** I hope those who read this post and aren't professional makeup artists can understand where I'm coming from. I don't mean for anyone to take offence. **
Back in the good old days, there were clear distinctions for everything. You had makeup artists, and you would have people who did their own makeup. This latter group were a varied bunch, ranging from those who knew nothing about makeup to total junkies who could pick an Orgasm-ed cheek from a mile away. They had personal stashes that could rival a department store - but that's just what they were. Personal.
Nowdays, the line between artist and client is blurry. More and more people consider themselves to be makeup 'artists' when their skills (and sometimes their kits) may be questionable, and clients want to learn how to do their OWN makeup so well that they take professional training. For themselves. Not to work on other people outside their own friends.
I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I know what it's like to have a passion for something that you consider to be a hobby, and even if you don't want to make it a career you still want to be good at it. That's great, and I applaud you. Hell, let's go out to coffee and wax lyrical about gel liner vs liquid. We'll be best friends for life! The 'artists' with questionable skills - well, I'll deal with that in another blog.
It does raise an issue though, which was recently brought to light after a now infamous post about beauty bloggers been given press passes at industry events. Where do we draw the line? What defines a 'professional' compared to an 'enthusiast'? And who should have access to what?
My first taste of this dilemma was while attending IMATS in Sydney last year. For those who aren't already aware, IMATS (International Makeup Artists Trade Show) is open to the public - it's not a trade-only show. I went there with the intention of stocking my entire kit (and I did just that, thanks very much!). I had already researched every brand that was going to be there, I knew what I was after and I knew what questions I wanted to ask. Yes, I'm a makeup nerd.
While standing at Media Makeup I waited patiently for someone to assist me. They were BUSY, as were almost every major brand. Which is fine. I waited. When finally served by a lovely lady (gosh I wish I remembered her name) she helped me choose between foundations for my needs, chose a range of colours for my kit, and assisted with some other products. She was amazing. What was NOT amazing was the three or four girls who kept INTERRUPTING me to ask the sales assistant to colour match a foundation FOR THEMSELVES. I'm sorry but I waited in line, and now it's my turn. I was spending a lot of money for a professional kit and needed help. I would have only been with her for maybe 10mins in total, but I had a lot of questions. I needed her attention. The testers were there on the counter - if you've come to a makeup artist trade show, I would hope that you could successfully chose your own foundation colour. Geez.
Everywhere I went I started to encounter the same problem. I would be queuing up to buy hundreds of dollars worth of product, and I would have to wait for the girl in front of me to have a colour recommendations for her personal use. This may be really bitchy of me, but this is not the time or place to discover if green eyeshadow suits you. It's a professional event, not the cosmetics department at David Jones. It annoyed me even more when I would be in workshops that I had to cram into the back to see, and the questions asked of the presenters or panelists were so basic a simple Google could have given them the answer. WHY go to a professional event if you don't have basic knowledge?? I just don't understand it.
This made me wonder why IMATS isn't a trade-only event. But as I asked before - where do you draw the line? A business card would certainly allow makeup artists and hair stylists in, but what about beauty bloggers? Some have very professional blogs and have a great knowledge and passion for makeup, but they wouldn't have a business card. Some bloggers are not professional. Again - where do you draw the line?
I get it. The discounts are great. It's brands that can be hard to get in Australia. It's a buzz to have an inside look into the industry. But I'm trying to establish relationships with vendors whom I will potentially be making multiple orders with throughout the year, and I'm fighting for their time against people who are usually one-off purchasers.
Personally, I think IMATS needs to have a trade-only DAY. Extend the show to three days, and have Friday as a trade-only day. Keep workshops at a professional level, allow artists to look at products and speak to vendors in a professional capacity. Then the weekend can be open to the public, workshops could be on a more basic or generic level.
Is this elitist? I don't think so. Reports from around the world complain about crowds at IMATS, and it is such a turn off for so many people. If we somehow separate the masses, then not only do the attendees get better service but the vendors know who their market will generally be on the day.
But this goes beyond IMATS. One of my suppliers whom I adore immensely is running a series of workshops, one of which I attended last night. Afterwards she mentioned to some of us that she would do a bridal workshop, and open it to non-MUAs due to the huge number of requests from non-pros. This is great in theory, but after she left a few of us raised concerns about it. Firstly, how much of the workshop would be used explaining basic techniques and products? If I went along and spent the evening listening to basic foundation matching and how to apply lashes I'd feel really cheated. And secondly, how many of these non-pros would then go out after a 2 hour workshop and think they could become a bridal MUA? But the question remains - where do you draw the line? A self-taught artist might come along for some hands-on training, and then be right to go. Others would think they know it all after seeing one application on one face. And if you've ever seen a pro at work, they make it look easy.
I'm not saying that I have the answer. And any time a group of people are excluded from anything they feel entitled to bad feelings will arise. But we need to ensure the quality of our industry, and a line does need to be drawn occasionally.
I just had to get that off my chest. I await the slander.