Why I rarely Use Assistants Explained

I do get asked this when I am gearing up to do a new project, “why don’t I use assistants on jobs?” Most of the time its really as simple as I don’t need extra hands there isn’t enough work to justify it.

artist kit

Other times its because the people asking are not interested in the work they are looking for access to clients and of course validation of a skill set they have barely earned.

Now this may seem harsh but there is tells when you see peoples responses to ads for assistants or business related information.

A prime example of this was the recent post on a group dedicated to makeup artistry, I put out information concerning a bank account that was designed for freelancers. The response was zero. Now if that has been a post about Halloween makeup or asking for recommendations on glitter it would have been miles long.

Business is often not at the forefront of most makeup artists minds.

What you put out, and lets be honest here I do background check people, is going to give people an idea of what you are aiming to do at the end of your training or the level of marketing or if the skill you are offering match what you are saying. Film and TV are very specific and require a more toned down commercial look that may not be something you are showcasing, for example “I am looking for experience in film” but your social media is heavily geared toward party makeup and nails this is not going to get you the job frankly speaking from where I am standing, so be aware that people will check your work.

You are not immediately entitled to the same pay rates as me, its something that really does amuse me when you approach and the first thing you ask is my rate and if I am matching what you are being offered. My usual response is simple:

I have been working in this job for 20 years what I am paid is based on what I can do and what I offer. I am working as head of department which means the final look is my responsibility"

Many people want to be in film and TV but fail to grasp whats actually involved, I can spend days, sometimes weeks on a shoot and getting the script broken down or the designs done to suit the shoots needs. Could you do that? Can you work a 12 hour shift or be away from your home base for weeks on end if required?

Bottom line I rarely use assistants for two fundamental reasons:

  1. The jobs I do don’t always require extra hands.

  2. Not everyone is prepared to do the work to same level that I have to.

Spend some time looking at the work you do and evaluate if you are showcasing what you want or what is easiest for you to get a foot in the door to.

What I do as creative Director and Media Makeup Artist

The terms creative director and media makeup artist get thrown around as a buzzword with makeup artists but very few actually understand whats involved, its not a bad thing but it is detrimental to your business if you cannot do what you are advertising.

As creative director I do a wide range of things especially when it comes to working on film projects, mainly when I do low budget work do I try and do this to add dimension and potential marketing/pr avenues that might otherwise be missed. I have to be aware of how the story from behind the scenes and the commercial side is going to look when we release the details, it has to be consistent across media.

climbing the stairs to success

Thanks in part to my work for magazines, I am able to talk directly to brands and provide what I term primary sources of pr. I write articles and then pitch the possibility of adding the brand to a Non-exclusive product placement and will negotiate with the brand and/or the film company over where and how this can be done.

My job becomes about placement and brand support what I do is work out ways to augment and support my department with product placement and designing the elements of the characters and IF required finding solutions to problems, this can include finding something that will help the budget or add to the overall story, finding myself often online checking out options to reduce the budgets. As key makeup artist you need experience to be able to carry the can, you are as much a part of the process as the rest of the team.

As media makeup artist I work within the parameters that I know I can offer, I sell the service I am skilled and experienced in and make it clear to clients what those limits are. This can include social media, product placement within the film and of course designing the makeup with the application being done and maintained on the shoot. Commercial should be your aim when working in film and TV.

Working as a beauty and lifestyle editor has given me distinct advantages that I have built up and added to my own arsenal of professional skills that can be utilised in my work, that is the difference. For me its not a buzzword its a reality of my work. A career and vocation are totally different, there are alot of steps to be taken to get to the point of being key on film and TV or even working at a magazine, build your business sensibly.

Reaching for the Stars and how its Done

When you are working as a makeup artist, especially someone aspiring to work in film and TV. There needs to be a degree of give and take in the process. Experience will get you through and into better projects over the course of time. Understanding how business works, especially the film business, can mean the difference between securing the gig and being replaced.

Reaching for the stars

Stories leak all the time about people securing gigs on a lie, by that I mean telling the production team they can do something and then failing to provide the service offered.

When it comes to reaching for the stars sometimes you need to build a ladder to get there.

Remember networking is a must and being an assistant is not something to be sniffed at. You can gain a huge amount by assisting a senior artist.

For me its all about knowing my skill set and market audience. My journey is slightly different and I do have plans, goals and aspirations that may not suit everyone and thats OK, but heres a general sense of how to move up the ladder and earn your craft.

  • When you first graduate, remember you won’t get into large scale projects immediately you will need to build your CV and show that you are willing to put the time into getting there.

  • Nothing happens overnight. Contact artists be open to assisting and listen to them.

  • Don’t listen to rumours. Just because the person teaching you doesn’t like another artist does not mean that their opinion is accurate. No platforming someone based on rumours will end badly for you.

  • Low budget is not necessarily a bad thing. Every job should have a contract, talk to the people behind the film and be open to the options.

