How I got started in this business…

That’s the #1 question I get asked. No matter where I go, I get asked, how did you got started as a makeup artist in this business…

And yes, it was a long time ago that I got interested in makeup….. (hey! no laughing!) but I do remember it..

I was 6. Yep. Six years old, and I had stolen my mom’s oh so chic Bazaar and Vogue magazines. Because to me, whenever they came in the mail, it was like Christmas Day every single month… I got so excited, just ripping through those magazines looking at the images. Until my mom told me to STOP, until she had read them. Well, being 6, I guess I didn’t listen. Because one day she came in my room to find ALL of her magazines surrounding me on the floor. With me in the middle of them, crying.

Yep. Crying.

She asked me what was wrong, and she said I pointed to the pages in the magazine (which was open up to faces by the way) and said, very upset, “I can’t do that!”. Meaning the makeup. Because I was attempting it on myself with watercolor paint. Being 6, I had no idea what makeup was.

At least not yet.

My mom knew…….

Me? It took a few years… in junior high school, I thought I wanted to be a model. I got one of those stupid model cards in the mail saying “YOU can be a model!” which of course I thought meant that I was! My mom said I was so insistent and excited on going, that I ended up going to the modeling school by the time I was in high school. She says she’s never seen me so excited in my life and she knew something was going on here. And so I ended up in that modeling school, doing everyone’s makeup on photo shoot day on Saturdays… which was easy for me after I did all my friend’s makeup for the prom, dances, first dates with high school crushes.. but it never occurred to me that I could make a living at it. No, I wanted to be a model, (yeah right!). Until a photographer at the school said I really should get into it. So off to beauty school I went to get my license, which I got the same month I graduated high school. That was a day I’ll never forget.

Then off to the Pasadena Fine Art College of Design in CA. No, not as a student, but a makeup artist for their photography department. There, students learned lighting, composition, film and I learned right along side with them (for free actually… ) and built up my first portfolio that way. I was there literally 3-4 days a week. So much so that security guards were giving me parking tickets thinking I was a student and warning me I’d never graduate.. (um, I’m NOT a student….)

My mom was a photographer when she was younger in Germany, and I know I have her insane eye for detail. Yep, she’s the one that would break out the camera at every family/holiday/major occasion… no matter how much we hated it growing up. But I know I see what she sees…..

Did I go to makeup school? No. And Cosmetology School is not really known for it’s attention to makeup (try sanitation, galvanic current and how to do a leg wax instead….) Should you? It depends. To work in a salon? Yep, go. To do freelance work? Believe me, no one will ever ask, or care.

I truly believe it’s all in how you see things. You either have an eye for it or you don’t. If it’s there, training will definitely help fine tune your skills, but if it’s not, no amount of schooling will give you an eye for detail, color, application, technique and all the little nuances that are needed in doing makeup…..

foto: hyunda shin, makeup: elke

I always say in photography makeup, it’s the attention to detail and composition that’s so insane, that no one else sees it but you. Seriously. I mean, every pore, every hair, every lash, every detail…

See the above left shot? With the blue/green going down the neck? I did the makeup at first on the side of the face. Model goes to hair stylist, who precedes to cover up my work with his colored hair… (gotta love those hair stylists..) so before she got in front of the camera, I grabbed her and continued the makeup so you could see it. On her neck and shoulder so the composition of the shot would work. The next shot? Well, neck and face are taken, so where to apply now? On the jaw, which follows the same lines and strong angles of the first shot… see? Composition.

It’s also an application that literally has to be mistake proof free, because any fixing of any mistake? Well, the camera sees it.. especially those high def cameras that see your soul. And photoshop? Yep, it’s there, but budgets are there to fix photography problems, not yours. At least, not anymore anyway. You’re lucky if that slightly crooked lip line of yours gets fixed…. and if it doesn’t? Learn. I try so hard to make sure that a client will not have to photoshop anything I did on a face. And if they do? I’m crushed. Because I didn’t do my job.

How do I learn? Well, not from beauty school, or makeup school. No, I learn from my mistakes. My ‘oops’ moment when I make a mistake and have to figure out how to make it work… or when my fav makeup brush is missing (I’m a huge makeup brush fanatic..) and I have to figure out what brush might work in a pinch…. mistakes that I rarely make anymore but when I do, I , #1, never say I’m making a mistake, and #2, am secretly excited because I get to figure out something new.. that I can use and hopefully pass on to you…..

For example?

My favorite mistakes turned makeup tips:

1. Use mascara as liquid eyeliner.. easier to apply and lasts hours. Apply with a thin eyeliner brush.

2. Use a concealer brush as a lip brush. Regular lip brushes drive me nuts…

3. Use a lip brush as a mini concealer brush.

4. Apply all your liquids with a foundation brush (yes I have about 5/6 of them..) Like moisturizer, primer, foundation, etc…yep. All of them. Makes a difference in the look of skin in a photo..

5. Pressed for time? Start mixing. For example, the skin takes forever.. swamped? Mix your moisturizer + primer into your foundation. Apply with a foundation brush. There you go. Three layers applied in one fast step.

6. In photo, it really doesn’t matter what’s used for what. I’ve used cream blush on lips, lip gloss on eyes, mascara as eye liner, eye shadow as lip color, I’ve used primer OVER foundation… it really is, if it works, do it.

7. and my fav trick of all? If you make a mistake? (like too much shadow on one eye…) do the EXACT same mistake on the other side.. then fix both sides. It’ll look the same. If you don’t do it? You’ll get one side with a bad splotchy job and the other side looks perfect…. in photo? Doesn’t look too good.

Frizzle Story1Frizzle Story2

makeup: elke foto: nicholas routzin

But the most important thing I can tell someone in this crazy business, is to figure out your style. Your beauty style. Your gotta do that one style of beauty that makes your heart stop. That’s your style. Once you’ve figured it out, and yes, it took years for me to get it, since i was the “i can do everything’ type of beauty that really got no where…. Figure it out and you’ll work. Be the best in that style and you’ll own that style of makeup artistry.

See the shots above? Well, let’s just say the clothes and hair are not really my style. It’s a lot of stuff piled on, crazy hair and if I was to do the makeup the same way (as in overpowering, crazy, dark makeup), well to me, it wouldn’t work. So what to do? Well, apply your style. Mine? It’s perfect beauty. And even if at first glance it doesn’t seem like it would work in the shot? Here, it does and I think it makes the model’s very elegant face look even more so.

You see, just think of the top names in the business right now. Pat McGrath, Kevyn Aucion, Billy B., Francis Nars, Bobbi Brown. How do you know them? By their style. And they’re all different. So what’s yours? Once you’ve build a whole portfolio full of it? You’ll get work…

Me? I’m in the gorgeous drop dead beauty style, currently revamping it into a more avant garde style. But still beautiful.

Spring 2

makeup/hair:elke foto: ron goldstein

Like above. It’s still beauty. But kicked up a knotch I like to call it. And don’t worry about losing work when you change your style. The shot on the upper right? The one with all the leaves in the hair? Yeah, that shot got me a bridal magazine cover. Go figure, right?

So figure out what heart stopping style you want to call your own.

Do anything and everything to get that portfolio looking fantastic.

Be technically perfect in every single touch, stroke, application of makeup that you do.

And never quit.

As they say, the one’s that quit, are the ones that never make it.

Will you?

[tag] Elke Von Freudenberg, makeup artist, makeup artistry[/tag]