Assisting is different for every makeup artist, and while I don’t think its the only way to get a foot in the door, it is one of the best forms of work experience and a great opportunity for anyone who is thinking of pursuing a career in makeup, or wants to take their work to a professional level. The nature of assisting will vary from artist to artist but generally jobs will include everything from cleaning brushes, organising a key artists kit, to helping out on set and actually helping apply makeup especially on shoots where theres more than one model. I’ve included some key points that I think are essential for any assistant to hopefully give you tips for being the best assistant you can be.
Don’t turn up late
If theres one thing perhaps more important than any thing else, its this. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you’re not there on time then you’re not a good assistant. Yes life happens, and sometimes theres unforeseen circumstances that just can’t be helped, but if you are someone who repeatedly arrives to set late, word spreads. You also have to remember other team members on the shoot will take note if you arrive late. I would rather have someone on time who I can train to have the skills I need than someone who is always late. As an assistant you should aim to arrive before the key artist arrives, so you are ready to help unload the kit and help the key artist set up. It also means you’re there to hear the brief and start getting pro active with what you need to do in order to assist your key artist.
Do bring your full kit and set bag unless told otherwise.
At the very least you should have a fully stocked set bag with everything you need to help out on set (if the key exist needs you to). I have a free downloadable set bag checklist you can find in the VIP section. If you are not dealing with the artist direct before you work together and you are communicating via an agent then politely ask the agent if the artist would like you to bring anything in particular so you can be extra prepared. Make sure you have lots of the things they might run out of like tissues, cotton rounds, q tips etc, and I recommend bringing a couple of nail polish options and nail polish remover just in case the model needs it.
Do Take Great care of the key artists kit
If you are asked to use product out of a key artists kit, be sure to treat the items with the upmost respect, it might sound obvious but these little details get noticed. Clean up in between their work, remove used tissues or q tips so the area stays clear and in good order. Be discreet, the aim is to keep things organised so that you are creating a better working environment that makes your key artist quicker and more efficient. If the artist has a kit that is ordered or labelled, be mindful of that and ensure you put things back in the place you found them. When you’re washing their brushes be extra carful not to damage any hairs and carefully remove any excess water without tugging at the bristles. One tip I recommend especially when you first work with someone is asking politely if you can photograph their kit set up, and how they pack it so you can make sure you are setting it out and packing away exactly as they like it. I
Don’t bring drama to work
Again it might sound obvious but when you’re on set its not about you. Don’t come to set to gossip, yes once you get to know a key artist and you’ve assisted them a few times it may feel appropriate to chat more, but its easy when you’re on set to forget this is a job, and being an assistant is a job whether its paid or otherwise. You are there to work and be the best assistant you can be.
Don’t Approach The Client With Your Business card
You’d be surprised how many colleagues I’ve had this happen to, or if not a business card they’ve noticed an assistant ‘sweet talking’ a client and in addition to being late it has to be one of the biggest assisting no nos. Remember its not your client and how you behave on set is a reflection of the person you are assisting, so by all means be approachable and friendly but focus on how you can be more helpful to the person you are assisting.
Do Ask Questions
Within relation to makeup. When I say ask questions I mean ask ‘how they like their kit packed’ or ‘what kind of brushes they prefer for base work’ etc? Asking questions that will show the key artist you’re enthusiastic and committed to being a really helpful assistant, and it helps you become faster and more responsive each time you assist that same key artist.
Do Take Notes On what your learning
Each time you assist treat it as an exercise to learn more, to consider how you can improve your own technical abilities. When I used to assist I kept a journal that I would write new things I had learnt. When I got home from a shoot I would record what I had learnt and make a note to practice that same technique. If you become a first assistant (this means you work with the same artist most of the time) the person you will assist will often like you to incorporate the style of makeup they have shown you, when you get to a point of working alongside them, especially on shoots when theres more than one model and the artist trusts you to work alongside. So take notes when you get home, review what you’re learning so when you put it into practice in front of a key artist they will see that you’re listening and taking it all in.
Photos Kayla Varley | Makeup Be Me| Hair Ashley Lynn Hall
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