Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolution VS. Commitment

As 2014 comes to a close we're are looking back at the last 12 months. What was this year about? What did you say you would do? What did you actually do? What were your successes? And what were your biggest challenges?

It's this day of the year that millions of people decide to create "resolutions" for the next 365 days/52 weeks/12 months. Quite honestly I have never been into resolutions, they kind of seem like bullshit to me. The actual definition of a resolution is not what everybody thinks it is:

A res-o-lu-tion  noun: The act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.: the act of resolving something: an answer or solution to something:

Our version of a New Year's resolution is a secular tradition in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self improvement that they will carry out for that year.

The problem I have found with creating these "promises" is that we often end up disappointed in ourselves when we cannot keep them. 365 days is a very long time to commit to a drastic change you made overnight. Human change does not come from a promise we make to ourselves because we think we should be better than we were yesterday; Human change comes from the guts of creating a commitment, and a vision to carry it through.

If we actually were making a resolution, we would be in the act of resolving the problem that stands in the way of being who or where we want to be. Be in ownership of creating the steps between who you currently are and being a healthy person, being someone who makes more money, being someone who spends more time with family, being someone who does everything/anything it takes to have the life you want.

So if you are in fact going to be making resolutions you are passionate about, ask yourself: are they "it would be nice if..." promises, or actual commitments? Is 2015 your year? How committed are you making that happen? How do you know if you are committed?

Your are committed if:

  • You have a clear vision of what it is you want
  • You are ready to do hard work in order to get what you want
  • Obstacles along the way do not stop you, they prompt you to find another road on the map
  • When you get stuck, you find support
  • You are willing to be vulnerable (yes you may actually cry a little bit)
  • You are willing to take risks
  • You are willing to be uncomfortable, be judged, and...some people may not like this... committed to you.
  • You are ready to be fully responsible for making it happen - No one else, YOU
  • You understand that you may fall on your face, and that is okay
  • You are okay with not doing it perfectly, because the only way to do it with perfection is to do it shitty first...
  • You may not know how, but you're committed to having it happen anyway, no matter what

You are not committed if:

  • You have no vision as to where you see yourself
  • You make a promise because someone else thinks you should, not because it's important to you
  • The first moment it gets hard you give up
  • You give yourself back doors like saying "I'll try", "I'll see what happens ", "I hope"
  • You base your success on what others do or don't do, say or don't say
  • You allow time, money, knowledge, experience, (fill in the blank), be your excuse as to why you cannot stay committed
  • You are unwilling to be vulnerable, be wrong, fall on your face, look bad, be judged, or do the work
  • You resist making a plan that will guide you
  • You are not willing to find another way if the plan you made doesn't work out
  • Reading this makes you feel guilty rather than motivated

In the end my friends, hard work, drive, and seeking support is the formula to defeating what you think is overwhelming and impossible. Words must be followed with integrity and action because you are worth it. Stay committed, and keep company with those who will push you, and be honest with you. Things may take longer than you want them to but hold your seat and stay focused on the goal, and you will get there...don't give up!

I and The Body of Artists salutes you, wishes you prosperity, passion, and commitment in 2015. We will be here creating some crazy shit in this upcoming year! I hope you will join us

Please enjoy some of the things that inspired me during 2014:

(Sargy Mann's paintings regularly selling for upward of £50,000 (US$80,000).

(make society's stigma, into society's desire)

(you might cry, but will have no excuse after this one)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Feedback: Are you brave enough to ask for it, and smart enough to demand it?

Most human beings have a natural positive reaction to praise and acknowledgement, and a resistance or fear toward constructive criticism. Often people are disappointed when they receive none of the first, but are more than happy to receive none of the second. Recently I have been both the receiver and giver of "feedback", and as much as I am utterly uncomfortable in both scenarios, I have built a muscle over the years allowing me to put both experiences in the category of "essential growth process".

As entrepreneurs we have an ethical and social responsibility to provide excellent customer service. It is essential to our brand elevation and presence. Further, it is what we deserve and expect for ourselves.So, why as a human being would you not want to provide that for others?

When you are offering a service or are working on a team, your performance, efforts, and ways of being are the anchor points to an excellent experience by others.This will dictate more business down the line as people will hire you again, and refer others to work with you. If you promise to deliver something, you are responsible for meeting your word about that product...not just by basic standards, but standards of excellence. If for some reason you are unable to deliver something in excellence, be prepared to receive feedback about it.

Feedback does not make you right or wrong, nor is it good or bad - feedback is information. Feedback is a mirror image of what you are putting out so you can compare it to your original intention and commitment to what you said you would deliver. True integrity even values what you didn't say you would put out, but what should be expected as quality customer service. Constructive criticism is a blessing for you, and a tool with which to learn, adjust, and redeliver your work at its optimal potential.

So why, when we are presented with this awesome opportunity for feedback, do we often react in anger, rejection, fear, defensiveness, projection, embarrassment, and negativity? Because somewhere in our minds at some point in our lives we started to develop our "ego". Ego has a lot of negative connotations attached to it it, but is defined as: the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment...What the hell does that mean? Ego is about self assurance balanced with social acceptance, and how they feed off one another. The panic mode we go into when someone criticizes us is primed from our wanting to feel we did our best, and if we perhaps did not, protect the idea that we did, so we look good. We are often embarrassed and thrown back in the face of criticism, and when we are not aware we are not delivering the best experience, we automatically want to defend our honor. Because of our egos we thrive on praise because we see it as "good", and we reject criticism because we see it as "bad". But let me ask you this: Would you prefer for people to blow smoke up your ass, allow you to produce or behave as mediocre, so you can feel "good", OR would you be willing to risk feeling a little uncomfortable, and take responsibility for what you could deliver so you can be extraordinary? I will assert the latter.

