Empowering Every Woman to be Beautiful

Pro Series Part 3: Tame the Color Monster

When I was first picked up by my New York agent, it was the happiest day of my life. I'd been working my tail off as a freelance artist trying to drum up my own work for a year and a half. I'd done a hundred test shoots with up and coming photographers. I'd gone to model parties to network with the crowd.

I'd even approached editors at national magazines for work. Some of my efforts produced results. Others were a bust. The magazine editors, on my own, were a waste of time. "We only work with artists who are signed with agents," they told me.

So when I got a good agent, it was like finding the goose who lays the golden eggs. He could simply pick up the phone and talk to someone at Vogue and the next day my portfolio would be sitting on their desk. Wow.

I quickly learned that, although Timothy (my agent at the time), had the clout to get my book in the right hands, my book wasn't ready. Like most artist who are drawn to working in makeup, I was color crazy.

My portfolio was jammed with test shots of girls splattered from forehead to chin with every color in the spectrum. They looked like clowns, but I thought I was being creative.

My agent, bless his heart, was very gentle with me. "Work on doing natural makeup well - the stuff you learned at Bobbi Brown. Don't go crazy with the bright shades."

Of course, I was annoyed. "Why?" I asked, sure he was not understanding "my style".

"Because clients don't want that. You want to work, don't you? Do clean, beautiful makeup that makes the model look beautiful. And don't take over the shot with your makeup. It's screaming off the page."

I was still annoyed at him. But I put forth my best effort to reign in the fuscia lipstick monster. I am so grateful to him for that advice.

Sure, sometimes you'll open a magazine and see bright, over-the-top makeup application, but most times, that's done by a legendary makeup artist. Someone whose strokes are flawless. She/he can produce work at a level that transcends reality and still looks breathtaking.

And clients understand this. They aren't hiring new artists to do the avant garde work. I spent my first six months with my agency sending me out to do the covers of Women's Wear Daily. Uggg. I was so frustrated.

WWD is a newspaper! But you know what? EVERYBODY in the industry reads WWD. And my name was on 11 covers. This was absolutely brilliant of my agent. When it came time for him to send my (sparse) portfolio around to the magazines, the editors had already seen my name and my work.

Slowly, as I perfected my skills from "good enough for counter work" to "good enough for editorial work", my jobs became more prestigious. And I'd occasionally book jobs that called for fun, colorful makeup.

But my agent was right. The majority of the real work out there is for clean, well applied makeup that highlights the product or the model - not the cosmetics.

I created the smoky eye and the 1920s eyebrows in the shot above to compliment the old fashioned feel of the shot. It was tremendous fun.

Are you trying to break into the business as a makeup artist? I'd love to hear how you're doing and share some tips if you need them.