When does relying on a singular talent hold you back? The short answer is all the time. Don’t get me wrong; there is a lot of good that can come from the intense focus that comes along with a specialty. It can give you the marketing anchor you need to help you stand out amongst the endless sea of competition. Perhaps it’s just the discipline of work that you find yourself happiest in and end up doing most. Whatever the reasons or how you got there, stop thinking of yourself as a specialist, and most importantly, stop advertising it.
Thinking of, or disciplining yourself, as a specialist is one of the most damaging things you can do as an artist. Why? Because any time spent pursuing this as a goal is wasted, as any true notion of a specialty is something that will come across naturally without a single iota of thought behind it. It’ll be what your good at. What you’re good at will be what is in your portfolio. What’s in your portfolio is why people will hire you. You don’t have to work at having a specialty. If you have one, it will find you organically.
So now that that is out of the way, what are you going to do with all of this free time? You used to spend it tailoring your portfolio and skills around a specialty everyone already knew about. Now is the time to challenge yourself by building up the skill sets that people aren’t hiring you for. A broader skill set opens up more opportunities. You won’t be the best at everything, but over time, your talents will improve. The phrase “Jack of all Trades, King of None” gets tossed around a lot with a negative meaning. I challenge you to show me a Jack-of-all-Trades who doesn’t have constant work.
A specialist with nothing else to offer can never compete against a specialist with a half dozen other skills.
At some point another artist will need help on a job, and it may not be within what you consider “your field.” Chances are they are going to be the specialist in this situation and will just need someone who can reliably perform. Wouldn’t you rather spend your downtime between your chosen makeup jobs as someone’s number two, getting paid to get better at a new area of makeup? Not a bad way to pass the time, but it can’t happen if you don’t at least try to learn other disciplines.
My opinions on this are heavily filtered through the lens of a Special Effects Artist, though I feel they are applicable to all makeup disciplines. Quite a few times on set I’ve been asked to fill in and execute beauty makeup or to cross disciplines and apply beauty on top of appliances. I’ve done theater runs, and on occasion, event makeup. These opportunities have come to me over others who were on set because long ago I realized that I don’t have to be the best at everything, I just have to do it and do it better than the last time.
If you like doing basic beauty looks, practice some cuts and bruising. Like FX work, play with some eye shadow. Do everything! A specialist with nothing else to offer can never compete against a specialist with a half dozen other skills.
To take these the idea of doing everything and pushing it to its limits, take a look at our photography course. We’ve designed this program around the needs of a makeup artist. Over the course of the program, you’ll learn how to properly shoot, correct, edit and provide your own graphic overlays on your own images with the intentions of being able to control how your work is presented, sell yourself as a makeup artist, and to provide a new sellable skill that is cross-industry compatible. You can check out our Photography Course here:
Now go out there and practice the makeup disciplines you say you don’t do, because this is the fastest way to become a bigger, badder and better makeup artist.