While producing and developing programs and workshops, I will always question my participants. How was your experience? What did you love? Did we meet your expectations? What was missing for you? What would you like to see more of? Would you refer us to others? The answers may not be pleasant - though I hope they will be - but I am looking for common concerns and grievances that need to be adjusted. I try my best to remember to keep my emotions out of it and look for golden nuggets to use and change for the better. This absolutely goes for personal relationships too; my closest friends are people who support me by lovingly acknowledging my efforts, but also aren't afraid to tell me when I fuck up.

Further, don't get chickenshit around giving feedback either. You cannot complain about anything unless you do or say something about it. If you are offered a service, and it is not delivered in excellence, how will they know unless you tell them? You deserve to get a top notch experience, whether you are paying a lot or nothing at all. But if you are putting money down, and not being responsible about being vocal of exactly what you want and expect, then do not complain when you don't get it. Nothing makes my eyes roll more than incessant bitching with no ownership of how you could have made it different. Some people were not educated with the same ethics as you, but you learn over time with referrals and experience who to work with and who not to.

So how can you use feedback to elevate your business, your customer experience, and even your personal relationships?

  • Remember feedback is not good or bad, right or wrong. It is simply information.
  • The best businesses (and people), are not afraid of receiving feedback. In fact, they look for it, and base the elevation of their business on it.
  • When receiving and giving feedback, try to extract the emotion out of it. A dissatisfied customer will have an emotional reaction. However, if you can read between the lines and see what it is that actually needs an adjustment, putting your ego aside, then you have an amazing tool at your disposal.
  • Be responsible about how you give feedback. If your intention is just to bitch and make a point, don't bother. Your biggest possibility to make a difference will be lost in translation if your behavior sucks. Give feedback with the intention of caring that the other person or business will grow because of it.
  • Be responsible about how you receive feedback. If your emotions begin to cause a reaction that initiates defensiveness, stop, count to 10, take deep breaths and say to yourself, what can I learn from this? How can this inspire me to create a better experience?
  • Have gratitude for your feedback, even if it stings like a bitch. Down the line you may realize that this was one of the best things that could have happened for you.
  • Take what you need and leave behind the rest. Not every bit of feedback you receive has pertinence.
  • You will know deep in your heart which feedback is most important.

In the end we all need to be self-cleaning ovens. Sometimes we can only count on ourselves to allow for the biggest growth. Remember what customer service is for you. If you wouldn't settle for anything less than the optimum experience when purchasing a service, a product, or a relationship with another human being, then you absolutely must hold yourself to the same standards.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Glorious Release of Completion

Coming to the end of a year we often look back at all we have a accomplished (or not accomplished) and we weigh our lives against how far we have come…

If I ask myself what the most satisfying, joy-inducing experiences in my life are, I'd say spending quality time with the people I love and fully completing ongoing projects. Anything that gets in the way of these I identify as a challenge, and the struggle to overcome it effects me emotionally. Though I will always find ways to be with my loved ones, it's completion that's the heavy hitter for me.

Completion releases energy. When we invest energy in a plan, our energy is tied up until that action is finished and also acknowledged. Each time we complete a plan, the accumulated energy is released, blasting us into an even larger orbit of action.

Incompletion makes it hard for us to get out of bed. Our minds are filled up with all the things we have to full in fact we can't manage to do any if them.

A lot of times I experience incompletion as a failure: I have failed to do what I said I would do by the time I said I would do it. I cannot move on to my next if I can't complete the now. But incompletion is just a hole in a glass - We cannot fill the glass until we repair it. Patching up the hole is completion. It does not mean we've failed, rather it just simply means there is a call for change in how we've been doing it until now. Think of your goal plan like a relationship: At first it's exciting and easy to find the passion in it...but when shit gets rough and times are hard, it's time to reconsider our commitment. Either put a ring on it or go your separate ways!

This coming Monday The Body of Artists leadership program will honor it's second team of artists graduating the 18 month program. These ladies have come such an unbelievably long way since they began their journey in 2013. They have pushed through unbelievable challenges, experienced some great successes, fell on their faces, gotten back up, and broken through obstacles to become the dynamic professional make up artists they are today. There are probably still some things they would say they have not "completed" as they imagined at the beginning of their program... But does this mean they can't move forward to the next stage of their lives and careers with a feeling of accomplishment?

Let's examine some steps of completion as an actual practice:

Acknowledge what it is you are incomplete about. (without judging the facts or yourself)
No judgments. Just say what it is, no feeling guilt over it.

Acknowledge what HAS been accomplished.
Whether you believe it or not, you have accomplished something with this goal. What was it? How can you acknowledge yourself for that?

Acknowledge what is left undone.
So what's left? What is still incomplete?

Ask yourself if there is a next action to take. If so, write it down and schedule it.
Take action NOW. Put it in your calendar. Make a phone call, write an email, have a conversation ... But do it right now....go ahead...we'll be here...not going anywhere...

Ask yourself if you truly want to finalize this goal. Are you really passionate about this being done?
Maybe you notice you have a strong resistance to doing this (for reasons other than you have been overwhelmed or there's been a few roadblocks here or there) or that you are totally not feeling the goal anymore. It was a good idea at the time but you've moved just declare it COMPLETE. Say it's done and move on!

