Ok yes i know this is one of those things that are killed to death but i would like to do here in a constructive way. I want to make for myself a discussion paper on appropriate assistant behavior to cover all bases to hand out to any of my potential assistants i am looking at giving a go.
I have had a bad run of assistants that are not reliable, committed, and just down right rude and disrespectful. I have found it near impossible to have a couple of assistants that i can really rely on.
Oh and btw up until this point i have always paid my assistants very generously on every gig even the first one! I am certainly rethinking that!
I get extremely busy around bridal season and wouldn't mind having assistants to clean up and prep and watch and learn as it just speeds things up that little bit.
What i have found personally happening that is completely unacceptable is there is no respect shown for the senior artist or the hiring artist at all.
for example, recently i had a new assistant out on a bridal gig. we confirmed everything then the morning of the wedding she messages saying shes not coming she is too tired and pretty much cant be bothered.
I have others that have not picked up a brush since finishing their course do not have the necessary skills yet to touch a face yet not happy when i put it to them that on the first run they will be just watching and on cleaning duty till i can give them some personal tuition to improve their technique. They then wave around their " but im fully qualified i know what im doing" i quickly dont give these ones a chance at all as i can see the immaturity.
another one who had a first run was awesome did prepping and i allowed her to apply base with me doing the colour matching choice and final inspect before going further in my application. She was great and at that point i was happy to call her in on future jobs.
Then i saw the following day her facebook status updates... I will paste below taking names out. BTW she had a picture of herself fish pouting which i can not stand lol.
Made a Bride and her 3 Bridemaids very happy today! ♥
other friend- I thought u didn't know how to put makeup on ppl! Liar liar pants on fire
assistant- Haha i was learningg
other friend- Yea watever u say girl
another different friend- you are a liar! And since when are you working at mac?
assistant- Noooo ur getting the wrong idea! And t-shirt is from salon i worked at 4 yrs ago
Kat MUA- Dont forget the mother in law we made happy too You are a wonderful assistant
Assistant- Kat! You and this word "assistant" haha i am qualified you know!! Haha 4 yrs ago lolll
Last time i checked I was the person hiring yo to assist. You were cleaning brushes and prepping. The bride hired Me and my company to provide services. I did all the makeup and the hair so taking any kind of credit is not on! I will most certainly never call her for a job.
Sep 01 12 05:53 am Link
Lewisville, Texas, US
Seeing this .... really makes me reluctant to take on assistants.
Luckily when I'm in need of extra help during bridal season I keep a list of associate artist that I can call on. These are artist that have mainly worked in retail with me ... and have great skills,will show up on time and I don't need to hand hold them to know that their doing the job.
They don't work for free ... they work for a living,but reliability means everything !!
Sep 01 12 07:57 am Link
San Jose, California, US
Ask Mary Erickson. She used to have an article on her site, she might have it to hand out. It was great, and offered prospective assistants etiquette lessons.
Sep 01 12 09:16 am Link
Salem, Oregon, US
what we do for our weddings is hire 2nd shooters who are more experienced than we are. these guys could do the wedding by themselves but they like being 2nd shooter because they don't have the pressure of being first (and it's a way to socialize). maybe you're aiming too low with your assistants? we had one awesome team of MUAs where one would do hair while the other did makeup.
if it's not something where someone needs the money to pay the rent they are kind of by definition less motivated (unless they have some pride).
Sep 01 12 09:21 am Link
Washington, District of Columbia, US
Food for thought: One who demeans those with whom they have collaborated is at the same time both immature and unprofessional...
study set etiquette, k?
all the best on your journey...
Sep 01 12 09:42 am Link
Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada
Maybe be more up front with the assistants, clear with your exspectations and boundries. I was only taught 1 way, u work your ass off from the bottom being thankfull for evey chance you get to do what you love! period!
Best of luck on your hunt for a good assistant
Sep 01 12 10:13 am Link
kat makeup artist wrote:
So this girl was telling her facebook friends about getting work...and helping make people happy and look good.... she left out the "assistant" part... I really wouldn't personally have a problem with that. It doesn't affect me in the job market.
Sep 01 12 10:21 am Link
Thank you for your words Mary, i might actually stop looking at other artists to assist and just someone that is interested but doesn't want a career out of it. That sounds very reasonable.
that particular girl talked above is not an artist she is a receptionist but years ago she did her beauty diploma and i am well awake of the one day makeup training they provide and since then she has never worked on clients hence why she asked to assist me.
i have not been degrading in any way with any of my assistant but when your training and a student still honeing your skills you say so. You do not go to a shoot or a set, assist then go bragging to your mates you were the key artist. To me this is unprofessional. and means dismissal. I pay my assistants and well above the going rate around here so i am certainly showing my appreciation of their work. When i go and assist on a set i tell people i am the assistant. there is no shame about assisting another ever. you are there to do a job and you get paid for it.
