Setting Up New Shoots

It feels like an eternity since I have been out to shoot new work and now I am pulling together another shoot with two fantastic new agency models.  

Beach shoot

Starting out with the fantastic shoot at the weekend with Stef (an amazing Italian photographer), all based around the simple beauty of headshot work, to now working with the same two models to create something a little more editorial. 

Of course, I will be doing some brand integration, this time it will be jewellery from Gentlemen's Chuckaboo and more from EX1 cosmetics and my new favourite Lola Cosmetics.  

Set on the beach, at the request of the models who wanted something different, this will be a relaxed shoot with a twist of the tribal and editorial that both Anna and Steven wanted to add to their portfolio's. 

Something that will be heavily integrated into this will be makethemake brushes and as a trial run, I will add kitstars to the mix to see how they perform.  Insider tip, they are fantastic brushes so I am not worried.  

Are you blocking your own Business?

blocking your business

Talking to other artists ranging from actors to directors I hear a variation of a central theme about makeup artists that is becoming a worrying trend.  Here are some of the examples of the issues brought up concerning booking a makeup artist: 

  1. Why do they read messages and not respond on social media? 
  2. Why is it I have to chase these people around?  
  3. Why do they book a job and then dictate how and when they will work? 

There are a few more but let's start with these three and break them down.  

  1. Not responding on social media when you are a business is stupid period.  A potential client approaching you who is willing to negotiate generally needs a response and if you are not interested or unavailable then the simple answer is to tell them politely.  Ignoring them will put you on the no-touch list for future gigs.  
  2. When you are freelance you rely on clients contacting you about potential work and that means responding to emails, social media messages, and phone calls.  When a client has to chase you around to get you to respond they will quickly get bored and assume your not interested, forcing them to move to the next person on their list, ergo you lose money.  
  3. The one I find the most telling is from a recent conversation with a client, she booked a shoot, having spent time going back and forward via text and Facebook (the artist would not meet for coffee or take a call due to "scheduling issues"), only to have the person be a no-show for the shoot despite assurances that they would attend.  So a lot of time and energy went into something that was business based.  Which in turn drove the photographer to me who was willing to sit down at the table and TALK about what could be done and arrange a test shoot that will benefit us all.  I have had this happen several times and frankly, I find it really sad, if you are not a business and this is a hobby that is fine but let's get real here, other people are in this for the money and work towards goals.  

Do not get me wrong I have made mistakes as well, however, there needs to be a degree of culpability and some sense of business: 

Don't claim a skillset and title unless you can justify it and are willing to do the work.  

Building the Trust with Brands

Building trust with a brand is something I work hard on, creating a sense of support and mutual benefit is the key to this dynamic.  So how can this be done in a productive manner? 

Start by being realistic in your expectations.  If you are starting out and have no background or identifiable demographic (organically built and not bought) you need to treat this as a starting point. 

Planning and the business of working with a brand
  • Identify your target audience
  • Look at your style of work as a video blogger or writer and ensure that the content matches the audience that you are working toward grabbing. 
  • Grammarly and Squarespace are both excellent tools for this and can be used to showcase your talents well. 
  • Websites are a major bone of contention with me, I personally think that spending as little as £20 a month (less than the cost of that uber shiny brush you must have) will actually benefit you long term.  

Showcase your talents, if you are a makeup artist, show your best work and focus on the skill set you bring to the table and be upfront about what you offer.  Brands identify and support those who bring a sense of business to the table and can give as much as they receive.  For example: 

When I talk to a brand I am lucky I can provide a media pack from the magazine I work for and show previous articles, sometimes I do a general overview piece and then I contact the brand to discuss the possibility of doing a second more product-specific piece.  This can be advantageous and has provided me with support in the form of PR packages which I thin do the smart thing and add it to my shoots and do some product placement for the brand.

I always make sure that I maximise the potential of the work by sharing it across my social media and tagging with hashtags and of course notification to the brand.  

Its all about building a sense of trust and managing the placement of my work.  Smart long-term planning will give you a better working relationship with the brands you approach, its all about planning and business.  