Is there anything else to say or do that will leave you empowered? If so, to or with whom? Say it, do it, or schedule yourself to do so.
Is there a confidence issue at hand? Is there a person who seemingly stands in the way of your path to completion? Remember your commitment. Do you want to cross the finish line or not? Make your vision bigger then your circumstances, and push through! In other words, knock off the bullshit and do what you need to do, or don't complain.

Finally....MOVE ON!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Are you selling out on your dreams to pay the bills?

"Where's my next check coming from?"

If you are Freelance makeup artist, (or a freelancer period) that question is probably not only familiar, but brings a disdaining shudder to your whole body.

When we have it good we wouldn't trade our freelance career for the world. The freedom to make our own schedule, the luxury of saying no to work without penalties, the possibility to make in one day what you might make in a week elsewhere (that's the best), having a business that is your own... Doing what you love.

But when shit gets tight we often ask ourselves "If only I had that weekly paycheck, something I could rely on". In a moment of down times, there are days we'd give it all up to just feel secure and know we can pay the bills. Sometimes it gets really scary...if you can't make your rent or you have more than one mouth to feed.

So how do you not sell out on your dreams and your vision in order to be responsible and take care of yourself? 

Well there is no straight token answer that works for every scenario, but when you are caught up in those scary moments, in the middle of the storm, there are options to could consider that will keep you on the path to your dreams, rather than turning around or getting stuck.

Change your life? Change your mind.

First before anything we need to be aware of where we allow our mind to take us. It is the number one factor to getting to the other side of a challenge, any challenge, especially a financial one. Most will give up or resign their efforts because their mind tells them: it's too hard, it's not possible, maybe I wasn't meant for this, maybe I don't have what it takes, I'm not good enough/smart enough/young enough/experienced enough, I can't do it alone, my family comes before me, I'll never be rich, money doesn't grow on trees...etc. 

At the time these thoughts are very real and seem to be the truth. But the truth is, if we allow these thoughts to be what rules us, we could never have a fighting chance to break through our financial obstacles, or any other obstacle.. The mind is so powerful, we need to understand that what we think is all we will see.  Despite the evidence, we need to start focusing more on thoughts of prosperity and abundance in order to materialize it.  Most will say I need to experience abundance before I believe it, but it's actually the other way around. In order for it to manifest, put your thinking to the test.

I Will Persist until I Succeed

One of the most unfortunate things about working through a financial challenge is people are often easily defeated when the bank account is close to 0.  I myself have found that my stamina and energy and positive thinking is the hardest to push through when I'm stressed out about my bills and my financial commitments. Not only do I experience feelings of hopelessness, but also question my self worth. What did I do to get myself here?  It's at these critical times where giving up and deciding a freelance career is not for you and a full time job may be the safest route is common. But if in this moment you can see the situation as just a set back rather a sign of defeat, you get an opportunity to learn - the best lesson available, and you can use this vulnerable moment to propel you forward.

 When Sandy hit us in 2012, I lost about $7000 in revenue because Halloween was practically cancelled in NY. I was counting on that money for so many things, it was a devastating loss. To add salt to the wound work was unusually slow the following months. I found myself curled up in ball on the couch numbing out to Netflix movies with no energy, no inspiration, and fighting thoughts of taking a part time job. One day I decided I was sick of feeling this way and being a victim of Sandy or any other circumstance that seemed to hold a poverty cloud over my head. So I started to meditate. I practiced thoughts of believing the work was coming to me, not just menial work but work that was inspiring and lucrative. At the same time I started calling people. I called people or companies I owed money to and explained my situation and created agreements. You'd be surprised how understanding and compassionate people can be if you learn to ask in a powerful way.  I then started creating a workshop and called colleagues, letting them know I was available for things, even assisting. Then in January the flood gates opened, And I made more money in three months than I had a very long time.

This is because I stayed committed to my vision and would not give up. Commitment is all about seeing your destination and not being attached to how you get there. Riding through the storm and having faith that if you're careful you can make it all the way through. Not being ashamed of asking for support or doing whatever it takes to get you to the other side all the while keeping thoughts of positivity.

Stay Committed to Your Decisions, but Stay Flexible in your Approach

Now as I said before, I put down my ego in times of stress and really got connected to what are all the possibilities of creating money rather than the ones that I am most accustomed to. A lot of people who are in financial straits will be stuck on only making money in the way that they normally would: getting calls from clients who will hire you to do make up, or get a full part time job. For me it's not even a matter of pride to not take a full or part time job; sometimes it's about staying on track for what I'm currently building, and to take a job with another person may deter me from focusing on building my brand, my portfolio, my business plan etc. I often need to take a look at what I'm doing, ask myself if it's working, and what are other ways to approach both receiving income, spending income, and saving income.

Receiving income is what most people focus on, but how you handle the money once you have it is a huge factor in the fluidity of your funds. People assume that 100% of your check should go towards bills/food and then what's leftover goes to recreational activities or items. That is one approach. Have you ever attempted creating a budget? (I know, total "yuck". What do I look like, an accountant?). But being aware of the monthly ratio of what you take in versus what you spend could help you make informed decisions on what you can spend money on. Subtle cut backs can make a huge difference down the line. Also putting away money for a rainy day, may be the thing you thought anal people did, but if you put 20% or even 10% of every check you received away and didn't touch it... that could be your saving grace for those intense lull periods where panic takes over your rational brain.  People do it for taxes, when they want to go on a kick ass vacation...why not think longer term?

