Category Archives: Celebrity Make Up Artists

Blackish: Why There Are Hardly Any Black Women Who Do Major Celebrities Makeup at Award Shows

A few nights ago I watched snippets of the Golden Globes on television, and on Instagram. Every time I saw a black female celebrity come across my screen, I looked at how she was dressed, I looked at her hair, and lastly I looked at her makeup! After I looked at all of those things, I immediately researched all of the people responsible for creating the looks, and just like all the years before, I failed to see black women’s names. 

Traci Ellis Ross took home an award for her show Blackish (see what I did here?), and neither her makeup artist or stylist were black women. Kerry Washington’s makeup artist was not a black woman, and Simone Biles, the gymnast who stole the show at last years summer Olympics did not use a black makeup artist or hairstylist. Last but certainly not least our beautiful and amazing flotus for ten more days, who has been the epitome of black female excellence to many for the last eight years, consistently uses a makeup artist who, you guessed it, is not black or a woman.

Many reading this may ask, well why the hell does any of this matter? It matters because of the same reason seeing the movie Hidden Figures matters. Black female representation at the top of all professions matters. Black women on major platforms supporting other black women matters, and you know what? Sometimes a black female makeup artist that has had years of experience working with deeper skin tones would be better suited for the job! Yes, I said it. Now back to my first point.

There is a tall glass ceiling for black female makeup artists as it relates to agency representation, and being in a union. I experienced a ridiculous amount of discrimination first hand by non black makeup artists who were pissed that I was able to work a major union event side by side with them. For the few days that we shared a work space, they critiqued my appearance, my personal makeup, and my makeup kit. While they could find nothing negative to say about any of those things, they resulted in relying heavily on some old raggedy tired black women stereotypes and complained to the key makeup artist that I was “not friendly” and “distant”.  Now would you be close to someone or some people who made you feel unwelcome and grilled you on your experience, brands you worked with, your kit, and personal appearance?While this was one example of the challenges that I personally go through on my road to the top of my field, it saddens me to say that my experience is common place amongst my black female peers. Racism and gender discrimination towards women exists so heavily in the world of celebrity makeup, one of the easiest ways to help solve this problem is for black actresses and celebrities to request black female makeup artists, hair stylists, clothing stylists, and clothing designers.  

Now switching subjects, I mentioned earlier that sometimes black women can be better suited to do black female celebrities makeup because of experience. In all of the years that I have worked in the cosmetic industry I have seen sooooo many examples of this play out. I have been personally set up by countless non black artists at trainings, I have seen many black women be set up and done wrong at beauty counters, I have seen it go wrong at huge celebrity filled events, and I have seen it play out for the world to see with many black actresses, politicians, celebrities, and even flotus on occasion. 

The common sense factor is this. Typically, where you work is what you learn and practice. If you work in a location where there are no people of color let alone a ton of black women who have deeper skin tones, you won’t ever have to use products or learn to use products to do a person with a deeper skintone. Mastering the art of makeup on a woman any shade takes practice! It also takes mastering color theory, understanding face structure, and understanding cultural nuances as they relate to women’s makeup preferences. Last week I participated in a makeup audition, and I had 20mins to execute a look. I chose a black woman as my model, and after I was done, and the administrator over the audition approved my work, I went back to my models face to sculpt her brows. Why? It’s simple, many of my black female clients like a sculpted brow. 

There are several black women killing it in entertainment, politics, and education. I would love to see them look their absolute best when they go before the world to be celebrated for their accomplishments. To further represent black excellence and bring everything full circle, it would be awesome if I saw more black female glam squads providing them with the best hair, clothing, and makeup! Blackish the television show is great, but not as it relates to our leading women!

To like or not to like that is the question 

One of the reasons I write this blog is to discuss topics that nobody else wants to discuss out loud, with people other than their friends and folks they trust. The problem with staying quiet about the politics behind liking someone’s posts on social media can be life changing career wise so I’ll take one for the team and write about it. Like to hear it? Well here it gooooo!!!

