With Kim It's Possible! - Editorial Makeup Artist Kim Weber
Should this post begin with I started following Kim Weber on Twitter yadda yadda? No? Okay so I met Kim Weber on Twitter LOL! While following her tweets -- her hard work, dedication and professionalism is what caught my attention, (also that early morning tweet about her shoot at MILK Studios had my talent radar honing in, also I LOVE that place!)
This Beautynista is up at the crack of dawn doing her thing as an artist as well as burning the midnight oil taking care of the business side of things. Kim is also very generous with makeup and industry advice so be sure to catch her twitter. I was so thrilled when Ms. Weber agreed to do this interview because I knew that she would not hold back and would give it all to the readers the good the bad and the ugly sides of the industry. Thankfully of course she did not disappoint! Be sure to read the entire interview to find out how Kim can spot a newbie and why she feels “assistant” can be a misleading term for artists looking to... well assist.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Kim, I appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions for the readers, I’ve seen some of your work. Amazing! Your bio states that you made a change from fashion design to makeup artist how did that come about?
Kim Weber: It's funny because growing up, I never thought that one could be a makeup artist; I never knew that it was a profession, per say… that one could make their livelihood from. I was so into fashion, that I hardly ever paid attention to anything else other than the clothes; In all honesty, it came about because I discovered the girls that did makeup in the dept. store where I was working part-time while attending university, made substantially more than the girls that folded clothes, lol...I knew that I could do it too and so I tried it and was good at it, but I've always been artistically inclined. When I was finished with university, I was working in the garment business and still doing makeup part time. I was having more fun and freedom doing it than I was designing. I slowly segued more and more into doing makeup, and since I can't be mediocre with anything that I do, I decided to go all the way with it.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Did your transition require any formal education?
Kim Weber: I never took any formal classes. Back when I got started, there weren't all of these classes or makeup schools unless you either wanted to become a special effects makeup artist or, attend beauty school where the course of study is always focused more on hair. Always being creative and being an artist of a different discipline made it easier for me to transition, I'm sure; I kind of fell right into it and never missed a beat; I guess you can say that I was kind of a natural.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Do you think being in the industry as a fashion designer first made it easier for you as a makeup artist?
Kim Weber: I will say yes, as I was already very familiar with textures, and drawing, and proportion but especially color theory. I used to correct overseas lab dips at one of my first fashion jobs in NY. It was always interesting trying to translate 10% warmer grey in a particular color and have all of the batches come out consistent via a fax translated into Chinese....
I became an expert at color and color theory. I can analyze a color and memorize it from looking at it just one time. I can pull it apart into its components and put it back together again. That's an ability that I put into play every day; I automatically know what is going to look good the moment that you put it on a person but also explain to them why. I also think that my former life as a designer helps when you are working in tandem with the rest of a creative team conceptualizing a look. A tell-tale sign of a beginner makeup artist is they don't really have any restraint. They want to put every product on every face. When you go about designing a clothing collection a fashion designer thinks of the overall look. I think I still think like a fashion designer in that sense; I can shift and say what part and how much of a part is this makeup look going to play in the overall scheme of things, especially if it’s a fashion story.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What was your first big gig as a makeup artist?
Kim Weber: My first gig as a makeup artist was in the early 90's for a now defunct makeup company...My first real gig outside of retail, I sadly, don't remember....:-(
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the industry and makeup artists in general?
Kim Weber: Wow, this is a heavy question and also multifaceted... I would say the biggest misconceptions about this industry are that anybody can do it. Contrary to popular belief and reality television, I don't believe this to be true. I am going to go on record here and say that I do not think that any and everybody can do this. Many people forget that being a makeup artist is part of the service industry albeit an intimate one. You are there to service the client, doesn't matter if it’s for a wedding, or for a photo shoot, or for a character. I think that everyone thinks that it’s easier than it is, and that you make a ton of money at entry level. This also, is not the case. The majority of people will not have all of the ingredients that it takes to make it a successful, lifetime career. The majority of people will also not become rich or, household names. If you are entering this business with that thinking, you are already starting off on the wrong foot. It takes a lot of passion and hard work and business savvy to make it a go; specially if you are working as a freelancer and not for a company. If you want stability, then, sadly, this is not the business for you. I think that newer people coming on don't understand that this is very much a business and one has to be equal parts business person, and equal parts artist. There's always a bridge between art and commerce. You have to come with, and understand both.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What’s a typical working day like for you, when you’re on a shoot?
