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 filters...you'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