Today we’re chatting with Canadian makeup artist Angie Di Battista. We talk about her journey into the makeup world, and her advice for those starting out in the industry. Angie shares her insights on going back to work and what that looks like for MUA’s navigating Covid 19 and the best practices she recommends regrading hygiene and Infection prevention.
How did you get into makeup? Did you find makeup or did makeup find you?
My first job was at a drugstore that had a cosmetics department. I spent a few shifts as a cashier until my attention quickly turned to the women who were working in cosmetics. They felt like the celebrities of the drugstore; they looked fantastic and always wore the best perfume, and they seemed to enjoy what they were doing. They also had great relationships with their customers, and those types of interactions were something I wanted to have every day at work. To me the cosmetics department looked like the best place to be, so I made the switch. I had always been creative and knew how to draw and paint and I quickly realized my experience doing all of that made makeup application very easy to understand. I had moments where I couldn’t believe I was being paid to learn about makeup and skincare. My excitement made me fearless, and I took every opportunity I could to apply makeup. Makeup definitely found me, but it took me years to understand it was the perfect career choice.
What was your route into making this a career? Education/training/assisting?
I hadn’t planned on making makeup artistry a career because I just didn’t know that could be an option for me. I was in high school in the mid/late 90’s and didn’t know anyone who was working in the industry. The internet then was also not what it is today. I was only exposed to makeup artistry through books I read, or from what I could pick up on a show that aired here called ‘Fashion Television’. I would record the show and then re-watch it to see if I could spot what makeup artists were using backstage at fashion shows. I worked for many years as a part-time makeup artist (retail and freelance) because I enjoyed it and it helped me pay for university, but I never framed it as a career option. I worked a number of different jobs until I was in my late 20’s and I was referred to a makeup artist (Sheri Stroh – look her up she is amazing!) by my hairstylist. Sheri is represented by a Toronto agency and was kind enough to meet with me and answer my questions and curiosities about the job. Once I connected with her and we spoke more about the industry and what the next steps were, I began to seriously consider makeup artistry as a career option. I was in a weird position where I had collected my own clients and I’d been doing this since I was a teenager – yet no one really knew who I was in the industry. I took my book to the agency and started getting called to assist. I really only assisted maybe a handful of times before I started taking on my own clients through the agency (this is NOT recommended; I really wish I could have started assisting years prior). One thing led to another and I took a huge leap and quit my full-time job. That was about 8 or 9 years ago!
What have been your biggest challenges? Pre-covid and with covid?
Pre-pandemic I was really struggling with how to create a meaningful online presence. I have a love/hate relationship with social media and I always want to make sure I’m doing things that are educational and helpful to makeup artists, while staying true to what I represent as a person and artist.
During this pandemic the biggest challenge for me is really figuring out how to earn a living when I do a job that puts my health at risk and planning ahead in the case this pandemic stretches over a number of years. I’ve taken some big steps and am still working through a number of scenarios as to how to pivot my business. It can be overwhelming at times but I’m trying to be resilient and stay positive about the future.
With hygiene for makeup artists of paramount importance, now more than ever, what can artists expect
from your new course Infection Prevention & Control For Makeup Artists?
My course is a one-stop shop that combines the theory of infection prevention and control with practical application. I have done all the heavy lifting to research and simplify standard infection prevention and control practices and demonstrate how to apply them to absolutely every single element of our business. I have also taken the steps to have the course reviewed to ensure scientific accuracy, which is really important to note. The course is not my opinion on what you should be doing, the course outlines the standards that you need to meet in order to be working hygienically. Once you have completed the course you will be able to confidently assess the risks associated with any job to ensure you and your client/talent’s safety. You will have the knowledge to be able to work safely in any environment which is important considering we all work in very different conditions.
If you could offer one piece of advice for makeup artists with regards to hygiene
what would you say is the most important right now?
