Due to an ongoing knee injury and current mobile phone issues it has been agreed that Lost management will take over:
With just two days too go until the February show for House of iKons, I am doing the last few details and prep work. My kit will be cleaned, the bags packed and I will be travelling overnight to London.
One of the things I am looking forward to is being back on a show again, its been a long time since I covered a fashion show in any shape or form. Add into this I am working as supervisor of male grooming under the amazing Bryanna Angel Allen, this is just a major plus for me.
So for me this is a great chance to meet up with new people and network. Which has already started thanks to Facebook with people dropping me messages, friends requests and checking out my page already.
For more details of the show follow the link:
I have been a little stressed and tired the last few days, between the weather and organising the travel for my next big show is really wearing me out.
So when I am approached by someone about assisting me in my work I am happy as this will relieve some of the tension on me and give me a chance to focus on other areas of the business. So with this in mind I want to go over some ground rules for your approach.
I am always astonished at the attitude that people come to the table with. Lets clear up a few things:
Realistically if I am working on a shoot or a film and you start making demands about how you will work for me, and lets be clear you do work for me, is insane. Would you do this to Pat Mcgrath? Hell no! So what gives you the right to do it to me?
If your immediate instinct is to assume I am not hiring you because I think your competing with me from the get go and immediately throw down that I am Scared to work with you, then you are either egotistical or lack the confidence in your own abilities to do the necessary marketing to get there.
What I do is a craft I have earned and worked for, each job I get is through hard work and if I am offering you a place in my team and you feel the need to undermine that by self promoting (riding my coattails), and you tell me this you are not going to get hired.
Lets break this down:
You are asking to assist on other work this means you are there to support the lead (in this case me) with a job.
You are not there to promote yourself and sell your skills by undercutting the rates. If you do not know what I am being paid, or if you are getting above the national living wage for what you are doing then why would you undercut that?
You are not competition to me. Your skill set is different and I am working on a project that required extra support that means you are employed by me to support my work not to sell yourself and try and build your business. If you are good as an assistant, do your job then I will be happy to give you business when I can't take it myself.
If you tell me your too busy to shoot in Scotland why would I then take you with me to a job overseas? You cannot pick and choose what work you are offered to suit your desires for a holiday. This is business.
Why would you jeopardise that by undercutting, gossiping and sneering.
One of the biggest frustrations I have at the moment is the weather. I am having to reshuffle my plans and rethink my shoots to fit the fluctuations of the day to day changes. Snow is now the bane of my life.
Something I miss about India is the sunshine and as time passes I am looking more and more at the possibility of moving to Europe where (in my opinion) it will be a better working environment for me to shoot editorial and allow more flexibility of access to London without 6 hour train journeys. delays and oddly it will be cheaper.
This is all in flux at the moment, I have to much on the books to really give serious consideration to moving until march and even then I will be in limbo due to working commitments.
I do love my home base of Scotland but I am finding it really redundant in terms of longevity as as an artist. Yes it can be done and I can book shoots but the weather and frankly the attitude makes it a frustrating to get things done.
Looking out of the window, I am seeing massive snowflakes falling from the sky. Which as beautiful as that is is not my favourite weather, give me sunshine.
Working through the proposed plans for the coming week. I really want to push the limits of what can be done so with that in mind I am putting a full day into getting one model and three looks created that will be submitted.
Focusing on male grooming for my next two sets of shoot, with two different British Asian models and of course the iKons show being done very soon, the area of work I am pushing is more niche and is a bonus for my future films plans.
Talking to other artists I have being looking at the policy I (and several others) have set in place,:
Publish or pass.
Which basically means I am being selective to a point. I decline group shoots because I want certain terms met that suit me and my business and ultimately will support and augment the photographer.
Doing a simple overview I want to gain as much as I can if I am working free and building something solid for myself and my business future. Thats not to say there is no benefit to a group shoot if done correctly, my logic is what do I gain from this? The group concept doesn't in my view, I have a plan that works for the direction I am moving.
