Often times I am asked how I got into makeup artistry as a professional career. This is truly a whole separate entity and I would be happy to write about that in greater depth in the future. However, what inspired me to write this post was for starters, I had not seen it done before. There is no article about this particular subject matter and I can confirm this as I did try to do a google search and came up with nothing. More importantly, I wanted to inspire people who might have been in my same exact situation–faced with a crossroad in choosing the right career path that led to professional development and self discovery. In the event you do not get to the end of my personal story, I do at the very least want to leave you with a takeaway. A very important life lesson and one that can apply to everyone at any stage of life: All it takes is one decision to change your destiny. You are in control, don’t ever forget that.
What people might not know about me unless they know me personally is that I actually did go to college before pursuing makeup. I went to Rowan University where I obtained a degree in Psychology with a Sociology minor and Concentration in Leadership Studies. Sounds fancy on paper, I know. 😉 Not only does the field of psychology run in my family, I always had a fascination with the subject matter. There is no doubt I have a burning desire to connect with people, understand people on a deeper level, and find ways to bring the best in others. At the time, I was looking into counseling in some form whether it be a Family/Marriage Counseling or School Counseling program. I did understand that pretty much anything in the psychology field required at the minimum, a master’s degree and I was fully prepared to continue going to school upon finishing my undergraduate studies. Aside from knowing all this, my parents also both went to graduate school at NYU which in and of itself had already set the educational bar high for me. I always aspired to take the same path that they did although neither of my parents had ever pressured me to have to follow their lead. I truly believed I was going to do the same thing: 1) Go to college 2) Next, go to graduate school. Although it was never said out loud, it was totally a given for the simple fact that this was the example set by my parents and what my sense of normal was growing up. “Normal” for me meant on an academic level, I was not done after college.
Prior to Rowan, I always classified myself as a good student. Good as in, I had no problems earning decent grades with a little effort on my part and I intrinsically cared about getting those good grades. I always aimed to be a straight A student and probably on average would fall into the A- range. At the same time, I wasn’t going to lose sleep over the occasional B. Below that, I might have fret to some extent. I just knew all it meant was that I needed to try a little harder next time and that I could find other ways to bring that grade up. Oddly enough, my parents were not even the types to care too much about the report cards I brought home. They never equated a bad grade to be a reflection of my self worth and understood I was always putting in my best effort which is essentially all that mattered.
It had not taken much time in college for me to realize that the game had completely changed. In my previous years of education, I could pretty much get by in my pursuit of achieving academic excellence. My grade was comprised of participation, creative projects (my saving grace), handing in homework on time, quizzes, and maybe a unit test every so often. Things as easy as showing up to class was even a contributing factor to elevating the final grade. Then I arrived to college where each class provided a syllabus the first day to outline the course and also spell out that the final grade was based on two or three tests and nothing else. Professors do not even care about your attendance most of the time, you just had to make sure you made yourself present on exam days. Not every class was like this but this was definitely the common trend. Unfortunately for me, I had always been an awful test taker. I could study for hours and still bomb a multiple choice exam. College placed such a high focus on studying content and then taking tests. Nothing else seemed to matter.
Now coming from an artist’s stand point, there is zero creativity behind cramming and retaining information all day. I am sure any artist of any form can relate and understand how incredibly mentally draining this is. As dramatic as that may sound, I do not know of any other way to put it into words. After my first semester of college, which turned out to be my worst semester (between transitioning into college life and also now a whole new grading system), it became extremely evident that any free elective I was allotted towards my degree, I was hands down taking an art class. I actually almost considered picking this up as a minor. From a practical standpoint, I had not because I knew this was not in direct correlation with psychology. I do not think I would have survived college fully without incorporating some type of art class into each semester following that first one. I relied on those classes for my sanity but also as a creative outlet for me to express myself.
By the time I reached my sophomore year, I also came to another epic realization: Graduate school was just not in the cards for me. I can still remember a vivid conversation with my mom that year over the phone where I directly expressed, “I don’t see myself going to graduate school.” As much as it hurt feeling that way and saying those words (since this had always been an expectation I had for myself), I just knew in my heart–it was not meant to be. I remember her responding in a way conveying that at the very least, I better finish college. Of course, that was without question. I was never doubting that nor my decision to go to college. I was happy for the experience and for ultimately providing me with the clarity that I needed in knowing I had to take an artistic approach and choose a completely different career path now–a more creative one.
Fast forward to the day before my move in date before my senior year of college, I had decided to take a train by myself into NYC and take a tour at The Makeup Designory (MUD). The idea of becoming a makeup artist always struck me as cool. I never had thought about it on a serious level because it was not ever a career option that was offered in a college setting and I also had no makeup experience other than applying it on myself. Often times when you meet makeup artists, it is very common to hear, “I started applying makeup on my friends at a young age.” Well, I certainly did not fit into that category. Heck, I was just about to graduate college at this point in my life. Believe it or not, those extra art classes each semester in addition to a full semester of coursework assisted me in completing my degree in three and half years instead of four. While most people tried to hold onto their college years for dear life, I could not get out of college fast enough. I knew I never truly belonged there from an academic point of view.
One might even begin to wonder, how exactly I discovered MUD in the first place. Well, that summer I somehow had done some research on fashion schools (this was also a component of my post college plans and FYI, I did also manage to go to FIT at the same time as makeup school) and that is how I first stumbled across MUD, almost by sheer accident. The school website gave me good vibes from the get go and my deep curiosity is what led me to set up a time to go to the school in person for a private tour. For the first time ever, what once started out as a simple thought of becoming a makeup artist was now slowly becoming a reality. I just did not know that yet at the time!
Not only was I beyond excited to visit The Makeup Designory, I actually knew within minutes (perhaps seconds), that this was it for me. I can honestly say that this was probably one of the most instinctive life decisions I had ever independently made and probably to this day, the most substantial one. Upon entering the school, it just felt so right to me. I did not even need a formal tour of the place for me to come to that conclusion. It became more apparent than ever, I AM GOING TO MAKEUP SCHOOL! I AM GOING TO BECOME A MAKEUP ARTIST! 😀 I could practically shout it from the rooftops at that very moment in time. Since I knew rather quickly that this was a done deal–I seriously could not hand over my checkbook fast enough. In order to hold a seat in an upcoming beauty makeup course, all I needed to do was bring in a $100 deposit. I studied the website quite meticulously before my official visit so I knew to come fully prepared in the event that I would make that final decision to enroll into makeup school which sure enough I did.
Ultimately this has all led me to where I am today. There was no turning back once I made the full commitment to attend makeup school in place of graduate school. I can also tell you that I am just as passionate about my career now as the day I decided that this was the destiny I was going to choose for myself upon first stepping foot into The Makeup Designory. It might not be perceived as the most socially acceptable choice and it is surely not the most academic one, but I am okay with all that. Remember, a wise makeup artist once said, “All it takes is one decision to change your destiny.” 😉