From platform artists to editorial photo shoots, there are plenty of unique opportunities for beauty professionals. According to the industry pros we spoke with, embracing a new experience will not only help you boost your creativity and refine your technical skills, but you’ll also find more enjoyment when you step back behind the chair.
Becoming an Artist
Damien Carney: Creative director for North America for Schwarzkopf Professional
Getting Started: For me, it happened at a very early stage in my career. Meeting different people at different levels give you the opportunity to learn and see some intense hairstyling skills. Being in a salon is one thing, but it’s pretty fantastic to see some of the best in the world.
Best Advice: Companies are looking for education professionals at different levels. For people at an entry level, it’s basically, a territory that you are responsible for. You may be on stage but, more likely, you may be in a salon and get started that way.
Skill Set: Communication skills are key because you really don’t realize the benefits of what you’re learning without the proper language, tone and dialogue. You can look online for better ways to say things, and I think that’s really the most powerful thing.
Chad Taylor: Runway hairstylist at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York and Paris Fashion Weeks, owner of Moods Hair Salon in Vancouver
Getting Started: While working backstage on MTV Canada, I was very fortunate to meet Richie Rich and Traver Rains from the fashion label Heatherette. Initially, I brought the Moods salon team backstage to do the Heatherette runway show in Vancouver and they loved our team so much, they wanted me to work with them at their New York City show. My business partner and I met lead hairstylist Laurent Philippon and have worked with him and other teams for the past decade in both New York and Paris.
Best Advice: In the past few years, more and more hair brands are sponsoring the teams that are doing hair for the runway shows. Many of the brands run competitions to help out backstage at shows. This is a great way to get some initial experience and see how it works backstage.
Attitude Counts: For your first few seasons, be prepared to not touch hair and to only help out with handing pins, etc. Smaller shows are a great way to enter the circuit and still be doing hair.
Being Inspirational: Runway hairstyles are created with a priority to showcase the clothing, so the inspiration starts with trend forecasters, the designers wardrobe stylists and labels. Then it’s up to the hairstylist to bring these ideas together to create the look.
Skill Set: Blow-drying, upstyling, curling irons, finger waves and braiding are all things that will be used backstage. Product is also used as a tool and is layered to create finishes, from high gloss to matte to done to undone. Know your products and what they can achieve.
Jennifer MacDougall: Editorial hairstylist with Vanity Fair, Elle Canada, Marie Claire and Vogue
Getting Started: How you represent yourself online and the portfolio you have is everything. For larger editorial publications, you need to be represented by an agency, which offers you added credibility.
Best Advice: When you are working in editorial [or commercial] every day, you’re doing a shoot with different photographers, makeup artists, and it’s not always about the models’ hair. It may be about the clothes or makeup. You need to know when to push and when to pull back.
Personality Type: You need to be flexible. You can go on a set for a clothing ad and you might have a great idea of what you would like to do with the hair but the photographer and art director have different ideas, so you have to collaborate with the team to get what they want. You have to be willing to share and be open and easy to work with.
Advanced Learning: You get gratification from seeing your work in a magazine, and it’s a sense of accomplishment. One day you can be in SoHo working in a really unique warehouse, and it’s inspiring to be in a new space every day. Every time I work with a new photographer, I learn something different, whether it’s about the lighting or model. When I worked with Annie Leibovitz, I couldn’t believe the process, the setup, and the number of people, and then the next day I was working with a new photographer on a different project.
Cheryl Gushue: Makeup artist and beauty expert on CBC’s Steven and Chris
Getting Started: I have a background in fashion design, but my training as a makeup artist started with the makeup counter, and from there I worked in the salon environment. For me, it’s all about the artistry.
Best Advice: Get yourself out there, promote yourself with social media or cold calling, and create opportunities for yourself. Develop your skill level by going on different gigs, connect with a mentor and be on set with them and in many cases volunteer your time.
Personality Matters: Never think that you know it all. We are always learning, and the industry is always changing. As a makeup artist you always have to be on-trend, know what’s going on and what’s ahead.
Skill Set: Your artistry skills need to be very sharp, and you need to be at a high level to succeed. Also, the more adaptable and ready you are to take on a challenge, the better off you are.