October 18, 2009

The Artist Summit Chicago: Rewind - Day 2

Day 2 started at 12:30PM for me. At the blogger's preview the night before, Felicia mentioned that she was heading a panel on beauty and blogging and that I should check it out. So, this is where my day began. Felicia was there representing her blog, This That Beauty, along with Lianne Farbes from The Makeup Girl and Christina Farrell from The Makeup Blogger lead a panel to discuss the how they got into the beauty blogging business, the things they have learned along the way and how we can take our blogs to the next level. There were about 30 attendees and the panel lasted about an hour. Again, I took a ton of notes and here are the highlights:

Clockwise from top right: Christina Farrell, Lianne Farbes, Felicia Walker Benson

On starting their blogs:

Lianne was writing her blog for 2 years before she got any recognition. She explained that you have to be persistent. If you give up after a year, you're in it for the wrong reason.

Felicia needed a place to purge beauty knowledge. She started her blog in May of 2008 and within 6 months got her first press mention. She shared that the best tone to communicate with your readers is conversational. Felicia has been professionally doing makeup for 5 years. Her blog gives her another platform to introduce herself as a makeup artist.

On getting your name out there:

Use search engine optimization so that google finds you.

Find blogger communities. Get involved to help introduce your blog and gain an audience.

Christina estimates that only a small part of her time is devoted to working on content. The other is exploring ways to put her name out there.

Set up a google alert on yourself and your blog. Again, see who is discussing you or your blog and where they are being discussed. Use it as an opportunity to engage.

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are great platforms to make people familiar with your blog.

On conducting business with companies:

If you are interested in trying products to review, write a professional cover letter to the company. Let them know who you are, what you are doing and include links to posts you have done about their products to show your interest.

If you receive products from a company that don't fit your needs or the needs or interests of your readers, explain that to them. Thank them and recommend something else you'd like to try instead which would be a better fit.

On your blog content:

Use your strengths and background to create your voice. Whether it's life experience or professional experience, these can be the things that distinguish you from the thousands of other blogs out there.

Always think of ways to expand your brand.

As for building your page, Lianne recommends Typepad, which Christina uses. She and Felicia use Wordpress.

Lianne emphasized the importance of trademarking your name and owning your content and your brand.

Try to keep the content new, fresh and constant. Lianne says she doesn't miss more than a day of posting. Also, Felicia writes things in advance. This is great advice for the times where you are uninspired but still need to produce content.

I really enjoyed the panel. It was informative. The ladies gave us a chance to ask questions and pick their brains a bit. It was a great way to start the day.

(l) Erin, Romero and Patrice chatting it up about color theory. (r) Delphine (also from MAC), Romero, and Patrice

After the panel I met up with Erin from Scandalous Beauty. We were standing around talking, trying to decide what to do next and we see this tall, slender black man walk by. It's Romero Jennings, Senior Artist for MAC Cosmetics! I saw his name on the seminar listing earlier that morning. He was by himself and quite unassuming, I have to say, but I was too chicken to actually go up and talk to him. I was just going to try and snap a quick picture of him...on the sly. Patrice from Afrobella walks up to us and I tell her who he is. She says she's going to introduce herself. Erin & I just kind of stood there. She introduced herself and motioned for us to join at which point she introduced us. He was SO nice. I have to be honest and say that I was expecting a diva, but he was the polar opposite. In fact, he asked us how we "knew it was him?" You should have seen the looks on our faces. We were like, "how could we not know it was you!" LMAO. I ended up talking to him for a good 30 minutes while he waited for the room he was conducting his seminar in to clear out. Very quickly I realized that A) He loves his job, which he himself confessed and I believe him! B) He's a true artist. He's so inspired and excited about makeup. It really comes through when he talks. Here's a little of what he shared with me:

He has worked backstage for 7 years
Lived in Japan for 5 years
Speaks Japanese (and MAC always sends him to Asia because of it)
Loves to key shows as well as assisting the key

I asked him what we could expect from MAC, sharing what he could without giving anything away. His answer: It's about color! People are ready for color the way it was worn in the 70s, 80s but with a focus on making it modern. People may still wear neutrals but they will be combined with color. IT IS NOT SAFE. IT IS BOLD.

Makeup is an inexpensive way to update your wardrobe

Recessions make people more creative. He's reminded of the recession of the 70s after which a lot of amazing artists emerged.

Loves Lady Gaga
Has worked with Solange & Keri Hilson (both of which I think would be a dream because they are so creative and willing to step over the line most people would find comfortable)
Loves gardening. Finds inspiration in grass, flower petals, architecture.
Loves technology

He always wants to stay on top of the latest in beauty & cosmetics. That means the latest in beauty treatments, ingredients and formulas. You have to know what people are using on their skin since it is your job to work with their skin. (makes sense to me! LOL)

He never wants to be an artist who isn't willing to try new things. He makes it a priority to keep up with what's current in fashion & trends. If you don't, you limit yourself as an artist and you limit your opportunities to work.

He loves to get opportunities where he can collaborate with a photographer and be the artistic director of his own shoot. It's an opportunity to use his creativity and stretch his thinking. On some occasions, they then take that shoot and pitch it to magazines. I never knew that this was done. I always assumed that makeup artists have a lot more creative control than they do in reality.

He said his mind is always going and there are many times where he's on a plane sketching out the ideas running through his head.

Finally (and I love this!), if the opportunities aren't coming to you, you create them! Go head Romero! LOL

I got a chance to catch his seminar after our chat. He recreated the look from the Dsquared² show during Fashion Week. Most of the tips he shared were things I already knew so I didn't take too many notes. I mostly just tried to get some good pictures of his work.

And here's a short clip for you....

After I left Romero's seminar I said goodbye to Erin, who left to hop on a plane back east, and decided to browse the Summit Shop a bit more. This time, I was joined by Ivette from Girl Can Paint. She is awesome. She's a fellow blogger but also a makeup artist. So, I asked her if there were any brands she thought I should make sure to check out while I was there. We walked around to Inglot, Makeup Forever, Crown Brushes, OCC, and many many more. All the while she was sharing her opinions and advice and making recommendations. Now that I think of it, it was kind of like round 2 with James. LOL.

I was soooo tired by the end of the day. I had gotten 3 hours of sleep, partly due to the excitement of it all, and I just couldn't hang. After we were done we parted ways and I headed back home, she back to her hotel.


Great Post!!! I feel like I was there. Reading this post makes me so mad that I missed out. Thanks for sharing.

Once again great post! I NEVER thought to do a google alert on myself, duh! But you can bet I set one up as soon as I read that in your post. Thanks again! Is there any way you can disclose what brand foundation palettes those are in the pictures from the class with Romero? Also what are in the tubes in the yellow container? Airbrush foundation perhaps? Anyway to condense the kit is always welcome.

This was great fun and a pleasure to meet you and talk it was like we knew each other in another life!!

i love your coverage! detailed enough, but still digestible.. and yes i set up a google alert too! thanks!!

Slvrlips, I'm so glad you feel that way. I want everyone to see it as I saw it.

Shana, everything Romero used was MAC. The foundation palettes might be custom made for the senior artists or someone he made himself. As for the tubes, that's a good question. I didn't even think to ask him. I would guess either airbrush foundation or regular liquid foundation.

Anonymous, fantastic. I'd love to know who you are.

Yummy, I'm glad it wasn't too much. It was fun to write it all out but when I read it I wondered if anyone would actually sit through and read the entire post. LOL

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