Artists in our industry are known to constantly complain about ‘testing” and moaning that they will never work for free. Everyone knows that I teach how to create your rates, book gigs and negotiate the best rate possible and ideally to get higher rates for yourself than you thought were possible. However, testing is not about money. It is actually about sooooo much more. Did you know that Kevyn Aucoin tested every Friday?! BTW, Kevyn was earning $10,000.00 A DAY. And his portfolio was unsurpassed. I’m pretty damn confident that you are not earning $10k five+ days a week like he was, so please check your ego. Just because you have heard others rant about testing. Stop being a sheep. Do yourself a favor and literally research the industry you are in and how it works.
Why do you think that Kevyn’s portfolio was so amazing? Because most of his best images and almost all the pics in his books were from test shoots. Because he was a true artist. He was extremely passionate and he enjoyed creating things he envisioned. Most of those amazing images in his books you probably own are from tests. Thank God he didn’t think he was too good to test. Or the world would have never heard of Kevyn Aucoin, and that would be a tragedy. Those constantly demanding to be paid their rates… should have gotten a corporate job if they want steady paychecks. Makeup artistry is a freelance career. Even worse is when artists demand gas/petrol money. Honey… If you can’t afford to put gas in your car, it speaks volumes of how much you DON’T ever work. So I highly suggest that you keep that to yourself!
Testing is a blessing that we are able to take advantage of as artists, whereas most industries would LOVE to have the option to “test” to gain actual work experience when you are new, expand their resume, gain confidence on set, meet potential new clients that can lead to paid work and more. Most industries and careers do not have a “testing” option. Like doctors, lawyers, etc. Instead, these people come out of nearly a decade of college with an enormous financial debt and then have to try to get jobs without the ability to claim actual experience past their internships. And once doctors or lawyers wish to open their own practice, they typically spend tens of thousands of dollars on advertising to generate a name for themselves and get work.
Creatives are lucky in a way that we don’t usually advertise. (Some do but most do it unsuccessfully without much benefit compared to the cost.) As artists, we have opportunities to donate our time and skills to gain exposure, generate paid work, network with industry people that can help us advance our career to higher levels and such. But sadly, most artists don’t have a business brain, so they do test shoots or charity gigs and walk away with NOTHING… Then they complain it was a waste of time, rant about it all over social media where millions see it and start thinking the same thing… As if they expected someone to walk up to them and say, “Wow your great” and offer them a big-ticket job on a tiny local church charity gig. That is not exactly how it works.
When I send three artists to the same gig… Regardless if it’s a photo shoot, a runway show or a charity event. One will say “it was fun.” The second will complain it was a waste of time. Yet the third artist will have introduced herself to the designer, complimented them on her collection or their favorite piece, mentioned how much she loved something about one of their previous shows, (Because she researched the designer before she arrived which shows respect.) And the artist would have inquired about future shows. If the opportunity arose, then she could mention that she’d love the opportunity to design a makeup look for her next collection. The artist would have chatted with every photographer she saw backstage and taking pics of the event, gotten their cards and followed up with them once she researched their work, the artist should have also approached the key artist to let them know they’d be interested in working together again, asked who was the event coordinator at the venue, again introduced themselves, etc. THAT is how successful careers are generated. In addition, the artist should have made themselves aware of the best hair person, the strongest makeup artist, and sincerely complimented their work, introduced themselves, etc. And, ideally the artist also impressed a model with stellar skills, exchanged numbers and that alone can lead to getting referred to another job at some point. The icing on the cake is that artists can also write their non-paid charity gigs off on their taxes as the donation of services. As you can see, testing or doing a non-paid charity gig is exactly what you make of it.
