How to find a Makeup Artist

Special Effects Makeup by Kiev Osborne

Special Effects Makeup by Kiev Osborne

I have been thinking recently about our industry and how it has changed in the past couple of years.  The advent of social media has both good and bad effects - we are able to publish our work for the world to see, hopefully, to attract new clients.  We are able to see others work that we may not have before - this opens the door to pushing ourselves further in our craft or possibly making a connection with a colleague that we may have never met before.  The competition is fierce.  I am all about capitalism (in the good sense) and certainly competition drives an industry to force people to reach further toward excellence in the product they deliver.  The Yang effect to the Yin of excellence is dilution and confusion - so much out there that it is difficult for a client to make a decision about whom they should trust for their special event.  Pricing is all over the map.  Plagiarism of work happens.  Social media profiles may not be representative of experience or capability.  

Let's talk a little about why makeup artists are important for anything that is going to be videotaped or photographed, because I want to dispel an unfortunate myth that photoshop and the like can fix everything. I will use a wedding as example. There's the obvious - you want to look good, perhaps better than you have ever.  The number one statement from Brides that I hear is that they want to look like "themselves", they do not want to appear as "who is that"??? walking down the aisle.  Event makeup is more makeup, but applied correctly this should never be an issue.   If your makeup artist has made you up to look like someone you don't recognize (and your MUA has told you its a necessity for photos, not true!) photoshop cannot correct this. 

What becomes a bigger issue for the Bride and Bridal party is what they cannot see in the mirror, but the lens of a photographer can. A foundation that is not photo appropriate and photographs "white face".  A foundation that is slightly off in color that shows under lighting but not to the naked eye. Incorrectly used bronzer and contouring that under lighting appears like brown streaks or mud slides on the side of the face, or anywhere else it has been used incorrectly.  "Raccoon" white around the eyes from too light concealer. Colors that photograph differently (not in a good way)  than they appear in person.  A makeup that did not have the sustainability that it should and has worn off, smudged, or moved.

These issues can be corrected, but at a hefty price tag in what we call "post-production".  Most photographers guarantee some editing with the pictures they take.  Keyword here is "some"……post production editing is an art to its unto its own - there are folks that only do post-production as a career.  It is a very detailed and highly skilled artistic job.  And its very expensive.  Let me repeat that….its VERY expensive.  If your pictures and video are not exemplary of what you had hoped because you look bad, or your bridal party looks bad due to hair and makeup, it is not the responsibility of your photographer to make it all ok with the agreed upon price of your wedding photography package.   There should be  stipulation in your wedding contract regarding how much post production will be done before there is an additional charge.  

Several years ago I was referred a Bride who loved my work, but wanted me to lower my pricing to compete with another artist with whom she had also done a trial run, and who's work she also liked.  My pricing is reasonable and competitive with my  level of experience. The price this Bride was wanting to pay was comparable to someone who had just graduated from cosmetology school.  I passed on the job.  About 2 months after her wedding the Bride booked me for the re-shoot of her wedding photos.  The cost of post-production was higher than paying the photographer (whom she did not blame and rightly so) and myself to recreate what we could of her wedding day.   These were essentially "portrait" type photos as a total recreation  of the wedding was not possible.    She had no choice but to pay the videographer for extensive post production editing because the video could not be re-created.    The price tag was several thousand dollars when it could have been prevented by a couple of hundred.  This is not the only instance I have done a wedding recreation,  photo shoot recreation, or video re-shoot.  

When you are preparing to look for a makeup artist and hairstylist for your wedding or other special event, this is what you should be looking for.  First, ask others whom they have used.  Look at their wedding photos, ask if they had additional costs in post production and if so why.  Next, take a look at the makeup artists'/stylists' portfolio which should be available online via a Website, Facebook, or Instagram.  Not every MUA or stylist has a website, but there should be something available on the web.  This is most important for destination weddings where you may not be able to get a referral from a friend who has used someone.   If you like what you see on a MUA portfolio, but don't see exactly what you are looking for……ask the artist if they have something exemplary.  My portfolio over 20 years is simply too large to publish on my website.  If I have it, I am able to get photos to you easily via email if you have specific questions about a look.  Next, be sure your expectations are reasonable and viable.  No, I will not guarantee the makeup will last through the next day (have had that question more than once), but it will last through your event.  No, I cannot exactly replicate a hairstyle where the model has long hair and yours is short, but I can recommend something that will capture the essence of it.  Yes, I can make you look fantastic, younger, and glowing but I can't erase 30 years.   As the old saying goes….if a makeup artist or stylist is promising you something that sounds to good to be true it most likely is - including price.

Lastly, and really puzzling to me, is that often I am asked what type of products I use in my kit.  I understand this a little, especially for sensitive/allergic skins, but this is not a way to establish the credentials and talent of your makeup artist since anyone can buy any product.  Just because someone uses a high-end designer makeup product only, or tells you they do, does not mean anything without a portfolio to back it up.  I am not saying that high-end designer products aren't viable for makeup artistry, they very much are.  So are some drug-store products (not all).  The most loved lipstick I use on brides is Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm 225 so much so that I buy it in bulk.  In my own kit I use several brands that may be unfamiliar to the public at large, but are very well known in the industry - Ben Nye, Mehron, RCMA, Temptu, and Graftobian are a few.  I also use Dior, Chanel, Nars, Benefit, Bare Escentuals, MAC, Urban Decay, and Guerlain.  I also use some private label products which have no name.  To assess an artist's ability look at their work and experience.  Don't rely on familiarity of a well known brand to make that decision for you.  The only sure way to determine  if you have made a good match selection with a makeup artist or stylist is to book a trial run. This should be your final step in securing your perfectly photographed or filmed event.