I am a very honest extroverted introvert. Before I say how I feel, my face says it for me, I really only like to engage in conversations that go beneath the surface, and have to work really hard at small talk, I am a premillennial artist so I struggle with the new definition of an artist and the onslaught of all the folks who are now apart of the club, social media doesn’t quite come second nature to me all of the time, and as far as friends and aquaintences are concerned if you really piss me off or disrespect me I will dissmiss you from my life forevvvaaa!!(in my Cardi B voice) With all of that being said, I realized something extremely important recently, and that is my personality sucks as it relates to having social media success! Some folks may ask well “Why”? I’ll tell you!

I am a visual artist that uses makeup artistry as my platform. I get many requests from potential clients to view my Instagram page not only to see my work, but to see how many followers I have, and also to see how many likes I get on my photos. In 2016, my work can no longer just speak for itself! In fact, no ones work can. In order to get the all important “likes”you have to like everybody else’s stuff! There is no room for complete honesty! Hey you follow a ton of makeup artists? Cool, like their work. Don’t like the way they do brows? Skin? Shadow placement? It does not matter, like their work anyway! Have they disrespected you or said something you don’t like, but liked one of your posts and left a comment? Comment back if you can! Go back and like their stuff! Now to some folks this may sound like a lesson in “how to be phony and fake 101”, but it’s actually a lesson in office politics for the wonderful and beneficial world of social media. 

I have tons of friends, family members, mentors, acquaintances, etc… that discuss how they have to deal with people less qualified, who are rude and nasty, rascist, sexist, and a whole bunch of other stuff, but these folks deal with it and become pros at dealing with it, because they need their jobs. They also become pros with office politics because they know that it is often a rights of passage of sorts for them to get from point A to point B in their careers, and in their salaries. 

The moral to the story is the world is one big gigantic high school, and while I know some of us loathed high school it is the truth!Old school protocols do not exist to some, and their is no time for your feelings, opinions, or pettiness ( I am working on all this stuff as we speak! Lol) You have to like every bodies photos and comment on everybodies posts mainly because you NEED them to do it back! In 2016 as a doctor, lawyer, makeup artist, nail artist, painter, Hvac specialist, teacher, photographer, real estate agent, model, activist, chef, filmmaker, musician, reality star, hell even an “Indian chief”(I know that the correct term is Native American chief)it matters that you are relevant/lit/popping on social media.

Simply communicating with people in a positive manner via social media can and will affect your life for the better. It can get you followers, clients, opportunities, money, products, etc… take it from someone who has had to learn the hard way, be like Nike and just do it!! 
Sincerely,

The makeup artist formerly known as Petty Murphy!

Can You Beat a Face or Nah?Should there be a platform put in place to hold artists accountable for poor artistry?

bad-makeup-nikki

When I went to college, I chose to audition to become a dance major.  It was a decision that I made based on my talent and drive.  I thought I was a pretty good dancer, and once I was excepted into the dance program, what I thought about my talent was challenged in every single way.  I danced from sun up until sun down, I danced on the weekends, and I danced during Christmas break.  While my college buddies who had “regular” majors were chilling in their dorms or sleeping in, I was either in class or rehearsal.  My professors pushed me to the max, some to help be get better, and some to break my spirit.  Even still, I knew that I had to deliver.  My goal by senior year was to be in the highest level classes my dance department offered.  By achieving that goal meant that my artistry levels had improved so much so, that I earned the right to be in the most advanced level courses.  I endured a lot of sweat and tears, muscle soreness, lack of sleep, split toes, short fall, Christmas, and spring breaks, etc… to make it.  I also endured the constant critique of my teachers, but I knew that all of those things were what was necessary in order for me to be the best dancer that I could be.

Fast forward to my life presently.  I am a full time freelance makeup artist living in a world where social media reigns supreme, and the more Instagram followers and You Tube subscribers you have, the more clients want to work with you.  If you read my last sentence again, notice there is nothing mentioned about talent or skill.  Makeup artistry requires a certain level of skill in order for you to start practicing your artistry on other people, and charging for your work.  In the day and age where anybody can purchase a bunch of makeup from a drugstore, department store, makeup boutique, or online, create an Instagram page, and say they are open for business, there are not a whole lot of checks and balances.