The most successful artists aren’t looking for handouts, they are looking for ways to pay it forward too. Giving helpful advice and encouragement to the nervous newbie, loaning the wardrobe stylist scissors when they can’t find theirs, sharing helpful insight to a model to make her more comfortable on set, tagging a good hairstylist on a job post if they’d be a good fit for the gig. All those people we collect cards from, we should be referring them work when they are a good fit. Do you see the difference in what most do and what the few that are uber successful do?! Remember the other 2 artists, likely thought the event was just fun or a waste of their time… Cuz they just don’t get it. As the saying goes, “Most people find fault in things, like there is a reward for it.”
We need to ALWAYS look at the big picture and stay focused on what IS possible to come from a situation, but most people are just going through the motions of life. They arrive, set up and do makeup, pack their shit and leave. I admit, I’ve done it myself. And it IS what about 90% of people do. Just remember… 90% of people aren’t successful and are living paycheck to paycheck. So who do you want to be?!
Stop the madness. Change your thought process to what’s going on with everyone on set and how you can make their experience better. Of course doing your job is the number one priority, but please ditch the tunnel vision. Too many artists are waiting for handouts, treating their careers like they are friggin Trick or Treating!
Those that have never thought about looking at “a day on set” like the long list of opportunities I’ve described, will be a bit secretly embarrassed and that does not feel comfortable… So guess what? They’ll feel the urge to write snide comments about how they aren’t a kiss ass and they prefer to get by on their “talent” alone. I’m not suggesting that anyone become a kiss ass, no one likes a kiss ass. And being a kiss ass is absolutely not in my nature at all. So if you think what I said, comes off that way, please start over and read the post again. What I’m saying is to do your job well, be genuine, be sincere and open you eyes, go after opportunity and look for ways to pay it forward.
Now, please note that I never said that all charity events don’t pay. Many charities do have budgets. But there is a big difference in doing a commercial for the American Heart Association versus a local corner church fashion show trying to raise money for new pews.
There are those that claim they did a volunteer charity event or fashion show once and it was a disaster so they will never do it again. Bless you… But, you still don’t get it. Let me explain. If you worked an event that was a nightmare, and this experience is keeping you from doing another event. Hello… Own YOUR own mistakes. YOU CAN NOT GROW as a person or as an artist unless you allow yourself learn from your mistakes. To do that, you have to stop pointing fingers. Because continuing to point fingers at “the disaster” shows that you are not accepting responsibility for showing up to a lame ass gig and you should have known better if you knew how to take a booking. I bet you started asking more questions from then on. So the truth is, you DID get something out of the nightmare so it was worth it! I’m not talking about accepting responsibility for the disaster show. I agree, some shows are a complete joke. I’ve experienced them first hand. But with each one, I realized that if I had only asked a certain question, I could have seen this coming and avoided it or fixed it! So accept the responsibility that YOU should have asked questions before committing to the event, done some research and then decided if you wanted to be involved. I bet if you had asked even a few of these questions, you would have had a different experience or even declined the job.
Who is the Designer? What is their website? Then review it.
Who is the Key Artist? What is their website? Then review it.
Can I contact them to be prepared?
Who are the models? Are they from an Agency? Which agencies? To determine quality.
Who is doing hair styling? What is their website? Then review it.
What is the look(s) you are wanting?
Can you send me Inspiration images?
How many models? Male or female?
How many artists on the team? Etc. etc. etc…
And guess what? In asking these questions, you will know firsthand if they do not know the answers to these things, or they say you are the only makeup artist doing 30 models, etc. This can be your chance to decline, or your OPPORTUNITY TO PAY IT FORWARD. As an artist, you most likely know of many newbie models or aspiring models that would appreciate an opportunity to walk a runway show for the experience, especially if the event’s models are not stellar. Or maybe you know a struggling D.J that would do it just to pass out their cards and promote themselves that the show would benefit from. Maybe they don’t have enough artists but you simply post it in a Facebook group so that you end up with a better team.
Those that will complain that none of this is necessary and they’ll depend on their talents to find success… All I can say is, good for them. I hope that the dry cleaners they’ll end up working at has a good retirement plan.
Love and Wisdom,