Wednesday, April 17, 2013

ASSISTING PART 2 more things you should know

 keying the rolando santana fashion show with some fabulous assistants

If you want to become a professional--hell, at anything don't you think you should know a little bit about the field you're working in?  If you want to be a makeup artists don't you think you should know the people you want to assist, the photographer you want to work with?  In the immortal words of Whoppi Goldberg  What the hell? It is amazing the many who do not know

The next time you reach out to someone you want to work with you should know what it is they do
I cannot tell you time and time again how I get emails and phone calls from people who want to assist me and really don't know much about me.  They call me and regurgitate their aspirations, their life history on what they want out of their careers-- they haven't even asked me a question.  They just go on and on about what I can do for them, how much they can "learn" from me.

I am often floored by the sheer selfishness and laziness of people who claim to want to be assistants
So people here's some tidbits to learn before you reach out to any of my colleagues or myself next time

If you want to assist someone find out more about them--like if they teach, have a blog (read it)
On a more personal note--DO NOT CALL ME.  Anyone who knows me knows I cannot stand phone calls. If I do get a call without  first receiving an email and a reply by me telling you to call, I know you certainly didn't do your homework. I am not one for calls, all my friends can tell you that I am the texting queen.  I don't know who came up with calling artists directly but I think it really is a very intrusive thing to do.

If you do call an artist be respectful of their time--get the hint  If they say they're working stop talking and send them an email. I cannot tell you guys how many times I say Im working and the caller just goes on and on.  Many years ago I was one of those annoying telemarketers--(2nd best in the country very proud of that)-- and we all work off of a script.  Perhaps you need to prepare a script of what you would say to the artists your contacting. It will keep you on point and allow you to concentrate on the main points you either want to know or get information from the person you're speaking with AND please have a pen and piece of paper handy or have phone ready to type in the info.

I think what would serve artists more is if you email them first and then ask for a telephone conversation--(that doesn't bother me at all).  If they tell you to call at x time then call.  If they say they will call you then be there to take the call.  If they missed the call to you email them again for a better time to talk and be there.  If you are lucky enough to get through to someone and they say send me an email--SEND THE EMAIL!!!! and follow up. If you sent one email and haven't heard from them send another.  Working artists are just that, working they may not be able to reach out to you right away--keep in touch.  Sometimes I don't go through all of my emails for months--if its not work related it goes on the back burner but if you reached out to me at least once a month it may serve you better then one email 6 months ago. (see below What do you bring) 

Just because you have reached an artist and have a conversation that doesn't put you at the top of their list --artists have their own assistants they work with so be patient.  I have from time to time reached back to people who contacted me via email months prior to see if they'd like to assist--but not always SO continue to email and wait your turn

Being an assistant is not a free class it is a job. If you want to "learn" from the artist then be respectful and pay when they offer a class or inquire about one on one training.
I had assistant tell me to my face "oh I saw you were teaching a class but I figured since I would be assisting you I didn't want to pay."--WHAT? Really? Never assisted me again.  Its not that I wanted to take her money--its about her becoming a better artists in general a better assistant.  If she had taken the class she would have had a better insight to how I work--but because of selfishness she was ass out.  That told me DeShawn I'm not really interested in what you do  just what I can get--oh really?  She recently contacted me to assist me again--hysterical.

If an artist is offering a class you should be in a position to capitalize off of the opportunity--ie save your money and be at the ready when they offer because artist have way more time to teach you what it is you want to know in a class setting not when they are working. And really thinking you'll get your lesson on the job is really very disrespectful because it screams I am unprepared and lazy.  The only time "on the job training" can happen is if the whole gig changes at that moment and the key has to rework the entire plan. ASSISTING IS NOT A CLASS

Do you have something to bring to the table besides your eagerness to "learn" from them. What can you do well, foundation, eye makeup etc, have you taken any classes lately if so let them know --put that in your email.  For me if you know how I Iike my coffee you could win me over lol.  If you have reached out to me for months this is the opportune time for you to update me on your progress--have you learned something new, did you launch a new site etc. 

Do you have a resume a website, comp cards etc then send them to the key.  Sometimes getting info from people who want to assist is like pulling teeth. When I inquire about their site, photos etc, I get well Im not really happy with it so I don't show people--huh?.  If you're not satisfied with your marketing maybe you should invest in better marketing or take down a few of the pics that make you cringe--go read my article on ("Where the hell is your site?") on this blog it will help you to understand what to do.  BUT if you can't invest in a better site don't you dare be ashamed of your work--what does that tell the person you're trying to assist?

Do you have pictures? Send one or two if the artists ask for more oblige them but don't over burden them. I cannot tell you how many people send me like 15 pictures at a time wanting some kind of critique on all of them and wanting to assist me. NOPE not gonna happen. If you have that many photos why don't you have a site--(things that make you hhhmmmm?)  We don't have the time to sit around and critique pics all day--we do work  If you want to assist find out what they (the key) maybe working on next and send them pictures that pertain to that job.  Don't send crazy amounts of pictures hoping that one of them will spark some kind of interest.  Be smart do your homework and ask the right questions--remember your script.  I have had people send me crazy makeup with lashes out to here and rhinestones on the lips when I mention I maybe working on a clean beauty shoot--huh?

Though I do give breaks to newbies who have had nothing but their name--I do this because I find something in them--some kind of drive, passion.  They are the ones I want to teach and give my extra time to because they have shown me that not only are they interested in learning but they are equally interested in giving of their time, their patients and their hard work for me.  I can feel they want the gig to turn out well for me--because a great assistant knows the value in making their key shine.  I guess I am reflecting on the passing of Belinda Keatts my wonderful assistant but also of the many many many assistants I have had over the years who have made me a better key, teacher sister-friend.  They have been there for me and in turn I could not want anything less for them in their careers.  I am saddened but so damn proud of the day when they can no longer assist me because they now need their own assistants.  They grow and become better artists and I hope they have learned a thing or two along the way from me and pay if forward to their assistants.

About 8 years ago I was in the same boat you guys were in, a newbie in the industry, just a few years in, when I got the call (that 1st of many lucky breaks) I was prepared.
What does Oprah say about Luck:  "I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity."
I met my opportunities head on because I was prepared and it has taken me far.  Are you prepared?

So be patient--practice on your craft and don't call me lol.

Leave comments below and let me know if you can think of more things 

If you didn't read "ASSISTING SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW-please do located on this blog


  1. Ahh thank you! This was very good advice.
    I've assisted a few artists before. When first started out I have even reached out to you to assist you! LOL I still have your reply email where you were very straight forward and said not to quit my day job etc (I wasn't). At the time it made me feel a certain way, but now I appreciate it! :)

    As you mentioned in your previous post and this one, taking classes are key, especially with the artist(s) whose work you admire. All senior artists will agree that to think you can get free training through assisting is asinine. Just like you get paid to work and for your time, the artist you want to assist needs to be paid for their time, too.

    I also agree that when you're assisting an artist you can't be below cleaning brushes or running errands. I've done all of that. I think by doing those seemingly menial tasks shows the key artist how much you really want it.

  2. hello I just met your blog and I love, I really like your photos, so here you have a new follower!, luck in all your projects, many kisses and hugs! I leave my blog if you fancy following me!

  3. This information is so valuable I'm taking notes! thank you for sharing!


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