Oh What the Fuck, Do Whatever it Takes

This has been a mantra I have gone by and taught with for over 5 years, and has literally changed my life forever.  We think in a small box a large percent of the time, and it is in times of crisis where our brain pumps into overdrive based on the need for survival, the most amazing creative and intuitive ideas spring forth. You honestly would be surprised at the lengths someone could go, that you would go, if it meant everything.

Back in 2009 my hubby and I were confronted with a very serious and unexpected legal issue.  We had to come up with over $15,000 in less than two months to hire a lawyer who could help us sort it out.  Its the kind of news that grips you with the kind of fear and panic that paralyzes you. Both my husband and I had to hit the ground running to come up with some solutions to create money quick.  I went everywhere I knew with my usual approach: followed up with immediate clients, called some friends to see if they knew of any jobs...I kept hitting walls. I was at the precipice of going back to finding work at a makeup counter, which I hadn't done in over 5 years. Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with working at a counter, but it wasn't what I wanted to do. So I got some coaching from someone and they put me on a challenge.  They asked me to make a list of 50 things I could do to create money (that were legal of course).  I rolled my eyes at first but of course agreed to it.  At first I couldn't get past 21 things.  I ran through the obvious things...doing makeup, teaching classes for brands, teaching private clients, body painting for events, for campaigns, doing face painting for kids parties, for adult parties, do brows, give hair cuts...but when I tried to stop there my coach wouldn't let me.  He said keep going until I hit 50. So I forced myself to think outside of the box.  It wasn't easy but I came up with another 30. Some were silly, but the ones that counted were in that last 30.  Design, produce and facilitate your own workshops, Design Classes/programs for other companies, assist with product development, paint murals, create Halloween event...When I completed my list, my coach then challenged me to email the list to 20 people who I would inspire to hire me for one or more of the things on the list. I said "What?!". He simply answered " How important to you is it to make money right now?." I breathed deep, and got to work. These were not some sales emails... I got real, vulnerable, but connected with people powerfully who I knew could hire me or get things started.  In one month I made an extra $5,000, next month same, and the rest we borrowed from our 401K.  And thank goodness, because that lawyer did an amazing job and cleared us of a lot of unnecessary crap. Not to mention half of the things I created to make extra money ended up being permanent money making options that I still use today.  All because I was committed to getting to the other side, not giving up, not being stuck to one approach, and having the attitude of O.W.T.F.D.W.I.T.

 In a world where there is so much available to us, and where we can use our gifts of creativity to come up with unlimited options, there is almost nothing we can't conquer.  We all have our vulnerable moments, but in those powerful moments we can make choices that make us stronger or set us back.  Money is not a force that rules us, it is an energy, and a tool that we can make a partner, or a nemesis. Which would you choose? Which do you choose?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Insta-famous or Insta-fraud?

Over the past few years there has been a ongoing conversation between industry professionals about the rise of YouTube/Instagram make up stars and how it may be devaluing the craft of professional makeup artists. Some of my dearest colleagues who will openly rant about popular Youtube or Instagram stars not being "real" make up artists, or how simply using a web cam and filter to take selfies is insulting to those of us who have worked for years on our craft. We built our knowledge and expertise from the ground up, we shouldn't be fighting for notoriety next to people who have barely done the work.

I wanted to explore this more intricately because it's not just as black-and-white as it may seem. I wholeheartedly believe that internet stardom is not synonymous with technical skill. But it's also important to see what are these people doing right they were not giving them credit for.

The main gripe of hardworking industry professionals against social media celebrities may seem obvious to you but I definitely want to elaborate. I myself went to art school and learned everything there is to know about line, form, composition, light and dark color theory, etc. Make up artists who do not go to art school bust their ass to take workshops, seminars, and follow artists who know this backwards and forwards. These skills are make or break when you show up to a job and are hit with an unexpected problem: complete change in concept, different skin toned models than you were told,  severe skin issues. A legitimate education is going to support you in being creative while problem solving in real time. Someone who sits behind a computer all day with their freebie samples does not necessarily have the skills to do this. The expertise that they do have is to the ability to do stunning makeup on their own face, the same skin tone on the same shaped face, every single day.  

Let me illustrate this problem with a story I heard from a friend. A huge (MEGA!) YouTube sensation (whose name I will not mention) was doing a fashion show with Dick Page. As my friend sat next to her backstage, she noticed this individual having a lot of difficulty with the look and struggling to figure out darker skin tones. This YouTube sensation leaned over and asked my friend "would you mind helping me figure out what this girl's skin tone is?" My friend who is a seasoned make up artist was absolutely stunned but of course assisted this person. What's mind boggling for me is that this person is represented by a top agency, has pictures all over the subway and posters everywhere about her YouTube channel, yet could not figure out how to get a dark skin girls foundation to work with what she had in her kit.

A true make up artist becomes a "MacGyver" with whatever they've got in their kit. I'll never forget the story another dear professional friend told me about a situation where he had to do make up on one of the most famous dark skinned celebrity women we know today. Again, I will not name names because these things were told to me in confidence, and it would be inappropriate to blast their shit on my blog, but the story holds weight for the point I'm trying to make. So let me just say that this woman has an empire and if you get called to do her make up you better know what you're doing. My friend showed up early and realized he left all of his foundations and concealers at home! Before he went into total panic mode the first thing he needed to do was look in his kit and see what could he possibly do in the situation like this.  What he did have was an entire bag of every Shu Umera lipstick you could possibly think of. On the spot he premixed and cut up and mashed together lipsticks to create the color skin tone of this person's face. He applied lipstick to her face as though it were a foundation (as though nothing was amiss) and it looked gorgeous. So much so that the celebrity asked him what the foundation was and if she could get it. He told her that the product they were using was still in creative development and would definitely send it to her if it went to market. Lol! 