The advantage of working on the publish or pass method is simple:
- Editorial credits and tears have merit and showcase the work in a way that is noticed by the fashion people, the creative teams.
- Editorials have the advantage of being experimental and with careful planning and setting the right looks up, designs and a good team it can be a commercial gain further down the line.
- Magazines are wide spread. Yes there is an advantage to social media if thats your target audience BUT if you want a more refined clientele who appreciate quality and substance over fast and cheap then you focus your energies on that.
- Credibility. Your work is there, people can see the credits and appreciate the work. Less so if its diluted by multiple hands all taking credit.
You need to be pro active and smart about your business and how you move it forward long term.
I am really focusing on the fashion shows at the moment and getting more of my editorial work shot. Its been a huge amount of background work that I am finding more and more interesting as it leads me down a more managerial route.
With this in mind I am sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee, I am starting to feel the drain on my energy and resources but in a positive way. As time passes and I see the years going on, I am now pushing twenty years in hair and make up, I am seeing more and more problems with the market I am working in at this time.
With the London market its very transient and relies heavily on talent (quite rightly), where as I am seeing more and more people with less of a skill set demanding to be taken seriously as contenders in the market BUT they are unable to back this up with a portfolio of work that fits.
There is a place for this BUT you need to show a standard of work that fits what you are chanting your skill set claims.
Fashion is fashion and I see way to many shoots that claim to be "fashion" when in actual fact its glamour bordering on adult content. When you are booked for a shoot I tend to say look at the work the person has already produced, does it meet the benchmark for fashion? Do you meet the criteria in terms of height, size and look? I would rather decline something than work on a shoot that does not fit my criteria. Yet I see it so much and people are falling into the trap. Commercial is not a bad word, you can be commercial and work, high fashion is a really tough market and sometimes we don't fit.
Thats not a negative its business.
In an age where everything is published and seen on multiple formats I fail to understand why you would work on something that requires you to be posing in a manner which borders a top shelf magazine, then you need to rethink the claim of fashion.
Alot of people are on social media talking about changing up their business and going in a new direction. Especially here in Scotland where that has been some major upheaval on the business front.
So what does this mean? Are you going to rethink your marketing? Update and change your website? If you want to move from bridal to editorial and fashion, what are you doing to change that? Moving toward a career in film and TV have you researched the requirements?
Lets take some time to look at facts.
- Self employment in any form is a difficult route to take and has been diluted by the desire to take control over your life and work. What does that mean you as an artist?
- Establishing yourself as an artist what was your aim and goal?
- Do you have a 5 year plan or is this just an arbitrary decision based on the fact your doing well in a small sector and want to expand based on a small skill set that is niche.
- Are you planning to take professional training? Are you aware of the changes that will be required to work in a new sector?
- Going from bridal to fashion and event means you are no longer able to work half days, your doing long hours and unless your are the primary artist, the choices are not yours, your being given a brief. Unlike private clients who are more flexible.
Working in film and TV is a HUGE sacrifice, you can be working 12 hours plus a day, you cannot dictate the hours or for that matter your start and finish times. So you need to ask is this suitable for you as an artist? Will it fill your lifestyle or require major changes and sacrifices?
Everything is about changes and skills are transferable within reason. We also need to take into account experience and qualification to suit the job.
JamesC and the lost project (currently on fb website pending) are about supporting and mentoring artists who want to make those changes.
Planning is a long term issue and needs to be addressed if you want to have a successful business.
In the last few weeks I have been working WITH the teams for projects ranging from fashion shows to films and we have been working through different aspects of what will be done at each of the projects.
Part of this is talking about the team and how we work.
So I decided to break that down into key aspects and areas. Focusing on the pieces that you need to understand to make things work.
Establishing the hierarchy is the first thing we need to do. Often the head of make up for shows or films is also an INVESTOR in the project and that means that they have chosen to do this and they are using it as a means to promote their own business in conjunction with something larger.
