This month on ‘Makeup Artist Chat’ we had the pleasure of speaking with Makeup Artist Mary RC. Mary has been doing makeup in the fashion, commercial and celebrity industry for nearly 20 years. Working with Jimmy Fallon, Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Fall Out Boy, Chevy, Nike, W Magazine, Premiere Magazine and more.
We asked Mary for her thoughts on the top set rules to follow, her absolute kit essentials, building a great reputation and so much more. Enjoy!
1. Give us a glimpse of your day on set as a professional makeup artist?
Well it starts the night before, prepping for the job. I review all of my talent’s needs, add any extras to my kit and load up my car. I always make sure I am well-rested because I may be spending 12 plus hours on my feet the next day. I am very careful about leaving for work on time, but a good breakfast is a top priority. (It might be provided by production, but sometimes the meal arrives late and I need my morning fuel!) I always plan for traffic, even if the call time is 4am. Arriving at least 30 minutes early to unload my gear and set up is a must! However, my set up is minimal. I prefer a kit I can work out of versus one that has to be laid out. Everything has a its own spot in my kit so I’m not hunting for what I need. I know my kit like the back of my hand! This enables me to do makeup quickly (full face in 30 minutes or less). I review makeup expectations and Go By’s with the powers that be. I’m big on communication—I repeat the client’s requests back to them just to be sure we are all on the same page. If changes need to be made, I never have an attitude or take it personally. Being accommodating has always worked in my favor. I also pride myself on being efficient. I make sure production is never waiting on the Makeup Department! When I am on set I search for my sweet spot, which is a position where I can see the shot and the monitor. I zero in on my talent’s head and how it relates to the shot. After all, my job is to maintain the look I created for the client. I always keep post production, continuity and the final product in mind while I am watching the set. The makeup should always look fresh! I am also known for being very tentative. There are numerous lazy artists out there and I do not want to be pegged as one of them.
2. You have done makeup for several celebrities. Do you have a favorite celebrity you’ve worked with? Is there a celebrity you would like to work with?
Spending a day with Jimmy Fallon just before he started on the Late Show was so much fun! We laughed and laughed and he introduced me to Twitter. Actually, I believe I was his 110th follower. I am not really one who gets star struck, which I think has worked in my favor. Celebrities are just people, so I treat them the same way I treat everyone else. I don’t need their attention. If they need mine, they will ask for it. I’m there to fulfill a need for the job we are working on and make the talent feel confident. But, I will say, I love working backstage at music award shows! I love music and watching rehearsals is one of my favorite things to do.
Hmmm, a celeb I wanna work with… I have one. I want to hang out with the Foo Fighters front man, Dave Grohl. He seems like he would be fun!
3. When you’re on the set, what are top 3 rules you follow?
- Production never waits on makeup.
- Arrive 30 minutes before your call time
- Communicate with the right people.
4. How big is your “set bag?”
I am a minimalist. My set bag is quite small compared to other artists I’ve worked with. I use one small clear bag for each talent on camera and store the bags inside a larger clear Makeup Bag.
5. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you first started your career?
I would tell myself not to take myself so seriously and build more relationships with other artists. I was so damn competitive in the beginning that I didn’t embrace my community like I should have. When I finally dropped my guard I made some lifelong friends. To this day my closest friends are my competitors and business partners. I love being a part of their success! I’m there to pick them up when life knocks them down, and vice versa. A few days ago I was given the choice to work with a well-known, female rock band or work alongside one of my bestie MUA’s on the same day. Bestie over celebrity, hands down! (Pictured with Celebrity Makeup Artists Barbra Jo Batterman and Song Lopez)
6. What made you decide to work in the commercial, celebrity and fashion makeup industries rather than bridal or film? What are some of the pros and cons?
When I embarked on my career I wanted to do it ALL—and I tried! I was a jack of all trades and a master of none. Because of my strength in clean, beauty makeup, commercial makeup quickly became my favorite medium. I also like to be hired based on my body of work. What you see in my portfolio and reel is what you get. Despite Photoshop, I am still very detail oriented and that has always helped me build a loyal clientele. I feel gratified by my final product whether it’s a national commercial or a stunning face on the red carpet. Working in the commercial/fashion/celebrity vein will always be a hustle. There is always another artist willing to take your place, and maybe even stab you in the back for it. You have to be careful who you align yourself with! Bad days on the job are never allowed and your reputation is fragile, so always make sure you are meeting the expectations of those who hired you.
Originally, I set out to be a film artist but quickly learned it would be tough to do in my market. Having a husband and little ones at home wasn’t making it any easier, either. Episodic work takes a lot of time and commitment. A movie or show can film 14 hour days, 6 days a week, for months at a time. The life I built before this adventure doesn’t jive with the film industry. I will day-play from time to time to help out makeup artist friends on film sets, but I do that just to be with my peeps.
While bridal can be a very lucrative business, it isn’t an environment I thrive in. Wedding days are not my jam and I’m not comfortable booking 6 months in advance. Weekends with my family are more valuable to me than the money. You just can’t do it all and do it well at the same time.
7. How many years of assisting, networking and donating time did you have to do to build up your reputation and gain referrals? What was the toughest part?
Breaking into this business is like going to college and getting a degree. Four to six years of spending money, working for free, networking, educating yourself and building your body of work is normal. If you can break even financially by year four, you are on track. I definitely lost money my first three years, which was SO tough and financially draining. But, you have to pay your dues! Artists who shoot to the top quickly have little longevity and fall hard, fast. Networking and building a foundation of relationships will sustain you long term. Stepping on others for gain will create a sink hole that will destroy your career.
If you would like to learn more about Mary RC’s experience, please visit her website at MaryRC.com.