A New Avenue

Yesterday was fun, I had a meeting with a lovely young photographer in Glasgow who wanted to talk to me directly about working together and finding a middle ground about costs, style and she wanted to discuss doing a test shot or trade test to see how we worked together.  

There is something refreshing about that I really appreciate.  


What it does it opens up the debate about how we work and treat professionals who approach us. There seems to be a discrepancy in the discussion process that requires a little adjustment if people are to progress.  

One of the problems I am seeing and hearing is people want the work handed to them without any kind of effort.  I take no issue in doing a trade test for someone new if (as in this case) we can agree on terms: 

  • Test shoots should be test shoots and not a commercial venture where only one or two people are earning.  
  • Phone calls and meeting for a coffee to talk business is a necessity, your first impression truly does matter.    
  • Come to the meeting with clear goals and a sense of what you can and can't do, this is not the time to decide that a week/month/year/two years of training and minimal experience is the deciding factor on your getting the gig.  It's not.  
  • Don't sell a skillset you do not have.  if the person you are meeting is smart they will have done their due diligence and checked you out.  *It should be noted that this was done yesterday and the lovely young lady I met DID check my work, my websites, and social media and stated it happily whilst listening to my offer.  

The fantastic part of my meeting yesterday was the fact that we both had a clear idea of what we wanted and found a middle ground that worked, I did not demand nor did she, a package that would benefit only one person. 

The outcome of this was simple: a trade test with two agency models (minimum) one male and one female so she can see how I do men's grooming work and a piece on her new business using the images will be written as a form of advertorial and video footage will be created to augment this for PR on ALL sides.  Which means that I can do some product placement for the shoot which is excellent and will be a nice bonus for the whole team.  

As a professional artist, I am also a business and meeting someone who wants to create and run a business with skills and not cost being the deciding factor on hiring is refreshing. 

Russia Modest Fashion Week

It is always gratifying when a major player in the fashion world contacts me and asks for my support be it PR terms or as a consultant.  Which is why I was extremely flattered when I was contacted by the team from Russia Modest Fashion Week.

Something I am really keen to do is bring talent to the foreground and put the focus heavily on the designers and artists.  

There is something immensely gratifying about being recognised for my work and dedication to the creative arts.  Over the next few weeks I will be revealing more details about the event and of course one of my favourite London Shows: House of iKons London with Lady K media.   

Naturally I am going to still be working with the team from Scotland internaiton fashion festival who have been amazing about the show and are hugely supportive and working closely with a variety of designers and brands.  

Do What You Love

The concept of "do what you love and you will never work a day in your life" really is something I hold close.  I have been tireless in our process and really putting time and effort into the areas of business we want. 

Writing editorial content has become a massive part of how I progress and it has allowed me to do a great deal more and brought us to the attention of some amazing brands that have gone from being clients to friends. 

Overall I am happy that I have been able to give back as much as I have received and showcased some fantastic small and large companies.    

I will be bringing new elements including press release pieces and of course fresh images and updates to the magazine realm. 


Addressing the Standards

Yet again I am torn by the path and direction I can take, or as  I have called it before choosing a door. In line with my deal with the lost project and talks that have been ongoing with a director friend, I have a horror series and a more tongue in cheek option about psychics. 

choosing a door

There is also the aspect of where to live and work.  

Talking to some of the "industry" people I know in Scotland there is a real confounding attitude that comes to the table when we talk.  I tend to focus on the professional aspects of a job and how it will move my business forward, talking about brand placement and on those rare occasions the "the need for a dedicated studio space" over my preference regional studios.  

The overwhelming response I get is I put too much emphasis on the standard of professionalism based on what I have experienced working in different countries: 

Scotland isn't at the level you expect it to be in professional standards and that is your problem." 

I find that sentiment a little sad and worrying, do I, or anyone else for that matter, have the right to call themselves a professional when based here or is it entirely outwith the remit to expect it when the people I am dealing with call themselves professionals? 

Has professional become a buzzword?  does being a business owner only applies when it suits the moment and can be dropped in favour of "well it's not my fault I wasn't taught proper business practices so how would I know?" 

Do we have that option depending on our location?  If its a passion project does that negate the need to understand the business side of what we do? 

