When I created On Makeup Magazine in 2008, the way we thought and behaved as an industry was very different. There were far fewer agencies, schools and artists overall. Facebook was just a few years old and Instagram didn’t even exist yet. Five years earlier in 2003 when I started The Powder Group, our industry was even less recognizable from the crowded, highly visible and often overwhelming place it is today.
In the past decade the reaction of many to the career of the makeup artist has gone from “That’s a job?” to “Wow! How cool that you’re a makeup artist.” This is due in large part to social media, but also due to attention to the career, like never before, with television programs like Face Off and Ru Paul’s Drag Race putting the magic of makeup artistry under a unique new spotlight and events like Comicon, Beautycon and Dragcon all jumping on the makeup artistry bandwagon, making pro makeup artistry a front-and-center discussion for the general public like no other time in our history. Seems the job and craft of the pro makeup artist has finally gotten it’s due.
This incredible turn of events has led to an influx of new artists, greater competition, new technologies and new ways of thinking about our business. Whether it’s the haunting repetition of “Instagram contour” or the deluge of beauty-on-demand apps
flooding the market, the industry is changing—sometimes faster than we can keep up. All of this makes it all the more important that as artists, and as an industry, we take a serious look at how we have changed, and what needs to be done to move forward as a community. So, as we do at The Powder Group, we turned to our friends, and asked several industry leaders from across the business of pro beauty what they think the biggest changes have been in our business in the past ten years and what we need do going forward. Here’s what they had to say.
Introduction and Interviews Michael DeVellis
OWNER/DIRECTOR | CLOUTIER REMIX
The internet and growth of social media has entirely changed our industry—from how artists’ work is viewed, how artist decisions are made, what rates are paid and what kind of work is available. Interestingly, the public can also now have a huge influence on an artist’s career where they never previously did.
Agents and artists need to change with the shifting industry and shifting technology. The agent’s role has changed because we need to understand this new paradigm, and it is constantly evolving. Nothing is static. Nothing can be assumed.
In the past, artists were more elusive; even to the point of anonymity. Often now, a major artist will be contacted directly before their agent is — in some cases hundreds of times per month. These opportunities need to be vetted. Both artists and agents have had to take on public relations management roles.
There is a much wider range of work available and many more platforms. Artists still have the traditional work available to makeup artists but many artists now have hybrid careers looking at areas outside of traditional jobs — be that as an author, educator, brand spokesperson, or so on.
Artists still reach superstardom as they did in the past. But the difference now is that it happens at a different speed and for different reasons. Now, careers can be made overnight with the power of a celebrity client’s social media whereas before artists
worked long and hard to become legendary.
But longevity in an artist’s career still requires professionalism and true talent. Do artists even need an agent in the Digital Age? Not necessarily depending on the type of work they are looking to be involved with. But the most highly paid artists will generally
have them and need them going forward as the industry continues to grow and evolve.
SUE CABRAL EBERT
PRESIDENT | IATSE LOCAL 706
Makeup and hair artistry in the entertainment industry has changed considerably in the last ten years. Predicated on the HD cameras changing the way film, television and even theater productions are recorded and projected, it created changes not only in beauty makeup, but in prosthetics creation and application, as well as wig application. No longer can we use the old adage “you’ll never see it in television.” Now everything is seen, from a background artist on the outer edges of the camera frame, to the actor in the center of the shot. This is also true for theater, opera and ballet productions which now are often simulcast or recorded for presentations on the big screen.
As everything is now seen in hyper-reality, foundations are used that duplicate the skin more closely and avoid a plastic-y film. Bright colors and iridescent, shiny metallic are avoided except in special circumstances. There are variations of silicone prosthetics that duplicate the skin more closely than foam latex, blood colors have been adjusted for more realistic looks. Facial hair, bald caps, scarring materials all changed so that they were invisible to the viewer. Wigs always were anchored to the scalp and skin with a margin or lace that was normally glued down and then diffused by lighting scrims and flags. Now the lace must be cut back so it is invisible, making it harder for the hair stylist to anchor without detection – especially for stunts.
Ten years ago we never even considered that “New Media” would alter our worlds, to have television and film productions presented on the internet. Now we have film and television productions presented on your telephone, I-pad or laptop. But with that same change, we have also entered a social media world that can destroy a career. Younger artists do not consider the history of secrecy and mystery that has always been a part of our history. The “magic of Hollywood” that allowed to rest of the world to wonder how we accomplished character creations are now uploaded onto YouTube and Facebook before brains kick in and realize that confidentiality is a huge part of what we do. There are, of course, productions that encourage the makeup artists and hair stylists to publicize and create fan frenzy, to do their publicity without having to pay for it. Because of the many years of training that is required to become a well-rounded makeup artist for the entertainment industry, we consider it an insult and an affront to our skills and abilities to be judged alongside YouTube wannabees who have only applied makeup on themselves and refer to themselves as makeup artists.