*From a recent chat with a director, “we contacted several artists before we spoke to you and the responses were weird. Two didn’t answer, one wished us good luck but wouldn’t work for free. She didn’t ask if we had a budget what the pay scale was she just dismissed it.”

When you work for a company you can be there anywhere up to a month (I have even see it be two or three) before you get paid, so why do you think that immediately dropping an offer is smart, ask questions and negotiate.

Know your own limits, if you can’t do it, don’t sell it.

Start small and build, a website is a must. You can tie it to your social media and other accounts and use it as a marketing tool that will benefit you long term.

Above all else, be open to the possibilities and treat it like the business you claim it is.

Building PR Around a Low Budget Feature Film

When your working on a low budget film, something that you need to consider is where every single penny is going in terms of your makeup kit. Especially when there is some moulage (character/blood work) involved.

building your budget and working the pennies

As a makeup artist the first thing you need to be asking is “whats the budget for the department?” Remember your materials cost money and a kit fee is pretty much a standard across the board, this will allow you to decide if there is anything you need that you don’t have in your kit and will cover your costs. If you are smart and there is a business plan in place with the film you can then work with the production team to gain some additional support and press, sometimes even add-on’s to your kit that would otherwise come out of the budget for your department.

The synopsis of a film or TV project will also give you an idea of what to expect in terms of the project type you are working on, a smart artist will know their own limitations and what they can and can’t offer in terms of the work and be smart enough to actually work around those limitations without losing face.

Once you have a contract (An absolute must) you can then start working on a plan of action, low budget films often have a lack of real PR planning for the makeup staff because we are well known for our ability to showcase ourselves, after all thats how we got the gig right?

Always co-ordinate with the production team on what you are planning!

Even something as simple as a tweet with a photo or an Instagram post can be detrimental and lose you the contract. Make sure that there isn’t a NON DISCLOSURE clause in your contract, if you violate the terms of a non disclosure you can be sued and lose your job with real harm done to your reputation.

By working on the project and PR plan with the team you can sometimes, if you handle it correctly, gain additional support which if YOU as the artist do right will give you a working relationship with the brands you approach that will be a long term benefit for the film/TV project and you that can be accessed and used later.

Smart moves make better films and longer careers.

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.  


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. 

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.  

Professional changes

In the last 6 to 8 months I have been completely redefining my business and working with my contacts, brands and of course, magazines to bring a whole new dimension to the work being put out. 

success is within your reach

One of the things that I have always maintained is that business is business and needs to be treated with reverence,  in terms of what is coming I am taking sidesteps and risks with reaching out to companies for articles and discussing PR. 

Now I appreciate every PR package that I get sent, I mean wow!  I have been lucky about the support and beautiful gifts that I have received in thanks for my articles.  It has also allowed me to give an extra dimension to my work on those projects that do come my way in terms of film and TV. 

And that is why I do it.  People value the work I do and what I offer, I treat the whole thing as a package deal and business transaction.  Which the brands love because of the legitimising of the deal.  

I spend time on calls and talking to brand managers, PR departments and building a relationship that will benefit us both.  That's what its all about: building a rapport.  Over time I will be completely changing the nature of my business and while I am proud of my skills as a makeup artist, I think I will be doing more production crew work and taking on projects that interest me or allow me to travel. 

With this in mind, I have started negotiations with a brand and will meet with them in July, to see if there is scope for me to work with them long term, this is what I do, this is a career for me and the direction has changed over the course of years, that's natural, but I am open to it and it ties in with my previous blog about intrinsic value. 

Mentoring will b something I give serious consideration to over the next few months and possibly in time more creative management with the Lost project.  The strength of my contacts, the ethos of my work and the sheer determination to get to the point I want to reach is helped and supported by my family and friends.  

Building on the past 20 years, the next 20 will be even bigger.  



Beauty Editor moment

I have to admit that I am extremely lucky to have the support I do when it comes to being a beauty editor.  House of iKons has given me access to some amazing designers and allowed me to build articles around their work and create a buzz about the work that is astonishing to me. 


Something I am really keen to do now is getting some smaller brands on board to create some new articles about makeup again, which to be fair was my original job.  

So far I have gone out and contacted a few different brands and I am now planning to do articles on their ranges.  This will include the amazingly talented Sian Richard of London Brush Company, Antonio Ferran brushes, Poise makeup and possibly some companies that sell pigments. 

I am really keen to do pieces on small brands to create some buzz and support independent companies.  We are also discussing product placement options and do have film projects that are open to having placement options in their projects.  

If you would be interested in having an article published then contact The Lost project team who manage my work for me.  

House of iKons

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.  

House of iKons

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:  


LFW planning

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. 

office moments

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. 


editorial run and beauty editor work

Something I have had to do over the last two days is shut off to some degree and focus on my writing duties.  With the help of The House of iKons, I have been able to write and talk to some fantastic designers and cosmetic brands like the fantastic club organix mineral make up range.  

editorial concept

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.  

Editorial concept shoots

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.  

make up palettes

iKons meets Trend Prive

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.