Makeup Business

I quit being a makeup artist. Then came COVID-19…

An opinion article by makeup artist, Emily Blum

Emily Blum
Updated April 23, 2020

We asked IBI Community Members to share what experiences they have had during COVID-19. Hear what celebrity makeup artist, Emily Blum, had to say…

“During this pandemic, I feel it is crucial to dig deeper…Don’t be afraid to feel emotions, feel negative, positive, peace and chaos because that’s what makes our industry one of the greatest: we choose self-love and strength and project it onto clients…”

I’m blasting songs from the 70s, reminiscing on my recent trip to Las Vegas and my life was at a high. Coming back to a small, stereotypical suburban town realizing that the whole world, including this small town where nothing ever happens, was deeply affected by COVID-19 shattered my spirit realizing my plans as well as the world’s plans would have to be put on hold for a while.

With this newfound free time, I dug a little deeper into the true meaning and purpose of my makeup career. Was it a temporary thing that was only positive and promising for a job only because as a teenager I didn’t have bills to pay? Was it the lack of motivation or inspiration? I couldn’t find the answer for a while and even had thoughts, like most makeup artists or other artists have: “Is this path I’m taking really worth it?”

“How many more years until my big break? What if that never comes at all and I have to think about switching over to another career that I don’t necessarily desire to have?”

Over the years, I have traveled and lived  in various locations around the world. Living primarily in Los Angeles and New York, I always found some source of inspiration that would help me create a makeup look for my portfolio. Ideas were flowing left and right. New York specifically was the Garden of Eden of my inspiration sources: the different characters I’d meet or see, the vibes, the visual input with fashion, music, any element of life really.

One day, I had to move back to Ohio to be  with my family. Ohio is a place where I spent a great deal of my teenage years and had nothing but negative experiences which only fueled my emotions of anger and rebellion to come to life in a positive way which was to artistically create. When I moved back, I figured this would be a great new start: No one in this small town has the same experiences as me or pent up energy like me. I’m not saying I felt as if I was superior to anyone else, but rather with the mentality of them not understanding me, but that would be okay because I’d introduce them to a new way of art and life.

For about two years, I spent most of my days making phone calls, direct messaging on Instagram to different photographers to collaborate on photoshoots with me while sitting in coffee shops. At first, no one would even consider working with me even for free because I didn’t seem legit, I wasn’t humble, I was too “out there”, etc. I thought these collaborations was a way to get exposure and possibly make good connections which would lead to a successful career in suburbia.

I finally landed a fairly decent amount of shoots. I was doing one at least every other day. I finally got what I wanted! I didn’t read the fine print and signed my name on the dotted line: “You are a source of inspiration, and what we can get, we will take and you’ll never get it back.

The last gig I did was for someone’s short film, no pay, but I took it. That day I had a strange feeling wash over me: I didn’t want to be a makeup artist anymore. I was done. Ready to throw my kit away and feeling stuck. I decided I wouldn’t look deep into it because I would be traveling to Vegas for my birthday and that was a time for recreation. I figured I just needed a vacation, some time away from people who sucked up my positive energy for their own gain with no reciprocated effort.

During my trip, I just had playtime but no deep thinking about my sudden loss of desire for what I do best. However, during quarantine, I reflected on my recent experiences in the makeup industry and it came to me: I didn’t feel the same creative energy or professionalism back, I didn’t feel rewarded.

“It’s about how YOU envision yourself as an artist and how you will make yourself heard in the industry.”

Over these past few weeks I realized it’s not a matter of how others lack paying a makeup artist, lack of inspiration or any of those factors whatsoever. It’s about how YOU envision yourself as an artist and how you will make yourself heard in the industry. Being a makeup artist means creating your true art, placing it on canvases and understanding that the world doesn’t need to understand you, but rather how you need to learn yourself and to understand you.

During this pandemic, I feel it is crucial to dig deeper into your individual makeup skills and innermost thoughts to plan your best foot forward back to the industry. Don’t be afraid to feel emotions, feel negative, positive, peace and chaos because that’s what makes our industry one of the greatest: we choose self-love and strength and project it onto clients and maybe even inspire them to do the same thing in their worlds?


About Emily:

Being a people person, Emily’s aesthetic eye and developed artistic abilities, using her surroundings, moods and even songs as inspiration for her looks, are the basis for her having become a renowned professional of makeup application on all levels. Her devotion as a professional makeup artist is flourishing, having worked with celebrities such as Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, formally of Guns N’ Roses, John Moyer of ‘Disturbed’, Scott Stapp of  ‘Creed’, as well as other various celebrity clients. She has also worked with New York agencies such as Wilhelmina Models, MSA Models, Major Models, and has achieved doing makeup for New York Fashion Week. Shortly thereafter, Blum was a finalist for “Best Natural Makeup” by the IBI in 2018. Learn more at


Emily Blum

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