The Life of a Freelance Makeup Artist in the Time of COVID-19

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Written By Online Figure

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Like many of you, as a freelancer I have lost all my makeup work for the foreseeable future. As a sole trader, it’s a bizarre feeling having all your work just disappear. When you are your own boss there is always a small part of you that is on the job. You’re either thinking about the next job, you’re washing your brushes and cleaning your kit, you’re calculating your expenses, you’re networking, updating your socials, emailing clients, thinking for the thousandth time you need to update your website, the list goes on.

I usually work 6 days a week and now I’m down to 3, as I am very lucky to have some admin work on the go. Yet while I have all this extra time, I feel like it’s just slipping away from me. I’m lacking the motivation to do all those things that I’ve wanted to catch up on that I usually can’t fit into my busy life. And simply put, I think I’m grieving my business. I’ve worked so hard to try and break into this industry, to put myself out there. I’ve worked for free and for shoots that I never saw the photos for.

I’ve poured myself into my work and thrown myself into a world that both scares and excites me. I love my job and now it just feels so unfair that it has come to such an abrupt halt for something totally out of my control. First world problems much? I know I’m not the only one, I don’t think I’m that special. But I think it’s important to recognise this aspect of the pandemic. We have all had to sacrifice parts of our lives and we are all grieving what we have lost.

It’s not just freelancers that are in this position either; it’s pretty much any small business. It’s also impacted the education sector. Many courses are able to adapt to online options but for the beauty industry it’s not that easy. Much of what we teach is hands on and practical. It’s not impossible but there are certainly restrictions on how much can be taught outside of classroom supervision. For example; how do you teach someone how to colour match foundation to someone’s skin tone when they aren’t able to practice on different skin tones?

Of course you can teach the theory behind it, but it’s a skill that is refined through practicing on different models. Or how do you teach someone the different techniques of cutting hair when you aren’t able to watch what they are doing? While the theory is important and necessary, the majority of the beauty industry involves kinaesthetic based learning which is hard when you are limited to the resources and people available to you in lockdown.

So how do we get out of this funk and avoid spiralling into a void?

Well as simple as it sounds I always like to start with a list. Get out the old-fashioned pen and paper and start jotting down some of the things you’ve wanted to work on but you never seem to have the time for.

For example here are some of mine:

  • Update my website (It’s over a year old, get on it Madeleine!)
  • Practice my hair skills
  • Drink more water (Always good to throw in some easy ones to make you feel like you’re achieving even when you really aren’t)
  • Work on some content for social media, something every couple of days to keep creative and make sure I’m still refining my skills. Pick themes to keep it interesting.
  • Sort my kit
  • Create a few small prosthetics
  • Research some online makeup courses/masterclasses to see if I can improve my skills while I’m stuck in my lounge room.

That’s just a few but in reality all of those are possible if I don’t think about doing them all at the same time! Pick one and give it a crack. I always feel a million times better when I achieve even just one thing on my list.

I’ve been seeing a lot of creativity sprouting during this time and many artists are producing some awesome stuff during their downtime! The hash tag #isolationcreation is my new favourite, and a good source of inspiration. It’s also a great time to go through the archives and post some of your content that you never got around to, #tbeveryday. That being said, as much as I love seeing all this amazing creativity coming out of the world, on the days I feel low and unmotivated it can feel like a real slap in the face.

It’s important to understand that we don’t have to be on top of it all, everyday. It’s ok to feel like you’re not coping and that trying to make a business work when your entire industry has shut down is hard! I can promise you, you aren’t the only one. We just have to make sure that we still find ways to do the things we love, lawfully of course.

So, if you’re like me and wouldn’t mind skilling during your downtime, there are lots of online courses and tutorial options popping up. I plan on hitting up as many as I can because there is always room for improvement or learning new skills! The Australian Academy of Cinemagraphic Makeup has started moving a few of their courses online and offering online tutorials on Udemy. You can start by checking out their Makeup Fundamentals course or Certificate II in Retail Cosmetics or their options on Udemy for Special Effects and Bridal Makeup. There will be more options to come so keep an eye out, and don’t forget to check out what else is on offer at the moment! The internet is your oyster!

Lastly, not everything you get done in this time has to be about work either. Remember to do something nice for yourself and your household. Bake some cookies, treat yourself to a facemask and a glass of wine, chat with a friend, go for a walk. And don’t beat yourself up on the days that you aren’t a creative genius or your entire house isn’t sparkling clean. We have to be gentle on ourselves in this strange and disconcerting time.