This means that they are pushing their own agenda and brand, this is what being an investor and designer entails when you are working towards a set of goals that benefit everyone in different degrees.
Now as someone who is a beauty editor and writer, what I am doing is pushing my own skills and talents, when I do editorial and submit to the magazine I work for its about showcasing MY WORK. One of the advantages of being an assistant on these shoots and being a team player, is you get credited as part of the team, and when I get booked on bigger gigs I will book you IF you are part of the team.
So what is a team player?
Your there to support the lead artists and ensure that the work is done to a brief.
Your job is not to redefine the work to suit your style, your there to augment and support the head of department. This is not denigrating your skills.
When you work for a company as a sales rep you are there to earn money FOR the company, you will get sacked if you do not follow the rules and abide by your contract. So this is the mindset you need to take with you when you go onto a film or a show. You are there to work under the same terms as you would at any other job. Just because you are a freelancer don't mistake this for free to do as you please, you are a SUB-CONTRACTOR and you need to follow the criteria set.
Separation and segregation, choosing to step away from the team and demanding that you work to your own rule is not going to work. The team is only as good as its weakest member and if you cannot work to rule and can't deal with the critique then maybe this is not the place for you.
With two weeks till the House of iKons show, I decided to do some new work in male grooming for editorial. With two magazines in mind and two fantastic models I am working around the concepts that I want to put together.
Each of my models has a history and a story to tell that I want to showcase in the images, focusing on their story and really getting something with depth.
One location will be the beach and the other a derelict building. Both are evocative of the mindset and feel of the concepts which will have elements of black and white for at least one set for each of the magazine.
When I start seeing the social media posts about wedding pricing, advertising and booking policies I know its time to stat looking at that side of the market.
Over the next few weeks I have meetings, interviews and projects lining up that will be used as a part of my marketing strategies for the coming months. In fact I am part of a new service that is coming the Scottish market that will revolutionise how wedding films work.
The Wedding films Scotland team are from a hugely well respected background in film and TV and are now focusing that energy into broadcast quality wedding films. Something about this just appeals to me, I am someone that believes in getting things right so they require minimal edits or that can be a stand alone image so the idea of wedding films that are broadcast quality is something that massively appeals.
Part of this comes from my work as a beauty editor, this has given me access to a huge variety of new brands that I can integrate into my working kit and provide a much more comprehensive service.
Everything about my work is now being geared toward changes in the market as the year goes in, I have more and more film work being lined up and of course will be supporting other business elements such as the wedding side of the work.
I am sitting this morning with my coffee and working through the ideas for being backstage at The House of iKons show on the 17th of February.
Since I will be there as a the male grooming artist and representing the magazine as beauty editor I want to plan the article before I go, start out making notes (I can do this because I know how this show runs, I have done many, many fashion events). I want to capture the essence of the show and the energy of the event and show something slightly different.
Of course I will be talking to the designers and meeting with the brands I have already talked about as well. Its going to be a hectic day with a lot to do so planning will be a must, with of course a little flexibility because thats how things go.
One of the key elements I am looking forward to is being able to meet people in person and work on something fresh, another major part is I want to do some pr for myself. Of course.
House of iKons is one of the premiere shows held during LFW and its been two years since I last did the show and I want to make the most of it.
In addition to the iKons show I will be meeting some LFW official designers and doing "coffee with....." articles that I am really excited about putting across to Trend prive and world fashion media and news.
In terms of what is coming up in the month ahead it has been changing and evolving in a more positive way than I originally anticipated.
I will be working on three sets of stills for editorial with male models, before I head down to London for the show. Which is contrary to what I planned but I am really excited about the concept and it does give me a chance to work with two fantastic models.
On my return from London I will be working on some beauty editorials and doing a casting for new female faces for editorial featuring some of the brands I am so fortunate to be working with during the iKons show.
