Things to Consider Before Signing with An Agency

It seems every artist assumes signing with an agency is be the solution to finding more work. They think if they just got an agent the jobs would start flooding in!  Having an agent can be an asset to your career if you partner up with the right company, but signing with the wrong one can make your life more complicated than it’s worth. There are many things to consider before you sign on with any company or agency.

Let’s start by examining what the difference is between an agency and an artist management company. An agent’s function is to bring in immediate work and negotiate job offers. Management companies are more focused on the development of your long-term goals and career path. Once you have an understanding of this you can begin your search… but before you do, here are a few details to ponder:

1. Start out by asking yourself if you are ready to have an agent, generally agents like to take on artists who already have a client base. Just know agencies are in the business of making money. It takes a lot of time and money to develop someone’s career. It just simply isn’t profitable to sign someone who has no client base to build on at all!

2.  Know what type of work you want to be doing. Every agency out there has a unique client base. So make sure the agency’s client pool is a good match for you. Some agencies are more film/tv focused, some music, and others might be print & celebrity. So ask yourself before signing the contract, “Is this the career direction in which I want to go?”

3. Does the agency have experience representing hair & makeup artists? Just because they are an agency with variety of types of artists doesn’t mean they know anything about representing the craft of hair & makeup. You want an agent who has a good eye for quality work, and someone who can help steer your career in the right direction.

4. Ask the agent many questions before signing: Do you consider yourself to be more of an agent or just a management company? Many companies out there just want to manage the client base you already have rather than bring in new clients. If they claim to get you new clients, then ask them what is their method, do they make phone calls, emails, do they do social media? If they can’t or won’t answer these questions then just walk away. Ask them who their clients are and how often they are able to add new clients to their roster of artists. Ask what percentage they take and if they charge an agency fee to the client as well as you. What is the payment protocol? Ask if they have an in-house accounting department or will you be responsible for doing your own invoicing.

5. Know if your agency is flexible and fair with taking a percentage from all the work you bring in. Some agents will want to take a cut of all the work you do regardless if they brought that client to you or not. Others will give the option of running the clients through them. While some will only take a cut if the rate was over a certain amount.

6. Comb over the any contract before signing it!!! There can be terms in “lawyer-speak” that will be a little grey in meaning. If the agency wants any sort of exclusivity with you, or wants you to be “locked in” with them for any length of time, then it’s always best to get an attorney to look over the contract first!!!

7. Trust your instincts!!! If something feels off to you…then walk away. It’s better to remain freelance then to have bad representation! Some agents might tell you they plan on bringing in new clients but really are more interested in only negotiating the rate, taking their cut, and coasting off your existing client base.

8. Ask yourself if having an agent is a necessity at this point in your career. If you are good at bringing in your own clients, and complicated contracts to comb over, then maybe having an agent isn’t what you need at this time in your career. Maybe having an intern or part time assistant would be a better alternative.

9. Take in consideration how many artists are on the agency’s roster. Will you befit by being in a pool of these artists or will you get lost in the mix.

10. Don’t go looking for an agent as a means to jumpstart your career. Know that most agencies are a career destination rather than a jumping off point. In the beginning, it might be better to just educate yourself on how to promote yourself rather than rely on someone else to do the work for you.

If you still feel your are ready and interested in getting an agent, then start out by finding a list of agents in the LA or New York 411. If you are a member of our network, you can log into your account a click on the agency tab on our site. That will give you a broad list of agents in your area.

If you are just starting your career and you don’t know where to begin, there are a few career workshops out there that are geared towards Hair & Makeup Artists: The Powder Group, Crystal Wright, and of course we have our own Career Coaching Workshop scheduled for March. But as always, do your due diligence and find out which career workshop is a good fit for you. No two workshops are alike. And of course, if you prefer more personalized attention, there are many personal career coaches our there that work with entertainment professionals such as Kristine Oller, Michelle Lee of HMAN, & Shawn Tolleson of Strategy Coaching.

Just remember it is your dedication to your craft that will ultimately push your career forward!

For More Information:


February 7, 2014. Hair & Makeup Jobs, Hair & Makeup Marketing, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. Leave a comment.

How Much Should You Spend To Promote Yourself?

I’m sure you have heard the old saying, “It takes money to make money.” And that saying is true in any business. Whether you like it or not when you are a freelancer you are a business. The problem is that most creative people just don’t have a business mind which is why so many artists are broke. Most artists really don’t have a clear understanding of how much they are making vs. how much they are spending. All you see is that the money comes in and then the money goes out. Then when it comes time to invest in promoting yourself, you can’t because you are too broke. Then the cycle just keeps repeating itself. You are broke because you don’t have the money to properly promote yourself but you can’t promote yourself because you are broke. When does the cycle end? What if I told you that you could end that never ending cycle of drama by creating a budget with goals and a set plan for self-promotion? Would you do it?

