business skills 101

Perhaps I am being a little unfair in this but I am seeing way too many posts on the various Facebook groups that are overly simplistic and need just a little thought into them.  Primarily its about pricing structure. 

Make up artistry is an art form but its also a business.  

Structuring your business should be your first port of call.  By that I mean looking at your business plan, which many people do not seem to do.  

Any business adviser you meet to discuss set up, the first question will be have you done a business plan?  

This is essential.  You need to know what area of business your targeting, what your major overheads will be, who your target audience is and importantly estimated earnings. This means you need to work out your rates.  

The reasoning behind this is simple: it makes you focus on what key areas of business you need to look at and allows you to see an estimated turn over.  Often when you sit down and calculate out your outgoing verses your income it can be shocking, especially for make up artists.  

Heres a simple task I want each of you to do: 

Calculate how much you spend each month and get a total; bills including phone, rent, mortgage and of course material stock you buy,  Do this for one month calculate every penny spent and get a total.  

Then take the income you make from your business as it stands now, this can be from weddings, party make up etc. 

Now take these two figures and subtract your outgoings from your income.  Look at the difference.  Is it a positive number or a negative?  Are you making a profit or a loss?  

This is a fundamental of business and something many people (myself included at one time) fail to do.  

Food for thought.  

 

Networking events

As I said in my previous post I have not been to any of the networking events for a long time.  Since I feel like I am now on the increase in terms of visibility with the beauty editor job, editorials and I am really just enjoying the new work and creative outlets after a break.  

I decided to attend two events in Glasgow between October and November just to dip my toe in to things again and find out whats happening on the indie circuit.

From a personal stand point, I have projects in development (finally a light at the end of the tunnel) with Susan Marshall and Raj Srivastava, not forgetting of course the ongoing developments of the lost project which I am enjoying every minute of.  

Hopefully in the next few weeks I will pick up something interesting to get my teeth into that will be a good addition to my film CV.  

Otherwise it will just be an interesting foray back into circulation and to get the lay of the land once more.   

filming fun

I have been out of the loop on Scottish film partly by choice and decided to take a little risk when I saw a student film ad.  I applied and got the role of make up artist, with a few minor stipulations and requests.  Primarily behind the scenes images, which let me tell you my tablet was a blessing in disguise for. 

First off I was not disappointed, the team project for University of west of Scotland was fun and the all girl team were lovely.  Each one had to direct a set number of scenes in a 3 min film that would be an assignment for class.  

Set around the idea of love, the girls came up with a bitter sweet little story around the perils of text messaging and dating apps in the modern age.  Focused on the loneliness of its two lead characters,  the story focuses on isolation even with technoligy.   

With as little interference as I could offer I did help a little, you are around films long enough you learn how to manipulate the camera etc to meet the constraints, and I will be honest all the team were impressive, with a minimum of fuss and a little tweaking I can honestly say the film will look good and they preformed cohesively. 

Not an easy task in these circumstances.  

Would I do it again?  Yes in a heart beat for the team I worked with and of course the two wonderful actors, both of whom gelled well.  Myself and the actor were the only males and new to the group but that did not make things difficult, in fact we were able to relax and enjoy the shoot.  

All round a talented group that I have to admit impressed me with their skills and attitude.  I am not a regular on the student film circuit tending to say, hire a student and give them a chance to learn too, but I am glad I did it.  

What really clinched it for me was being able to use Angel face mineral cosmetics on the shoot and how well they preformed for film.  Not a massive surprise as the cosmetic line is a favorite for print.  

moving forward

I have been discussing a few different concepts with very close clients and contacts, in the new year there will be a totally new dynamic to the JamesC business as the lost project is going to be moving to a new office and we will be looking at adding new elements. 

As you will see from the website we have agreed to add the shop again and selling the PDF of my facechart. 

I wanted to give people the chance to work with the same chart that I have used on countless projects from fashion to TV and film.  