Sep 01 12 03:23 pm Link
New York, New York, US
kat makeup artist wrote:
But Kat she didn't say that she just said she made a bride and her 3 bridesmaids happy today ...your reading to much into it and taking it to personally. It's only facebook ...which means nothing. And she went even further to say she was learning . I don't see the bragging or the mention that she was key.
So enough about that. Back to the task at hand. Making a non confrontational informative leaflet i can give all who asks to assist me to give them better information ( and more formal arrangements) about what behaviour i expect. I hope this will help in finding a better middleground with potentials.
So far i have covered in detail issues about
Training and feedback that will be provided
Punctuality and cancelling
Talking to My Clients
Handing out card or poaching clients and implications
Is there anything i have missed out on or should include as well?????? I want this to be informative and would happy distribute it to any other MUAs that think it would benefit them especially if they are thinking of taking on an assistant.
I wasnt referring to that particular case ... It was a generalised statement as yes that has happened to me on a production...
Sep 01 12 03:58 pm Link
kat makeup artist wrote:
I understand.... labels mean a lot to some people, to others they don't mean anything....I don't care what you call me as long as my name is spelled correctly on the check
Sep 01 12 04:02 pm Link
it took forever to find it in my docs but here is my old "how to be a good assistant" letter from ages and ages ago.
1. An assistant should make the key (or the artist who is using them) look good. What ever it takes, help with whatever he or she needs, and always watch to see what it is he or she needs.
2. Never be late to a job, I am always about 20 minutes early, I sit in the car and read or make calls. This way if there is trouble on the way I will still be on time. This is the least you can do.
3. Never handout your card, or make buddies with the art director or production staff. This will insure that you will not work with the artist who hired you again. I know you are looking for future work, but do it on your own time, and best not to try and take it from someone who was nice enough to get work for you.
4. If you are sitting relaxing while the key is working there is a problem. Unless the key asked you to please sit down and take a break you should be working at least as hard as he or she is.
5. Invest in a kit (all the supplies you need to work on your own) If you are lacking supplies you will always be just an assist, no one will want to refer you for a job if you do not have the supplies. I have had so many "artists" call me and tell me that they are artists looking for work but do not yet have a full make-up kit. That is like a photographer without a camera, no one will take you seriously if you nave not invested in your career at least this much.
6. Never bring anyone to a shoot with you, this is just unprofessional.
7. Never bring a camera to a shoot, this is also unprofessional, unless you are shooting for continuity.
8. Don’t tell the models how to pose or tell the photographer your ideas about how something should be shot. Even the key would not do this unless the artist/photographer relationship was well established and this issue has been discussed between them at length.
9. Established artists are where your best work can come from so treat them well. Never talk poorly about another artist, it will come back to haunt you. The last thing you need is any artist (even a bad one) to harbor resentment toward you. The more friends you have in this business the better you will do. Try not to look at other artists as your competition, look at them as you colleagues and you will do a lot better, and be happier, you may find your best friends in this business. I know I have.
Sep 01 12 04:24 pm Link
Nashville, Tennessee, US
I no longer bring on assistants with me on a paying commercial set. I hire other peers, makeup/hair artists and wardrobe.
Sep 01 12 05:38 pm Link
Las Vegas, Nevada, US
When I saw the heading, I thought this was a discussion on photo assistants but after reading through, there are similarities in all walks of life... doesn't matter if we're talking makeup, photography or plumbing. The assistant is there to make your life easier while at work.
As a photographer, I've gone through my share of assistants and when I found the right one, I held on tight. Facebook wasn't around in those days so who knows if or what they were saying to their friends. Frankly, I wouldn't care. I just cared what they did while working.
This assistant that you're referring to sounds like she was proud of her work so why not let her have her day in the sun with her friends. In the era of facebook and twitter, somethings we just have to live with. We can't control people especially on their own time.
From the luck that you're having finding a good assistant, I would overlook this facebook stuff. As long as she conducts herself appropriately on the job, what she says or does on her own time should not be of any concern of yours.
Sep 01 12 07:05 pm Link
thankyou mary this is VERY useful, and will help me word my own ( if you dont mind that is) Also how would you word a blurb on poaching clients im trying to word that appropriately and cant come up with anything so far.
