★ 5 Reasons COLOR THEORY Matters in MakeUp Artistry

As I get to know more & more MakeUp Artists through social media, the current state of the industry becomes more evident in many ways. I purposely cite the CURRENT state because so much has changed in the many years since I began my quest.

These differences are also evident when working on gigs with other artists - it is only magnified by the Internet because one is able to bear witness to vastly larger numbers of MUAs & their practices. Having embarked on my discovery of myself as an Educator over the past few years - this notion has also crudely slapped me in the face: EVERYBODY is a Make-Up Artist, but where is the commitment to the core principles of the craft.

Most of us cannot even approach the mastery of contemporaries of ours like Pat McGrath, Billy Brasfield, Lottie Stannard, Sam Fine, Viktorija Bowers, Ralph Siciliano, & Shutchai Buacharern. It is no coincidence that these MakeUp Artists have the connections that they do to the art world & its technicalities. Study their backgrounds & you will realize how important that connection is to them, what they do & how they are inspired. It should be important to you as well! You owe it to the industry, its masters, its history & its aesthetics -  to give it everything within you while you honor the greats as you honor yourself - WITH EDUCATION & TRAINING.

It's exciting to meet younger & or novice MUAs who seem to truly have passion for EVERY aspect of the craft. Sadly, I find them to be fewer & fewer amongst the masses of us. Most shockingly I have noticed how so many MUAs really take to heart the being considered a true "artist" part, yet...

...knowledge of color theory is either very limited or completely non-existent. This is meant to be a 'call out' of the ones who are guilty of this - so if you are offended, R.U.N, DON'T WALK TO A COLOR THEORY CLASS IN YOUR AREA. A simple Google search can lead you to the possibilities.

*Image by Kristine Brown of Twisting The Norm
So this blog post is dedicated to those of us who THINK color theory doesn't matter. My goal is to provoke thought & to encourage MUAs to be relentless in raising their personal bar. Especially since many MUAs ARE NOT naturally artistic - there should be more attention to training & education on many of the technical aspects. Some of these technical aspects include anatomy, cosmetics chemistry, product formulation, skin science, business/marketing practices & COLOR THEORY!!!

Here are just 5 scenarios that argue my COLOR THEORY point:

1) You get a TV gig. It's being shot in HD. On camera, your work does not look like it does in person. Knowledge of COLOR THEORY could have kept you from being in this predicament in the first place & give you the skill you need to rectify it.

2) Your first time in the Make-Up Dept. on a film set. The Key expects you to have many skills under your belt. Like basic corrective make-up techniques needed to keep talent's looks within the vision of the Key's design. You are assigned to cover a specific defect on the talent's face in a very short span of time. No time to test several cover shades, you think you can eyeball it but you have NEVER dealt with this kind/color of skin abnormality. There it is - COLOR THEORY.

3) You're trying to achieve a certain look for a client & the colors are reading one way & the client wants another. Evaluation of client's undertones relative to the palette being used requires applied COLOR THEORY to render the desired result. Period.

4) You get the privilege to work with a very experienced, knowledgeable & talented photographer (for a bridal magazine) who is extremely well versed technically - & ANAL. He says the tint needs to be adjusted in the model's lip color.  Your lack of knowledge of COLOR THEORY has you in a state where you don't even know the follow-up question to ask the photog in this instance - so you're completely lost. The definition of TINT in the color theory realm is a need to know, but you aren't sure between TINT & TONE...yikes.

5) An opportunity arises for you to assist an agency represented MakeUp Artist. Part of the job description is 'knowledge of COLOR THEORY a plus'. You have none so you miss an opportunity to get on the roster of assistants at a reputable artists'/stylists' agency. Womp,Womp!

There a dozens more examples I could come up with, but I think the point is well made. Any TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE RELATED TO ART can be of great benefit to Make-Up Artists. This game is very competitive, so as many advantages as you can give yourself - I ADMONISH YOU TO DO SO! Instinct is very important; refining the technician in you will only make those instincts more keen.


Jennifer James | Schoolmarmish MakeUp Artist

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MakeUp & A Racial Divide...in 2010?!?!
Cosmetology School? Yea or Nay? NAY!
"I Love Working at _____!" OH DO YOU? REALLY? REALLY?

Websites on COLOR THEORY:

Beauty Talk w/ Cosmetics Color Expert Trae Bodge