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Psst! Most Makeup Artists Freelance!-What is it?

Psst! Most Makeup Artists Freelance

In the world of makeup artistry, there are many different niches to work in from commercial, TV and film to retail, salon, agency representation and positions in the corporate headquarters of makeup brands. One of the main differences of these niches is whether you’ll be working as a freelance makeup artist or on-staff. For many makeup artists, the decision to go freelance is driven by a desire for work freedom, independence, the chance to show their unique style and make more of their own money. While staff positions offer stability, a few also offer insurance and paid time off; however these positions are few and far between. 

Freelance makeup artists love the autonomy to choose the projects they work on, with what type of clients, full-time money working part-time-ish hours and having “down” days to do what they please with their time. This freedom allows artists to live how they choose, experience different types of clients and not be constrained by a 9 to 5 or a “boss”. So what exactly is a freelancer? A freelancer is an independent contractor who earns wages on a per-job basis, typically for short-term work from one day, 3 days,  two weeks to 3 months for example.

The freelance lifestyle is not for everyone just as the on-staff situation is not ideal for everyone either. The freelance lifestyle can be challenging but oh so freeing, rewarding and lucrative. You will be your own boss. So you will need a healthy dose of discipline and the ability to wear many hats in your business; you will not only do makeup but you will also do marketing, bookkeeping, administrative duties and so on. 

Whereas, if you work on-staff, you will go to work in more of an office, studio, retail or salon type of environment. You will have projects to work on or clients to take throughout each day. You will work in the same location each day and will be paid more on an hourly rate or commission based rate.

Choosing to go freelance or on-staff ultimately depends on what direction you want to take your career and what type of person you are at the core. I can vouch from working as a freelance makeup artist in the commercial, TV and film makeup industry for 20+ years, the opportunities which freelance artistry offers is vast and the experiences are quite unbelievably amazing! I've held positions in the office environment prior to going freelance. I realized my short time in the corporate world does not feed my soul, or energize me. However, the challenge, freedom, opportunities and income from my freelance career keeps me consistently engaged, motivated and happy! All of my amazing experiences working in commercial makeup is something I could not ever find in a 9 to 5 position! At the end of the day, you have to choose a path which works for you! Know yourself, your motivation and what you are willing to do to achieve your goals and dreams.

Here are a few Important things to consider as a freelance makeup artist:

Managing the Feast and Famine

Freelance makeup life can be a rollercoaster of feast and famine; meaning you may go from several bookings a week to weeks without a booking. Managing finances becomes an art in itself. Makeup artists need to set aside funds for slow periods, budget their spending and tuck away money for taxes. Also, the more you understand how taxes affect your bottom line, the better. Tax deductions for makeup supplies, travel expenses, and education can make a significant difference during tax season. So, let’s say you take an online course to broaden your makeup knowledge and skills, this can actually be a tax deduction in your favor when tax time arrives.

Acquiring Clients

For freelance makeup artists seeking opportunities and a steady stream of work, agencies are an option and most beneficial if living in large markets like Los Angeles or New York. These agencies act as intermediaries, connecting artists with clients in need of their expertise. The agency handles your bookings, paperwork and collecting payments from the client for you. However, this partnership goes both ways.

While agencies can provide a valuable platform for exposure and job opportunities, makeup artists must also be aware of the agency's cut, which often ranges from 10% to 30% of their earnings. This financial arrangement emphasizes the need for freelancers to manage their finances diligently and negotiate favorable terms with their representing agencies.

Signing with an agency is only one option which artists like to explore and does come with several requirements to secure representation. However, the real challenge lies in consistently procuring clients as you may need to work more often than the agency is booking you. Makeup artists must become their own marketing magicians, leveraging social media, a current industry relatable website and word of mouth to showcase their talent and attract potential clients.

The Business Side of Artistry

Beyond the artistry lies the business side of being a freelance makeup artist. Successful professionals not only excel in their craft but also possess strong interpersonal and business skills. Building lasting relationships with clients, understanding their needs, and delivering exceptional service are key components of a thriving freelance career. Cultivating a solid reputation through positive client testimonials and word-of-mouth recommendations can lead to a steady stream of opportunities.

In conclusion, the life of a freelance makeup artist is a thrilling adventure filled with creative freedom, but it comes with the responsibility of being a self-sufficient entrepreneur. From acquiring clients to building a personal brand and managing finances, navigating a freelance makeup career requires a delicate balance of artistry, business acumen, and sheer determination. For those who embrace the challenges, the freelance path can lead to a fulfilling, prosperous career, take you places you never dreamed and put you face-to-face with people you never imagined! Your network and world will expand!




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I'm Cristy Guy

I'm a freelance commercial makeup artist & wardrobe stylist who has gone from the farm to NFL football fields and beyond working across the pond too! I love makeup & kits, the beach, a good top knot and pro football. I'm here to help you work with A-List clients and navigate the commercial, TV and film makeup industries.


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