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Seeds of Opportunity

>One of the great joys of being a working makeup artist is the ability to share your expertise with up and coming young talent. Over the last 15 years I have taught numerous makeup workshops and seminars, and have had many opportunities to instruct and mentor wonderfully gifted artists with great potential from around the world. I think back to my own beginnings and relentless labors to make it in an industry at a time when there were no formalized schools to speak of, and opportunities for training and mentoring came very few and far between.

Early on in my budding career I was so very fortunate to have sat under two of the rising artists of the era who, years later, went on to win Academy Awards. During that time I became keenly aware of how competitive, aggressive, and “political” the studio system was towards emerging artists, and the difficult dynamics within the artist community. Waiting for that big chance or the curtains of opportunity to briefly part was very trying, and at times it seemed hopeless that I would ever get even a small break. Little did I realize then that the long delay I was suffering through was going to be a very important part of my makeup training.

I don’t know if I would have developed the right fortitude, perseverance, and longsuffering patience this business demands had I gotten lucky too soon. Instead, I had lots of time to practice my skills and perfect my artistry through lots of trial and error situations. The mistakes I made were far more valuable because they forced me to focus harder on my end goals, wise up in my attitude, and further sharpen my knowledge and techniques. They also greatly improved my timing in performance while refining my overall skill set in those important fundamentals every artist must possess to move successfully into more advanced and specialized artistry fields.

During this time I had a chance opportunity come along with the celebrated special makeup effects artist guru, Dick Smith, whose kindness and generosity gave me one of the most memorable and valuable lessons in one sentence during those early days, and he said: “Those who lead and excel in what they do cannot keep it to themselves.” I didn’t quite grasp what he was referring to at the time, but that one phrase stuck with me then, and over the years has strongly impacted my ideology, ethics, and integrity in how I perform my work and serve others this industry. Those few, well chosen words were one of the biggest career blessings I could have ever received.

As time rolled on it became clear to me what Dick meant in that forecast, and that is leadership and excellence is the infrastructure of your performance along with the very best you have to give in talent and technique. Those who lead the way are also charged with the duty of working to the best of their ability, and advancing the artistry field with their contribution of greater imagination and skill offerings. We are bound to passing the craft on successfully to the next wave of up and coming makeup artists, as well as leaving it better than it was.

There are always going to be talented artists on the horizon and marching forward behind you, and some may pass you by. Get used to it! They are the ones that will push the makeup artistry “envelope” harder and farther than the previous generation, and our craft needs constant innovation to stay alive and relative on this end of the editing process. So, when their time comes to shine we owe it as a tribute to our own successes to make sure the knowledge and techniques, and the skills to perform, them have been carefully polished further and handed off in the same mode of excellence and leadership.

How else will these important standards of artistry practices survive and live on if the seasoned artists doesn’t keep their hands open, sharing, and modeling the professional way? There is far too much fear, jealousy, and insecurity that runs rampant in this business, and I see many high tier makeup artists tight-fisted with their cutting edge knowledge and skills as a means of maintaining the mysteriousness, control, and monopoly over industry makeup jobs. Many strongly feel that by being accessable and generous in sharing the “Inner Sanctum” of their craft skills is like personally escorting thieves to the loot. I have the view that no one can really steal a job from me; either it was never mine to begin with or was never going to be mine to have OR give.

The confidence I have in myself, my reputation, and the scope of my skill set and performance is my job security, and my honorable practices with integrity and high ethics has always led me to many open doors of work opportunities. When I walk out my craft with the respect for others working in this industry, and while giving liberally and freely to other artists along the way, it always comes back to me in immeasureable ways. The greater satisfaction I have in my career these days is offering the best I have of my talents and techniques to other makeup artists hungry to learn, so they feel supported and empowered along the way to their own greatness.

If this career path has taught me anything about people and relationships it is the important principles I learned along the way in what it takes to perform your craft, and that also means serving others with excellence. It’s in the act of service that one receives the greatest tangible reward, and giving it way will alway be the biggest blessing coming back to you, and greatly multipled.

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