Classified Beauty - Uber Talented Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Kathy Aragon

You can’t help but envy this week’s Multi-talented Image Maker Kathy Aragon’s twitter, she’s always bustling from one place to another applying makeup to some pretty important people, yet she still has the time to dole out friendly advice to other fellow artists and stylists. Incredibly nice friendly and engaging, I was simply fascinated by all that she does I just had to find out what fuels this dynamo. Read the interview to find out why like in real-estate -- location location location has been one of Kathy’s biggest advantages as well as why there aren’t any shortcuts. The love she has for her work spills over into her every word.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! I had some time to comb through your website, In a word you ROCK! How long have you been in the industry?

Kathy Aragon: Thanks! As of this month I have been doing makeup for exactly 10 years. I have spent the last 4 years completely freelance and away from my salon roots.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to become a hair and makeup artist?

Kathy Aragon: My mom has been a hairstylist for over 25 years so this industry has always been present in my family but I really knew it from a management side due to my father's entrepreneurial background. I took esthetics and cosmetology courses to learn more about the service side and that is when the bug hit me.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What was your first "big" break?

Kathy Aragon: Good question. I've always been a "baby steps" kind of girl so I don't think one particular incident stands out in my mind as a break out sort of moment. I mean all my milestones (first tear, first agency, first show, etc) are all still very special moments to me.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Kathy, I see that you do many different things as a hair and makeup artist, but tell us what is it like working for a network television show like CNN?

Kathy Aragon: Working at CNN has been a great experience and has taught me so much! I thought I knew the stresses of makeup and hair but it wasn't until I started doing it for live TV that I realized I had it pretty easy. I've had to learn how to do hair and makeup in 5-15 minutes time (if that) on a consistent basis, and it had to presentable enough for the whole world to see! These extreme time limits have helped me tremendously on other jobs where time is money. I am proud to be able to provide my clients both hair and makeup in a time that it might take two people to work in.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Five to Fifteen minutes wow! Kathy, you also have a pretty impressive Grooming portfolio how does male grooming differ from the other work that you do and did it require any specific training or education?

Kathy Aragon: I love doing men's grooming, if not just for the fact that it offers such great variety and keeps my job interesting. I didn't have any more specific training for men's grooming per se, but my airbrush is what I use 90% of the time on grooming jobs, and I did take specific lessons for that through a mentor of mine, Suzanne Patterson.

As for learning men's hairstyling, my husband actually had a big part in teaching me. I do many shoots with him since he is a photographer and when we started working with men he would go in and do hair for my unconfident self. He would have a specific vision that I wasn't sure about achieving. My husband showed me the techniques he used through his many hair phases and from that I started feeling a lot more comfortable in styling men's hair. He's going to crack up that I told you that. I no longer allow him to touch the hair when we work together. :D

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! That’s too funny; it’s awesome that you had him around for that I’m sure you learned some things right away that it’ll have taken other men’s groomers years to learn. Kudos to you guys! So, is there a big difference in working with male and female clients?

Kathy Aragon: Men's grooming definitely takes me a lot less time to do (most of the time) but it's just as important to keep up with during the shoot. The biggest difference between working with men and women is the amount of talking and comforting I have to do when working with men who are not used to putting on makeup. I am more talkative with men through the makeup process when they are obviously uncomfortable before sitting in the chair. I want the guys just as comfortable when they leave my chair to go on set as the girls feel. Usually that means I let them crack jokes about me putting them in "hot pink" or "cherry lip-gloss" looks. I think every male, not in the modeling or acting industry feels they have to make that joke :D

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Kathy, some artist chose to specialize, however you pretty much do it all. Why did you choose to remain "multi-faceted"?

Kathy Aragon: Being based in Washington D.C. has given me no choice but to "do it all". Working with men, women, and children came naturally for me having grown up in the salon industry. Also, there wasn't enough work in the area to only specialize in print vs. TV vs. events so I just did any type of job that called for a makeup artist in the area.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! That has obviously paid off for you in a good way. Can you give the readers an idea of what a typical working day is like for you? Do you even have a “typical” day?