This is what a true make up artist can do. At a moments notice they can create something out of nothing with their skills and expertise. If you've only done make up on your own face and saturated it with'll be a very talented hobbyist, but not a make up artist by far.

So what can we learn from these people that seem to frustrate our industry to no end? The truth is is every time I hear someone rant about how awful it is that these people are getting notoriety I can't help but roll my eyes. The reason is because we are in an age that has absolutely been taken over by social media and Internet marketing. If you do not have an online presence then unfortunately you are way behind the times. Nowadays if you want to find out more about somebody you can easily find them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. As much as us purists would love to just do our work and not have to worry about social media, you need to look at what is going on around you. You do not need to be a YouTube sensation, but 90% of the world is on YouTube.  If someone Googled you and found a cool video with your work represented in it, point plain, more people can easily find out about you and your work. The more people are familiar with your work, the more "top of mind" you will be when it comes to jobs. Ditto with Instagram! People don't necessarily need to see what you're eating or how cute your cat looks today, but to see you pumping out work that is relevant and interesting also helps you build a following and be the topic of a conversation that creates relevancy in your industry.

Why waste your time being pissed off that someone is "better known", when you can put your energy into creating, expanding your own skills, and growing your business?! I for one am grateful for those people who piss me off. They push me to see between the lines and not resist the current system that makes them successful, but figure it out, and use it to MY advantage.

“Isn't it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?” 
― Sean Covey

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jack of all Trades, Master of None?

I was in Alcone the other day buying some post fashion week organization containers when I bumped into Angelina Avalone. In catching up with each other on work we had an in depth conversation that most artists I think would find absolutely fascinating, though to us it's the norm. The conversation was about being "a jack of all trades" in your industry, and how important it is to have a ton of skills underneath your belt, and how if she and I did not, we might be up shits creek with our careers.

Now I know you are probably thinking "but what about the second part to that saying? "Jack of all trades, master of none?" While there is a lot of truth in that statement, there's also some key understandings that make the difference between being an expert in your field, or a wandering nomad with no focus.

Let's examine the intention of that saying, and the truth that lies within it. In this industry people have a mega short attention span, and the ones doing the hiring are looking for someone masterful at developing whatever specific vision they have. If we aren't a specialist, we'll be passed over for someone who is. That's why it's not wise to have too much going on with your website and promotional material, too many genres of makeup. It will seem unfocused, and in a sense that you are a "Master of None".

So why is it still important to be a "Jack of All Trades"?  In mine and Angelina's case, where we do very specific makeup (theater and creative), there may only be a very small pool of demand for what we do. As a result we get some really amazing jobs, but they maybe be few and far between.  Most people think I am a "Body Artist", and an "airbrush artist", or a "creative makeup artist".  I am all of these things of course, but I am so much more. I am an fx artist, a beauty artist, a props and backdrop fabricator and painter, and on the other end I am an educator, mentor, and coach. Right now I am flying to Paris to be a guest instructor at the MUFE Cite du Cinema to teach for a week while also coordinating two MUA Leadership Programs.

My point is in the case where my "creative makeup" jobs are not coming in, I cannot have the excuse that there is not enough work out there for me - that is a small box to live in. I am the master of my domain, and the captain of the ship that is my career. If I do not steer myself into the water to find and conquer new frontiers I'll just get stuck in the harbor, while my ship rots, my booty runs out and frankly I'll just be a cranky old pirate. (No idea where that analogy came from but I just went with it).  So over the years I have made sure I keep learning and developing new and old skill sets. I sit in on colleagues workshops, I assist them on fx and hair jobs, I take classes in photography and pay close attention/ask questions of the photographers I work with.  You just never know what request will come down the pipe. As a result I get to be the fx artist on a WOLVVES music video, AND do a beauty Halloween makeup for Martha Stewart.  I can be the fx artist for a Flaunt Magazine story, but also do a beauty airbrush campaign for Temptu.

So how do you become a Jack of all trades but not appear to be an unfocused "Master of None"? 

Good question! The answer is about staying connected to who you are as a brand. Allow your online presence to be strong in your voice and specialty. If you are an exceptional bridal artist, then let there be no mistaking that in your online message. Same goes for if you are an fx artist, a body painter, a high fashion editorial artist - these are not who you are, this is what you specialize in. The trick is to have a hidden portfolio on line to show your other assets. Consider keeping two separate websites to show certain clients based on request, and be vocal on the job about what you have done and are capable of doing. Keep pictures on your phone/iPad ready to show in case your alternative skill set is exactly what your client is looking for; people see the advantage of working with someone they know already. Also, surprising people with your main portfolio by saying "I also did the hair for this" Or "I also painted the backdrop for that" will astound them and make you a top-of-mind artist.

Just make sure you represent your alternative skill sets well - make sure you seem proficient at it, otherwise it may backfire on you. Joanne Geir is known to be an amazing body painter, but she is also and exceptional beauty artist. Pat McGrath is one if the top makeup artists in the world, but she also is also is amazing at product development. Kabuki can do insane avante garde creative looks but can also do very clean "no makeup" skin looks. My own dear friend James Vincent is known for his mod rocker looks, but he can airbrush, do fx, tattoos and more if he needs to. Or he'll just call me if he doesn't feel like it, lol!  

