ARTIFACE Magazine Interview of Makeup Artist Tammi Marks McDonald

Tammi Marks McDonald: Twenty Years in the Industry Means Adapt or Become Irrelevant

November 27, 2017

Tammi Marks McDonald

Q: You’ve been in the industry for 20 years. How have you seen it change the most? Do you think it’s for better or worse?
McDonald: “There have been so many changes. I think the internet has had one of the biggest influences in so many areas of our industry. 20 years ago there weren’t makeup schools around to learn from. We had to study what we saw being produced and learn from each other and doing. While that is still the same today in many ways, the internet allows more education to reach more people worldwide. So influences are now broader than they ever were before. It also allows misinformation to spread as well and we see trends developing based off of stage makeup, makeup comedy videos, etc.and I think we need to be aware that what we hear isn’t always correct. The internet also has allowed us as artists to share our work more easily with the birth of online magazines. Even the fashion industry is changing, evolving to fashion film and online fashion catalogues and fewer big production fashion shows. Is it better or worse? I don’t know. It’s different. Art is progressive and ever evolving. As artists, the successful ones will continue to learn, grow and evolve as well.”

Q: Makeup artistry is now a pretty desirable career, but it wasn’t always seen that way. Many want to understand how to break in and make a big impact. What’s your advice for anyone starting out?

McDonald: “My first advice is to learn. Research who has mentored top artists in the industry, ones in the style you prefer. Study them. Get in front of them when you can. My mentor, Donna Mee, has been one of my greatest influences on my makeup skills and belief in myself. I’ve also been lucky to learn from Val Garland through my time with Mastered.

Secondly, practice practice practice. One way to do that is to work at a counter. Doing different faces all day long is a great way to learn on the job. Every face is different and has different needs, color and placement needs as well. Don’t be afraid to mess up. It’s a given, but that’s how we learn. If creative shoots are your thing, create your own briefs.

Reach out to artists to assist. Every artist has developed their own systems over time. Learning different techniques and adapting them to your own style and process is another way to grow and network.

Today, the industry is often moving in teams. That means developing connections with hair stylists, photographers and stylists are an important networking tools. These relationships often lead to referrals for jobs. Your relationships can carry further than any other tool you may have.

As you progress in your craft, you will begin to learn who you are as an artist, where your strengths are and what type of art you love to create. Develop your own style. Val Garland told us “you are an artist, not a makeup artist”.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge as a makeup artist and how did you overcome it?

McDonald: “I think in owning your own business there are always challenges. As a woman in the industry, it’s learning to balance family and career. I am finally at a point when my children are older and I can spend more time traveling and concentrating on my career. There have been different challenges throughout the years. Whether it be trying to create a consistent money flow, to finding the right people to work with the the same drive, same quality work and same work ethic, to developing a portfolio that represents your brand, to getting yourself known…the list goes on. You must chose this career because you love it. This isn’t for the weak hearted. You will have to push through rejection, criticism, doubters, praying you get the jobs to pay your bills, lots and lots of time investment, money investment… you are your business. “

Q: What fuels you to this day? How do you keep yourself motivated and inspired?

McDonald: “I think consistent action keeps me most motivated. Creating regularly, whether it’s paid work or projects I create for myself. Keep creating. Inspiration can come from any where… A building, a color, a fabric, a face, a book, a place, a character you create, other artists. Be open to all the beauty around you. And don’t be afraid to experiment. I see so many artists asking “how did you do that?” What I want to know is how would you do it?

Q: You have a knack for nurturing other artists. It can be seen as an industry where there isn’t room for all of us. Why do you feel this is important?

McDonald: Thank you. I find this to be a huge compliment. I was taught ‘We rise together.’ Teach others as you go up the ladder, take them with you, and by giving you will receive back ten-fold. I do this in all areas of my life. We are only here for a short time. Our legacy lives on. And so I think it is so important to share what you know. If I have 2 things and you have 2 things, together we have 4. We learn from each other. And no matter how long you are in this industry or this world, there are always new things to learn. I also believe in praising people to success. Yes, we need to be corrected to learn, but don’t be afraid to truly compliment each other’s successes. Your competition is really yourself. There are millions of people in this world who need makeup. So I honestly do not believe you can’t get work. It’s a matter of knowing your market, going where the people are, and maybe not doing exactly what you want to do all the time, but doing what you don’t some of the time so you can do what you love too.

I also feel like developing a network of artists, allow us to refer jobs to other people, is beneficial to everyone. I’ve been able to place other artists on jobs that I was unable to do myself. That shows my effort and professionalism to that client and it creates a bond with that artist that maybe they will recommend me in the future. I’ve been told many times I should be an agent. Who knows? Maybe in the future. In the meantime, I’m happy to share.”

Photographed by Dondee Quincena

Photographed by David Nguyen

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Photographed by Alice Healy

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