I am so excited about the concepts planned and how 2018 is shaping up for me as a beauty editor and creative director of my own work.
I create the business now which is a hugely exciting prospect.
I do a huge amount of marketing, attend meetings and put a huge amount of time into my working life. In fact look at my time as a beauty editor. Which is a job I might add, its something I have to put effort into, I spend alot of my time working on articles and have to take feedback and criticism. My average is 300 words for an online article, 500 for print. I need to be sure that the images I shoot fit the criteria of the magazine I am aiming these particular shots at.
I have had in the last few months people demanding to know who my clients are, demanding to have equal pay for less duties or hours because otherwise its unfair. How is this unfair that I have worked to gain their trust and build a rapport, you want a ready made relationship handed to you?
Let me give you an overview of my work as beauty editor and the average amount of time I put into a photo shoot plan or just dealing with business.
- Research the look and decide on the products that are required.
- If this for a brand based article I then have to contact the brand (my personal preference is small companies).
- I go through press releases, press packs and of course websites to find as much information as I can.
- Models have to be booked to fit the brief or look that the brand tends to favour. This I have been accused of sexism for. Which is insane, if a brand is a male grooming brand then I need to work with that, its not sexist its just the target audience of the brand.
Every few days I get a call, email or Facebook message asking to be my assistant. However it has to be on their terms and within reason I am happy to do that if your at college. What I will not do is put a huge amount of time, effort and energy into the work to allow you to step in and do the work and take the credit when you are untested and frankly don't have the skill set to carry what is required. Thats not me being unfair or nasty, it simply means you are being given an opportunity to learn and lets be brutal here. If I get pr packages and sponsorship its my name that got it and the client expects to see my work at the end of it.
100% of the time they will cancel within a few days because they have some issue. So you wanted to be my assistant till you realised you were going to be an assistant?
When I talk about this I am called a hater or nasty, no I am a business. I spend a great deal of time, effort and energy on this, my business and my name have taken years to build.
Just because you want it does not mean that the world should hand it straight to you. You do not become a manager just by demanding it, you need to earn the skills.
My average business day starts at 6 am if I have a shoot and 8 am if I am working from home and ends when I finally decide that I can't look at a computer screen anymore. Can you say that you are willing to do this? Most often no, you want someone else to do it.
I work extremely hard. You are not entitled to step in and demand that I give you anything, work for it the same as I did. This illustrates a small part of how I work and what I do, so if you can't do that. Then don't demand.
I have to admit that I am excited about the idea of going down to London to cover some of the bigger shows for the magazines, the idea of being front of house relaxed and seeing the work is hugely appealing and will be the source of inspiration for test shoots to follow.
With that in mind I decided to postpone shooting here in Scotland for a number of other reasons and focus my energy on some art pieces and a few brand articles leaving my mind clear and open for concepts inspired by the shows.
Which is a mild disappointment as I wanted to do something new before I went down but sadly thats not to be. between my other duties and time its got to be pushed back so instead I am happy with the idea of working with some of my London contacts on the creation of editorial tests.
This may also include some video behind the scenes so stay tuned.
OK I know two blogs in one day but I wanted to get this across. I talk to new artists regularly and people who are just struggling to get their head around the business side of make up and you know what, I say this a thousand times a day.
Work for it.
You are not going to be a success right off the bat, I know that your qualification is shiny and your enthusiasm is epic but can we please get real.
OK I nearly lost EVERYTHING, I really thought I Was going to have to give this up and do something else but I didn't thank goodness because I worked around the situation and cleared my feet, I got a grip, dried my eyes and just knuckled down.
I spent time regrouping and focused on key areas of my business and now I am working on multiple projects, creative director of MY shoots and starting to tentatively look at bringing in an extra pair of hands to do some of the backstage elements.
But lets be honest here. It was not easy. I was not "lucky" I worked my ass off to get to this point.