By 2018 we will be taking more and more risks, so while this is all being put in place I will be continuing with duties as beauty editor for Trend Prive Magazine and pushing some editorial concepts to showcase my work again. 

readdressing old thoughts

I have been fortunate enough that I have now got to a place where I am more selective and being head hunted to some degree for business.  People are willing to listen (not always hear) but listen to advice.  

So when I see posts, comments and offers of work free on commercial gigs my blood boils.  I speak on a regular basis to clients and new starts in the make up industry and I admit that for ever 2 that say thank you and run with the information another 8 will cry, whine and wail about how mean I am to them.  Needless to say they get 1 chance and thats the end of it.  

Now I know its all glamorous and exciting in the classroom when you are learning, you are being taught by industry people who are giving you support.  What happens when you leave?  What then?  You don't know what an editorial is, what an advertorial is, what rates to charge for gigs.  So you wing it or you do it free cause its your right and this is your new career so you have to get a foot in the door.  

Wrong. 

I hear people complain: "the lecturer never taught us.......can you help."  

Well no.  Within reason I am happy to do but the first thing I ask is did you research it? What terms did you use.  I can bet money that they haven't because with the description they give I can find the details in 2 minutes flat.  If the teacher missed a detail ask for it or go find it.  

The next thing I noticed is the transferable skills assumption.  You can transfer your skillsto a certain point, going from bridal to fashion, to TV IF and I do mean IF you have done research into whats involved.  Not every job needs bridal looks, some will require natural, others will need light blood work or some out of the box fx.  Can you provide that?  Think and plan.  

Everyone wants to move up the ladder and thats good, but you also need to know whats on the next rung.  If you have particular needs such as you need to be done by 2:30 or can't start till 9:30 because of the kids then maybe TV and film is not for you.  Its long, tedious and tiring days and sometimes nights that require a huge amount of dedication and you don't get to dictate how it runs the client does. 

Which brings me to the most important part: We are in the service industry. That means we are providing a service, we are employed be it for a few hours, a day, a week whatever it is. The clients word is law. Yes you can pick and choose what and who you work with or on, but lets get real here, we are multi tasking on our job.  I have been held reflectors, been freezing cold in a barn, worked at 6 in the morning on weddings, 10 at night on TV shows because thats the job and I chose it.  I cannot pick and choose the hours the CLIENT does.  

Freelance is a misnomer, we are not really free, we are sub contractors. If I hire an assistant they are sub contracted to me which means I am the boss and you answer to me, I answer to the client, so there is a chain of command. Not that people want to assist anymore in my experience.  

Please do not think that you are going to turn up to suit yourself and schmooze, its not a party you are there to work.  Learn your craft then earn it.  Nothing happens overnight.   

Being a make up artist is more than just being creative.  Its a business and you need to remember that.  

artist thoughts

I have been working extremely hard of late, collating information, talking to agencies and models, arranging and designing shoots.  You know all that background stuff that a business relies on and something popped up that really angered and saddened me in equal parts. 

Looking through the boards of make up artists and seeing all these posts looking for access to someone else's little black book and condemning anyone who dared to say no or worse yet teachers attacking teachers.  

Now I get it, this business is hard graft (as is any business) but its also alot easier and faster to access information.  Its a simple search away.  So why are people not doing it?  Google, or any good search engine, will usually turn up the information or put you in the right direction. 

What makes you entitled to it when you haven't worked for it?  

I teach, or at least I used to.  I was employed by companies to teach classes, I am more selective now and the rates have dropped dramatically.  So when I went solo and decided that I would take my YEARS of experience in film, TV, editorial etc and run a business class, people were up in arms.  How dare I charge for this service I should have gave it as a free seminar or better yet took them in as co designer (not assistant) and give them unfettered access to my contact list, clients and equal pay for a job they didn't know existed.  

No. 

Business simply doesn't work that way.  Yet people complain: 

  • "My clients are so disrespectful and won't pay for a service once its done." 
  • "I am teaching a class this week and I have no idea where to find the products or what I should charge, help!" 
  • "can someone tell me how I can........because some asked me and I agreed to do it." 

