Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What is a Makeup Artist? Who should really hold this title?

Loving to prepare meals and being a great cook does not automatically convert you into a Chef. The same applies to makeup. Being great at applying makeup on yourself and being a cosmetic aficionado does not automatically convert you into a Makeup Artist aka: MUA. With all the new techonological advances, online portals quickly became a huge market to broadcast yourself, your business and hobbies. YouTube has opened the doors for many makeup addicts to share their latest purchases, video blogging, do product reviews, remake looks found in magazines and become makeup gurus. However, the term "MUA" is used far too loosely and presently, it seems that everyone is a makeup artist.

What exactly is a makeup artist? Well, to begin with, there are various facets of makeup artistry. There are artists that only focus on bridal work and special occasion makeup in which they strive to make their clients look naturally beautiful on such important events and ensure long wear, smudge resistant makeup. Airbrush makeup artists apply makeup using a compressor and can use their skills to obtain a lot of bridal work and also air brush body painting. There are body painters that can work with an airbrush machine or other cosmetics for the body and hand paint. Special effects artists in my opinion are on an entire different level of makeup artistry becuase they deal with molding and prosthetics, usually using their artistry for TV and film. TV and film makeup artists usually deal with High Definition and have to apply makeup to their clients in a well blended, natural format because HD television shows any mistake and is very unforgiving. Theatrical artists are those that primarily work on set with Broadway shows.  Many people who work in retail can also be considered makeup artists because they must apply makeup on clients of all skin colors, ethnic backgrounds and ages. The most recognized form of makeup artistry are those of editorial/high fashion makeup artists that master clean faces but also can do marvelous high fashion and creative looks.

Now that we have established the various types of makeup artists, I would like to state that many successful artists never went to makeup school, cosmetology school or took any type of class or course. Just like with many other forms of art, it is a natural talent that does not necessarily need formal training. Living in America, there are many schools that offer classes so if this is a career that interests you I advise you to look into your options for learning the basics. I, personally have never gone to school or taken a class but I am looking forward to taking a few classes by world renown makeup artists next year.

One thing that all makeup artists (despite the field you focus in) have in common is that we all get paid, monetary compensation for the vast majority of our services.  You cannot call yourself a MUA if you simply do makeup on yourself and are not a working MUA that works out of a store, salon, or are a mobile, freelance traveling artist.  Professional MUAs have pro kits with makeup in it ready to do makeup on clients of all ages, skin types and textures along with all ethnic backgrounds. As makeup artists we also know a lot about skin care because skin preparation is essential prior to any makeup application. Product knowledge is of extreme importance because we deal with clients that have different needs, sensitivities and wants.

With so many gurus on the rise, aspiring artists feel that doing extravagant looks with bold colors and going to extremes will denote how talented you are as a MUA. Unfortunately, this is not true. It is a lot more difficult to make a client look naturally beautiful without making it look like they are caked with makeup than to create an extreme look with loads of cosmetics. I, just like many beginnig MUAs was like this when I first started. I wanted to prove that I knew how to do creative makeup and started out by doing makeup with  bright colors and what not, but slowly realized that your main income as a MUA and respect comes from clean beauty. Trust me, I will always have a love for bright and dramatic makeup but I do know that in regards to my career as a makeup artist, I need to focus on creating clean, natural, supple skin. Doing this, I am ensuring more paid work. I occasionally still do creative makeup for my portfolio but mainly get booked to do clean makeup.

Makeup artists also are color masters and can create custom colored foundations for each client, know face/bone structure and apply makeup differently according to each client face shape, age and needs. We can sculpt and transform a person's face without looking like they are wearing a mask and enhance best features while diminishing flaws. If your work only shows what you can do on yourself and you only practice with your face, then how can you be a MUA if you are not accustomed to various skin textures, types, concerns, conditions and ages? Not to mention color and undertones.

So, in essence, if you do not have clients, do not get paid work, tear sheets, photos from your work on other people to add to your portfolio, then you are not a makeup artist. You can be a makeup lover, aficionado, junkie or guru, but definitely not a MUA.

I am not bashing YouTube gurus, bloggers or makeup junkies. I am simply posting about this to clarify the jobs that real working makeup artists do. Also, as artists, most of us do more than one simple type of makeup and almost all freelancers do bridal, catalog, editorial and TV& Film makeup. We even try to dabble with SFX makeup. Many YouTube gurus are not simply gurus, they are working freelance MUA that travel and have numerous clients and sponsors. You can pretty much tell who these are because they don't always do the same cut crease look with false lashes all the time, they teach tips and tricks of the trade as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest posting. I have a lot to work on as an artist myself but I put in a lot of time, effort and money into my passion and career and I am highly offended when people refer to themselves as MUA when they truely aren't.