The film industry is a prime example of this I have found, "we shall make it and they shall come," is not a method I like or prefer but its OK because its a passion project rather than (horror of horrors) a commercial venture. 

I put a commercial value on my skills and take a great deal of pride in what I do, does that mean I am in the wrong or that I need to look further afield for the professional clarity I am searching for?  OK, I admit that I am debating relocating but as one actress pointed out (ironically she has produced several projects and never approached me for support), I should not need to leave to find the work.  So why am I being sidelined for having professional standards and the justification is always the same, "you have set the bar too high." 

This comes to play with people in other locations and I have had to tell one of my actors that not everyone looks at the art and skill of acting as a business and will focus on their friends work and not at the commercial viability of the project or what will support the story, its just the nature of dealing with people who choose to do a project for their own vanity.  

Perhaps with the plan to do my own projects alongside the Lost project, the bar I have set will become the rod that beats me.  Only time will tell.  

Changing the dynamic

Something that you will notice is the change to the front cover of the site, taking it from just makeup artist to commercial makeup artist.  What this means is that I focus my energy and time on the TV and film sector with a sideline in advertorial and writing for magazines.  

take notes

The reasoning behind this is to come in line with the clients that I currently attract and want to maintain.  Its specific marketing and advertising targeting and changing the way we approach the business and work we do. 

What this means is the focus will be on advertising and more corporate based projects.  Already putting the necessary pieces in place to do this we are working on the background elements and changing the fundamental aspects such as search engine optimization and of course the site content to focus that energy into the areas I prefer working in. 

This is not to say that I will refuse clients from the private sector.  Far from it, I love working with private clients but keeping the demographic clear and the portfolio in line with the work is the target for the next few months. 

As I stated previously in my blog,  75% of my current clientele is overseas or outside of Scotland in places like London and I will be putting the time, energy and resources into that side of my marketing. 

With an evolving business sometimes that needs change and this is what is being done with the JamesC Commercial makeup artist title change.


Explaining the JamesC business

I saw a very interesting post by a Scottish makeup artist on Instagram breaking down the elements of her business and why she charges what she does and it rang a bell with me.  

JamesC redefining the work

When people look at my business they make the mistake in thinking its all about the glamour and the articles that go out or the social media side of the work I do. What you don't see is the massive amount of time I spend on the other elements of my work.  

For the moment I have just had to hold off on my plans to shoot new website content for the simple lack of time, around 75% of my work is on the consultation side and I provide a variety of different aspects to that including: 

  •  Artist representation and PR
  • Brand management services including PR and articles
  • Editorial and Advertorial services

This means I can be doing anything from providing makeup services to shooting the images as a part of the package.  A lot of my time is spent focusing on taking brands and writing for them.  Another aspect that is often overlooked or ignored is the promotion of indie brands such as makeup lines or film and TV projects.  My social media and SEO skills have had to improve drastically since I joined the Trend Prive Magazine team. 

What will be changing is how this is approached since the majority of my client base is in London and across South Asia I am giving serious consideration to moving to somewhere warmer that will be an easier commute or at least lower my cost of living.  

What will be changing over the next few months is how business is undertaken and moved forward and what services will be offered: 

PR and marketing will increase and shoots will be controlled and managed by myself and the team from the Lost project.  

Shoots will be built around my own skill set and makeup and photos WILL be a JamesC endeavor.

  • Assistants will be assistants and credited as such.  Consideration will go into taking on long-term team members.  
  • Contracts and release forms will be required for each new job. 
  • 75-80% of the shoots will be shot in London or outside of the UK.  Simply for the ease of work.  

This not to say I don't want to work in Scotland but I will not be pursuing it as heavily as in previous years.  Not because this is a bad place but because I am not interested in weddings and occasions makeup and want to focus on advertising, commercial and film/TV.  Simply because I can I will also do editorial and PAY for the placement of my work in good magazines or look at the prospect of creating my own alongside the Film and TV projects we as a team are planning.  

JamesC will also be looking at bringing in a brush line as well as doing more behind the scenes work to show how the brand works.  


Diversifying in a Closed Shop Environment

Working in a closed shop environment can be stifling to you as a business.  Joining a team or a management service (outside of an agency)  can seem like a good idea.  A collection of people who cooperate and support each other in a social environment sounds fantastic on paper. 