Kim Weber: I come in, claim table space, and then make a beeline for the craft services table for coffee and all the vegetarian options, lol (Just kidding). I usually arrive early enough as to where I'm the first person on set. I like to take this alone time in the studio, even if it’s just a few minutes by myself, to 'breathe in' or take in the space. It helps me to get into the mindset. As people come in, I either introduce myself to everyone or reconnect with the team if I haven't seen them in a while. Then I settle down for a quick informal pow-wow with the client and the rest of the team so that we are sure that were on the same page. This is particularly essential, as nowadays, most times in person pre-production meetings are a thing of the past…When setting up, I always ask my station mate, which is usually the hairstylist, if they have a preference of side that they like to work on. If I am sharing space, I never set up my station until the other person is there. I look at it as a sign of consideration and respect; kind of like not eating your food in a restaurant until everyone in your party has been served.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! It seems that every up and coming makeup and hairstylist wants to work in fashion or with celebrities. What advice do you have for someone new who is trying to break into the industry?
Kim Weber: I'm always amazed at how so many people put more research into where they are going to attend university, or what kind of car they are going to buy, but go about entering this business kind of half swinging the bat...When working with celebs, keep your mouth shut and don't pass on whatever gossip you may hear and leave your ego at the door. One should be able to work quick as time is always limited on a celeb set. Don't speak unless you are spoken to as not everyone is big on talking. (It's kind of like having a manicure performed in peace) Some like to talk and converse, others, like you to be quiet and barely make your presence known. Communication skills become even more important when working with celebrities as most times, you are dealing with their manager, PR person, both or a multitude of other people that the celebrity employs... Keep in mind, that not everyone is cut out to work with celebs. Some people don't have the people skills to handle it.
In general, and not so celebrity specific: Learn your craft and learn it well. NEVER undercut your competition, that will only backfire on you, and eventually affect the industry at large. NEVER take a job, no matter how flattering it may sound, when you cannot perform all of its duties 100% or are not fully competent. Be confident, quick and efficient. Alot about being a makeup artist is knowing as much about restraint and when to use it, as it is about piling it all on. This business is smaller than people realize, especially in the big markets like LA and NYC. Like anything, word travels fast when your good, but faster when you are not and many a reputation have easily been tarnished before the artist has even filled the pages in their first book. Know your strengths and what sets you apart and exploit them to the best of your ability. I have worked in nearly facet of this business as a makeup artist exposing myself to every kind of genre of makeup before I decided to settle down and concentrate on being an artist almost exclusive to the print world. Find out what you like, what you don't like and keep an open mind when just starting out. Some people love to do weddings or the pageant circuit, some love working in the theatre while others are cut out for video and television work. They are not one in the same, and alot of people don't transition well between them. I am not saying be a jack of all trades master of none, but to dabble a bit in different facets of the biz before you settle down and make a concrete decision...another reason why taking on an apprenticeship underneath a senior artist is so valuable and important.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Do you hire assistants, provide mentoring or host any workshops or training?
Kim Weber: If I can take this time to give a different spin on that, I actually prefer to use the term, interns, or apprentices; Somewhere along the line, I think with a lot of hobbyists entering the business understand or decipher the term assistant to mean something different than it did in the days when I was coming along. Many people consider the term assistant to mean that they are the key artists' equal and just helping them out and this is not the case. When you apprentice under an artist or tradesman of any kind, it is to learn, practice and perfect the craft without assuming any of the risk UNDERNEATH someone who has proven themselves as a key. I like to compare it with the hierarchy that exists in the martial arts world....But, before I stray, to answer your initial question; I can count the number of times a year that I use an intern; even less, a paid intern. I don't normally use interns unless I'm keying a show or doing an advertising gig with multiple models/talent, I find that many newer people to the business are not as receptive to workshops and training as they should be, I actually run workshops for sr. citizen centers and the like that more than I do to actual artists. I like to work with 'real' people whenever I get the chance....
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Kim, before we wrap up, what’s next for you? Is there anything that you can share with the readers?
Kim Weber: I have several projects that I have either just completed, or are about to embark upon; none of which I can really share until they are out. It's always like that as working primarily in fashion and beauty; I'm always working at least 6-9 months ahead of the curve and cannot disclose projects until they are out for viewing by the masses.
So there you have it readers you'll just have to stay tuned to find out what Kim is up to next you can do this by view her website, checking out her blog or by following her Twitter.
Ciao for now…class is dismissed!