Joking aside, this is actually another option. If you do not feel comfortable promoting yourself in an alternative skill set, then have someone in your back pocket who can do it well. There is nothing wrong with partnering with another artist so people seek you out as a package, or will constantly come to you because if you cannot do it, they know you can confidently refer someone who can.

So what does all this mean for you? Same thing I always say:

  1. Save up and invest in education to expand your skills.
  2. Keep doing tests that push your comfort zone.
  3. Continue to stay true to your brand but be the person that also gives a little something extra.
  4. Create relationships and partnerships with other talented artists in your community, especially ones who have different skill sets than you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Juggling Many Balls and Dealing with Overwhelm

With Fashion Week starting up - a time where many makeup artists are juggling several balls, and when I personally experience the craziest schedule perhaps all year - I thought that examining how to handle "overwhelm" would be appropriate. You've got juicy goals, a crazy work schedule, friends that are dying to hang out, and it's been way too long since you've seen your mom,...what do you do?! You can't stop time (I've tried), and life will keep throwing you curve balls. If your go to response is "I'm too busy/tired/overwhelmed" it's time to reevaluate! How can you juggle all the pieces without falling apart?

#1. Just accept you will need to become a superhero.

Someone once told me "If you have a lot on your plate, then switch to a platter". When you are going to be up to a lot in your life, it is not possible for you to handle it all by doing things the way you have always done them.  You will need to approach it with a different way of thinking, a creative way of thinking.  You will need to step into the nearest phone booth (if you can find one that actually exists anymore) and change into your "super suit". As your super self you can handle anything, you will see ways to do things differently, and no matter what it looks like you will be committed to getting it done.  What's the trick to becoming your "super" self? Just keep believing (even if you don't know exactly how, or what it will look like) anything is 100% possible for you to complete, 100% of the time. My favorite quote from Einstein is "you cannot solve a problem with same manner of thinking that created it."

#2.  Take breathing to a level deeper.

Absence of oxygen causes our hearts and blood to pump harder and laboriously. We breath shallow when we are not present and are just trying to make it by the skin of our teeth. Anxiety and stress directly correlates with shortness of breath. If in a moment of stress, stop, become aware of the shallow breath, and consciously take a few minutes to do some deep/slow breathing exercises - you're heart will get the oxygen it needs to pump ample fresh blood to the brain. Your nerves immediately begin to relax, and you start to feel grounded, and are able to critically and creatively think on a vast level. The funny thing is, this could be one of the simplest things for calm our nerves and see things much clearer, yet most of the worlds population doesn't realize it. There is an easy and ancient breathing technique you can use called Pranayama. Follow this link for the very simple steps; it should take you no more than 5 minutes but the results will have you be much more focused and calm to handle your day.

#3. Make your calendar a game of Tetris

When I have a lot going on sometimes I dread looking at my calendar. With so much packed in it just seems I started looking at it as a game. Some of my biggest problems when I'm busy are getting back to people's texts/emails/phone calls, taking care of my well being, and finding time to restructure/clean my tools and supplies. I started looking for all the big chunks in my calendar - the big blocks of commitments like work and important family obligations - and then I find the little empty spaces where I can fit stuff in, and strategically add things in: 45 minutes to answer all correspondence, go get acupuncture, invite an intern over to help restructure my kit, sit down with hubby to watch (fill in the blank) shows on DvR, go to bed early this day.... It's sounds silly, but if you make those things a vital part of your schedule and even book it it with alarms, you feel less anxiety around forgetting something and you don't feel you are being pulled in a hundred different directions. You control your schedule, it doesn't control you.

#4. Be conscious of others who count on you AND who you can count on.

When I get too overwhelmed I trap myself in a little bubble of solitude. I do not consciously do it, it's a matter of habit from being independent. The problem is that when I do this I hinder myself in 2 ways: 
A.) I forget others count on me in big and little ways, so I don't communicate with them. I forget to tell them I will be busy in days/weeks ahead, they will assume things are hunky-dory, and they wonder why I am not responding or doing the things they count on me to do. 
B.) I also forget that 2 or 3 brains/sets of hands could be the magic trick I am looking for that will have me get more done in a shorter amount if time. So by not reaching out to my network for support, I could miss an opportunity to alleviate stress and my work load.
Bottom line, be responsible, communicate, and ask for support from others. That way you should never find yourself on anyone's "shit list", and you may find peace through the help you receive if you have the courage to ask for it.

#5. Do your best and take care of yourself.

Even if you are a superhero, everybody needs to take care of their well being. Even superheroes are vulnerable with kryptonite moments. Often times when people are busy they do nonsensical things like forgetting to eat, hydrate, or sleep enough. I have NO idea what that is like ( ...said no makeup artist ever). Busy people also do ironic things like eat what's convenient, chain smoke, and drink to to let off steam. (Still have no idea who would do that. Just guessing.) Who are we kidding? We all do it... And we wonder why at the end of a nonstop week we want to crawl into bed for 4 days, and feel like our bodies got pummeled by a Mack truck then went in reverse flattening every ounce of energy we have.  So if you want to be more productive during your "cray-time", and not feel like the floor of a taxi cab at the end of it all, it comes down to a few conscious choices. Every moment you come to the precipice of a choice: Do I go to sleep early or go out for a drink? Do I eat bread at every meal or supplement a veggie? Do I drink another cup of coffee or a glass of water? Do I go out and smoke a cigarette while yapping with the crew or take a moment to be quiet and recharge? All of these are vital choices that could make the difference at the end of the day of feeling energized or exhausted.  Now no one is perfect and old habits are not easy to change...But remember to put on your super suit and do your best. 