However, I have seen first hand the problem with that.  

Absolute power will corrupt absolutely. 

There is always someone at the top of the food chain who is controlling the flow of information or who decides what information is given to the group.  We all run a business and sometimes we will get work outside of the group and with market forces such as they are, is that you can be vilified if you are not seen to be supporting the group. 

In the last few years, I have seen and experienced examples of this.  I work extremely hard to create the business, development strategies, marketing and the general force of my work is all done behind the scenes, yes I share and support but within constraints. Diversifying your plan and business can make the difference.  Look at other avenues can and does open new doors and allows you to be more flexible about what you take on.  

closed shop tactics

Look at work away from the group, try and diversify your marketing strategies and research.  The market is wide open and the potential is there to work if you are willing to put the time into it.  

Step back from the collective groups and look at how you work, where you work and what is being brought to the table.  If its all time for......or speculative and lacks a direction or the favourite one "good for your portfolio"it's not going to put money in the banks and buy your makeup.  Look at the structure, who is getting the bulk of the business and being put forward for the shoots?  If the skillset is low and they are still getting the work, is this really the team you want to be a part of?  

If your business is important to you then treat it with reverence.  Closed shop teams that control the business are not worth it if you are not making money, 

Give Face Cosmetics

It's not often that I add a new brand to my website when I do you know that there is something special about it.  Give face cosmetics ticked all the boxes and more for me and I had to add them to the roster of trusted brands.

Aside from the fun aspect, who doesn't enjoy playing with makeup?  Johnny aka Dirty Denise the lovely owner and founder of the brand is just a wonderful human being is out to help and support with a charitable trust receiving a donation for each special edition glitter that is sold, plus a passion for makeup that is both affordable and professional.  

For those experimenting with looks, learning about makeup, working on a budget I give you the amazing vegan brand Give Face Cosmetic; affordable professional makeup with a conscious and a heart.   

I will be covering the range again soon for trend prive, this time focusing on the brushes, till then you can enjoy the piece on the fantastic makeup line:

For more information go check out the website (and if you're a pro you can apply for a discount too so its a big plus all round).

Restructuring the work

In line with the work of The Lost Project, I decided it was time for a long overdue restructuring of the business.  This will be a long process and focused on creating business alongside the team, rather than wait for it. 

restructuring the work

Something I have advocated for many years is independent TV and film which is the direction I plan to take the business.  Creating videos and content around the behind the scenes part of my work whilst creating something new, more about showcasing my own work and skill set.  We seem to have lost direction in certain areas of the makeup artist craft.  

While I appreciate that there are tiers to any business it can depend on your location how this affects and molds your business.  For me, its time to move on and find a new avenue that will allow my business to thrive in the field I prefer.  

Ultimately I want to step away from the current oversaturated market and denigrated service industry and showcase something more solid showcasing how I have worked for years and that my job is more than just social media looks and party time. 

The focus of the job will change and I will be working on the behind the scenes elements and bringing content to the table that will be solid rather than just about clicks, it's about the skills.  Brand support will be elemental to this but in a more solid way focused rather than the scattergun approach, this will be aimed at actual working practice rather than just a sales pitch from the highest bidder.  

My team will be small and focused on the creation of commercial projects in a set theme and continue forward with this under a new banner.   

Business Fundamentals

I have talked about this before, choosing a door and finding your niche.  There are variations to the structure of business some of which are general and can be taken across the board from bridal to film/TV, the rest you need to learn and that is where the fundamentals of business come into play and I am going to be really harsh here, but just because its makeup, it doesn't mean that you are ready to be in charge.  Like any job, there is a hierarchy.  

No one walks straight into a business after training for whatever length of time and becomes a manager or is on the board of directors.  

We need to start looking at this more as a business and not a hobby.  

I see it a lot, people love the idea of being a beauty editor or makeup artist till they are doing the job and suddenly they have gone from doing all these crazy makeup looks and its all about commercialism and simplistic looks. 