This may be hard to hear but in order to work hygienically you have to be 100% committed or you aren’t doing it correctly. This involves implementing some big changes and almost relearning how to do this job. This is what I discovered during the process of creating my course. I was working hygienically when it was easy and convenient, but hygiene is really all or nothing. Throughout the process of building this course I had to break down my entire workflow and have it examined in order to make sure I was implementing correct infection prevention and control measures. I had my brother who is an immunologist and my father (retired communicable disease investigator) video call with me and point out every single thing I was doing incorrectly with my makeup application, and during the handling of my kit contents. I would essentially act out every step and if there was cross contamination, they would stop me. We had to do this multiple times until I was able to do things in a way where I was adhering to the appropriate infection prevention and control practices. It was extremely humbling and frustrating at first, but these were the necessary steps I had to take. It really put into perspective what it means to work hygienically. The other thing that is important to mention is that when we talk about hygiene the focus is typically what artists are doing to keep their clients safe, but with every job we are also at risk. Working hygienically means you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and your clients from infection.
Would you describe your kit as a minimalist or maximalist makeup artist kit?
I think I am somewhere in the middle but more recently I am really getting back to basics. I am downsizing my kit as much as I can moving forward. This is a cost saving measure, something that will help me maintain my hygiene standards, and waste less product moving forward.
Can you tell me some of your kit essentials, products and tools?
Right now I am really focused on how to do this job quickly and hygienically, so I have reintroduced myself to airbrush makeup. I once said it would take something huge to get me to airbrush again, and here we are. I have been relearning with the Temptu Air and I am fully onboard with this system. I used to airbrush with the Temptu S/B foundation years back, but the Perfect Canvas foundation I have been so impressed with. I also love the idea of the Airpod Pro. You can use these empty pods to completely customize your application and there is no fear of cross contamination (and they are quick and easy to use). I’m looking forward to working more with this system in the future. Danessa Myrick’s ColorFix are another absolute essential for me and I’m trying to figure out how to do as much as I can with this product. ColorFix is multipurpose, reliable, it performs well, and this is another absolute must have for me.
Did you have a signature look, or a look that’s your favorite to create?
I think my signature look is a really well executed natural makeup. I am obsessed with making skin look really good on camera and I am also extremely detail oriented when it comes to makeup application. That is what I do best.
What’s the best advice you would give to makeup artists starting out?
1. Learn colour theory first, before anything else.
2. Remember this is a business. When you sign up to be a makeup artist you are signing up to run your own business as well. Framing the job in this way will help you make fewer mistakes and will keep you in touch with reality. Like any other business there is a start-up cost, overhead, you need to market yourself, and your business needs policies and procedures. You need a business plan.
I can confidently say I have learned absolutely everything about this industry the hard way. Part of why I have chosen to make education such a focus is because I really had no idea what I was doing when I started, and no one to get information from. I couldn’t afford makeup school and I was just operating on trial and error. I think if I would have had someone to just give me a nudge and put things into perspective, it would have been easier. If you are just starting out and reading this, remember that building any career takes time. You do not have to be perfect, expect to make mistakes, and treat yourself with compassion. You have to make mistakes in order to get better, and everyone (even the best makeup artists in the world) started where you are. Each time you apply makeup or show up to a job, you are going to learn something. The most valuable learning opportunities will come from jobs where you can assist and watch more experienced artists in action. You also have to remember that makeup artistry is a skill that takes time and practice to nurture and there will always be room to become better. Focus on the process and not necessarily the outcome you are anticipating for your career. This job can be very unpredictable, and you have to find enjoyment in the process.
Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?
I would love to still be working as an artist and hopefully shift my focus to education/training or consulting. I hope in ten years I will have figured out how to better balance work with my personal life. That is something I am always trying to work on.
What do you predict for the future of our industry?
I hope that as we move forward health and safety will become more of a priority on set. This pandemic has really highlighted how important it is to set higher standards on the jobs we work on to achieve this. This is just my opinion, but I often feel that makeup artists are an after-thought and we are not included in the planning process for the jobs we work on. We have to fit in and be flexible to everyone else’s working conditions where we can. I would like to see us be on equal footing with other crew members, so we are able to work together to create a safe environment for everyone on set.
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