So whats your escuse? What are you waiting for a gilt invitation to the party? I didn't I hussled and made it work for me, now people are coming to me and I am dictating the state of play.
This last week has been a whirlwind of changes and strategic planning gone awry. However that is not to say its been negative.
I have reconnected with the house of iKons, got some amazing designers to write about with Savita (Lady K) bringing not only social media coverage for trend prive but more brands for me to look at and write about with the added bonus of make up that I can incorporate into my kit.
Yaby cosmetics is joining me as sponsor for a film (contracts pending) this year and we will be working together on the marketing aspect, not just any film I may add but an international project with an amazing cast and crew.
Next on the agenda for me is booking models and working on some personal projects that I have had to shelve on a temporary basis due to my writing commitments. Thankfully Trend prive is allowing me leeway over my schedule otherwise I would be chained to my desk typing all day.
With all the plans and my decision to really up my game in 2018, it has been a long journey and I am now starting to feel that I have earned my stripes and I will continue with my work with Raj Srivastava, the lost project is going to be a major part of the next few months as well and of course with the help of Susan Marshall I will be working on some scripts for both TV and film.
In all aspects I decided to raise the bar and showcase both my own talents and give things a shake up.
This has been one hectic week for marketing and setting up business deals on the fashion side of the business.
I know the house of iKons from my days in India, where Savita Kaye called me to discuss business, since then i have been stepping a little back from things but with my appointment as a beauty editor and columnist for trend prive magazine I knew the time was right to put these two amazing companies together.
House of iKons has built one of the strongest independent fashion platforms on the planet. With shows being coordinated across the globe from their home base in London, Savita has worked wonders for designers, make up staff, models, stylists and musicians.
The next show to be held in London on February the 17th in the Millennium Gloucester hotel. For more details and ticket info see: iKons London Show.
To be able to tie this to the Trend Prive magazine who have built a strong base with their online magazine and the print editions is a hugely gratifying prospect and will open the doors to some amazing emerging designers as well as the other elements of the magazine this will be a massive boost all round and I am so proud of what is being done on both sides.
I have been watching social media, and I admit I need to stop because its driving me insane, every make up artistry group I go to I see the same questions repeated at least once a month someone asks:
"how do I market myself?"
"What should I charge for....."
Now I have addressed rates in my last post in the most basic terms so now lets look (again) at marketing and break it down into simple steps. Much of it can be seen as crossover and transferable from the rates discussion.
Identify your target audience. That is pretty straight forward. You want weddings: target bridal sites and groups, you want film: find a media access centre in your area, same with TV.
Make sure your portfolio is representative of the clients you want. Again look at your target audience and cater to them.
Buzzwords: avoid them. If you are a beauty artist doing bridal and weekend party make up, that's fine. Advertise that. Don't throw words like editorial or sfx in to the mix unless you can back it up with tear sheets and film/TV credits that are verified.
Website. This is a huge mistake people make, they rely on free services which are not within their control thinking a website is not required. Yes it is. You can blog, share concepts, have galleries of your work and optimise it to target your preferred audience all for as little as £20 a month, that's less than the cost of a new palette. Keep it simple, clean and professional. If in doubt ask for help. I personally have helped people with their sites and getting their online identity started.
If you don't have enough work after your course to show of then you need to test shoot and gain some images. Having a huge make up kit and a few brushes is not enough. You clients will ask to see samples of your work and a smart artist knows that website is the best marketing tool you have.
Social media. Make good use of it, showcase your art not yourself. Yes you are the brand and the brains behind the business but 300 selfies of you pouting at the camera is not a portfolio its vanity. Remember today's newspaper is tomorrows chip paper and keep the same goes for gimmicks. You can be booked for months on your social media make up skills but when the fad for winged liner dies, are you still getting booked or are you a one trick pony?
Keep your story consistent. Know your craft, know your audience and make sure you are visible in the market by developing your style. Carbon copies of social media looks is not a good way to get fashion work anymore than bad sfx make up will get you a film gig that pays you a living wage.