When the going gets tough, you get going. Acknowledge yourself for the things you do well in the heat of stressful times, practice, and push your tactics further. Don't settle for less, you really can have it all!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Balancing Vision with Action

Yesterday I was watching my 23 year old brother peruse the internet very intently. When I asked him what he was doing he replied that he was looking at beachfront properties to see how much it would cost  to buy a house on a beach.  Apparently this was research to see how much money he would need to make to afford it, therefore dictating what kind of job he should have. With my usual eye rolling and snarky responsiveness I asked him "Don't you think it would be more practical  to research a job that will afford you a place that is not on my couch?".  We both laughed. 

Even though my "responsible" side wanted to support a more grounded approach, I had to admire my brother.  I saw a lot of myself in him which I would describe to be the visionary.  I have often caught myself in a whirlwind of looking to the future, focusing on my big dreams and goals, but not thinking about the plan or the everyday steps it will take to get there. Even when I do think about and plan for it, its uncomfortable, irritating, and quite frankly I'm impatient to get to my desired end. Why does this happen? Because it's my personality and make-up.  It's the comfortable go-to and it is where my talents lie - seeing the result or desired end. On the other hand, my husband's go-to is to figure out the everyday responsibilities that allow us to function and sustain ourselves. He is what I would refer to as the linear thinker. He does the finances, the budgeting, needs to know the X, Y and Z's of everything before he agrees to move forward. It drives me bonkers sometimes, and is the base of most our disagreements. But it is his talent, his gift, and without it I'd probably either be homeless or in a psych ward. (Totally exaggerating, but not by much.)

So this got me thinking about this weeks topic as I have been observing my BoA LPs (the Body of Artists Leadership Participants) work out the challenges of putting themselves up to inspiring goals while adjusting their everyday responsibilities to work towards those goals. Those who naturally are visionary types often create amazing ideas of where they want to be but get stuck on the linear method in which to get there, while the linear thinkers can't commit to a vision unless they know the how's and what's of getting there. 

So how do you create life changing, groundbreaking goals while staying accountable to your everyday responsibilities? How do you build a portfolio when you have a full time job, kids, etc? How do you bridge the dichotomy of these two personality types to be able to take sustainable actionable steps? How do you take vision, to action, to results?

This is an acquired skill set, with a necessity for practice by all. This is a large part of what we focus on in our MUA Leadership Program, and it takes time to cultivate and master, but here are some takeaways I'll share that have supported me, my colleagues and mentees once we integrated them into our daily practice:

1. Be Prepared to Change.  You absolutely cannot set the track to move towards new goals by doing everything the way you have always done it. You will need to stretch into the uncharted territory of doing things differently. The way you manage your time, the way you communicate with others, the way you approach a task....all of it must change for you to grow. Whether you are a visionary who gets to try new ways of being grounded, or you are a linear thinker who gets to practice taking risks, change is inevitable. Once you surrender to this idea, you are half way there... or at least have a head start.

2. Know Your Gifts (and know where you are challenged.) There are 4 basic personality types - Visionaries and Linear Thinkers are just 2 of them - and different models have different names for each personality type. But regardless, each personality type has strengths and challenges: each one learns a certain way, each one executes action a certain way. Each one of these types of personalities feels successful when certain things occur and feels rejected or disappointed when certain things aren't present.  Know who you are so you can not only better understand yourself, but better understand and communicate with others in taking steps toward your goals.  Here are some fun, interesting and popular personality tests.  Find out what personality type you are!

Jung Typology Test
Myers-Briggs Test

3. Be Accepting of Your Gift.  I spent a lot of time judging myself because I could not strategically plan and accomplish things the way others did. I judged my success on my failure to operate in a fashion that didn't leap me to my desired results. What a WASTE OF TIME! (However, try not to judge yourself...for judging yourself. Ha!) You were born with a gift that you do well and is necessary in the world. Sure, we all sometimes wish we could have a little of the gifts our neighbors have - and we can certainly learn from one another - but acknowledge your strengths and let them shine...We cannot benefit from them if you do not.

4. Outsource the gifts that you do not have. Whether you are a business owner, a sole freelancer, or on a team, or even in your own family, don't let not having a particular gift keep you from taking great strides toward your goals. I personally love to keep Linear Thinkers around me when making informed decisions about my business; I just hired a COO (Chief Operating Officer) to support me in taking my ideas and giving them structure and actionable steps so they materialize with consistency and efficiency. Like my husband, this person has a puzzle piece shape that fits perfectly with mine: where I have gaps she fills them in and vice versa. Andi f you don't have the money to hire someone? Well we all have friends and colleagues that also need what you have, and in turn they have what you need. I'll give you a hint...when planning something if you are a visionary, this person drives you nuts because they need to know who, when, where, why, how much, and how long it will take before they can agree to anything.  If you are linear thinker, this person is always coming up with crazy ideas, fun out of the box ideas, with a lot of risk and drives YOU nuts because they don't care about the details unless it has to do with fun. You guys can become partners and support each other towards your goals but ONLY if you respect each others personalities and how you both operate.

5. Write that shit down! Make a plan. There are long term goals, and there are short term goals that lead up to them. First describe your ultimate vision. Then break down your steps. Become best friends with your calendar and schedule the steps. Work together with an accountability partner to aid you on the way.  But most importantly honor the VISION part of your goals as it will keep you engaged, give you direction, and remind you WHY you are doing it.......


....BUT! Also honor the individual steps it will take to get there.  

