In a recent session with a coaching student, she remarked - "I can't wait until I have more experience then I won't have to deal with all these things that go wrong as a newbie". I couldn't help but mildly laugh... and much to her dismay, I just had to share that... honey - the mistakes don't end, you just know how to deal with them better than you did before.
It made me realize that her thought process was exactly the same one many artists have now. I'm not sure who spread that little rumor, or if there is a huge part of the population walking around with rose colored glasses on... but let me tell you my own little meltdown story from a couple of years ago.
The shoot was in North Carolina. And even though I've spent many years traveling for gigs this one was a big honor, sadly I spent most of the flight home figuring out how I was going to change my identity and start all over again - I was fairly mortified. I was booked with a celebrity who I admire greatly.. and who I know happens to be very particular... something I actually prefer to someone who has no idea what they like. I had done her makeup a couple of times and was ridiculously thrilled to be invited on this job and even more so once I arrived on set and received my call sheet. I found out that one of the other makeup artists (there were three others total to handle the extras) had already done makeup on this celebrity prior.... I was crazy flattered (Wow!) and simultaneously nervous (yikes!) because you know you better bring it baby.
As Murphy's law would have it, the weather turned ugly... Rainy- awful -ugly to be exact and despite my best efforts the hair was not exactly looking like the on-point sexy do' that I have given this famous face in the past. Once the rain stopped the 99% humidity was not a friend to those normally shiny locks - the hair looked like a frizzy cluster... Definitely, definitely not the look I was going for. (insert four letter word here)
So what's a little ol' makeup artist to do when the client is not feeling it after a few takes, the other makeup team is saying "bless your heart dear" (southern translation - you poor thing you're an idiot) and the production crew is trying to keep things moving and the whole crew within budget? Why "Plan B" of course...
I spoke to the client and asked for an extra 15 minutes to tame that mane. In this case since this "face" was famous, I was given the time but what happens when you are on a model test, a fashion shoot or on a brides big day and things go awry?
This is where your skills really need to be sharp and you need to be a quick thinker to solve the problem pronto!
In my case I have dealt with difficult hair and unfriendly weather conditions hundreds of times so even though I was silently praying Lord please make that humidity go away, I knew that as is I had to turn the situation around.
First - Know your products inside and out. Know how they will perform on different skin (or hair types if you also do hair) and in different weather conditions. If you are going to use a product for the first time play with it at home and try it out under different conditions ie: dryness, humidity, cold and hot before you even entertain the idea of bringing it on set. Giving yourself time to practice with it on a few people before the gig- is a must no matter how experienced you are.
Second- If you have a weak spot practice, practice, practice. If you know that doing liquid liner is a challenge practice it every day. If you aren't great with lashes practice. If you haven't mastered airbrush and the client wants it... get in front of the mirror and practice. This way when it really counts and a client wants something specific - you can handle it.
There was a time early in my career when I did lashes everyday, then natural lashes were in and no one was doing anything but a little mascara, and when the false lash look came back again years later it only took one lash falling off in 115 degree weather to make me realize, I really had to revisit my lash skills asap.
Third- If you are stuck and aren't sure how to fix the problem - ask your client a) what don't they like and what else they envision. If they don't like the lipstick or the eyeshadow you chose define further what they like and in the words of Tim Gunn -make it work!
Fourth- Never ever make your client feel bad -the customer is always right! I don't care if it's a personal client, an ad agency, commercial client etc It's your job to provide the service to the best of your ability. Don't complain, have an attitude or get defensive. Show some grace under pressure.... your client will appreciate it and probably want to book you again if you solve it.
Fifth- One of the things I teach artists that I mentor and even those that work with me on my team or as assistants - never take a job above your skill set. There is a big epidemic to "fake it til you make it". I am on board 100% when it comes to "faking" being in a good mood when you aren't, or giving it your all even when you are tired, hungry, cranky or have the mother of all backaches .... But faking your abilities such as claiming you can do airbrushing or hair or wardrobe styling when your skills aren't sharp enough to kill it isn't going to win any clients or friends in the industry if you crash and burn... especially when someone is paying for your services.
When things go wrong your best bet is to go into "fix it" mode instead of letting the problem get to you. Don't freak out, don't talk to everyone there about it and don't let it change your behavior.
Believe me, I could have definitely crumbled under the pressure of having literally 50 people on set all staring at my celebs falling curls, but crumbling would not have solved anything and I wouldn't have had the clarity to make good decisions. Having a plan B,C or D up your sleeve will always help to keep you calm and focused.
As always, I would love to hear from you. If you have any topics you want me to cover you can send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org, or my Facebook page.
And don't forget - if you need additional help, I offer one-on-one coaching, and there's loads of free resources here and in the newsletter!