Tag Archives: Chicago

Patience, Good Fortune, and Hard Work.

As of September 20th, 2014, I am a member of Studio Mechanics Local 476. In order to express just how damn cool this is to me, or how excited I am about all the new possibilities, I can only reference these events: Getting engaged (and married, of course), graduating from college, buying a house. Major life events! Getting voted into the union is on par with all of those. I started moving towards this goal sometime in 2010, with the warning advice from a fellow makeup artist, “expect it will take about five years.” At the time, five years seemed like an incredibly lengthy amount of time, for anything really, but I was grateful to have a realistic idea of the process.

How I felt when I heard that I made it into 476!

How I felt when I heard that I made it into 476!

How did this happen? I think, because of these things: Having a lot of patience and persistence, a strong dose of good fortune peppered throughout, and working hard every chance I get. I know some really lovely people who threw my name out there every chance they got, wrote letters to the union on my behalf, and gave me advice whenever they thought of something that could be useful. People who knew very little about me gave me a chance to get on set and prove myself. Not only that, they treated me better than they needed to, and taught me more than I could have hoped. Artists who are generous with their knowledge are worth their weight in gold.

The other thing that is a constant with me is that there is always a list. After every job, big or small, there is a mental or written list of the things I could do better next time, ways to consolidate my kit, new things to add to my kit, better ways to work with talent / clients. I am constantly self-assessing and evaluating my work — I am a harsh self critic.  I do possess a strong work ethic. During the slow periods, I feel like a complete loser for not booking more jobs. When things do finally pick up after a slow period, I am relentless. I clean my kit, restock, shop if needed, pack it up neatly, and do any research that may benefit my performance for the next job.

I try to keep in mind that this life is short and, “you can’t take it with you”. Money comes and goes, or as my friend Karina says, “Your last shirt has no pockets”, a German saying. This year (the very beginning of May) I worked my final shift as a bartender and leapt head first into being a full time makeup artist. Naturally, the weeks immediately following that major decision, work was really slow. Then summer came, and a slew of jobs with some of my favorite people, a few of whom I’ve known since my first days on set.

One of my summer jobs involved several local entrepreneurs. There were some common themes throughout the interviews, things that ring true and encourage me. Here are some of my favorites:
Be willing to work harder than anyone else you know.
Never give up.
Read voraciously.
Be brave.

As summer came to an end, I knew that things were going to change, for myself and all of the friends I’d been working with on a very regular basis. Lo and behold, “summer camp” ended and most of us were split up. Granted we all got on some really great jobs that have led to really great things, but I’m glad that I knew to appreciate all of the goofy, ridiculous things we got to do before summer ended. And now — I’m a union gal! On to my next adventures….

But first, how I spent my summer vacation:

At Cirque FX, bald capping is serious business!

At Cirque FX, bald capping is serious business!

Sometimes your job is to get on a bus with 100 dancers and ride around the city, touching up their lip gloss.

Just a regular day at work, on a bus with 100+ dancers, riding around the city, doing touch ups with my dear friend Cindy!

These guys.

These guys.

Sometimes you have to do important work on your phone, and sometimes you have to imitate #2ndcineboss while he's doing such things.

Sometimes you have to do important work on your phone, and sometimes you have to imitate #2ndcineboss while he’s doing such things.

Just because.

Ricky and I, just because.

...and the guilt trip that I gave Ricky when she got hired on Real World.

…and the guilt trip that I gave Ricky when she got hired on Real World.

Matt Hughes and I on Sinister 2, Pop Tarts are for sharing!

Matt Hughes and I on Sinister 2, Pop Tarts are for sharing!

Mallory and I, enjoying the sunset and having cute braids, out in the country on Sinister 2.

Mallory and I, enjoying the sunset and having cute braids, working out in the country.

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How and why I became a Makeup Artist.

How did I become a makeup artist? That seems as good a topic as any for a first blog post. I’ve always been an artist in one way or another, my parents encouraged the making of art, crafts, whatever inspired me or my two sisters. Above my parents bed there hung a very large tempera paint piece that I made when I was very young, my view of the solar system. Crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, construction paper, clay — it was all a part of my home life. As I progressed through school I went from being an outstanding student (straight A’s in grade school) to being a mediocre at best student (high school). My high school art program trained me to dislike art classes, having had my freshman and sophomore years spoiled by an aging and bizarre woman whose tenure kept her in place as the antithesis of a mentor. From there I had some lost years (but very fun!) in which I worked, hung out with friends, and enjoyed not having to go to school.