Sep 02 12 12:45 am Link
kat makeup artist wrote:
I think #3 covers this.....but if you are still concerned you can have them sign a "do not compete" agreement. One that does not allow them to work with any of the clients you introduced them to for 1 year following the end of your relationship... I've never done this with assistants myself but I do have my store employees sign one. They can't work for any store that sells pro industry cosmetics to industry pros for 1 year after the end of their employment with me.... This industry is small, we are very close to LA....a pro makeup store in LA poaching a good employee that knows how I run my business and has my own trade secrets is something I want to avoid. I think a year is sufficient, this eliminates from your pool of assistants the people that want to use you as a stepping stone to your clients. The independent contractors at my store sign one as well
Sep 02 12 08:14 am Link
Germantown, Maryland, US
I don't think she meant anything by that comment. Even the little things for a bride can make them happy. She didn't even say what she did, she just was excited that they were happy and the day went well.
The title 'assistant' might not set well with others who are trying to get into the business. I prefer the word 'team' because after all, you both did work as a day to get through the day.
Sep 04 12 08:47 am Link
Los Angeles, California, US
First Mary! I love love your list! Spot on!!!!
I have had great assistants and not so great. You MUST assist someone further along in their career ( or whos tequnique you admire) to learn where your next step might be. Hell! You might learn that you don't like working on a set, doing weddings, working on models or in a salon. This goes for hair , makeup wardrobe and photography.
"assistant" isn't a bad word. It is an honorable position to a busy professional. If you feel over qualified for that "assistant" position...don't take it!
To the OP : I would not worry about the fact she presented her self on fb as doing more work than she did... I would be annoyed at her disrespect for her tittle as Your assistant. You being a successful artist, who does great work with happy clients? She should be proud of that tittle and thankful of the knowledge.
I have been in the position where I was referred to " oh just the assistant" aka peon...but so what! This business requires thick skin. There are many artists ( even on mm) that I would be happy/ proud to be called their assistant.
I assisted a friend who was in a pinch a month ago. She is an awesome artist does lots of celebs etc. When asked by the celeb how long I have been doing hair, she was suprised by my answer. I told her I admire her artists work so much that I jump at the chance to assist her when I can. See? Client loves that her stylist is admired and loves that the assistant knows her shit. I also treated the artist as the boss and with respect regardless of our friendship.
Sharon Gualt needed an assistant the other day in a David LaChapelle shoot....anyone opposed to that ? Thought not!
Sorry off my soap box...
Sep 04 12 09:52 am Link
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
kat makeup artist wrote:
She sounds like an unprofessional twat. Boot and move on.
Sep 04 12 11:09 am Link
Saint Paul, Minnesota, US
I think the word "assistant" is an important one that clearly defines the role and expectations. ALtering that language to spare egos only does exactly that, spares EGOS. If someone is not humble enough to assist, how much of a pain in the butt will they be as part of a "team"? It's like giving someone a trophy for just showing up.
Social media has created a bunch of boundary issues that the industry has to deal with. A tale of two assitants. I worked a show years ago where I had two assitants that were brought in by the designers (I always booked my own after this). Ohe was eager, hardworking and took direction well. She and I have a positive business relationship and send business to each other to this day. The other did not have basic skills like the ability to apply cream foundation (showed up with a kit of Bare Minerals) and had to be taught on the fly. I was willing to give her a chance and offered to help build a photo-ready kit, until I found she had badmouthed me online because I was mean for not accepting her "years" of expertise and and product. I cannot promote that behavior.
So yes, know that what you say online will get back to the target, and it will affect your future prospects. If you wouldn't say it in person, don't take it to the keyboard.
Sep 04 12 12:13 pm Link
New York, New York, US
All the more reason for us to be careful what we put on Facebook. I agree it wasn't a smart move to start that conversation on fb, although if she was paid by you then why complain about the word assistant? It seems like these people may need more time interning, as they aren't quite ready to assist.
Sep 04 12 08:07 pm Link
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Lucinda at Being Fab wrote:
This I agree with. Social media and the redefinition of boundaries. I have had people turn down well paid jobs because they would be classed as an assistant.
Sep 06 12 01:54 pm Link
i have finished writing my letter if anyone wants a copy
Sep 06 12 08:24 pm Link
I would love a copy!
Sep 10 12 09:19 am Link
Tampa, Florida, US
kat makeup artist wrote:
Considering the tone of your post I'm curious why you were scanning the person's facebook comments...and then were so quick to call her out?
