For myself and many people around me lately there has been a wave of change... transformation even... and people making choices based on 'I had a gut feeling about it'.
It's human nature to follow your head over your gut feeling... and in my case, then turn around in retrospect and kick myself. 'I should have trusted my gut feeling!' I hear myself saying that more often than I like. Lately I have been practicing the art of following my instincts... or gut... with interesting results.
I am definitely of the camp that you create your own reality, opportunities and situations... for those who have done my Body Art for Makeup Excellence course all know too well that I believe we create our worlds with our thoughts and language that we use and on a daily basis am aware of this. In saying this... I am mere human and regularly fall on my ass... however... living this way is definitely creating a life I love.
What's the point of saying all this? Well in the past month I have made some decisions that are, at the time, beyond logic but all part of following and trusting 'me guts'. [in my mind that has to be said with a cockney accent]
As a makeup artist... its really easy to get fascinated by other artists journeys and think that we need to replicate exactly the actions of others to be successful... 'that's the way THEY have done it and it worked so it's going to work for me. There is only one way to do this.' To an extent yes... it could work for you too... but I also think it might lack a certain element of imagination.... and is possibly limiting to the real opportunities out there for you specifically.
I am not one to always follow the path already trodden... and sometimes that well worn path works fabulously for me too. I have known for a while that I just need to make sure it has to work for ME and what I want to create for my life. I stumble a lot but feel like that's just all part of the journey. I am not 'trying' to be different to stand out, or just merely for the sake of being different... I will always 'try something on' and if it doesn't fit... if it doesn't have a work-ability that I am after or even want to put extra energy into... I will say thank you and go look for what does fit. We don't spend long walking around in a pair of shoes that dont fit properly just because they are in fashion... after a while there is a point they dont work for our normal lives anymore and go and get shoes that DO fit and still look fab. For me, finding what fits just right for me often takes a huge amount of courage... and trust me... on the eve of a decision my mind goes mental and wants me to crawl back to imaginary safety.
This blog for me is an exploration of what it is to be a makeup artist... and all this internal exploration is just as important as building my kit... or refining my skills.
As part of a few epiphanies I have had over the past month... I sat on an issue for a while... and then followed my guts. It was scary and liberating all at the same time.
I left my agency, Reload.
What you have to get... is nothing was wrong... there wasn't a bad relationship there... my Booker Georgina was awesome. All it took was an authentic glimpse at the future I am creating for myself and my career and I saw that the relationship wasn't going to be a match. When Reload and I were in our initial meetings... we both discussed that an agency relationship should be looked at as embarking on a long term relationship... and I reminded them of that when I took myself off the books. Knowing where I want to take my career... I didn't want either of us to invest precious time and money in each other knowing we wouldn't be a match later on.
For the people I have talked to about this I have had a mixed reaction. Understandably. I am really at peace with the whole decision and Reload and I still have a good relationship. I hope I dealt with leaving in a classy and respectful way.
The reaction that I want to address, and the whole reason for this blog post, is the reaction I have had from Makeup Artists who are dying to get represented. Your stunned faces and jaws hitting the floor have highlighted to me an underlying issue.
I have experienced the life of being both represented as well as freelance. In fact... I studied makeup in 2000 and only took an agent on in 2013. I am definitely open to another agency [in fact in talks with one right now] ... but there is something important I feel I need to address based on the reaction I have gotten from unrepresented artists that have never had an agent.
So if you are one of those makeup artists.... this is for you.
Please Please Please... get out of your mind that having an agent is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That getting an agent is the moment you have made it. Your struggles to become a success are over and everyone is shufflin' down the street Red Foo style. This way of thinking isn't doing you any favours. This is a myth that if you dissolve will empower you and your career more than you ever thought.
Some of you are probably reacting to this in an unpleasant way... like you have just been told Santa isn't real and you are 4 years old....have faith in my good intentions and keep reading.
What I am NOT saying here is that being represented is bad. It's not bad. It's awesome. I loved the Reload family. Freelancing is also equally as awesome.
What i AM saying is dont continue to buy into a fantasy idea of what having an agent is like. You will do yourself more damage than good.
I feel I need to address this as most artists I have spoken to whom have never been represented seem to think having an agent is like being told you are actually a secret princess and your kingdom with all its riches and extravagance has been searching for you for years... that you get get given all your makeup work without you having to lift a finger... and your agent does everything for you ... even all your social media one artist thought!
Let me put this all into perspective for you.
No one is coming to rescue you from your own career.
Right now... you are probably working your balls off to build relationships in the industry... build your book... do great work... earn enough to pay bills and have a livable income. Yes? Well... when you have an Agent... that continues. You never stop. You are still the creator of your own career. Your Agency looks after your diary and yes... work comes your way from the Agency... but it is all still YOU. You cannot rest on your laurels.
YOU will ALWAYS be the creator of your own career.
What I would love to gift to those who think otherwise is this... I would gift you freedom from thinking 'because I don't have an agent I'm not good enough... or haven't 'made it'.
The freedom from that train of thought would allow you to free yourself from thinking that getting an agency is the be all end all.... and the energy to then focus on the GOLD of what you are doing right now. Working on the art of building amazing working relationships and increasing your client base. If you focus on all of that as well as doing amazing work... when you get to the point of needing an agency to take over your books and help move your career forwards in the direction you are already going... then you will be ready. An agency can enhance your career... they aren't the ANSWER. The answer is already over there with you. An agency wouldn't take someone on based merely on their portfolio of nice makeups... what is also considered is what work you are already doing and the clients you will bring to the agency. Put all your energy into building your career foundation. So can't you see... forgetting the idea that an agent will solve your problems and getting on with creating your career over there where you are is the answer you are looking for... and in a strange twist... will enable you to then consider an agent.
There is no such thing as 'made it' as there is no magical destination of success... you will always have goals you are striving for... they just keep getting bigger that's all. I am sure Rae Morris and Pat McGrath still have big juicy goals they are working towards. I know I dont feel as if I am scratching the surface yet myself and my goals keep getting juicier and juicier.
There will be a time when taking on an agent or not will be appropriate for you.
I also know plenty of successful Makeup Artists whom dont have an agent and it works for them. Thats a decision they have made based on their own preferences.
So if you ARE on of those artists with the train of thought that an Agency is a pot of gold... have a look at changing your context for that. Start working on building the type of career YOU want for yourself... follow your guts... do great work... dont give up... be resilient... be great with everyone... and focus on moving forward towards your own big juicy goals. One day you will get to the point where you will decide whether or not an agency will be an awesome addition to your career... and go into your meetings looking for the right agency to build a long term relationship/partnership with. Its give and take with an Agency... they aren't Santa giving you all the jobs and answers. They will be a wealth of opportunity for you but it's a two way street.
Don't be disheartened you are unrepresented... this is your time to forget about agencies and get on with building your career yourself... THEN you will be ready. THEN you will have the freedom to choose if an agent is right for you or not.
So for those whom I had to pick up their jaws from the floor when I told them I left Reload... I didn't leave the kingdom of riches and now I will be a poor beggar... I am just moving on from a great agent who wasn't the exact fit for me... I will take my time to work out what is the best next move for me... and continue on with my career.
Do beautiful work and be a beautiful person... I think that's a much better formula to follow for your career... instead of thinking you have to do a thousand free tests to build up your book and then you can go and get an agent and your career can finally start. It doesn't work like that. Start your career now. Follow your guts and you will know what to do. It might be scary sometimes but that's the feeling of a life being lived.
I hope this helps you get on with what there is to get on with.
Stop fretting about imaginary circumstances... your time will come just keep moving forwards.