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Becoming a Commercial Makeup Artist: Part 2 Your Time Management Strategies


Welcome to Part 2 of this 4-Part Series of Key Transition Strategies which builds a bridge from your current makeup career into commercial opportunities. It covers: pricing, timeline 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. Read Part One on Pricing Strategies.

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. Let's get started!

Effective time management strategies are critical in being a successful commercial makeup artist. This is not a regular job where you can make up time at the end of the day or have a co-worker takeover until you arrive. It is a machine with lots of moving parts (crew, location, talent, schedule, shot list and on and on) and if one of these moving parts doesn’t start at the time scheduled or when the others do, then everything is at a standstill.

And in this business time is money and lots of it. So for the end client who is counting on a well-oiled machine to produce a commercial for their product or service to grow their business and who is also “footing” the bill (paying the crew's day rates and kit fees) is . . . should we say “not a happy camper” if things come to a standstill?

And your “commercial production” is not a personal client or bride who you can call and say I’m running a few minutes late but on my way. It’s not a salon appointment that can be worked in between other clients or rescheduled. Your “commercial production” requires your full focus, priority and attention while you are working on it. This leads us to the first time management strategy . . .


Create a habit of arriving at least 15-30 minutes early to the location for each and every shoot you work on.

Have you ever heard the phrase “If you’re not 15 minutes early, you are late?” Well, this rings absolutely true in the commercial production industry. And actually, it’s to your advantage to arrive 30 minutes earlier than your scheduled “call time” at the location of the shoot. It allows for any possible traffic problems, time to park, unload, set up in your staging area and be ready when the talent starts arriving! This ensures you as the makeup artist will be keeping your portion of the shoot on schedule! One goal to always strive for is . . .Never have the production waiting on makeup. This means work quickly and efficiently so you have all the talent ready before they are actually needed (of course without sacrificing quality of work).


Create a habit of getting each talent ready within these timelines

  • 10 minutes-Men’s grooming

  • 20 minutes-”No makeup, makeup look” and hair touch-up

You as the makeup artist are truly gifted in so many ways. You are a master “juggler” of mental, physical and emotional tasks while working on set. You’re not only creating makeup looks for each talent but you are ther cheerleader, hype person, confidante, go-to person. You’re meeting these people for the first time, quickly connecting, juggling all of the tasks AND the production clock is ticking. This doesn’t even include all the duties you perform on set. Wow! Writing this makes me realize there should definitely be more awards & accolades given to makeup artists!!!

The above guidelines are typical of the time involved in prepping talent in a commercial setting. On occasion, you will have more or less time. Always approach the talent by identifying the main priorities first; especially if you are in a time crunch. This means, you do not have a “cookie cutter” process for each talent. This means from the moment you see the talent arrive, start identifying the priorities needed to get them camera ready. The process for each talent will be different. So you see commercial time management strategies are more fast paced than those in bridal party or salon settings. Both still have deadlines but the process of reaching them is different. At a wedding, the client is the bride. And the ceremony does not start without the bride. You have 45 minutes to 1 hour just for makeup for the bride alone to ensure they look amazing! So whatever the bride says goes. Whereas on a commercial shoot, you are one piece of the puzzle. The talent is another piece of the puzzle as is each and every crew position. The chain of command goes beyond who you are directly working on. It takes teamwork of each member doing their key role in an effective and efficient way to create a successful commercial production. Time Management Strategy #3 Create a verbal highlight “reel” of how you got started and your background story.

It’s inevitable that on each shoot, at least one of the talent will ask how you got started in commercial makeup artistry as well as a little about your background. The reality of the shoot has it that you MOST definitely want to engage and be personable with the talent. However, you need to continue working in order to have them camera ready, before the 1st AD actually requests them on set (remember that goal from #1 above). So, take a few minutes, sit down and write out a bullet point list of your background, recent work and makeup journey highlights. Organize those highlights into a simple statement (similar to that of a personal “elevator pitch”). Practice saying this statement so it flows easily off your tongue. Now when you are racing against the clock, prepping talent and they ask “how did you get started?”; you can easily convey the answer by offering that statement up to them and keep the conversation going and stay engaged while you work without distraction. Early on in my career, I noticed my work process slowing down as I easily became distracted when talent asked me questions about how I got started and my background. This is why I created a verbal highlight “reel” to share when talent asks these questions. Anything to make the makeup process more efficient on set is worth it! You can trust not every shoot will be high intensity, racing against the clock. However, the more prepared you are, the more polished your process is and the more insight you acquire . . .you will literally crush any set you step on! These time management strategies are just the tip of the iceberg. Personal note: Each blog post, article, social media post I share with you provides true insider 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 at On 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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