Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Artist Series with Kathy Aragon

What three traits does a great makeup artist need to have? I feel like the three traits every makeup artist needs to have other than skill in the field is business sense, business ethics, and a pleasant personality. I have known so many artists to start suddenly and stop suddenly in this demanding field due to lack of understanding the business know-how that goes behind organizing and marketing yourself. The work will not just come without the proper marketing and making the proper connections. When one really knows how to make their business thrive that is when you usually start to tell if there is any business ethics involved in the artists’ game plan. Do not step on toes, do not talk bad of others, and do not burn bridges to get ahead. This path will sometimes take longer but the foundation of your career will be a lot more stable. All this intertwines with having a good personality. Other than doing a good job for a client , having a positive personality will help the client to remember you above others.

What makes a good assistant? When I look for an assistant I look for someone who I can tell is serious about wanting to help without being pushy. This usually tends to be the person who understands that assisting may not mean they will be working on talent right away. In fact, so many times assisting a Sr. Artist can be an unglorified task of cleaning brushes, setting up stations, helping with equipment and can even spill into helping with other tasks on set before ever picking up a brush to do a single face on their own. What you will get in exchange is seeing how a professional environment functions and start to learn the techniques of the artist you are assisting. A good assistant should also be reliable and not show up late or have to leave early without notice. An added bonus of a great assistant? Being flexible! I would much prefer working with one regular artist who already knows my flow and be available at the last minute as opposed to having many assistants I only use seldomly, who don't quite have time to learn my tendencies.

How did you get started in makeup?
I was the accidental makeup artist. Just one year before doing makeup I had already tried to study culinary arts, business management, computers, etc. I could not keep focused and never finished anything I started in any of the fields I tried. At this time my mom had been a cosmetologist for 20+ years and my parents were opening a spa and salon. They had asked me to manage the business. Before opening, I enrolled into esthetics school so I could learn the spa part of the business. I ended up getting my license in esthetics and became the manager as well as the esthetician. Esthetics school taught me about makeup but mainly about the sanitary precautions I needed to learn to pass the State Board exam. It was the hands on experience of being thrown into doing makeup at the salon that made me teach myself how to go about applying and mixing in different ways. I started to notice a change in my attitude towards makeup about two years later when we got busier with weddings at the salon. The positive feedback gave me something to look forward to when I had a makeup appointment on the books. I started taking supplementary workshops in NY, my first being Tobi Brittons Makeup Bootcamp, followed by many others. Around that time I started a makeup line to brand for our salon called “Mia” Makeup Is Art. I set up my lines first photoshoot, and after getting a taste of the creative process and instant gratification from the photos, I couldn’t stop wanting to work in print. Makeup has been the one and only thing I have stuck too and have been just as passionate about since day one.

Is it important to do both hair and makeup in the industry? It really depends on where you are located. In fact, most areas outside of NY, LA, and Miami expect you to do both hair and makeup for clients. I was lucky as I had learned both skills before I even realized there was a whole world of freelance makeup beyond the salon walls. Knowing both when entering the makeup industry really helped open more doors for me and helped me get into local agencies that required both skill sets when starting out. I think all makeup artists should at least learn light hair for that “just in case” moment, whether you choose to pursue it further or not. I personally love having the control of a complete look and find just as much joy in creating hairstyles as I do in doing makeup.

Kathy Aragon in a celebrity makeup artist based in Washington D.C. She will be leading the Camera Ready Workshop at The Artist Summit Miami Oct 3-5th, and The Artist Summit Chicago Oct 10-12th. For more information and to purchase tickets for The Artist Summit please visit

No comments: