You showed your web/portfolio and you are asked to assist

Don’t be surprise if you never touch a model—remember it is not your job
Sometimes Keys want to see what you are capable of. By reviewing and approving you as an assistant there is no guarantee you will actually be working on a model, actor etc

I was on set all day and all I did was clean brushes—I’m super bummed

Well if this is your attitude then all you will do is clean brushes
Assisting is not just about makeup—it’s about the surroundings, the goings on
It’s a lesson in how to interact with photographer styling etc. It is a visual reward to you for assisting. You are to learn from what you observe—store it in your mind and use it for you when you are dealing with photographers, and team

You asked ME to assist YOU, so therefore you need my talents or you would not have requested ME
Please understand the Key makeup artists will ask you to assist for various reasons—unto themselves that is not obvious to you. They may take a liking to you and want to offer you a learning experience, or they may want you there to clean their brushes or they may want you there just to make themselves look good. All the above can happen. Know that its not always about how you beat a face


Yep you heard it here people—most assisting gigs are no pay—unless stated up front by your Key. Why? Now that’s a good question, as previously stated you are getting a learning experience that would be worth more then the $50 you may get. Now that is not to say all gigs are not paying. Depending upon the budget—there maybe a budget for an assistant, so yeah right, but when there isn’t you will probably not get paid. I cannot stress this enough there is a wealth of knowledge on set you cannot get from reading a book or for that matter taking a class. One of my very first experiences was being an assistant at the time for one of THE top makeup artists (the lovely Miss Sharon) on a David La Chapelle set. Nope I got nothing, but what I took away from my time on set — priceless

The “Key” said I would be doing makeup but I didn’t—wtf?

Things can change at a drop of the dime, there maybe one less model, or the makeup style has changed or after considering the situation the “key” felt it was more important for them to do all the makeup. Your job is still to assist and to do what is asked of you Some keys may explain the situation to you others may not—just be prepared to be the best assistant

I was told not to speak to anyone or give out my business cards—how am I going to make connections?

YOU’RE NOT! You are there to assist, not build your contact list. As for talking to people the only person you should be talking to that day is the Key. On set there are a ton of dynamics that can change at any moment. What was fine just a minute ago is now taboo. By talking to people or carrying on an “innocent” conversation you can throw off the whole dynamics. They may think your “Key” must not be that great if he/she cannot control their staff, or the Key has a lazy attitude when it comes to set etiquette. Perhaps they’re talking to you to get information from you about the Key—you never know. Until it is otherwise mentioned to you—keep your mouth shut and direct all questions to the KEY unless told the contrary. Passing out your card is just ethically a big no no. Why? Because the Key has you on set to assist on his/her job. These are their clients not yours, there will be plenty of time for you to develop your own list of clients. Artist who do this do not last very long
Summing it up

Coming from the Key’s perspective, to sum this up in terms many of you can understand. Think of the client as your boyfriend or girlfriend. Think of your assistant as your BFF. Now picture your best friend going behind your back and hooking up with your significant other. Now I ask you is that cool?
Get the picture?

When I assisted I had to get coffee—since when is this a part of assisting?

Welcome to the world of assisting. Assisting is not just about makeup—you are there to keep the Key artist working and make their day go smoothly. You maybe asked to get coffee, go to the store, clean out their kit bags, walk their dog, get them food etc. I myself wound up babysitting and doing everything else I had to do—and I did it with a smile The Key can’t leave, they must stay on set for the duration of the shoot. So by going to the store etc., you are helping the shoot go smoothly.

And to the many of my assistants who have remembered just how I like my lattes—I love you all