I have been to so many networking functions and trade shows and I always see the same thing. Hair & Makeup Artists will spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on their kits but they never have money left for anything else. Why is that? It’s important to have the best products in your kit but you still need to have a job in order to use them. You need to realize that networking events, websites, promo cards, and lunches with people you want to hire you cost money. And if you don’t get a clear understanding about what is realistic for you to be spending then you will always be in the debt cycle. That means you will get a job, pay your bills, over spend, then find yourself broke again. Aren’t you tired of this?

So how do you get out of this cycle? Start by doing the following:

1. Write down any steady income you have coming in monthly
2. Create realistic financial goals for your freelance income (how much money you realistically can make)
3. Create a list of all your expenses
4. Then take ten percent of your monthly income and use that to promote yourself (this does not mean go into debt)
5. Gradually increase your freelance income goals (ie – if you made $1000 working freelance one month – make next month’s goal $1200)
6. Don’t increase your personal spending just because you are making more money – keep your bills low until you can afford to spend more on yourself)

One of the great things about being a freelancer is that you have the ability to make as much money as you want. If you don’t have any money left over in the beginning to promote yourself, then at least you know what you need to make each month. You increase your goals by making more phone calls and sending out your resume. Then as you build more clients then you can start using that additional allotted ten percent to promote yourself. At least it will be clear to you how much you re making and how much you can spend on your career each month.

To learn more about this check out our Career Coaching Workshop in July. These topics as well as many others will be covered. Visit:






May 14, 2012. Hair & Makeup Jobs, Networking, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. Leave a comment.

The Importance of Defining a Career Path

I often meet up with our network members to have one-on-one talks about their career. One of the first things I ask is, “what is your ultimate career goal?” Meaning, do you see yourself working in film/ television or do you see yourself working on national print campaigns? I recently met up with a young aspiring artist who said she wanted to work in film and television, but she was trying to build up a print portfolio so she could get more national advertising jobs. I asked, “I thought your said you ultimately wanted to work in film and television. She responded, I do but national advertising pays a lot.” I told her, “ I understand that but it takes a lot of time and energy to build a portfolio. I’m just afraid you are going to waist your time spinning your wheels.”

The point to this is that you should decide where you ultimately where you want your career to take you. Once you decide that, every choice you make should feed into that end goal. If you want to work in film and television then don’t spend a whole lot of time building a print portfolio. Everything you do and every career choice you make should bring you a step closer to getting to where you want to be. If film and television work is where you want to be then all your job choices should be centered around building a fantastic resume and getting into the union.

Avoid the pitfalls of being too scattered. When you are all over the map it simply takes you much longer to reach your destination. It’s like deciding to take a trip to Mexico from Los Angeles and deciding to visit the Aspen Colorado along the way. You may get to Mexico but it will just take a long time to get there.

When you decide your end goal, the steps to get there will become clearer to you. Every choice should bring you closer and closer to your dream. So make sure you make choices that are constantly feeding your focus.

For more advice go to:

September 13, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Hair & Makeup Jobs, Networking, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. Leave a comment.

How to Cold Call to Get Hair & Makeup Jobs

So what is a cold call you might ask? A cold call is a common term used in business that refers to calling people you don’t know in order to find work. I know it may not sound appealing. To some of you it probably sounds down right frightening. I once had an assistant who didn’t even feel comfortable calling up new members of The Hair & Makeup Artist Network to welcome them to the network. She said, “I don’t like those types calls where your are telling them, hi I’m calling you, you don’t know me, but….” It was simply too far outside of her comfort zone to do it. But what if you don’t have any clients and you really don’t know a whole lot of people who can refer you work? What do you do? This is something you will have to face at some point of your career if not many times. We are self-employed. This means we have to hunt down the work. I don’t care if you are just getting out of school or if you have been working for a while. You will have to hustle to get the jobs and it doesn’t stop. Clients come and go. Production companies open and close and production people change jobs everyday. So the job search never stops. Here is how you find the job through cold calling:

1. Decide what type of work you really want to do (film, TV, print, commercial celebrity)
2. Make a list of companies or photographers you would like to work for
3. Call the company and find out who hires for Hair or Makeup (if you already don’t know)
4. Ask the person if they are crewing up for anything in the near future or ask if they have any projects coming up
5. Tell the person you would like to send over a link to your website
6. Only send a link to the page/ pages that are most relevant to the work the company or photographer does (if you can)
7. Ask what is the best way and time to follow up
8. Add this person or company into your contact database (outlook or entourage is really great for this)
9. Make a note to follow up at the time suggested in the conversation
10. Make sure you follow up on a regular basis (this is best either once a month or especially when you have new work to show)

It may sound scary or dull to do but this is how all businesses operate across the globe. If you want the clients you have to be proactive and persistent! If you aren’t willing to do this and the phone isn’t ringing with job offers, you have no one but your self to blame for your lack of employment. You can convince yourself there isn’t any work and blame it on the economy but the truth is that you create your own reality so make the cold calls. You will be glad you did.