By 2002 I had grown bored with not having much purpose (again, having fun, but not working towards anything) and I decided to try some classes at a local community college. Drawing I, Color and Design, Art History — I was blown away. I LOVED SCHOOL! I had two really spectacular teachers who lit a fire in me, and I remember hearing that they had spent years teaching at more prestigious art schools only to realize how much they loved community college students. I can’t speak for their exact reasons, but I wager they had something to do with the fact that almost all of us were paying our own way, had lived life between high school and college, and were truly passionate, and dedicated to making art. I discovered that with a little practice, I could still portray things in a way that made me happy. I made friends with people from completely different backgrounds because we were all drawn there for a similar purpose. (Okay, yes, I’d like to think it was a little like the show Community!) This eventually sent me back home to Chicago, where I enrolled in Columbia College, the BFA program.

Columbia wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Some of it certainly had to do with the curriculum that is laid out for undergrad students. You have some choice in your classes, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. I made the mistake of taking all the classes I was passionate about (painting, drawing, watercolor, woodworking…) in that first year, leaving me with less and less options later in my college career. I won’t say that it was a waste, because so many of the things I learned were training for what I do now. The principles of color theory, composition, chiaroscuro, anatomy, balance, and harmony, have served me well as a makeup artist.

While in school, and for a long time before that, I knew as a fact that being an artist would never guarantee a livelihood. I was always enamored with the idea of being a “working artist”. A tattoo artist is a great example of this, but basically anyone who could earn a living by making art. I accepted the fact that my college degree would mean very little once I graduated, in terms of getting a job. Lucky me, I tended bar throughout college, so I wasn’t terribly concerned with the money aspect.

I guess I did make some interesting art in college, most of it related to New Orleans.

I guess I did make some interesting art in college, most of it related to New Orleans.

Then something really cool happened. I went shopping. Or rather, I went shopping at Sephora and re-met one of my now closest friends, Emily.  She was working as an artist on the Sephora Pro Team at the time, and we started chatting about makeup. She was so excited about everything she showed me, and her enthusiasm was contagious. I already loved makeup, but by the time I got home I was in the midst of an epiphany. Makeup. Artist. Makeup artists are working artists, why had this never occurred to me before? So I found myself less than 6 months away from graduating with a BFA, on a new path. I did research, reached out to friends who are or were makeup artists, looked at schools, and got really damn excited about this new idea.

Emily, part of my makeup artist epiphany, and I at my wedding. She did my makeup!

Emily, part of my makeup artist epiphany, and I at my wedding. She did my makeup! She’s also one of my best friends.

The summer after I graduated, I took classes at a makeup school in downtown Chicago, Makeup First School. Fresh out of school, I networked and tested as often as possible. It was important to not only have school under my belt, but real world experience as well. I tried a ton of different things, worked with a lot of different people, and my focus has changed a lot since then. I started out testing mainly with photographers and models who were interested in fashion and beauty. I later found that my true love is character work, be it small and subtle or bold and exaggerated, the story and narrative of a character is what inspires me. Research is a pleasure, and imagining a characters whole life is a fantastic challenge.

One of my first projects with Lisa Predko, one of the best photographers ever.

One of my first projects with Lisa Predko, one of the best photographers ever.

Along the way I met a wonderful producer, then several more, and started booking commercial jobs. I realized that I love working with a crew, and I really wanted to do film. I also discovered that I completely love makeup effects, and am fascinated by the technical skill and artistry that goes into doing makeup in that realm. I took a makeup artist Boot Camp with Kerry Herta, an incredible woman who changed the way I do makeup. My makeup partner in crime, Jaime, and I went to LA and worked on a horror movie. I played with and on so many friends, and learned to appreciate the related art of hairstyling, even though it’s not my strong suit. I like to think of it as sculpting, to make it less intimidating.

One of my good friends, favorite people, and makeup partner in crime.

One of my good friends, favorite people, and makeup partner in crime – Jaime.

That’s a pretty good summary of my story so far. Of course there are lots of stories and adventures to write about, but this is how I got to where I am today. There is so much more to learn, and I love every minute of it, even when the lessons are painful and the hours are long. I just love what I do, and I can’t wait to see what I learn next…

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