"Looking for professional makeup artists to work on set for ASOS. This is unpaid, but will create opportunities for exposure and portfolio development" - it took no more than two minutes to locate a commercial casting call for an unpaid makeup artist online. Money will be made from product sales, so why isn’t the team also being financially compensated?
The internet is littered with adverts looking for hardworking creatives to shoot. But not just 'creatives' in general, creatives who are willing to work for free, with no more than the promise of exposure, a cheese sandwich and a packet of own brand crisps for their time. Why is it that professionally trained men and women are having to beg to work by selling their soul to the devil, working for nothing and pleading for their bus fare home?
This week it has come to light that the Miss World 2014 event, to be held in London next month, has been imploring for makeup artists to work on the event by Artdeco, with the following letter of invitation:
I am just writing to you because we have a big project coming up for Miss World 2014 which is being held in London. It culminates in a live broadcast on the weekend of the 13th December to 2.2billion viewers worldwide.
There are a 130 contestants all with equal billing! They all need star quality hair and makeup with quick changes during the programme.
So we are needing a team of 100 people. There are also some build up events that require cover but in much smaller numbers. Everything is being filmed or photographed.
Can you please let me know if this is something you would be interested in? Please email me. :-)
Everything is credits only, we are NOT receiving any fees for this. We are organizing it for the credits. There will be goody bags.
A outpour of enraged makeup artists took to social media to defend the industry stating that, just like anyone else, they can only make a living with cash payments. Credits, free food and a good bag of cosmetics are worthless to them for paying bills. A deeper underlying sense of disrespect obviously ran true with many, as they posted on Twitter to inform the media and entertainment union, BECTU for support.
Furthermore, the feeling that students should not be encouraged to work for free for commercial companies became even more prominent;
"Why are student MUA's being targeted? Because they're new and don't know any better yet! #missworld" one tweeted.
BECTU began to back up the public disapproval posting a statement on their website written by their communications officer, Sharon Elliott;
From BECTU's point of view, a view clearly shared by many hair/make-up artists, this invitation communicates an intention to break the law on the National Minimum Wage. In the UK, the law provides for all work to be paid, at least in line with the minimum rates. Not surprisingly, goody bags and credits don't count as pay. This legal provision applies as much to students as to those who are not students. Work experience, as an accepted part of a course of study can be done unpaid within limitations, however, it's plain that the invitation to work on the Miss World contest is just that, work.
When given the opportunity to respond to the backlash of MUA's approached to work on the event for free, Colin Laphan replied by posting on social media;
The chance to take students & graduates under the tutelage of world class makeup artists to a worldwide live TV broadcast comes along once in a lifetime. Makeup & media education has changed, public colleges and people like AOFM Makeup teach excellent courses of real-world makeup. The educators are real world experienced people, the products have moved on tremendously.
In my past I took new nail technicians and shop nail technicians to LFW Paris and Milan. We did it first and we proved that under the right guidance the teams produced world class results for people like Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Versace. The achievement of doing an event like this changes your whole persona and approach to the business, I speak from experience having brought many talented creatives through.
The venom and jealousy from a number of small-minded protectionist "makeup" artists has truly shocked me. Sad, lonely bitter people who need to wake up to change. The industry is growing exponentially at the moment, new highly trained MUAs are coming into the marketplace and competition has arrived on a new level.
He also adds;
All of the top makeup artists worked for credits when gaining the necessary work experience, which allowed the networking and the jobs opportunities to open up. I actually know this because I was there at London Fashion Week in the late 1990's with the now top MUAs. I salute Melanie and her college, plus the other lecturers at the other forward thinking colleges who go the extra mile for their students. It would be a lot easier to do 9 till 5 and go home..... supporting and encouraging takes personal time and effort.
So the question arises - is it a tutors responsibility to teach student makeup artists about morals and integrity regarding commercial work, as well as standing strong as an industry union (and indeed the law regarding minimum wage)? Or will those who continue to work for free until (if it happens) they are noticed, be encouraged and applauded for their dedication to succeed.
Every photographer, model and makeup artist needs to build a portfolio and will have to work for free to begin. However a promise of equal payment in terms of image use are their compensation, where no sales are made and the shoot in effect is not profitable. It’s fair to suggest that all creatives are equal and where one person is making money, the rest should be too.
BECTU conclude their statement with the following;
BECTU will be reporting the issues to the HMRC, whose Pay and Work Rights Unit monitors the conduct of employers who act illegally in respect of the National Minimum Wage. We'll also be seeking the views of Creative Skillset, the training body for the creative sectors, covering film, TV production, fashion and more. Creative Skillset liaises with universities and colleges on their approach to student work experience.
For now, we congratulate the make-up artists prepared to make a stand against exploitation and we invite many more in the creative sectors to stand with them.
[Lead Image by Lorna Preston - Used With Permission]