"Editorial style" is one that confounds me.  I have stopped doing shoots now unless I see some structure and a purpose, there are two types of editorials: 

An editorial which is about a concept and has a structured story.  Effectively a showcase of talent and often about having fun and creating.  

Stage door

Advertorial which is about selling a product through a story.   It can be focused on the clothes, the makeup or hair but its a commercial aimed at being a spread in a magazine. 

When it comes to film and TV I am a little more hard-line than I used to be; I want to see a plan, a structure, and a sales strategy.  THAT I can get onboard with when its speculative and I am expected to bring in brands etc but you cannot/will not show a structure, you are making it difficult for me to support it or for that matter my brands to get on board with it.  

We need to sit down and actually look at how we structure things, brand support from events to film and TV projects, requires a plan.  We call this a business but I rarely see that and people are falling into the trap of it all the time and it's not moving you forward.  

I appreciate its hard to learn and your impatient to make your mark but can we talk business? 

Portrait session

I have just been sent some more Stunningly beautiful brushes from one of my favorite companies (Brushwork cosmetics) and it has given me a little nudge to do something creative. 

Business got in the way of much of what I have wanted to do, between writing, meetings and various other commitments I have just not had the chance to do my own shoots and I am hopefully going to do something fresh this week.

make up kit

With the volume of the new kit I have been sent to test and as a thank you for articles, I really don't have to add a great deal more to my working kit, which in all fairness is getting paired down to be easier to travel with. 

Something that is on my mind to do is, of course, the bridal piece with Wedding films Scotland, I really want to do something in portrait which will be published in some shape or form.  I just enjoy the process and its long overdue, I feel now that I have got several articles on standby and ready to be released over the next few days I might do a block of writing to cover my column so that I can just real and focus on getting the more realistic aspects of being a makeup artist done. 

What I am working on is the concept for two portrait based sessions which will be female models and designed around simplistic beauty.  

There is a promo code for Brushwork cosmetics available use JamesC for a 15% discount.

Kitstars makeup brushes

I am going to be doing some really interesting shoots, having done a Huge amount of research and planning for the next few months I am adding product placement into the videos and stills I shoot. 

One of the reasons I am planning for this is because I have been lucky with my work for the Trend prive and of course world fashion media and news team, this has allowed me to talk to a variety of brands and just last night I cleared out my makeup box, it was chock full of stock that was just gathering  dust alongside the new shiny products that I want to try out.  So I decided to clean house and have a fresh start of my makeup kit.  

One of the first of these brands to be covered will be Kitstars makeup brushes, a fantastically priced pro range of brushes that I personally think would make excellent additions to a working kit or for students starting out.  

Standouts (for me personally) are the base brush and the veil brush, of course, there are several others I fully intend to add but these are absolute standouts for me and the work I do. 

From there I will focus on a different brand for each shoot and do some non-exclusive brand placement simply because it is there to be done.   


New Wave Marketing

One of the things I advocate heavily is the use of online magazines and behind the scenes captures.  The reasoning behind this is simple: 

new wave marketing
  • With online magazines, the demographic reach is much larger than print (potentially) with the added bonus of longevity.  
  • Behind the scenes, both stills and video can be used as proof that the work is your own, which sadly is necessary.  It also has the benefit of being usable as a marketing tool.  

 In terms of new wave marketing both myself and my team are looking at ways of utilizing YouTube and online magazines as well as the other social media platforms to create a different form of advertising. 

Now I know some of you will be saying this has been the case for at least ten years, however, many people don't use this effectively and we are now looking at ways to integrate this into the business as a whole. 

A whole host of planning is being put in place to move forward the makeup side of the business and will be adding in elements of product placement and we are talking to brands about integration into the work we are doing.  In actual fact speaking to one of the brands it's a common practice but overused as many of the people asking for it don't have a plan or cannot show any structure that justifies the request for support.  

The next few months will be fun as we push in a different direction and work to showcase not only the JamesC brand but our work with a few select clients on PR and marketing. 

find a middle ground

I have had some really interesting calls and emails in the last 48 hours.  Some good some bad.  The one thing I am seeing a lot is the need to find a middle ground.  I have been referring to the ongoing battles for supremacy over contacts and business as the battle of the sandpit. 

make it happen

What needs to be done is find a middle ground that does not require absolute control and actually moves all business forward.  