I follow this with a few questions of my own: 

  • "Why do they not want to pay?  How was the quality of the service did you take a retainer?" 
  • "Have you done any research? "
  • "Why are you offering that service if you know you can't do it?" 

You are not entitled to a career, you have to work for it.  If you cannot do something why sell a skill you don't have and then panic.  OK I am all for a little bit of winging it but I am honest and say to them "its not my area but I think I can pull that off with a bit of research."  However I NEVER do that if its beyond my reach; prop making, mask making anything that requires special effects in the realm of casting.  It would be suicide to do it.  

Yet people do. 

If you have no experience and you are teaching, what are you bringing to the table?  Show evidence of your work, have you built a portfolio of solid images and can you show proof positive that you are a TV artist? A fashion artist?  If the answer is no, go and earn it before you sell it.  

I am not saying don't have a business,  I am saying take the time to build it.  Earn the skills, work as an assistant and earn your craft.  

No one will hand you everything on a plate and you should never expect it, as an adult you need to get real and deal with the fact that sometimes you will fail.  Its part of the learning process. 

Before I wrap this up I want to relate a conversation to you, I was asked to advise someone on working in TV. this person was going from bridal to a TV show.  There was a little bit of male grooming involved.  Nothing big just presenter.  

 

  • My advice was keep it simple and clean, it should not look like makeup they should look fresh.  
  • They listened to that part and ignored the rest.  Stating that they felt ready to go after the bigger gigs such as TV and film.  I asked "can you do basic fx, like bruises etc?" 
  • "Well no but if it comes to it and I am up against say you,  I will offer my services free to get the job because I have to." 
  • "What????  No you don't.  You could be my assistant and learn on the job AND BE PAID."
  • "yeah but I want the senior credit and its my right." 

At this point I walked away.  So not only do you not respect the craft, you don't respect me.  That is just not smart business and you will not last long.  If you feel the need to be on the offensive and that your time, skills and resources are without value, you will not progress.  

OK I am ending it there for today.  The moral is be business minded, if you are not here to earn money its just an expensive hobby, work smart not hard.  

Small steps

It's been an insanely busy week and I decided with the team at lost dreams, that it's time to take a breather. Yes it's been exciting and stressful, with so much change all coming in at once. 

Plus notes are just the sheer volume of work that I've had published came to light, I've been extremely fortunate to have been able to connect with amazing magazines and online creators such as world fashion media and news magazine and of course Mr Joel, who set me on the path to writing and shooting solo.   

 Each magazine has offered creative feedback that has allowed me to grow and build something new. 

 My new appointment as beauty editor for trend prive was a revelation and will open a host of new options as well.  Creatively with the lost dreams collective on side and my partner in business raj, over in Mumbai, who is coming to the table with something new all the time in terms of script ideas to develop, has been a combination of stress and happy simply with his enthusiasm. 

 I never thought I would have been going back down the fashion route in this manner but I have to admit I am enjoying every moment.  This of course will not stop me from pursuing film and TV, or developing projects for 2018. 

Part of me was really excited about readdressing the idea of a channel but it looks like this is not to be.  

 

Its been a hard time and I've worked hard to create the business with my team, and don't let anything fool you that it's easy, as I sit here on a Friday night tired, dull in pj's writing and sketching, this is not a glamorous job.  

Would I change it? Not for a second  I love my work and having the business and reworking it with a jaded eye aimed outside the UK is the whole point I want to expand and explore options.  

Over the next few months I plan to find a new office space for the future of the lost dreams collective and to make things easier, we are also discussing a trip to Europe (more on this later) and London, with a possibility of studio work for a few macro beauty shoots.   

The future is jamesc and lost dreams combined creatively to bring a whole host of new features and benefits to expand on our current plans and slated projects. 

 

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real talk

I wanted to share a few interesting little things that I have done for years and felt gratified to see backed up by a huge star in the USA circuit, the current mentor on Beauty Star.  

