Merrell Hollis, celebrity makeup artist and artistic director for Black Opal; Ashunta Sheriff, celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert; and celebrity make-up artist Brandy Gomez- Duplessis. The panel schooled the event goers about the skills and artistry required to land opportunities with television networks, film sets, beauty and fashion editorials, top beauty brands and celebrity clients.

Here are five tips the experts shared on how to stand out and be successful in the creative job market.

Find a niche and do your research. Once you have a specialty in mind, do the research and understand that segment. For fashion and beauty, this includes a working knowledge of the history of the art as well as an understanding of the skills and techniques that the masters in the field use. Understanding who your “client” is, what appeals to the specific demographic you’re targeting, and what your work “means” will help you stand out as well.

Get a grasp of the business of being creative. “Even if you don’t know, find someone who absolutely knows business,” warned Sheriff after sharing her legal woes surrounding a trademark issue on one of her beauty products. The panel stressed the importance of knowing some of the “uncreative” things about being a working freelance creative in the beauty and fashion industry, such as hiring laws, overtime payment, invoice collection. The panel advised that  “hiring a lawyer” is a necessity.

Look the part. In the creative field, your physical appearance is part of your personal image and brand so make sure that this aspect isn’t overlooked. Sulmers shared how early in her career people didn’t take her seriously because she didn’t “look the part.” While working at Real Simple magazine, she tried to move to the fashion section but the editors there didn’t believe she actually knew anything about fashion based on how she dressed. She then realized she had to start actively becoming the fashion persona that she wanted to write about. For the makeup artists on the panel, this meant knowing when to “tone-down their personal preferences” when working with clients.

Find a mentor/Create your circle. Seek out someone who is willing to push you to do your best work while showing you the ropes. Both Hollis and Sherriff disclosed that P. Diddy served as their mentor and inspiration as an “amazing dream builder” throughout their time working for him. Partnering with other working creatives and developing a “go-to inner circle” of similarly-skilled people in the industry can help when looking for referrals and recommendations for work.

Know your worth/ Understand the market. Due to the many artists willing to work for much less pay (and even for free), long gone are the days when makeup artists would refuse to work for less than $3,000 per day, said Hollis and Sherriff. The panel urged aspiring creatives to understand the value of their work and steer clear from “doing it for the ‘gram.'” This type of free work diminishes the overall standard market rate for working professionals, which makes it hard for even industry veterans to negotiate rates. Many clients are willing to find someone who will do it cheaper, so it benefits everyone when makeup artists and stylists of all kinds earn their value.

Rana Campbell is a freelance branding and content strategist who specializes in lifestyle. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Or, check out her website ranacampbell.com.


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