Michelle Lee
For more career advice visit:

September 13, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Hair & Makeup Jobs, Hair & Makeup Marketing, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. 1 comment.

The Power of Networking with Your Peers

I was recently told by an artist they didn’t feel like our networking events were working for them because it was “just a bunch of Makeup Artists standing around staring at each other.” Yes we are a network of Makeup Artists and if you attend one of our events you will find yourself in a room full of your peers. I think the real problem isn’t that our networking events are filled with a room full of other artists. I think the issue is that Hair & Makeup Artists are under the misconception that all fellow artists are just their competition. But here are the hard facts: most of your work is going to come from other artists.

1. Film & Television Hair/Makeup Artists work in crews and that crew has a department head or a key that will hire you (not the producer).
2. Makeup Artists often bring the hairstylist onto a project (and vice versa) so take the time to network with them.
3. Network with more established artists (they often need an assistant or extra person on a job).
4. There are many times I am unable to do a job and I pass off work to other artists I know and trust with my clients.

Networking is sometimes an uncomfortable thing. It forces you to step outside of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to strangers. It’s not that networking with your peers doesn’t work because it does. It usually isn’t working because either you feel too awkward to introduce yourself or you feel intimidated by other artists. Or maybe it’s not working for you because you just don’t know how to network.

1. You have to feel confident enough to introduce yourself to others.
2. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you do and ask to trade work with them.
3. Don’t just give someone your card and expect they will magically call you. You have to ask for their card, make a note on the back about where you met, and take the time to follow-up with them.
4. Don’t just keep bugging people for work. Take the time to build the relationship with them over a period of time (lunch, dinner, drinks, event invites).

If networking with your peers isn’t working for you then I would reevaluate your approach. Start by building your networking of peers with a group of five people. Pass off a job with one or two of them and see what starts to happen. I’m sure you will start to see your jobs increase. And if you don’t, you need a new network of artists (either ones who are working or know how to network). Take these steps and your career will turn a corner, I promise.

September 6, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Hair & Makeup Jobs, Hair & Makeup Marketing, Networking, Party Event, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. Leave a comment.

Networking with LA Femme Filmmakers

So you want to work in in the film industry and you don’t know where to be begin. It all starts with who you know and what happens if you don’t know anyone? You have to network! That means you have to go to as many events in your area as possible, have lunch with people who’s work you admire, and join as many organizations you can afford to. This month we are co-hosting an event with the director of LA Femme Film Festival to provide networking opportunities with filmmakers. We are expecting over 150 people to attend. Please join us for food, drinks, and networking with Hollywood directors, producers, and more.

In addition to our networking event in May, The Hair & Makeup Artist Network website has a list of additional networking opportunities in your area. Please visit

Michelle Lee
Makeup Maverick

May 13, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Hair & Makeup Jobs, Hair & Makeup Marketing, Networking, Uncategorized, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. Leave a comment.

Do You Wonder How C.G.I. Will Effect The Art Of Makeup?

It seems that C.G.I is taking over the makeup world. You see movies like Avatar, Clash of the Titans, and even the new Star Wars where the creature characters are created in post rather than a makeup effects house. Some people say that special effects makeup is a dying art, others say it is just evolving into a new partnership between the effects artist and the graphic artist. I recently got the pleasure of working with John Slowsky the preproduction Art Director from Lord of the Rings and his vantage point was very interesting. According to Mr. Slowsky, makeup artists are not excluded in the digital creature creation process.

So what exactly is does a preproduction Art Director do? Well, that person is responsible for creating the overall look and feel of the film. They literally create the style guide for the on set Art Director and crew to follow. So essentially, that person is key in the creation process which results in the finished product we see in the theaters. John Slowly is not only the visionary behind the design of films like Van Helsing, The Incredible Hulk, and The Lord of the Rings, he has been around since the dawn of the computer graphics revolution and he is an expert on what role Makeup Artists will play in film making in the world of C.G.I..

