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Becoming a Commercial Makeup Artist: Part 3 Communication Strategies


Welcome to Part 3 of this 4-Part Series of Key Transition Strategies which builds a bridge from your current makeup career into commercial opportunities. It covers: pricing, time management, communication and marketing. These strategies provide the powerful baby steps you can take right now to make a smooth transition into becoming a commercial makeup artist.

No matter where you are right now, these strategies will not only help you define your makeup career approach but also your mindset to take those vital steps into the fascinating and lucrative world of commercial makeup artistry working on TV commercials, advertising campaigns, corporate communications, TV and live events. Here we go!

Clear communication is imperative. No matter if you're working with your established salon clientele, brides and wedding parties or personal makeup sessions; you consult with your clients, schedule bridal trials and view a lot of Pinterest inspiration. All of these processes serve a greater purpose. They ensure you and your client are on the same page. You have as much communication as needed before the day of services to get all of the details ironed out. So no surprises when the appointment, session or big day arrives. Clients will be ecstatic receiving the perfect look you've created based on their likes and dislikes. You'll be confident and clear knowing what your client's expectations are. And this transaction not only ends positively, but can lead to additional work; when your clients tell everyone what a great experience it was working with you! Overall a fairly simple, direct approach with the focus on listening to your client's input and creating a look they are thrilled with suited to their tastes.

Now, fast forward to commercial work as a makeup artist. It's official, you are booked on a commercial. You have a rough idea you'll be working on 3 people throughout the course of the one day shoot. Since this production is using actual employees of the company in their commercial, the producer does not have any photos to pass along to you. So you are going to show up to set with your kit and not know who you will be working on? Did the anxiety just hit you like a brick wall? Ready to decline that gig? Or did that just raise your adrenaline level? There is no need to panic, no need to fear the unknown and no need to run in the opposite direction but instead jump up and down with excitement, you're booked! The next few paragraphs will show you what to expect!

Whereas in the world of personal clients, consultations, appointments and bridal trials, the "look" is determined by your client along with your expertise. In the commercial world, the "look" is determined by the "end" client, which is typically a business, brand or advertising agency along with the director's vision by what is called a "creative deck, script or treatment". This is a 5-12 page document that outlines the director's vision within the parameters set up by the advertising agency. It's the overall concept of the shoot, highlighting the product, casting, how it will be shot, thoughts on makeup, hair, wardrobe and props along with lighting concepts as well.

So your main communication shifts from "consultations" with the person directly receiving your services to "conversations" with the director and sometimes producer, however not with the talent actually receiving the look. The look for the shoot is decided at a higher level for the talent. Here is a scenario: Picture yourself on the set, very exciting! Now, remember you are not working with hired talent but individuals who are employees of the company unfamiliar with the process of commercial production. So, your first talent arrives on set, hops into your makeup chair and starts telling you how they always wear wing eyeliner, heavy contouring, and they just love highlighter! Since this is a commercial for a healthcare company and this talent is actually going to be a "faux" patient, the director is calling for a very natural look with makeup. This particular talent is going to be disappointed when you convey to them, you'll be doing a no makeup, makeup look. You'll need to wipe away the foundation they arrived in and there goes the winged eyeliner and definitely bye bye bronzer. Oh gosh! It's your first talent of the day! No worries . . .this is where not only your makeup skills can shine but also your people and communication skills. You'll want to do this; in order to not only get your work done at the "commercial pace" but to create a good experience for the person in your chair, you'll communicate and educate them. Kindly let them know the makeup look must serve and represent the "character/patient" which is the person they play within the "director's treatment". They are not actually representing themselves. This scenario indicates the shift in communication style and client type when transitioning into commercial production. You will balance many different crew relationships while working on set. However, you will spend much of your time with the "talent". Depending on their experience level, from newbies to seasoned veterans, celebrities, kids and yes "real" people; you will wear many hats. You will not only be a teacher but a confidence builder, hype person, listener, advisor and confidante. Talent looks to you for guidance for the day, will ask what time lunch is and of course where the bathrooms are! In addition to your amazing makeup skills, you must have people skills, an open line of communication with your talent & director and confidence in yourself when encountering all personality types. Always take a positive approach!

Personal note: Each blog post, article, social media post I share with you provides true from the set insight to . . .teach and guide you to become more than a makeup artist but a set savvy artist and business owner who will repeatedly book jobs over and over.



If you like what you've read here, I invite you to join your fellow makeup artists and myself atOn the Set, Where Makeup & Martini Shots Meet! A private Facebook group where we talk about makeup, set life and business!



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I'm Cristy Guy

I'm a freelance commercial makeup artist & wardrobe stylist who turned my passions into a six-figure, 20+ year and still going career. I love makeup kits, the beach, a good top knot and pro football. I'm on a mission to teach other artists how to make a living doing what they love to do!


As they say, "a good system is the shortest way to the goal!" Check out "The Collect Your Work Calendar".

I'm obsessed with makeup kits and this is my fave by far!

What can I say, the Nars Radiant Longwear foundation transforms my clients & is camera friendly.

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