What is an “Artistic Entrepreneur”?

If I asked you to name the first person that came to your mind when I said the word “Entrepreneur” who would you say?

Richard Branson?  Bill Gates?  Oprah?

What about JK Rowling?  Pat McGrath or Alex Box?

What about YOU?

So often freelance Makeup Artists and Hairstylists forget that they are entrepreneurs, and I believe that if you want to be successful as a freelancer, then it’s important to begin to also identify as an entrepreneur, or a small business owner.

If you’ve been along to one of my live webinars, you’ll know I talk about the importance of making the switch from the employee mindset to the entrepreneur mindset.  I’ve realized recently, that while this is important, there’s another layer, and that’s where you might need to combine the artist mindset with the entrepreneur mindset.

Many of you may have become a make up artist because you want to be an artist, for you it’s all about being creative.   My friend Becca Gilmartin talks about this a lot – she calls her self an artist that just so happens to do make up.

For some other artists, their primary motivation and the big reward they get out of being a make up artist is client satisfaction.  Think about that feeling you get when you see the look on your client’s face when she looks in the mirror and says “Oh my god! I look amazing, I love it!”

We sometimes talk about that spectrum between being a creative make up artist and being a service provider.  As makeup artists we have one foot in the creative artist camp and the other foot in the camp of the service provider, and its really not about being one or the other, its about being SOMEWHERE on that spectrum… and you know, you can move along the spectrum.  I know I do.  I am primarily a “service” makeup artist, I love to help people feel good about themselves, but from time to time, I’ve got to let my inner creative artist out, so I’ll connect with people in my creative network and go do an editorial test shoot.

So when it comes to this artist mindset I hear makeup artists say “oh you know I really I just want to be creative and I just want to do creative work. I love the collaboration and I want to do editorial work and work at Fashion Week.” Etc etc etc.

Now when you think about it, that is really the ART of a make up artist: that collaboration; that creativity; it’s also like being an artist like a painter, a sculpture or a musician and what do we know about most artists? We know that a lot of them are starving!!   You know that saying “a starving artist” and realistically it’s the same for many make up artists. If you do editorial work; whether that be collaborations or  TFP, you already know there’s not a lot of money in this sort of work.

So while it may very well satisfy your creative urges, if you want to be successful (that is, profitable, and well fed!) it’s important to couple that with a sense of being an entrepreneur and look at how you can get your business self-sustaining so that you can support yourself in being that creative artist.

And often it’s just a simple mindset shift, from thinking of yourself as an ARTIST, to also thinking of yourself as an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner.  An artistic entrepreneur, or, and entrepreneurial artist…  You choose!

Here’s some things to think about:

When you think about your career as a makeup artist, what do you think about most?

  • Is it a new look that you want to try out?
  • A beautiful eyeshadow combo that you saw on your favourite artist’s Instagram?
  • The products in your kit?
  • That client who sent you a beautiful thank you card after her wedding?
  • The client who was so picky and made you change so many things on the makeup you did?
  • The amount of money you made last week (or… the amount you didn’t make!)
  • How much your business cost you to run last month?
  • New marketing strategies for attracting more clients?
  • Whether you should do some Facebook ads?
  • Where you can invest in your business education?
  • How to tweak your promotional posts to book more clients?

These are ALL things that you should be thinking about and spending time working on.  If you found your eyes glazing over, and your mind wandering as you read the last few questions on that list, that’s a sure sign you need to make that shift to the “Artistic Entrepreneur” mindset.

I don’t know ANYONE who became a makeup artist because they thought it would be a great small business idea, or a good way to make their fortune!  Everyone I ever speak to became a makeup artist because they love the ART, or, because they love to help people feel good about themselves.  However, those who become SUCCESSFUL, those who make Makeup Artistry their full-time career, and those who have sustainable, long-term careers, are those who manage to learn the skills, and do the things that entrepreneurs do.

I’m so passionate about these ideas, because I’ve been around for long enough (almost 18 years as I write this) to have seen many, many makeup artists come and go.  I also taught Diploma for 4 years, and it saddens me to know that some of the most talented artists I taught are not pursuing makeup as a career, and I know that it is because they haven’t managed to run a successful business. And this is why I have shifted my focus, as my makeup artist career winds down (it’s a physically tough job and not designed for senior citizens LOL), I now want to help as many freelance makeup artists and hairstylists to have successful careers as I possibly can.

If you’re resonating with what you’ve read today, I’d love to invite you to my Free, Live, Online Masterclass where you’ll learn HOW to combine being an artist with being a SUCCESSFUL business owner.  You can save your spot at learn.suemclaurin.com/webinar


Photography credits:

Libby Willis
Daniel Sangermani
Eli Samuel