When and why did you decide to write Assisting Rules?
It was a few years after an assistant had ruined a client relationship I had, stole images, and passed them off as hers. Adding insult to injury she wound working with them. To this day I still have no clue what she said. I was still so hurt by the whole thing and I realized there wasn’t anything explaining the rules of assisting, nothing just a few blog posts. I began to write comprehensive assisting articles on my blog and noticed how they took off. When I noticed that my blogpost had been rewritten in several languages, I knew I was on to an audience who desperately wanted to know more about assisting. I thought if we all understood the role and those unwritten rules may be less assistants would be prone to backstabbing (well probably not her lol). I live by that Oprah saying, “When you know better, you do better.”
Although it is focused on assisting there are so many great areas of focus in the book. What are one or two of the most important other parts of the book to you?
Oh boy, there are so many things in there. Research, which is really the first half of the book. I am a huge pusher of research. Getting the reader to pinpoint what they want and to focus on it constructively. Teaching people to research and to understand and decipher what they are looking at, and then applying them to their career goals is a priceless tool. Those skills carry over to every area of our lives when we want something. When you become informed the better chances you will have at not wasting your time and getting what you want. I have people who are not even in our field who have followed me on YouTube who have purchased Assisting Rules, and write to me it has helped them in their career goals-ain’t that something?!
The book has become a must-read in the pro makeup and hairstyling realms. Why do you think it has been so well received?
So many have told me the book is relatable. Many find the layout extremely easy to follow. I give real world explanation and situations, so it is easy for everyone to understand, and my analogies are odd but spot on with a shot of funny that seems to have resonated with folks. It is part cautionary tale, inspiration, and truth. People can feel I want to help, and I champion their journey. And most importantly, when people follow what is in the book it has not only gotten people assisting gigs, but it has also gotten them various jobs in and out of the industry.
What makes someone a great assistant?
I say to the boyfriend all the time “escucha” Spanish meaning listen when I need him to concentrate on what I am saying lol. Listening is so important as an assistant. But also anticipating and not assuming, execution and attention to detail are paramount in a great assistant.
And let’s be real, no one wants to be around Debbie Downer, or Assistant know-it-all the whole day either. To be a great assistant you must be personable and willing to do what is asked.
Let’s take it to the other side of the equation. What makes someone a great artist to assist?
Wow good question. In the book I have a chapter, Key Personalities, it explains 8 different traits of Keys I encountered over the years. The “Jerk” is the one who treats assistants poorly, abuses in both language and tone, harasses them, belittles. Just a straight up jackass. I would say yeah, do not be like that one. I totally understand assistant burnout (especially when you have had bad experiences with them) but if you can’t lead with a little patience take a break from having assistants until you can get your mojo back. For me, it was my first Key’s kindness that got to me the one and only Sharon Gault. She was patient and willing to answer questions, check out chapter 15, and read “Core Conversations.” I could feel she trusted me enough not to mess up, she didn’t hover but she made sure I understood her instructions, that stuck with me. Her treatment of me in those first years is the way I treat my assistants today.
Any red flags to be looking out for from either side – assistant looking for someone to assist or vice-versa?
OMG YES!!!!! So many to choose from ok, here’s just one. When assistants get too familiar on set especially if they have assisted you for a minute. I had an assistant who yelled at me on the floor. I’m talking across a huge studio, on a commercial gig btw, she yelled “DeShawn you’re so stupid” I knew she was joking, but that is not proper set behavior. When I told her to never to do that again, she laughed and said, “I was only playing DeShawn.” Ahhhhhh she wasn’t asked back..
There are over 50 things on set etiquette, what to do before and after your gig you must read it so you know what NOT to do.
How much about being a great assistant, or any part of a team, is skill versus personal energy/personality?
Listen, someone with a bad attitude, or someone unwilling to do the job, or acts like a diva-ahhhh no one wants that! We could be with an assistant for 12+ hours. Assistants should be pleasant have a great demeanor and be at the ready to work-period. They should care more about the Key needs and that the gigs go smoothly then they do about what is for lunch, their feet hurt, they’re tired or my biggest pet peeve, when the gig is over.
Is assisting something you recommend only for newer artists or should experienced creatives also assist?
On no, it is amazing for all of us on any level. I assisted a phenomenal hairstylist so I could elevate my hairstyling abilities. I was a senior artist in my mid 40’s at that point, but I knew it would be such a benefit to me to watch and learn. And hell yeah, I went to the store, cleaned brushes got lunches etc. When you’re older or more senior artist you have got to leave your ego at the door and do the job.
What is the biggest mistake artists make when approaching their career?
Not having patience, especially now-a-days with Insta careers happening. It takes time to cultivate relationships, portfolios, websites-hell, your whole dayum career. You must understand it takes years. Stop comparing an Instagrammers life or an Influencers to what a professional makeup artists career is like, they are two extremely different things. I always say, “Makeup Artist are experts in beauty not selfies” to drive home that expertise is important and it takes time to learn all you can. Anyone can sit in front of a camera in their house and do their own makeup, not everyone can be a makeup artist.
What is one thing about working in the industry that you know now, that you wish you knew when you first got started?
Oh this one is easy. YOU-WILL-NOT-MAKE-A-LOT-OF MONEY-IN-THE-BEGINNING! I tell this to everyone because I wasn’t informed. Leaving my corporate job and coming into this amazing but crazy world I placed assumptions on what my earnings would be from the start. Hearing the salary of the late Kevyn Aucoin of 10k a day made me believe (ignorantly) that 5K was attainable in the first year. Ahhh yeahhhhhh I was wrong. Now I know it takes time, skill, connections, and patience.
What’s next for DeShawn Hatcher? Is there a follow up book in the works?
I am working to build my Youtube community, not enough PRO on there. Shameless plug, my channel is DeShawn Hatcher, 62 videos and Live shows every Sunday at 7 pm all dedicated to helping empower my amazing fellow artists with the reality and the importance of the business side of being a Pro with some beauty and products. I am also continuing to showcase the “Inclusion” foundation palette I created with Graftobian, Multi Cultural Super Foundation Palette for People of Color, sold all over the world. As of right now I have some ideas to continue to help my amazing makeup artist community, but for now just ideas. Ill let you know.