Whether you are a visionary or linear thinker, your journey is unique to only you.  There is no right or wrong way to do it, but there are ways that work for you, and ways that do not. Hopefully you have the awareness to know the difference, the commitment to find the support, and stamina to figure out the NEW ways of doing things so you can experience your achievements being actualized.  

  This insight means diddly with out action... so this week, ask yourself these questions:
  • What type of personality am I?
  • What are my strengths? 
  • What are my challenges?
  • Am I willing to change so I can have what I want?
  • Do I know someone who could support me in areas I am not strong in?
  • Do I have the courage and commitment to ask them to partner with me?
  • Do I have a VISION? Do I have a Plan?
  • What is my next step?

By the way... this is pretty much what we do in the MUA Leadership Program.  So if you are looking for this kind of support, please join our mailing list (fill out the form on the top right!) so you can learn more about it. Next application process starts in January!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Most Important Ingredient for Making Your Dish of Success Delicious

As you may remember, in the last article we discussed the five ingredients a makeup artist could embody to enrich their positioning the industry. If you missed it, check it out here.  Hopefully it opened up some awareness for you on how you present yourself to others, where you stand with your client relationships, how much attention you give to your education, and how creative you are allowing yourself to be while building your portfolio.....

However the most important ingredient sets the base for all the rest of the flavors.  Without it, the rest of the ingredients though spicy and sweet have no sustenance. It's like leaving crust out of pizza, or the macaroni out of macaroni and cheese (apparently the food choices are coming from one of those cravings I get as gluten challenged person).  Even if you could manage the other ingredients without this main ingredient, I find the others will not sustain or hold weight.  Its a simple one, yet you would be surprised how many of us in a given moment stop and realize we do not practice it…. This key ingredient is Gratitude.

So what is gratitude to you?

The official definition: Grat·i·tude - noun -the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. 

Before I set forth on writing about it, I knew it was a huge part of my success but I actually had to think, what is gratitude for me, and how does it play a role in my life’s prosperity?  I even researched it a little bit by reading other articles and watching some You Tube Videos…. and what became very clear to me is its a choice in how I feel, which dictates the way I behave, and it gets mirrored back to me in all I receive in my life. Gratitude is not just a thing that we should have as human beings so we can be happy; gratitude is a way of living that elevates every experience for you and everyone around you. It has been scientifically proven that if you can embody gratitude and share it, by default your level of happiness goes up exponentially.

Don't believe me? Check out this video " The Science of Happiness" to see what I mean:

So what the hell does this have anything to do with being a makeup artist? Let me illustrate by applying it to the other 4 ingredients from the past article:

Ingredient #1 was about presenting yourself confidently. If you lived in a conscious state of gratitude, being confident about what you have to offer would not only be way easier, but you would be perceived as someone who doesn't "need' something because you are grateful for what you have. Being grateful to have the opportunity to serve someone has your potential client trust you, rather than someone who is coming from a place of desperation. 

Ingredient #2 was about expanding your education. I find that when I live in gratitude, I am really present to all the knowledge there is available to me to learn and grow, even if I'm considered to be an "expert".  You can find more opportunities to take on a new skills and new ideas, because when you are grateful for the amazing creative career you have chosen, you are always on the search and in practice to take it to another level.  This comes off to others as being excited about your trade and humble.  Who doesn't  appreciate working with someone who is humble?

Creating your own projects (not waiting for them) was Ingredient #3. Expanding on #2, being grateful for the work you GET to do (versus HAVE TO do) creates the space for you to play.  Ever hear of the expression When you do what you love you never work a day in your life?  When you are grateful for the job you have and the work you do, you have more joy doing it, as do the people who get to work with you. Sure, there's a job to be done, but people remember the creativity, fun and excitement in putting it together, not how much money they made off the project. Unfortunately people also remember those who bitch, gripe, and seemingly are miserable about their job too.  
Finally, applying it to Ingredient #4, cultivating your relationships... well, the very definition of cultivating your relationships is having gratitude for everyone in your life.  Yes, I said everyone. There are great clients (relatives, friends, colleagues) which are easy to be grateful for, and there is the seemingly crappy client experience where it may not be so obvious as to why gratitude is important.  With both types of clients, gratitude sets the context for them to be received.  Imagine if every service you received you experience that you are welcomed with gratitude for you choosing their business.  It helps create connection and trust.  The clients who bring YOU work that you love, and pay you what you want to be paid, it is natural to feel grateful, but how often do you share that gratitude with them?  And with the clients that seem to be difficult or challenging, these are the clients that help to form you as an expert.  The best lessons we have that teach us what to do and what not to do, usually come from not so pleasant experiences.  Imagine instead of staying sour, bitter, and bitchy about that experience or that person, you thanked those people, and were grateful to them for making you smarter.  How much more peace could that give you?

  If you haven't figured out by now, gratitude is allowing yourself to experience love for the things in your life, whether its a positive experience, or a seeming negative experience.  But of course we are human, and in our dark moments to automatically turn to gratitude sounds unrealistic. But truth be told, with practice, if you consciously stop, look, and choose in a moment, you not only realize that choosing gratitude brings you peace, but when you share it, it elevates the energy and euphoria around you.  If that's the experience you are bringing to the table, people will want to be around you more and more...for work, at home, and among friends, by default bringing abundance in your life.

So how can you start practicing gratitude?  If you could make a list of the things you were grateful for, how would you start taking actionable steps to sharing that? Here is a great TED Talk by Jane Ransom who shares the Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock the Happiest Life. Use her tips to start not only being grateful, but living gratitude.