Always something I have maintained are the following rules:   

  • You are always a student.  There is always something new to learn. 
  • Learn things outside of make up and know your history.  If you can talk about a variety of subjects you will engage your clients. 
  • The client is not your friend.  Its a business relationship.  No matter what, you are providing a service and need to remember that. 
  • Social media should not be your go to for researching other artists.  It lacks substance and won't move you forward. 
  • Be humble.  You can be top of the game and in demand then your style goes out and your losing work.  Adapt and be commercial, we need to be multi faceted now and be able to switch from fashion to film.  

Its all valuable and things I have known and said for a number of years.  Food for thought right.  

 

new project with Lost Dreams Collective

It has been on the cards for a while and we are now pushing through with the proposed plans.  As creative Director of the Lost Dreams Collective we have been working with World fashion news and media to create brand profiles and some interesting editorials for the online magazine, now its time to step into a new arena. 

For the next 6 weeks we will focus on brands, reviewing and looking at companies such as yaby cosmetics, zoeva and a selection of make up brush companies focusing on creating some buzz for them and will be holding back our editorials to create something special that will be exclusive to the Lost Dreams website. 

The lost project. Volume one.   

This will be a big undertaking and collectively we are excited, casting will be done very soon and the whole thing will be split into two categories.  Our lead and cover shot will be a surprise entry. 

Category one will be fashion, category two will be film/TV with a little characterization thrown into the mix.  

While we still want to do videos, we are putting that on hold till the new year and debate is underway on what project should be first.  Focus will be on the edgier more thriller based projects we have all lined up, its now a matter of choosing the starting point. 

In the near future videos in that include behind the scenes style will be rethought and put together differently, taking them on a more commercial journey and telling more of a story.  

We love the brands we have and will of course open the door to new people and want to hear from companies who would like to work with both JamesC make up artist and of course the Lost Dreams Collective as brand sponsor or partner for future projects.  

lets talk context

I love seeing new magazines, shows and images popping up on my Facebook timeline, my Instagram and of course in my emails, but heres the thing that really drives me and my business contacts insane: no context to the images. 

No matter who you are from designers and photographers to make up artists, the first thing you need to do when putting together a collection of images or even a single image for that matter is give it context.  

What is context?  Heres a break down on context for make up artists, designers, photographers or anyone looking to create a visual impact: 

Context is the story behind the image. 

I have seen so many amazing shots (and an even larger range of bad ones) and asked the person posting "whats the context behind this?" 

"Its just body art, I love glitter. Its advertising my business." 

"Really?  Whats your business?"

This usually leads down the path of frustration and accusations of being a hater (a term used to describe anyone who questions you because its easier than fixing the mistakes you have made)

Anyone with a background in marketing will tell you the key to selling yourself or a product is consistency and a story.  Get the story right and you will draw people in.  Think of how you sell a book, a blurb on the back and a good image seals the deal.  

My work is a reflection of me and is designed to appeal to the people I want to attract, I do shoots in blocks: choose the model, design the look and style around a magazine I want to target or the brief from a client, shoot and share. 

For example, I give my students/proteges a task when they first come to me.  I hand them a brief. I tell them to design and shoot around a set theme to see how they handle the task and see how they preform working to a brief. Sounds simple right.  Well actually no.  Its also testing their ability to follow orders and see how well they will preform as an assistant. 

Any job that comes to me, and that can be anything from putting together the full shoot as creative director to just applying make up, has a brief.  

If I cannot follow the brief, the client is not happy, If the client is not happy I lose the gig ergo I lose money and they have to re-shoot which costs more.  Seeing the logic here.

Now if you want to attract brides you do bridal looks, party looks attract weekend clients who want quick, visual impact. I want to attract print and TV clients so my work is commercial and sits firmly in that vein. 

Going through my portfolio the work is consistent, it has a sleek commercial edge to it, with the odd freestyle paint or editorial look (more high fashion than simple and chic) tobreak it up and show a little edge to my work.  

The key is: it all reads as a story.  I give my work titles: neo geisha for example.  If I throw glitter around or create a body paint, you can bet your ass it has a reason and it will be part of something story led not just a random cool idea that I threw down the catwalk or did to show off my talents.  Why? because I know my audience and I know what appeals to them. 