Besides the “new” mua’s there are also “old school” mua’s that worked their way to the top of the celebrity makeup artist food chain by selling a ton of products for a specific brand, and using their networking skills to help solidify their place in line.  Notice I mentioned nothing about talent or skill in that sentence either.  Many artists that have been in the game for a while talk amongst themselves and critique their own work as well as the work of their peers, and the work of every one else proclaiming to be a mua via social media.  The conversations range from praise to sheer disgust.  Sometimes I have even seen images of celebrities posted by their “celebrity mua’s”, and the clients eyebrows are uneven, the color of the foundation looks wrong, the liquid eyeliner isn’t straight, the eyeshadow placement is off, etc…  The worst part about all of this is that the artists that makes these mistakes will never know because people are often too afraid to provide constructive criticism.  Unlike my days in college, there is no team of professors who have mastered the art of makeup that will grade you on every makeup application and provide you with feedback on how to improve.  So my question is, how do we start to hold ourselves and others accountable to set a general standard for all of our clients including celebrities?  It is only fair that when we start to charge people for our services that we provide the best service, so accountability is neccessary.

The National/International Makeup Artist, Does anyone still care about them?

In todays “What I Think Wednesday“, I want to delve into an idea that has puzzled me for quite some time.  I have had the opportunity to work for several major department store brands, and have observed “national/international” artists that work for those brands and wondered whether those roles are still relevant in this day and age.  Let me explain a little more.

In 2006, I joined MAC cosmetics as a full time artist.  I was excited mainly because I was leaving a retail job where I had a management position, way too much responsibility, and and a tiny salary!  I applied to MAC because the people always looked like they were having fun, and they got to apply and sell makeup, and that was it!  Now of course when I started, I learned that there was a lot more to it than just “having fun, and selling makeup”.  I also learned that just like any other company there was a hierarchy, and that I was at the bottom.

About six months in, I learned about the “pro artist” position which sounded like it could be up my alley and secretly aspired to have that position.  I happened to work with one of the most talented teams I think the company has ever seen, one went to school to learn special effects makeup and has done Project Runway and several covers for major magazines including Vogue, Marie Claire, and Bazaar, one was responsible for providing makeup and male grooming services for Puff Daddy and the family’s Bad Boy Reunion tour which just ended, another has done makeup for some feature films and several reality stars from Love and Hip Hop New York, another has done several reality stars from Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and designed a clothing collection featured on a recent televised BET fashion show curated by the super famous and talented stylist to the stars, June Ambrose. My makeup partner in crime just did half the cast of Beyonce’s Lemonade video for the VMA’s, and makeup for tons of other super talented CEO’s and celebrities for the Soul Train Music Awards, Black Girls Rock, BET Hip Hop Awards, and this years Democratic National Convention or the DNC as most folks refer to it.(i worked it too!)  So needless to say, I learned from some of the best damn people in the industry, but none of them were”national artists” by MAC’s standards, and neither was I.

 

So about eight months after working for MAC, a friend of mine who also happened to leave the company and do amazing things in make up, asked me to look at the roster of national artists and tell her what I noticed.  As soon as I researched what she had asked, I noticed that there were only about two to three black national artists.  I also learned that the company used agency artists to do many of their major campaigns.  From those two pieces of information and my observations that sales reigned supreme and that artistry came second, I felt 100% discouraged from trying to really go after becoming a pro artist for MAC cosmetics.  After about a year of working for the company, gaining about 20 pounds, drinking like a fish to keep the stress of making sales goals at bay, and having nightmares about what would happen to me if I did not make my goals, I quit!

After that, I went on to freelance for several other companies observing that most of the “national/international/pro artists” seemed to have their positions for decades.  Many of them were/are men, and they seemed to keep these positions with their respective companies until they decided to retire.  I also learned that outside of very specific events in certain locations where companies provided their bio’s to help garner clients to make appointments to have these premier artists do these women’s makeup, they were invisible!  Most of them are middle aged men, which means they did not come up in the age where social media is a necessity.  They have little to no social media following, and literally travel from state to state making appearances at events to enhance some customers makeup.(because of the number of attendees, it is impossible for them to do full faces on every woman that sits in a chair)

Now I have worked some of these events and watched the “national artists” do the exact same look on every woman they touch no matter what age or race the women were!  I also have had several women tell me that they would prefer me to complete their look from start to finish because they didn’t know or trust the guest artist for that day!  Besides those issues, there is still one glaring concern.  With hundreds of thousands of sales people aspiring to be artists with these brands, if the majority of the “national/international/pro artists” are middle aged men who take up these coveted positions and never seem to leave to go on to do other things in their careers, how can these hundreds and sometimes thousands of aspiring artists have a chance at these positions?

