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.

21 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for reading my latest posting. 80)

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  2. Great Post Maria! I completely agree with everything you said except for:

    "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. "

    That I disagree with respectively.

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  3. makeup artist means not that the person who only creates makeup. But it means Makeup must be his profession and he should get paid for it. He should have basic ideas about facial, coloring, and latest fashion forecasts.

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  4. Thanks Desiree for reading my blog. I appreciate your comment. I actually do not do much TV&Film, or SFX besided that I do pretty much everything related to makeup. I would love to do more TV&Film since thats the only time I know I have a set job for a while and also get a "kit fee." 8o) SFX is an aspect of artistry that I totally admire and wish I could take a course on. The reason I stated that editorial/high fashion is the most recognized form of artistry is because to those outside of the makeup field, the only names they recognize are those MUAs that do celebs makeup, mag covers and editorial spreads etc. I think in the past decades and when TV was gaining popularity the most notable MUAs were those in TV& Film. Also I feel they contributed to create and better a lot of what we use today in our kits.80)

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  5. I agree! Which is why I appreciate gurus who say they are not makeup artists but just love makeup

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    1. Thanks Jessica. 80) Me too, its one thing to appreciate makeup be an enthusiast, but as a working MUA, we know there is so much more involved in freelancing.

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  6. love this post!!!!! very true... you just got a new follower

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    1. Thank you so very much. I greatly appreciate it. 80) xoxo

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  7. Wonderfully said!!! I will be reposting this on my FB as well as my Blgif you dont mind!

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    1. Thanks Heather! It means a lot to me. If you can, please reply with a link to your blog so I can follow as well and FB. 80) xoxo

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    2. I love this!!! Very well said!!! I'll be reposting this also!

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  8. Wow, I couldn't agree more. I'm a makeup artist in the SF Bay Area. I don't YouTube and barely blog (I really should, though.) You took the words right out of my mouth! (And said it much more eloquently!)

    I love this part: "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."

    Thanks for this!!

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    1. OH YAY! I am from Cali too. I now live in NYC. Thank you very much for reading my blog posting. I greatly appreciate your kind words. xoxo

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  9. I love this post !!I am going to be a student MUA soon and your blog has already gave me loads of tips. <3

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    1. Thanks! I am so glad I could be of help!

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  10. This is a lovely post Maria and too true. Definitely well written. We have the same problem here in Nigeria where people just go to the market and buy a few black opal foundation sticks, cheap eyeshadows and lip sticks and a tiny carry-all bag and they automatically become muas. They are desperate for money without knowing that it takes a lot to be a makeup artist.
    Thanks for this post Maria

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  11. Love this post!!! You hit the nail on the head with this!!!

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  12. LOVE this post Maria.
    Originally I was self taught. Practicing on all of my friends, reading all the material I could, studying various world renown mua's. Then I funded my own trips and training's from Connecticut, to Boston, Hollywood and NYC. I've made sure I am diverse and can apply anywhere from clean beauty to body paint and special fx.
    I have spent a lot of time paying my dues, working for less, assisting, and even the occasional "TFP" (Ugh)
    I take all the jobs I can now, work grueling hours, clean my kit compulsively, keep stock of my makeup, and push as hard as I can to get my name "out there." That's why for me personally it can be particularly frustrating to see some youtube/blogging "phe-nom's" have sponsors, get major spreads or be handed their own makeup lines simply because they have a talent for doing a vibrant cut crease looks on them self. I AM genuinely happy for anyone who reaches success in this industry as you and I both know it's tough to do and very cut throat. However, the crazy avant-garde and cut crease applications on youtube and popular blogs seem to be setting the example of "good makeup" in the eyes of most women and to me that is dissappointing. - End Rant - Glad you were so blunt about this. Someone had to say it. ;)

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