Makeup and Cakeup

I was talking with one of my makeup artist friends about the community and creative professionals. She asked me “Am I stable?”  What that means to me is that you’re are secure, sane, and steady. I find it really rare for artistic folks to be truly stable by normal standards. We thrive on visuals, moods and admiration. What we lack in stability we make up for it with a charisma that involves our medium of choice. Mine is faces. I want to make art on your face, that sounds totally unstable right? 

I find it so heartbreaking to see an artist not struggle with their craft because they are talented but yet they are living in a unstable manner. Money is part of stability. We need income to live, thrive and be comfortable. Maybe not lots of it but we do need some, and I happen to enjoy having money. 

I told my friend that being a creative business owner is like making cupcakes. We stay in the kitchen perfecting the recipe, making cupcakes focusing solely on the art of cupcakes. The taste, the size, color, texture and smell. We become cupcake obsessed. Seeking ways to make the most cupcakes until we look up and see a kitchen full of cupcakes but no one has tasted them. When you focus on art,  the business can be forgotten. When you focus on business, the art might be put aside.  Learning to make delicious cupcakes, finding cupcake customers who eat your art then tell their friends they should try your cupcakes too is the key to growth and stability as a cupcake “artist”. 

I have found that some of the happier makeup artists are the ones who have a community. If I didn’t have my artsy friends I would go crazy. My stability is my creative process then coming up for air to focus on the people who make my business thrive a priorty. Who is that? It’s my audience on social media. It’s my neighbor. It’s someone I met at a social function. It’s the photographer who I followed, it’s my family, my past clients and my wedding vendors. It’s anyone I meet that is interested in hearing about my job. See, not too hard right? Well it’s easier said than done. So now I feel like making cupcakes might be the best motivator. Cupcakes make everything alright. 


Merry Makeup

It’s that time of year when I get a few questions from clients on what to buy for someone who loves cosmetics. Well, you are in luck because in this blog I’m going to cover the best options as gifts from beginners to pros and what I would love to have from a cosmetic brand. After I do someone’s makeup they often ask what products I used so they purchase them to have anytime. 

The first one is so easy! Buy your makeup loving beginner a makeup lesson. When I was learning how to apply cosmetics there was no You Tube or Instagram and while those tutorials have a place for inspiration, I find many of them lack the hands on experience and customization a pro can offer. What is the price tag? Anywhere from $75 and up an hour is pretty common in Louisville Kentucky. A counter experience will be very different than booking a freelance makeup artist. Counters will want to push products. If you are more focused on learning about a wide range of products, chose a recommended freelance professional who will offer a hands on lesson without being biased by sales goals. If your recipient already owns makeup it’s a great way to get those products evaluated and get the best use from their existing products. 

Book your hands on lesson with me at 

Photo by Ben Marcum Photography

So they don’t need a lesson but lets say they are a makeup lover and you want to get them something you know they will use! The following items are universal shades and basics that makeup wearers need to replenish on a regular basis. Mascara. I want all the formulas and brands. Mascaras have the quickest expiration dates. Everyone I know that wears makeup can’t get enough of it. I have probably 10-15 tubes right now. Masara is also a great gift for someone if you have a smaller budget (drug store brands start at $7 and some luxury lines hover around $38). A black is pretty safe for anyone. 

Black eyeliner! I am constantly reaching for a kohl pencil in black! Pencils are more popular across the board but don’t fear buying a gel, pen or powder. They will use it, I promise! 

Lips get super chapped and dry this time of year. Get a lip conditioner! Even minimal makeup people love soft lips. I like the non medicated, non scented ones as gifts in case of sensitivity. I love the brands found at my favorite health food stores. If you want a nice addition add a lip scrub with it. 

Makeup by Pamela Butler

There are a gazillion eyeshadow palettes available this time of year. I need them… Come to mama, I love the set thing. Give me a set of shadows and I will squeal with delight. Eyeshadow is the accessory your face. Neutrals work great for everyone and bold colors speak to your more makeup enthusiasts. Purple is the pantone color of the year. A purple shadow works well for someone who wants something other than brown but not too crazy! 