With each of these companies there are tons of regular sales and management positions, and few positions open for pro or national artists.  On the flip side, with the right videos on youtube, enough subscribers, and Instagram followers, many people, and especially women have broken through the glass ceiling that traditional cosmetic companies have created with the “pro artist” positions and have become popular, sought after, and paid!  Makeup Shayla, Am Reezy, and Mac Daddy, are all former artists from MAC cosmetics who have risen to the top! According to thefashionspot.com, they each make at least,get ready for this, $14,000 a month!!(why did i bother going to grad school?)  Tons of brands have sought after them to use and feature their products on their social media platforms(which they get paid for, but I ain’t mad), have taken them on expensive trips to exotic places, etc… I have only named three, but there are hundreds if not thousands of these “make up marketers” that companies have made the focus of their attention!  Now lets revisit the traditional “national/international/pro artist”.

With social media “make up marketers” killing the game and taking home hundreds of thousands and some times millions of dollars, traveling the world on cosmetic brands dime, getting more free makeup than they could ever use on themselves, their clients, or give away, and tons of other perks, why on earth would any one aspire to be a “national/international/pro” artist for a cosmetic company with a salary that caps off at about six figures if you are lucky?  The answer is pretty simple, while the famous Youtube “makeup marketer”role seems like an easier route, it isn’t.  The amount of work that goes into shooting video’s, editing video’s, having the right equipment, products, back drop, outfits, etc… is hard as f##k.  Not only that, being consistent with posting to various social media platforms is also extremely difficult, especially when you factor in your life! ( I have a hard time posting once a week!) Learning the best times to post, types of posts, number of posts, and hashtags can also be overwhelming. The bottom line is that  when you decide to become a youtube personality, you decide to be a filmmaker/entrepreneur, and everybody is not cut out to for work for themselves. That sobering revelation brings all sorts of relevancy to the more structured “national/international/pro artist” position with a cosmetic company.  In order for these positions to stay relevant with their audiences i.e customers, companies have got to restructure these positions.

The first thing that companies should do is make these positions a certain amount of years with six being the cap, two to learn the job, two to execute the job, and two to transition out of the role.  If companies do this, it would allow more artists to compete for these coveted positions.  That competition would mean better artistry and better sales from more employees equaling more revenue in general.

The second thing that companies need to do is make the the people who have these positions more visible via social media.  I think it is downright embarrassing that I have more followers than some of my trainers!  These are people that are supposed to be respected and admired, but if they have little to no presence via social media, their credibility goes down the drain.(this ain’t right, but it is the truth in this age where social media reigns supreme!)  Companies should offer training sessions for their national, international, pro artists, and trainers to equip them on how to create larger social media presences for themselves so that their knowledge is respected just as much as a mega Youtubers like MakeupShayla or Am Reezy.

The last thing that major cosmetic companies should do is create new positions for their special artists when they complete their term of being a “national, international, or pro artist”.  Their expertise could be used for product development, packaging, customer service, artist development, training, and tons of other things.

My fear is that these positions which were once worshipped and coveted will become ignored and forgotten.  Before any of that happens, I would love to see companies acknowledge the times and make these positions relevant again!

 

 

What I Think Wednesday: Trish McEvoy and her Credit Card Palettes

I have spent a ton of time talking to my peers in the makeup world about cosmetic companies and what I think they can do better in terms of training, product development, hiring, social media, etc… Finally I realized that talking to my peers is pointless.  I also realize that talking to company executives can also be pointless especially if you meet them in a store or counter setting.

I have observed that most executives dismiss ideas that company members who work behind counters have which is a huge mistake!  Social media has much more weight, so I will be speaking directly to companies every Wednesday in the hopes that at some point my voice is heard! Now on to Trish!!

At this point, we all know that palettes reign supreme.  Eyeshadow palettes, blush palettes, lip palettes, foundation palettes, etc… Consumers would rather spend money on palettes because they give you variety and provide you with more “bang” for your buck.  Trish McEvoy, known for her planners sometimes will put these little credit card eyeshadow palettes in her limited edition planners, and I have started to collect them, because they are tiny ( I love tiny things), super pigmented, have an array of eyeshadows and powder eyeliners, and blend like a dream!