Kathy Aragon: It's hard to predict a day for me. I kind of have to look at a week to figure out a typical pattern. Actually the more random the work week is, the more typical it is! It's now pretty normal for me to go from doing makeup for CNN, to doing a glamorous look for a red carpet event, to working on children for a hospital photo shoot. Then the next week I can pick up to go to the Cayman Islands for a swimsuit shoot, then fly off to work on a bunch of NFL makeup phobia football players, and finish the week powdering heads for a government video. :D It is so completely and utterly random and I really don't think I'd have it any other way.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Looks like the variation keeps it interesting for you. What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the industry and makeup artists specifically?

Kathy Aragon: I feel that many newer artists think that in this industry you can easily skip past the harder work and find the shortcuts to get to the top, and it just isn't that way. I have talked to many artists who have started just a few short years ago and are already very frustrated over things like not being signed by a top NY agency. Many of these artists look past the benefits of the baby steps in between. Like I said earlier, I am a "baby steps" kind of girl. If it weren't for doing tests with local photographers, doing local work, getting signed to a local agency, and making a local name, there is no way I would have gotten the consistent work that I have been able to get to have even attracted a NY agencies attention. Taking baby steps will go a longer way in building a more stable foundation for your future career.

As for a public misconception of makeup artists, I feel like everyone wants to throw me in the category of selling Mary Kay or working at MAC when I say I do makeup for a living. I find my answer changes all the time as I'm still searching for that perfect description to explain what it is I really do.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! It seems that every up and coming makeup and hairstylists wants to work with celebrities or in fashion or television. What advice do you have for someone new who is trying to break into the industry and wanting to work in these arenas?

Kathy Aragon: Other than really practicing your clean hair and makeup skills, networking goes a long way. The only thing is you need to make sure your connections are genuine and not just another business card to add to the pile. Some of my most amazing moments have been presented to me through the friends I have made in this industry. You never know who will be asked if they know any makeup artists and if you took that time to make that connection genuine you may just be thought of when they are asked.

Oh, and to break it down to the very basics, keep your eyes open for opportunities! I can not tell you how many times CNN has put an ad out for makeup/hair artists to the public with hardly a response. They want people to read the job description and decide if this is really for them, not to get a lot of inquiries because people are fixated on the name of the company -so you don't actually see the name "CNN" on their ads. So many people have passed up on applying for what could be a dream job because they didn't take the time to read the description. Remember that some of the best opportunities out there may not come in the fanciest of packages.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Okay I just feel like you just spilled some classified secret. I hope the readers picked up on that. So lastly Kathy because every aspiring or new artist would love to learn from someone as talented and devoted to the craft as you are... do you hire assistants, mentor young artists, hold any workshops or provide training?

Kathy Aragon: I do hire assistants when I can. Some of the jobs I do for government figures or a celebrity personality may require more privacy and don't allow for assistants on set. Other jobs may require one, like when I have to get 30 men ready for a group shoot in a matter of minutes! I definitely try to use them when I can and I find myself saying I need one more and more lately. The unfortunate thing is that I always find out a need an assistant last minute, many times the day before and then no one is usually available. If you tend have a really flexible schedule, give me a call! :D

As for workshops and training, I have started to work closely with The Powder Group in providing hands on workshops in different subjects. Michael and James of The Powder Group are two of my favorite mentors and so it means so much to me that they've entrusted me to give back some of the knowledge I have gained through my time as an artist to their attendees. I will be at the next two Artist Summits in Miami and Chicago teaching workshops. More information to be announced soon!

That’s awesome, Thank you Kathy for that uber informative interview for more information on Kathy Aragon, please visit her website and for more information on the Artist Summit visit the Powder Group’s website and of course be sure to follow Kathy’s Twitter.

Ciao for now…Class is dismissed!

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Anonymous said...

We love Kat! Great interview!

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best things a newbie can read. I really love the concept of baby steps. To many want things to come right away. Kat rocks!

NaijaCandy said...

omo.. I'm looking for some wedding looks for us oooo.. thought about your blog.. but it is it more for professionals..? can't seem to find a makeup gallery of looks.. holla!

Beauty Schooled said...

Hi Naija Candy... thanks for reading! Yes BeautySchooled! is geared more for the professional... Have you tried They may have some looks for you there. Thanks again.

gel said...

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