Ok so I do have some things that I don’t recommend you purchase as gifts unless you are extremely familiar with the person’s brands/colors/formulas. Foundation is very hard to gift unless you can ruin the surprise and get a color match. From my years of working at makeup counter I can tell you it is the single most returned item due to wrong color. Another tough one is lipstick unless the person you are shopping for is adventurous with lipstick shades. This item is very personal. I know women who lost their minds when their particular shade was discontinued and it meant alot to get their color exact. 

Good makeup is nothing without proper tools. Most clients I work with comment on my brushes. In my experience, many people will buy the latest products but hang on to that ten year old blush brush for dear life. This is definitely more of an investment than the other options but a gift that keeps on giving good beauty for years to come. Brands like Cozette, MAC, Zoeva, and many more! Don’t forget the brush cleaner! 

In closing, gifting beauty in any form is sure to be appreciated. I hope you found this helpful in your choices. Feel free to check out my work at 

Happy Holidays! 


As professional makeup artist I’m finding it more common for brides and photographers to realize they have hired a non professional after its too late. Makeup has many styles from natural to editorial to FX and lots of in between those options. No one person is one size fits all. I’m going to offer some tips to help you find the perfect fit for you and your desired style of makeup.

photo by Hannah Kik

Does the work in their portfolio match your vision? Make sure you can see the details of the makeup. Read the bio of your makeup artists! Their experiences will tell you much about their styles and accomplishments in their career. Do they have reviews? 5 or less reviews is not alot for one artist. Are they in your budget? You will find that the more experienced makeup artists are going to have rates that reflect it. You are not only paying for the time in the chair, you are paying for travel and communication between you and them plus their cost of doing business.

Photo by Hannah Kik

Do they work often? Posts should be professional and relevant to their work. I’m not that concerned with # of followers but I do look at the content. There should also be a variety of races and ages in their pictures. What products do they carry and can you see the quality of their kit? Are their photos unrealistically edited?

Do they have any professional affiliations or awards? Also highly filtered and edited photos give a false impression of the makeup artist’s abilities. Ask for raw images if you think this is a concern. Professional photographer photos will have some degree of editing but you should also see some that are more realistic representations. THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE:
If your makeup artist has more selfies than client photos….they may be excellent at their own makeup but not so much on others. I think a selfie is fun but keeping them to a minimum is standard for social media and your website should not include selfies in portfolio.

When you make contact with the artist, how long does it take them to respond? I feel 24 hours is reasonable in most cases. Are they clear and concise in their answers.

Prompt response times speak to your artists being on time and prepared to work for you. Makeup artists are not exempt for being timely. Late is late. Early is on time. A late makeup artist can interrupt the flow for the photographer, client, and any other pros on the job. It is absolutely unacceptable.

A clean stocked kit with a variety of products, colors and textures is necessary to handle any client requests. If your makeup person has retail products they should offer more than just that brand. One brand may not work for all clients. A makeup artist should never ask you to bring your products unless you are having a lesson or you have specific allergies that don’t allow you to wear anything other than your own makeup. Good hygiene practices keep you safe and healthy. Poor sanitation and a dirty kit could give the client herpes, flu or worse!

The booking process should be fairly easy for the client. A contract and some type of payment up front are common. Do not pay cash up front. If your makeup artist only accepts cash, that’s another red flag. Pros pay taxes and should have good business sense which protects clients/artists in the event of a disagreement. For weddings, YOU MUST HAVE A CONTRACT!

Finally, you should like your makeup artist! Their personality can set the tone for your experience and anyone around you in the process. Makeup artist can get stereotyped into being Divas which is very disruptive! No one likes a diva! If you like bubbly, warm personalities then your makeup artist should be that. If you prefer calm, reserved personalities your artist may need to have those attributes. We are people after all and while we provide a service, part of the job is very relationship driven so choose someone that works for you!

Photo by Jason Holzworth