The problem is that these credit cards only come out every once in a while in a limited planner making it impossible to purchase them individually at the consumers convenience.  As a makeup artist I really feel like I need every credit card that Trish has ever created, and no that I will be impossible for me to obtain them all.  I have a few suggestions.

  • Relaunch the credit cards in their own special planner as a limited edition sort of thing to see how well consumers respond to the idea of being able to have all of the credit card palettes.
  • Offer the credit card palettes online to give consumers an opportunity to purchase them individually
  • Market the “credit card planner” using some cool wording maybe drawing associations from the Urban Decay “naked palette” the slogan “Plan to be Naked” would be risky but could work.
  • Market to a wider demographic including but not limited to millenials making a point to appeal to beauty bloggers, and youtube and instagram makeup artists!IMG_2662

These things are definitely kit worthy, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if Trish were to make these credit card eyeshadow palettes a focus, they would sell!

Hello, It’s Me I Was Wondering Why Her Foundation Doesn’t Match

I wanted to write this post months ago, but was scared because I know I will be ruffling some major feathers.  This is my blog, this is my truth, and the topic that I will be discussing frustrates me and many others so I am gonna type as fast as I can, get it out, try to be as respectful as I can be, and get something that has been bothering me off of my chest!

For months and in some cases years I have seen leading black women in politics, hollywood, music, and fashion look absolutely ridiculous while posing on the cover of major print publications, speaking on major national and international platforms like the Grammys, Academy Awards,  Golden Globes, and countless public forums for the world to see. Some of these women’s speeches “broke the internet”, and pulled at the heart strings of women of color worldwide because of how heartfelt and relatable they were.

Unfortunately while many women were crying their eyeballs out happy that these ladies beat the odds and defied the many roadblocks that are put in front of black women on an everyday basis, I was too busy trying to figure out how on earth their make up artists did their make up and thought that it was ok??!! Now we have all seen it!! One of my favorite “it ladies” has a super popular show on a major tv network, and is on the cover of one of the worlds most popular fashion magazines as I right this blog post.  Almost every single time I see her at an awards show or as a guest on a morning show, night show, talk show, etc … I am always left feeling uber frustrated and angry.  Her brows are never perfected, her skin doesn’t look dewey, or matte, or satiny, or anything special, the shadow never looks super perfected or messy in a high fashion way, her lipstick isn’t ever ‘popping’, and I could go on and on. She has amazing skin, large eyes (which means she has lid space to play with), great cheek bones, and naturally full lips, but always looks mediocre. Another woman I always cover my eyes before looking at has a deeper skin tone, and lovely natural hair.

She has certainly paid her dues in the world of theater and hollywood and is finally getting the recognition that she deserves.  I have seen her on countless occasions with foundation that makes her look either dead, muddy, or gray. I have seen setting powder make her look like a banana and sometimes even Casper, lashes that looked as if they were falling off of her eyes, lines of demarcation around her forehead and neck, and highlighting and contouring that would make a clown grimace.

The last leading ladies that I would love to discuss are both from the mother land.  One hails from West Africa and belongs to one of the proudest nationalities and ethnic groups on earth!  The other is East African and Ivy League educated.  Both flaunt beauty that defies the parameters of western beauty standards, and have earned their spots as “it ladies” in hollywood.  Just like the first two that I mentioned, their make up seems to leave me wondering if the artists had the skills necessary to complete polished and well executed looks on these women of color.

I know that some of the artist used by the women mentioned above have been in the game for over ten plus years, and have had these women as their clients for just as long.  Some of the artists that these “it ladies” use consistantly are published and represented by some of the  top makeup agencies in the country, some are men, some are women, and some are not of African descent.  That is all wonderful, and I wish them all the success in the world. My problem is that I need for them to be more critical of their work.  I need for them to take classes, ask questions, look at their work  from a distance, and practice on other women the same skin tone as their clients if they are not comfortable working with deeper skin tones, because it is imperative in this crazy world that often makes black women its ugly step children that these talented, hard working, beautiful women always look  amazing when they are accepting prestigious awards, gracing the cover of magazines, and slaying the red carpets everywhere they go!! They deserve to look the best that they can look and deserve make up artists who can deliver!!