Sep 10 12 09:41 am Link
Stevenage, England, United Kingdom
Michael Pandolfo wrote:
How else are you meant to refer to them then ? When I am assisted I refer to my assistant as "my assistant" E.g "And this is Alesha my assistant" She doesn't have a problem with it she knows it's all love. And when I have assisted , I have been referred to as their assistant because that is what I am. o__O
Sep 10 12 10:38 am Link
Bristol, England, United Kingdom
In 20 years I've had at least as many assistants.
Here are some facts.
1. The best assistant is the one that anticipate everything and needs to be told everything once. If I could sum up assisting, it's anticipating the tog's needs.
2. Females make better assistants. Fact. (fashion-speaking imo)
3. You do actually need to make sure that male assistants are on the same page. Just because you are expert at making people comfortable, doesn't mean he is too. The worst problem I've had is complaints from models about assistants taking pics in the changing room, without asking first. Also some male assistants can be argumentative to the point where it is not funny. A male ego thing.
4. Pay peanuts, expect monkeys. Volunteers are good only so far.
5. You really really really really really really need a team to practice and rehearse well before any big showtime...
6. If you have never had teacher training or management training, then unless you are natural leader and manager, you will experience hiccups, learn from your mistakes and be a rubbish manager when you start out.
7. Learn how to talk to people in the right way. There is a way to pump people up, drive people to intensity and make them feel it was their idea. There is also a way of depressing the hell out of people.
People quit jobs for 3 reasons.
1. No fun
2. No money
3. No learning/advancement
Sep 10 12 10:45 am Link
Traverse City, Michigan, US
Even if we are only a part of a group that makes something we all like to feel that our contribution is important.
And those that brag about the work they do even if its a small percentage usually end up being the best eventually because they take personal pride in what they do.
Give this person a little more responsibility and see what they can do for you, you may end up being pleasantly surprised.
But also have a direct and honest talk about expectations and limits.
Sep 10 12 11:52 am Link
New York, New York, US
Why is the word assistant a dirty word all of a sudden? We always need them they make our job smoother if you have a good one, they should not be looked on in a negative way.
I still assist, I have assistants. It's just part of the industry.
Where it becomes a grey area I think is the bridal biz, yes they are assisting you be usually you are bringing someone else on to get through a large bridal party, so they more often then not are doing faces, and in my eyes should be paid for number of faces done or something like that. Or at least a percentage.
On photoshoots etc the parameters and expectations of an assistant are a bit clearer, usually. They cover set, keep you organized etc etc ..
But I guess most of this is subjective and u to the artist to explain what they need and what they expect from the person assisting them.
Sep 10 12 12:03 pm Link
El Paso, Texas, US
I must say that I had high hopes by the thread title. I thougt i was going to learn something. I'm a bit disappointed to see this is a rant thread in disguise.
Sep 10 12 12:12 pm Link
I don't think "assistants" a dirty word... I think just taking the entire scenario presented here in context it becomes more than just a word.... To the "assistant" showing off to her friends the term “assistant” was an embarrassment, a bit of a slap in the face (because she was corrected and put in her place) Given this scenario I think a few people are pointing out that correcting someone in public in front of their friends and family may have been an unnecessary step....
Sep 10 12 08:30 pm Link
New York, New York, US
David J Martin wrote:
Sep 10 12 08:34 pm Link
Wellingborough, England, United Kingdom
Firstly I am shocked at all the assistants behaviours (bad ones obvs!) I am dying to assist muas but when contacting local (& further out) I either get no responses or a big no! I am just shocked at hearing these tales as I would give an arm to assist, for free and these people just dont seem bothered!
- Also, I dont think there is any shame in assisting or being called an assistant, its how we grow and learn as artists!
Sep 11 12 03:41 am Link
Michael Pandolfo wrote:
Thankyou for not reading this post in its entirety, next time you want to verbally bash and abuse me i think you should wash your mouth with "virtual soap" You obviously have a warped sense of reality since you have made such harsh and ridiculous assumptions about me all because i use the words " my assistant" if im paying them they are my assistants, certainly not yours! Someone needs to look in the mirror in this instance. Either change your post or apologise to me for making such harsh remarks.
Sep 11 12 04:45 pm Link
ok i will post below the letter i have comprised up feel free to use it and do what yo like wit it. I think better communication is certainly the key and after so many years i can never say i have learnt everything. Would love to see who doesnt agree with it or think certain wording needs to be changed. thanks
A simple guide on how to be an effective Assistant
This is an easy straightforward guide on what it takes to become a great makeup assistant and how to get the most out of your training to make you become a better artist. Remember everyone learns to crawl before they walk or run.
