A friend told me a couple weeks ago that he read a statistic that fifteen hundred new makeup artists enter the beauty market a month in the U.S, and I believe that statistic 100%! Social media makes all art forms these days seem easy and fun to start and participate in, and it also makes them seem easy to make money from. I have already written blogs about this and because this is not going to be another one of the same blog, I will stop here. This blog is really about me trying to figure out the balance of integrity vs. popularity and fame one should have when trying to promote their artistry and perhaps products.
At the end of last week, the God Mother of Makeup Artistry, Pat McGrath, promoted a “new” highlighting product that she will be selling with using an image of her highlighting none other than the famous for being famous, famous for having a sex tape leaked by her mother, famous for being Kanye West’s wife, famous for having a huge obviously fake derrière, famous for having a show, famous for having the face that most makeup artists on Instagram that have had major success either look like naturally or sculpt their faces to emulate, etc… Kim Kardashian as promo.
As a tenured makeup artist that is making my way in the social media world because I know the power of marketing that using those platforms creates, I am really struggling here. Generally, I am not narcissistic, I do not fill my Instagram, twitter, or Facebook accounts with tons of selfies, my outfits of the day, my new hair, my new shoes, etc… I don’t because I value my own individuality and privacy and enjoy having my life experiences be just that, my life experiences. I realize that the world that makes up social media loves people who are narcissistic, post pictures of themselves everyday, their outfits of the day, new designer purses, etc… and you know what?(in my Tamar Braxton voice) I think that is perfectly fine!! What I don’t like is that I notice that the people who become the most famous from these types of posts all look the same. They have the same skin tone, bone structure, eye shapes, hair, body types, and style. The people who “slip through the cracks” don’t have those things naturally but use makeup, plastic surgery, waist shapers, hair extensions, colored contacts, and clothing to make themselves look like the prototype. What does all of this have to do with Pat McGrath and Kim K? Everything!
Kim K is the prototype! If I scroll through 30 images on Instagram, 10 images are of makeup looks, outfits, or women who look like they have been inspired by Mrs. West! The irony is that Pat McGrath, her image, her body of work, etc are the complete and total opposite! Ms. McGrath is a full figured British women of African or Caribbean descent(i.e. African) with a deeper skin tone that seems like she has never worn makeup in her entire life! From a marketing stand point, I totally understand why Pat (one of the best mua’s the world has ever seen in my humble opinion) and Kim (a women whose mother successfully pimped out the whole entire family for crazy sums of money that continues to grow exponentially) would get together, but what does that say for lil old me? Does it say, “hey girl, I know your family taught you that hard work gets you where you want to go, but perhaps you should start doing it by any means necessary“? If that is the case, my strategy would totally change!
- That strategy would mean that I stay on social media for at least eight hours a day.(a typical shift at any job)
- It would mean that I take selfies at least 20 times a day and post at least 3-5 of them a day.(this may include on boarding a side kick to take these photo’s which is what I have seen a few people do)
- It means that while I wear black at least 5-7 days a week, I post my outfits of the day.
- It means that when I am in the car with friends I turn on music and record myself mouthing the words with fish lips to post.
- It means that I step my waist training and flat tummy tea drinking game up because those things all seem like successful keys to marketing yourself on social media.
- It means that I do tons of makeup swatches on new makeup and skin care products like liquid lipsticks and highlighters.(where will I get the money to keep up?)
- It means I must start buying body con dresses in bulk to wear as part of my outfits of the day to post. (Instagram boutiques here I come!)
- It means that I must associate myself with celebrities, athletes, and people who have a large social media following to get more followers for myself
- It means that I may have to buy followers because the more followers you have the better your chances of being able to attract cosmetic companies to pay you to advertise their stuff or become brand ambassadors or become chosen to provide input on new products
- Adopt a genre of makeup often seen on instagram to do on myself that includes, a strong sculpted brow, glitter eye shadow, at least one pair of lashes, major highlighting and contouring, and a matte lip to post.(most other genre’s of makeup do not get as much play)
The list is not terrible, but not quite me. It is also not really feasible for several other amazing, tenured, talented makeup artists I know. Some of the artists I know love to spend time with their children and husband when they are not working, some love to travel, go to the beach, and play with their pets. Some love to sleep, work out, spend time with friends, and travel. Do these “normal” activities make them any less worthy of having success in a field they have already given a decade or more to? Does the list above represent one of the only ways to have success as a makeup artist/make up marketer?(it seems impossible to just be an mua with out being a make up marketer) Do you have to look like, dress like, or associate yourself with Kim Kardashian in some way shape or form to have a certain level of success?
Last question, What do tenured makeup artists do in a world where tenure, talent, and experience do not matter? I would love advice and it looks like Pat could use some too.