So Whats the story behind your work? Are you creating a visual impact or just a random, hot mess? 

Lets start creating context and a story, think of your images as a one frame film and give them a plot.

 

stop and plan the shoot

Lost project

As creative director for the lost dream collective, its been a fun time planning work. The team are always looking for a new creative direction and avenue to work with or just something fresh to work on. 

 Today after lengthy discussions with our favourite screenwriter and author: Susan Marshall, we will be looking to create something extra special to showcase not just my makeup skills but to high light the work of the lost dreams collective. 

Over the next few days we will sketch and start looking for models to be a part of the new project. 

Thankfully with the pr gifts and brands support from brushwork cosmetics, mykitco and angel face cosmetics, we will have ample materials to do some beautiful work.  

 Integrated in will be elements of different areas of the media work I and the team enjoy so far and editorial concepts will sit by side with out of the box fx tricks. 

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editorial

I want to talk a little bit of business here and really focus on something I have came across alot recently.  Editorial gratis and PR gifts.  

When I see editorials I get really excited, the concepts the details and the overall look of a good editorial just captivates.  From independent magazines like Mr Joel (online and blog), world fashion media news (online and blog) to the mainstays of vogue or harpers there is just something that captures the eye in print.  

This question came up:  "would anyone be willing to share contacts for brand PR with me.  I am going to do some editorials and want to reach out."  

OK first off how do you start. Editorial is not glamorous, its time consuming (at least for me).  I control my shoots, I put together the concept and book the model, I shoot it, edit and submit under my own steam. 

DO I get gratis gifts all the time?  No not really.  Its a changed market and you need to have something to bring to the table, be smart about this. 

If you are spending high on kit and thinking well I deserve some gratis product then something is wrong. Look at it this way. If your main clients are bridal, and your overheads are in the triple digits and you are barely breaking even, you need to look at: 

  • Your marketing
  • Pricing structure
  • portfolio

Why do I say this, simple.  Marketing is what draws people in, spending a fortune each month on new make up really doesn't sit right with me if you then feel you should be given products as a thank you but your not bringing anything to the table. 

Brands want to know how they will receive credit for the items.  You need to be good at marketing:  instagram has become one of the best marketing tools. Showcase your work and identity as a brand and they will come to you. 

Look at the market at large: does your work fit the current trends or target audience you want?  Are you working smart or working hard? A consistent look is always better than trends.  I have a real policy of for every 1 editorial (not arts and crafts) look I create I want to have 4 clean looks in my portfolio.  The brands that I attract come to me because I do more "commercially" oriented images that can be translated.  

Which leads me to pricing, if you are buying high end make up and charging low prices that don't reflect the skills seen in the portfolio, your website is sub par or you are mid range cosmetics hoarding to use then you won't attract the clients or the brands you want.  Think on it, if you are using £150 worth of products and charging £200 (bridal for example) for a service, then you are losing out.  If after your bills are paid, rent, phone, gas etc you are still not able to afford the new mobile or tablet you need for work, asking why are the brands not sending goodies, look at how your approaching the business and start strategically looking at how you are working, less art more business.    

Set the bar for what you want to achieve and don't look at social media or your rivals.  Focus on providing the best service you can.  

Put into the world what you want to receive back.  Speculate some time, resources and money: 

  • book an agency model. 
  • Book a good photographer
  • Find a stylist

All of this will be a bonus.  Getting the details right will take you from beer to champagne and make people pay attention.  

Put your business head on and think less about the art and more about what your goals are both artistically and financially,  You can be commercial and artistic.  

Remember editorials bring credits, tear sheets and OK not necessarily money for the shoot but it translates to other aspects of the business and increases your market value.  If you took 2 shoots a month that were not speculative or fast turn around (editorial style) and sat as a team and researched a few magazines, submitted and waited it out (two weeks from submission to response move onto the next one on your list), it will be a long term gain.  