Please join us Monday April 19th to meet John Slowsky and find out more about how makeup and computer graphics work together in this new age of film production. For details about this event visit:

Michelle Lee
Makeup Maverick

April 9, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Hair & Makeup Jobs, Hair & Makeup Marketing, Networking, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. Leave a comment.

How Do I Finanically Plan for My Hair or Makeup Career?

When I first started working as a freelancer, I never once considered setting up a budget for my career. I was just like everyone else out of school, I put out resumes and promo pieces using my credit card.

Let’s face it, you have to spend money to make money. Yes, there are a lot of free ways to promote yourself online but that will only take you so far. You still need to have a website, business cards, demo reels, and office supplies for things like your resume, software, a computer, and other tools of the trade, not the mention the cost of networking and having lunch with people. Since most of the work you will get as a freelancer will come from referrals, networking events and “doing lunch” will also be a very important part of your budget. There are many networking organizations out there that hold monthly mixers but they all cost money to attend. My advice is to understand your is income vs. your monthly expenses (rent/ utilities). Once you understand these two things you can:

1. Create a monthly allowance for promotional materials and networking events
2. Open a separate checking account that you use for only business expenses so you don’t overspend

By doing these two things you will never be too broke to advertise your services and you won’t be debt financing your career. So take the time to create financial plan. You will be surprised on how much easier it will be for to get your name out there, and you won’t be stressed out about money while you are doing it.

To create a solid financial plan visit our website and download a financial planning spreadsheet to get started at

Michelle Lee
Makeup Maverick

April 8, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Hair & Makeup Jobs, Hair & Makeup Marketing, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. 3 comments.

Do You Know How To Stay Ahead Of The Competition?

The best way to stay ahead of the competition is by understanding a bit about business and keeping your artistry skills current. The most successful artists in our industry are the ones who understand this very basic concept. Never let your successes go to your head to the point where you think you don’t need to learn anything new, and never get too comfortable with your existing clients. Trends change rapidly in the fashion and beauty world and so do the people who hire you. My philosophy is that you always have something to learn from someone else (even your assistant), and you have to stay head of the competition through education. You do do this through product, business, and continuing artistry education. It’s not enough to just be a good artist. You must be a shrewd business person as well. This means that you must know your industry inside and out. By doing this, you will have the respect and loyalty of your clients.

One of The Hair & Makeup Artist Network membership perks is having unlimited artistry and business education through our virtual classroom. We have classes with top artists and industry experts and you can watch them at home. Visit:

Or to learn more about paid membership perks visit:

Michelle Lee
Makeup Maverick

April 6, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Hair & Makeup Jobs, Hair & Makeup Marketing, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. Leave a comment.

Stop Being Lazy & Start Networking!

I’m always amazed at the small turn out of Hair & Makeup Artists at our networking events. As you all my know, we co-hosted the opening night red carpet gala for the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival. The event was a huge success! There must have been over 300 people at our event (most of which were filmmakers). Attendees included Sprague Hayden (24), Ileana Douglas, and Director Cheryl Hines. There had to have been over 200 filmmakers presents providing hair & makeup artists with optimum networking opportunity. Still the turn our for hair & makeup artists were low. I really don’t understand the mentality of today’s young professionals. There really seems to be this strange sense of entitlement with our peer group. It’s as if they expect that the work will just fall into their laps, or they believe that getting an agent will solve their problems. Agents certainly help, but there is not substitution for self-promotion. I have talked to agents and top artists alike, and the response is always the same. Agents from both Celestine and The Rex Agency have told me that an agent can only do so much. It would make their job easier if the artist would continue to network. I know an artist at Cloutier Agency who tells me that she needs to self-promote because her agency is only pushing the top artists.

People tell us that they would join our network if they could get work out of it. Our response is always the same. We are not an agency. We are a networking organization. Our job is to provide you with the tools for success by putting you in the same room with producers, directors, filmmakers like Cheryl Hines, and other celebrities so you can promote yourself. However, the work will not come to you unless you show up and participate. Ninety nine percent of all success if just showing up. If you are looking for a hand-out in this business, or if you are sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, you are in the wrong industry. You are self-employed which means it is up to you to bring in the clients. Job referrals will always come from people who know and like you, but that will never happen if you don’t get off the couch and build the relationship yourself. This is not an industry where you can just join a website and the work will start poring in. You must take control over your career and put some real effort into it if you want to be successful. So stop being lazy, stop waiting for the phone to ring, and start networking! For more information on our organization or networking events visit:

Photos from our Red Carpet Gala:

Michelle Lee
Makeup Maverick

April 2, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Hair & Makeup Jobs, Hair & Makeup Marketing, Networking, Party Event, Working as a Hair or Makeup Artist. Leave a comment.

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