Susan Markovic – Makeup Artist & Educator
Posted September 14, 2017, by Jenny Sakr
For the last 33 years, Susan has been creating beautiful faces on models, actresses, brides and more. Despite the early wake-up calls, she has a true passion for what she does and shares her love of makeup artistry with students of her academy, Makeup Mode.
What did you study to become a makeup artist?
Diploma of Makeup at 3 Arts Makeup Centre
What did you want to be when you were younger?
Like most young girls around me, I wanted to be a flight attendant when I was young, during my last year of high school I really didn’t know what I wanted to be, but then I thought about makeup artistry. During my makeup course I spent a lot of time doing work experience at the Australian Film School and really got interested in film making and continuity, and almost changed courses….I’m glad I didn’t!!
What was your first job?
After graduating from makeup school I freelanced at the different TV stations.
When did you first know you wanted to become a makeup artist?
At the end of high school, I thought I would give it a go. But it really became clear to me once I worked on my first photo shoot. Once you experience the exhilaration of being creative on a fashion shoot, you are hooked and there is no turning back!
Explain a typical day on the job
No two days are the same so it makes answering this difficult! I have my finger in so many pies, from my school, photo shoots and weddings. Let's focus on a typical weekend with weddings:
Starting 6 am, I would have travelled either somewhere in Sydney or all the way to Hunter Valley or the Southern Highlands. The average number of people I would work with is 6, and I usually provide my hairstylist for hair as well.
This job may finish around 12noon, only to rush back to my studio to start back to back appointments for wedding trials and special occasions.
Finish at 5 pm, clean my brushes/sponges, pack my kit, ready for Sundays wedding and start all over again!
What's the most interesting that's happened to you in your career?
I’ve had the privilege of working with some talented actors and models in my time. I remember being interviewed by Channel 7 about my view on Princess Kate’s wedding makeup, I was so honoured that they wanted my opinion!
But the best experience was working on a commercial with the one and only Hollywood starlet, Celeste Holmes. She won an Academy Award for Gentlemen’s Agreement and worked with Marilyn Monroe and Bette Davies on All About Eve. I was new in the industry and buzzing! I didn’t expect Celeste to teach me a thing or two about makeup… I was about to apply blush on her cheeks, she grabbed my hand to stop me and pulled out her favourite red lipstick and asked that I apply this to her cheeks - it was the way all the Hollywood starlets did it!! I was nervous but had to ‘obey’. Celeste loved the results and I didn’t have a heart attack!
Name the best and worst parts of being a makeup artist
Best - get to be creative, work for myself and command my own work/life balance, and work with some fabulous creatives as well.
Worst - many people expect freebies. They do not value our worth. People don’t stop to think that we have to pay bills as well!
What's the most important career tip someone has given you?
Someone once mentioned, “it's the hand, not the brand, that creates beautiful looks”. Of course products and tools are very important to our work, however with the advent of social media and pushing products like never before, you are throwing away your money if you don’t know how to use them properly.
What do you wish someone had told you before becoming a makeup artist?
That you are a business entity. It’s very difficult when 18 year old’s do the full-time makeup courses and upon completion do not know what to do next. As a makeup artist, particularly a freelance artist, you are self-employed, you have to promote and push yourself ‘to get out there’. You need to wear many hats apart from the artist’s one…..marketing, bookkeeper, PR, IT and social media manager etc.
Where do people have to start to become a makeup artist?
First, you need to decide what you would like to specialise in? If you would like to be a film/tv/special fx artist then you definitely need to look at the bigger schools offering Cert IV or Diploma in Makeup. If you would like to be a bridal or fashion makeup artist you do not need to spend as much time nor spend the money in a full-time course.
Short courses like the one I offer is more than enough. Please realise that once a short course is completed, you are not ready to call yourself a makeup artist! There is a process to deem you're competent. Firstly you will need to assist some of the country’s best artists. This may go on for about 1-2 years…..sorry! Not only do you learn so much from these artists on the job, but you will also be introduced to the leading photographers, models, stylists, hairstylists etc... this is called NETWORKING! The opportunity will then arise to collaborate on ‘test shoots’ with photographers, models and stylists. You will build a portfolio and then ‘sell yourself’ to creative agencies etc. Please note that on many occasions opportunities will arise to work with some of the artists you assist. My best advice, be the best assistant you can possibly be. For advice on this I recommend you read is Deshawn Hatcher’s book ‘Assisting Rules’.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to go out on their own and start a small business?
You make your own luck!
What I mean by that is, hard work pays off. When you initially start your own business you will find you wear many hats. You will be the worker, bookkeeper, marketer, promoter etc. So you are constantly thinking of what you need to do next. The luxury of going home on a Friday and not thinking of work until Monday doesn't exist. When it's your own, you are thinking/doing business 7 days a week.
There will be set backs, sometimes you will feel you're getting nowhere. Persevere! Get advice, familiarise yourself with social media and how you can take advantage of this fabulous tool. Enrol in workshops that allow you to understand the internet, social media, SEO etc. The more you know the less likely you will be taken advantage of!
Although the above may sound like negatives, they aren't, they are the realities. The benefits of starting your own business far outweigh the cons. Being your own boss is great. Over time I have created a perfect work/life balance without sacrificing a decent income. I love my job and can honestly say I wake up looking forward to going to work. No regrets!
Name a career highlight
Definitely, has been opening my own school Makeup Mode Masterclass, now in its 5th year. I’m so proud of my academy and am reaping the rewards. Many of my students, (both from my academy and from previous schools I have taught at) have gone on to work at Channel 7 and Channel 9, won awards as Australian Makeup Artist of the year, announced the L’Oreal Paris Australian Makeup Artist and even won an Oscar for best makeup for Mad Max Fury Road.
What’s next for you?
I will continue teaching and mentoring Australia’s best, and up and coming fashion and bridal makeup artists. I'm also working on a new venture which at this stage is top secret... Stay tuned!
What do you to unwind after a long day?
I love playing cards it’s the only thing that keeps me up at night, otherwise, I’ll be asleep by 9pm….that’s because I wake up every morning at 5 am…..habits of successful people, I guess!
Feel inspired by Susan's story? Check out our range of courses in Beauty Therapy and get set to make your own mark in the biz!
Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.