Posts Tagged ‘muas’

Overheard In The Beauty Department (Or “Mean Boys (And Girls) Suck”)

Overheard in the beauty department, uttered by a high-ranking artist from a makeup brand I know you all know:

“Ask her what her favorite designer is. If she doesn’t have a favorite designer, well, she probably has no business wearing (makeup brand redacted), but we’ll sell her stuff anyway.”

I do not possess the vocabulary to adequately express to you how horrified I was.

Though I heard this particular fellow say this rather audaciously on the selling floor, I can name you at LEAST two other brands who have trainers and/or ambassadors who have said things like that behind closed doors.

It is this kind of unconscionable snobbery that is part of driving consumers to buy online. We all want to feel pretty and not be judged. The sad part is that there is some sort of longstanding badge of honor to be exclusive, especially among the executives in the cosmetics industry, so this sort of thinking winds up being encouraged instead of re-educated…then brands wonder why they aren’t getting their increases.

Including people feels a hell of a lot better than excluding them–on ALL sides.

Regarding “Exposure:” Key Advice For Burgeoning MUAs

When someone asks you to work for “great exposure,” pause for a moment and ask yourself, “Exposure to whom?”  If you are looking for a sustainable career as a MUA (as opposed to being a hobbyist), your follow-up question must be,  “How is this going to help me pay bills in the future?”

For example, let’s say you’ve been invited to work on a regional fashion show.  I don’t need to know the organizers, the event, or even your town to be able to bullet point two things you will encounter with utter surety–

  • It will involve several hours of your time the day of as well as time with the designer prior.
  • It will involve using your foundation/lashes/products on anywhere from 5-30 models.

Maybe your promised credit is your name on a program or a website, or perhaps the exposure they’ve promised is having your work “seen,” which is a vague promise at best.  Possibly, if you are very lucky, the show might be photographed or filmed for airing later.  I can already sense your excitement at all those people potentially seeing your work.  However, ask yourself some questions and be brutally honest with yourself regarding the answers–

Is this project going to expose me to paying customers?  Or is it going to expose me to other promoters and designers who know I worked it free?  Will they be willing to pay me themselves if they know I can be had for nothing?  Who is going to see my name on the website, or in the program, and decide they want to call me for their makeup needs?  What is the likelihood of that person being prepared to pay my rate vs offering me “exposure” of their own?  How likely is it that a future customer will see my makeup on a model walking the show and take the time to seek me out as an artist?  How many calls is it going to take from potential paying clients to recoup the cost of my time, effort, and usage of my kit to make this job worthwhile?

I used the fashion show as an example, as it is a prevalent request, but this also goes for photo shoots, videos, performances, art pieces, and more.  I was once contacted–via Model Mayhem, the serial and epic waster of a career MUA’s time–for a shoot of a pin-up calendar that was going to tie into a regional rock band’s promotion and help fund their next tour.  Their coordinator wanted two extensively lengthy days on set with an impossible sounding number of models, promising me my name would be credited in the calendar in the same tone she might have used to announce I had won the lottery.  I asked myself, “How likely is it that a paying client will see the makeup on one of the pin-up models, flip through the calendar to the credits, and go to the trouble to hire me?”  Pretty damn unlikely, given that the target audience was largely comprised of male fans of the rock band.  It was also notable that the production team were names I knew from the TF/exposure circuit (more on that in a moment), none of whom I had ever known to offer their beauty support a dime, so exposure from them would in all probability merely net me more opportunities to empty out my expensive kit for zero compensation.  I declined. The woman who had contacted me was rudely insistent, as though I was throwing away an opportunity of a lifetime, but I was firm.  Although the band made the money selling their copies, to date the artist they used has never gotten another paying call from them or anyone associated with the project.  She also had two utterly miserable days on set, but that’s another story.

The end of that anecdote brings me to another important question to ask:  Who else on this project is working for no monetary compensation?  If the promoter is making theirs and asks you to work free, your answer to their inquiry should be a flat no.

Bragging rights could vaguely be considered a form of payment if you are a hobbyist who doesn’t need your makeup job to buy your groceries.  If you want to make a real go of it as a MUA, though, it is a vital to your survival to be wary of exposure gigs and avoid remaining in those circles that only seem to offer trade/exposure work.   You will not have frequent, solid opportunities to trade up to better jobs if you can be had free.  What is someone’s motivation to pay you if that guy over there managed to get you to put in a 10 hour day on a video set for nothing more than your name on a fast-scrolling credit at the end?  People will not respect the value of your work until you put a dollar amount on it.

Once I stopped doing trade/exposure work, my circle completely changed…and so did my bank account.  Surprisingly, I learned people in the trade/exposure circles have absolutely no overlap with the next payment tier up.  Most of the paying circles beyond trade/exposure didn’t even know the names/organizations I would mention, except a select few in which the reaction was horror, not approval.  It is also fair to mention that my highest profile gigs–tv, celebrities, and the like–never once asked me to work for less than my rate.  Make no mistake:  Legitimate high profile opportunities have budget built-in for beauty services.

Trade/exposure work is a hamster wheel, keeping you running in fruitless circles unless you decide your work is worth enough to jump out of it.