1) Your main job is to make the Senior artists job easier by assisting with tasks to speed her up. Watching and listening is Key to being a great assistant as you can learn so much by watching someone’s tricks of the trade, technique, how they speak and liaise with clients etc. It takes time to build your confidence and experience. Listening and co-operating is your best asset. There are things you can learn on set that can never be taught in school. Learning to help when needed without being asked all the time is a wonderful attitude to hold.
2) Unless otherwise specified or approved, cell phones should be on silent and only used in an absolute emergency. Checking facebook is not an emergency. If you are sitting down while the senior is hard at work then there is something wrong. You should be not resting or taking a break unless the senior artist has specifically told you so, otherwise you ask politely what she would like you to do. You should work just as hard as the senior artist. Please advise your children, babysitter, and family that you are WORKING and not to call you unless absolutely necessary. If your phone constantly rings, leave a greeting on your cell phone that indicates you are on location and to leave a voice message only if it is an emergency. An assistant does not need their phone on set unless previously approved.
3) Never be late to a job. Always arrive on time, if not a little early. If you are 5 minutes late you are LATE. 10 to 15 minutes early is considered on time.
4) Please don't write about the job on twitter/facebook, etc... Respect the possible confidentiality of the assignment. It is not our place to say “Guess who's going to be on the cover of XYZ magazine in June? This means no twittering, facebooking, or discussing the job with your friends and family unless you get my approval. A lot of clients are fussy about privacy especially celebrities and brides.
5) Do not post any assisting photos on your website without prior approval from the Key. Once you receive the approval, you MUST indicate that you were the Assistant. Even if you did the full makeup, there are many other factors besides doing makeup that go into being a Key artist and that is why you need approval to use the images. Also no cameras allowed. When the Key artist takes photos she has previously sought permission and often uses them to test how things look on film etc, not for promotional purposes. Do not whip out mobile phone cameras and start taking happy snaps on a job. This always irritates the client and it is not your work or your client to be able to take photos of. As the senior artist I can make available to you opportunities for trade shoots to help build your portfolio of work where you can use those images for yourself.
6) Never handout your card, or make buddies with the director, production staff or client. This will insure that you will not work with the artist who hired you again. If you are assisting and someone asks for your contact information, tell them you are with the same agency as the key artist and they can give it to them.
7) When introducing yourself to clients, please specify that you are the assistant or wait until you are introduced. It's an important boundary to set early on and quells any confusion about duties or responsibilities.
8) Keep talking to a minimum. We are not crazy artists who demands no-talking from assistants. However, be respectful, excessive talking makes you look unequipped, nervous and schmoozy- which is not how our sets operate. A quiet artist is busy concentrating on the work at hand. You'll find that a lot of people in this industry are quite guarded and not super chatty if they don't know you.
9) Don't gossip about people on set or about other people in the industry. You never know who you are talking to and the industry is VERY small.
10) Always be aware of your surroundings, what you are doing and why you are there in the first place. Know that 1 mistake on your part can cost the Key 20, 30, 40 thousand dollars a year by losing a steady client, set etiquette is more important than anything! WE NEED TO KNOW if we walk off set can you be trusted to handle anything that might come your way.
11) Never ever ever ever say anything that could insult the client. It's happened before with assistants and it's mortifying. Don't pick on the clothes, location, styling... you never know who is listening. Remember the old saying don’t talk about religion, politics etc, even if the client does you keep a neutral position and don’t express an opinion.
12) If you are going to make a suggestion to the Key, be appropriate and avoid unsolicited requests in front of a client.
Examples: - Appropriate: “Would you like to try these sponges, they are really great?” - Not Appropriate: “In make-up school, my teacher said that you should only use latex-free sponges, why aren't you using those?” If your unsure of why i used a particular product or how feel free to ask as many questions after the job is done.
13) Do not offer products or services to clients without going through me first and if I say no, that is final.
14) Don't poo where you eat. Do not try to hookup with or hit on people on the set. (yes it does happens and yes it never ends well)
Sep 11 12 04:55 pm Link
Traverse City, Michigan, US
kat makeup artist wrote:
While I agree with you and it in principle, it still comes off to me as a little draconian.
Sep 11 12 05:05 pm Link
London, England, United Kingdom
Sep 11 12 05:12 pm Link
Sep 12 12 02:18 am Link
Heather J M wrote:
To be fair, common sense is something that is rapidly disappearing. I find the 'assistant guide' very useful and, yes, whilst it is firm, it also raises the important points and lets the assistant know that professional behaviour is required from them at all times and it does leave room for the assistant to do her job. I wouldn't be offended to receive this and wouldn't be afraid to hand it out (although I have edited it a bit).
Sep 12 12 02:31 am Link