If you take nothing else from this blog then take this: after 19 years in this business, I have had my good times and bad, BUT I am still working. So I must know something. I have evolved with my market and know my audience.
I see at least once a week on social media a post about rates for make up artists. Usually its working out what to charge and if its OK to add a surcharge for a bank holiday. Now maybe I am being unfair but should you not be working this out BEFORE you start taking clients?
Sit down and do some simple maths before you start advertising and decide a few key areas of what you want and look at the cost factors:
- Who is your target audience?
- What are your outgoings every month?
- What do you need to make to call it break even?
- What are your monthly costs of materials?
- What marketing should I be doing to attract clients?
All of this needs to be addressed before you do anything else. Why? Because this gives you a base line to work from. If your outgoings including materials, rent/mortgage etc are calculated you can then work out what you need to bring in to survive. Bear in mind that there will be slow periods so you need to make allowances for that too.
You are running a business so you really need to be on the ball as to what you are doing. What I don't agree with is the idea that a bank holiday requires a surcharge, does your local shop charge more for milk on a bank holiday? Do you pay extra for food on these days? No. We provide a luxury service and you are a business. while I appreciate not everyone wants to work on the holidays you are still a business, your hairdresser doesn't add 20% on the price because its a holiday, no they work. So why are you? If you are smart about your pricing, marketing and do a cost benefit analysis BEFORE hanging a shingle and calling yourself a business you will see a difference. There is no escuse that you can give me that justifies it, family or not, partner at home, you want to run this as a business you work. If you were in a job that required you to be in the shop or office you can take a holiday but realistically your not, you are self employed and that means the onus is on you to earn money to pay your bills.
Get the details right at the start and you can be selective about the work later. That however takes time and you need to be realistic about the reasons you got into this.
I have been doing some careful research and discussing this with a few close friends who work in the crew side of film and TV, we all have our issues with the crowd funding scene and certain terms that are used. Think buzzwords and bad marketing skills.
No one, and I mean no one, has looked at the logistics of creating a film or TV show, from the top down its all speculative and based solely around the idea that eventually this will make money and so afraid to say no, people are jumping on board with their eyes wide shut.
I am a believer in supporting indie film and have done pretty much that since the start of my career however I do want people to think business.
I worked out the details for this blog based on an a speculative film with a (proposed sale value) from DVD, digital sales and other resource sales such as cinema release (booking an independent cinema for a single showing usually). A verbally confirmed rather than a physical proposal that can be reviewed, IE a business plan that shows a solid marketing strategy, you are TOLD that this will be the value.
OK if you estimate your over all sales and finances based on a estimate of £1 million in sales. Doing the film on a zero budget, so you receive no travel or material costs, which as a make up artist for film is £45 a day; not including the day rate. Instead you Assign 20% to the crew and cast and forgo the attempt at raising the necessary capital relying on peoples desire to be in the film/TV industry. Lets look at a breakdown of the financial aspect:
With 20 people in the crew and 20 in the cast, estimation based on my own experience of indie projects.
OK the film makes 1 million after costs, 20% is then paid to the cast and crew from the profit. Sounds good right, now here’s the maths 200 thousand split between 40 people works out at 0.5% per head or £1000. Filming takes a total of 30 days, so that comes down to: £33.33* per day which is less than minimum wage. Not so great now considering the union rates. Which rarely if ever are offered.
So you take that film on deferred payment thinking you will cash in first off make sure you get a contract if you insist on going ahead and second make sure this is a legit project. It wouldn’t be the first time I have seen films made under one name with a “contract” and the producer has vanished, only to resurface with a new business and a new film to make while the cast and crew are left wondering what happened.
in reality you are working at a loss assuming the film makes any financial return.
IF you get on board with a crowd project do the maths. You are an investor in the project and need to be aware of every single detail of the finance, the marketing strategy, the sales plan etc.