Setting parameters about how your own business works is smart, but let's be brutally honest here when you start putting restrictions on work because you want control over the entirety of your region is really dangerous.

Part of the problem I have been getting the calls and emails about is the lack of respect or rather a demand that is solely one-sided.  If it is not given then people are blocked from doing business which I find insane. 

Don't bad mouth someone else's business without knowing the truth, if you haven't talked to someone then don't express an opinion about their work.   Instead of being negative about them focus your energy on your own work, it really is telling that when you complain about someone else's achievements and focus all your energy on running them into the ground you are losing a chance to push your own work forward. 

It really is disappointing when I hear things like this, there is room for everyone in this industry and no one is holding you back other than you.  

It's time to be smart about the business we are doing and support each other instead of denigrating and letting ego control the work and rule our lives.  

Lola Makeup News

I have to say I am really excited about this, I have been working with the Lola makeup team in London on articles and they have been really generous about supporting this offering up support for each piece and sharing the details across social media.

blusher lola

As an expansion on this, they are offering me a major support package and additional PR which I am really happy about, the plan is to support several shoots and video work I have planned whilst my travel arrangements have been reshuffled (again).  

What this means is that Lola has offered me access to the range and will be a part of the shoots as a sponsor which is an amazing offer and I am extremely thankful for the support.  

To be supported by a brand is an honour and of course something I am really proud of and I am happy to be able to put this in place for my clients and of course the brand.  

Lola has a fantastic reputation for their makeup and have supported such shows as Britain's next top model season 12 and is a huge brand partner for the wedding shows in London, so for them to come to the table and work with me is something I am taking on with great pride.  

Pretty soon I will be opening my pro account with the brand so I can offer more of the range to my clients.  

Smart Planning

In the current social media world there are events popping up everywhere and it can be hit and miss how beneficial they are to you and your business.  Part of this comes down to smart marketing.  

we are open

Now I am not a believer in working for free or paying to work UNLESS I see a solid business plan I am really reluctant to get involved.  The idea that something will benefit me doesn't wash, if you are asking me to work without actually knowing my work or for that matter what I have done then I am inclined to snap back at you and remind you what and who you are dealing with. 

However, there are certain times when I can and will sit and talk.  If I can benefit I will do a cost-benefit analysis and then move forward.  

Any business needs to be smart and evaluate the cost benefits of working on an event, film or TV project. Let's look at events first.  

You are asked to Pay for brand placement, slots as premier makeup staff and media coverage. 

What you need to be asking first and foremost: 

  • Who are your media partners? 
  • What is the cost and is it negotiable? 

From here you start planning.  How can I make this work for me?  It's not a one-sided deal.  You need to be as proactive on the promotion as the person your paying, no point in paying the money if you're not going to maximize the credibility it gives you.  

Credibility: this is the key.  How good is the potential investment in terms of how you will be using it for marketing?  Is it locally focused? Will it give you a boost in terms of media? Does it match the demographic your aiming at? 

All this needs to be considered before you even come close to throwing away your hard earned cash on events.  

revamping my kit

With some date changes to my current schedule, frustrating but workable, I have decided to grab up some extras for my working kit and do something extra to make the work that little bit easier.  

As some of you will notice, I am working with a new product line that has really caught my attention and given me the ability to focus on the key elements of my work and the choices being made at the moment are about downsizing and making my kit workable in different situations. 

Pairing down the volume of my kit is always smart when you travel and if you can find multipurpose products its a bonus. 

However one thing I refuse to pair down and continue to add is brushes, Lola makeup and makethemake are both high on my list for the new and improved kit.  

Something I admit to being really excited about is that Lost Project management has started talks to buy the rights to thriller/horror TV series that they plan to produce which they have asked me to be the head of makeup for.  This is a huge goal of mine as it will also put me in as a producer and give me creative control over the project and means I am answerable to the Lost project team and as the creative director it allows me to be in from the inception.  

Development is underway to edit the script and look at the first six episodes for polishing before we sit and start working.  We are also looking at creating some more editorials and bringing new faces into the fold for print work.