FOUNDER ARTISTS BY TIMOTHY PRIANO
First and foremost, you all can remember that we always had a choice of stores to shop at, malls were filled with all types of fashion, and a million catalogues arrived in your mailbox daily. Now we are down 10 major department store, catalogues have all become headless and filled with still life images and most items of interest come to us via an email. Social media has become a very fluid, people do not look at images for the art value or the work, but just click “like”, what is needed that people understand what is the look of their work and improve it.
With all of this happening, editorial, catalog have also cut back on amazing location shoots and we are now in white rooms with little character to enhance the image or inspire one to be creative. Fashion designers are afraid of strong hair and makeup as they can’t afford to have them overpowering the look of their collections, because big business is about the bottom line.
Artists in the industry have forgotten what they are, makeup and hair people forgot that they are part of a team, we all work together to build and create amazing work and make an image that will last forever. So that the kid in the mid-west can dream to be a part of the beautiful world of makeup and beauty.
Celebrities are not all special, they might be B or C-list, or even sex-tape stars, that are trend setters. And simple minded people follow looks that are not right for them or our vision as artists. Clients may look at your social media followers and not the quality of the work that you can produce, leaving the world not striving for excellence but mediocre, uninspiring garbage. We have to bring back the reality of what this business was based on: Art meeting Fashion. As an agency representing talent, we all need to focus on what your goals are, we need to move back to our home towns and make people understand what the right look is for them. The only way we can educate and make the world a prettier place is to help those who really need our talents.
PRESIDENT IATSE LOCAL 798
So much has changed about how our industry operates over the past decade. One of the biggest changes is that New Media has created an entirely new area of work. There are more productions and more places that are developing these projects now that New Media giants like Netflix and Amazon are creating, and streaming, television series and feature films.
It also seems that even in a down economy there’s work for makeup artists and hair stylists especially when you look at some of the busier areas like the New York Tri-State area and Georgia. What makes some states busier than others? Tax Incentives! This is another big change in our industry today.
The busiest states have the best tax incentives which is why being politically active and supporting legislation and politicians, of either party, who are labor friendly and especially friendly to the entertainment business makes a difference to people’s livelihood if you’re looking for work in the entertainment industry. It’s not enough to just be solely focused on “craft” any longer. Politics plays a role whether you can make a good living as a makeup artist and hair stylist in the area of film, television and even in video and commercial production.
Lobby your politicians to push for tax incentives where you live for film production and continue growing at your craft by studying and taking classes when offered. The opportunities are endless.
OWNER | THE MILTON AGENCY
The biggest change for me is that I am no longer a slave to a fax machine! Ten years ago when I submitted client resumes to producers it might take ten or fifteen minutes to fax over twenty five or thirty pages of resumes. My least favorite part of those days was hearing the busy signal on the fax machine. For their part, I’m pretty sure the producers tore out clumps of hair watching my pages hog their machines. Today, everything is electronic so our entire process of pitching clients and securing work is much quicker and more efficient.
Our website has become more sophisticated over the years and all of our artists have resumes online as well as links to their portfolios and clips. Ten years ago, when producers requested, we were still sending out huge portfolio cases on the backs of motorcycle couriers. Nowadays I can call a producer and direct her to an artists work in an instant. We can lobby for that artist on the phone while the producer is browsing the resume or portfolio. In fact, often times, it works the other way around and a producer will email us to request a bunch of resumes and call me within minutes of receiving the links to our website. The whole process and relationship from artist to agent to producer and back again has become more streamlined and faster paced. Regarding our artists, we are able to be in contact with more of them, more of the time.
Though I was using email ten years ago, somehow it felt impersonal and wrong to impart information to clients that way, whereas now I think our clients realize that we can be in touch rapidly and frequently, and exchange thoughts and information much easier via email. Not to say that we don’t gossip on the phone, trust me, we do! In addition, we also have an office in London headed up by my business partner Mandi Martin. London is eight hours ahead of LA, so our coordination and communication has really grown over the last ten years and Mandi and I often can work as though we are in the same room.
Of course, time never changes the good old art of negotiating, and we still get to haggle intensely with producers, but at least now we can haggle whilst emailing rather than haggle whilst holding an extended phone cord in one hand and thirty pages to fax in the other.
I think the industry has changed greatly in the past ten years due to the internet and unlimited access to information. Finding inspiration, research and development and design have all become much easier and the ability to collaborate on ideas, express opinions and share content has been simplified.
Many people bemoan the amount of makeup artists that have come forward in the last ten years or bash the internet for creating platforms where artists and influencers have an audience and credibility that seems to come much easier than in decades past but I celebrate the idea of community and accessible information the internet provides.
The amount of information and interaction is beyond anything I ever imagined and I think it allows up to communicate in very different ways. It has created discussions and job opportunity that did not exist before and for a kid who grew up in a small place and had to work to be seen or heard I find today’s online and social media opportunities fascinating. I think it can only make our industry stronger if we look at it, and use it, all in the right way.