 

Angel face mineral make up

I am really excited as the pr package from Angel face cosmetics arrived today.  A mineral make up line that is taking the indie scene over thanks to its clean, simple approach to make up.  

The owners decided that the cosmetic counters and brands were over egging the pudding paired their collection down to some absolute bare essentials: 

  • 6 shades of foundation 
  • 1 concealer 
  • 1 blush 
  • 1 blush/illumination
  • 1 finishing powder
  • 1 bronzer 

Its so gratifying to see this paired down approach, as a make up artist I love that idea of clean beauty (its what I do) and this line can be used for my male grooming projects to which in itself is a bonus as the boys won't feel so self conscious about wearing make up.  

 Over the next two weeks I plan to try the range out and report back with not just a brand review but editorials created with this line. 

For more details go to the website: Angel face mineral make up.  

 

JamesC: re-invision of the brand

Much of what I do is consult work, this can be sourcing and advertising strategies for my overseas clients, working on the design concepts for a project, brand consults which vary from an article to product testing and reviews. 

Yesterday I was able to finally chat to one of my contacts in South Asia, its difficult with the time differences and schedules that both of us have. They are rebranding the company and I asked for more details and to be kept in the loop. 

Which led me to start thinking about the brand that is JamesC.  At one time my dream was to be a proper make up brand and have a brush line in particular but that has become something that has gone to the back burner.  

Now I want to be a little more in control of my work and develop in different directions, the market here in Scotland is small and has a large contingent of make up artists vying for work and setting up shop, literally and figuratively with salons dedicated to Bridal and special occasions, snapping up film and TV gigs with minimal experience in the field. Head of department with zero broadcast credits, really? 

Something I have found to be a good creative outlet is total management of shoots, being the creative director, photographer and make up artist.  Much of it is simple male grooming and basic art.  I enjoy, I control the look and development and build a story around it to create an editorial. 

The next phase of this is that I will put my collective work together in video showcase.  There is one video in the works but I want to really take 100% control again and direct it a little more.  

Developing the concept that started out as lost project and really build something strong and solid that showcases the work and designs. 

That is not to say I won't take on film and TV work, on the contrary I am looking for it.  However my terms are changing.  Lost Dream collective will be the principal managers and will be supporting me more and more with projects being developed. 

When it comes to projects I am a little sad at the lack of actual real business being done here and its driving me to look outside the Scottish market and possibly the UK.  

Every aspect of the creative and business side of what JamesC is about will change very soon and the creative drive that has been pushing me forward will be lined up with a new philosophy.

Keep watching for updates and brand reviews, exclusive images and the next phase of the JamesC business.    

think outside the box

portfolio review

For those who know me and read my blog.  You will see that this new site is significantly smaller in the portfolio department than my old one, although I did keep the domain (more will be added soon).  

I decided the best thing to do was please myself and not worry about the market as a whole. I plan to create the work I know sells, I enjoy doing and expand on the areas of my business that I want to change and upgrade.

So over the next few weeks I want to do something for me that will be a showcase of what I think works.  My focus has always been commercial, I worked on things that were geared toward that market and made money.  

So with a deep cleansing breath and a few design sheets from the JamesC collection (the face chart will be back on sale soon), I intend to do some more editorials for World fashion media and news, then some character based work.  I want to focus on creating a story with the work and really just be an artist for little while.  

With the support of the Lost Dream Collective I plan to push the artistic, commercial and story telling aspect of my work and create all rounder projects that will showcase the work and bring new brands into the mix, I am already talking to a wonderful mineral make up line and will be blogging more on that soon. 

back from the darkness

It has been a little stressful reworking and rethinking the website was a lot more involved than originally planned.  Not that I am unhappy, quite the reverse.  This has allowed  me to reevaluate my marketing, portfolio and plan a whole fresh slate of work that will drive me in a new direction.  

Still in the early stages, I felt it was time to completely redefine the brand. 

With the support of the lost project/lost dream pictures, there will be some exclusive videos and of course a whole redefined portfolio and body of work.