We had the good fortune of connecting with Makie Dawson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Makie, what is the most important factor behind your success?
At this point in my career, I wouldn’t consider myself “successful” yet. I am relatively new, but I have been relatively successful in the time that I have been working, hitting all the career path milestones and goals that I’ve set for myself. There are a lot of important attributes when it comes to being successful, such as being prompt, organized, creative and professional, but I think the most important one is communicating and building a rapport with those that you’re working with. I am more of an introverted person, so it has been a learning curve for me working on sets and interacting with everyone. I feel really lucky that I’ve had some really great mentors and friends that I have learned from. As a makeup artist, I like to think of myself as a creative tool to help others realize their vision or help clients or directors create a concept that they might not have thought of before on their own. Being able to be flexible to other’s ideas but also being able to communicate your own ideas to help build an concept is one of the most important things. In my opinion, that’s when the best ideas are brought forth. Communication is also when all the bugs get worked out. Everyone is an expert in their own field so communicating is when I get to learn something new or help educate others if they need help. A director may not know exactly what’s possible with special effects makeup or blood gags, but that’s when I can talk to them about options and what’s the best way to go about their ideas. Conversely, I might not know exactly how a scene is going to be lit and need advice on what the lighting will look like in order to make sure the makeup looks good. That’s when the director or AD can help educate me. It’s this dialogue in pre-production or on set that makes my job really fresh and fun. It’s like working in a well-oiled machine where everyone knows their roles and has great expertise, but there’s an open channel for communication, learning, and teaching. I also consider communication when writing emails, texts, building my website, and social media. These are all forms of communicating with the general public and prospective clients. I put a lot of effort into all of these forms of communicating and try to be clear but also put a little bit of myself in them. They’re a reflection of not only my work but also me as a person that they will have to work with if they hire me. I want communicating with me as a business to be efficient and professional but also friendly and easy.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My chosen form of art is makeup artistry. I specialize in special effects makeup, but you can find me doing everything from soft glam to high fashion to monsters. My first taste of makeup was in high school theater and after attending college, I was drawn back into my creative side. I attended Cinema Makeup School and set lofty goals for myself going into the industry. I’m always striving to learn new things. If I don’t know how to do something, I’m going to research and ask a million questions until I do. In makeup, there’s never just one way to do something. Today, I’m a freelance makeup artist in LA working to get into the local union so I can work on bigger projects. Being a makeup artist in LA isn’t easy. There’s a lot of competition, but there’s also a lot of jobs. When I first started out, I was working for little to nothing just to help pad my portfolio. Early on set my mind on doing any makeup job regardless of pay in order to make it. It sounds cliche, but determination and putting in the effort even if no one is paying you to do it are big ones for me. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is: give your work your 200% best. Always. One of my teachers at Cinema Makeup School told me that when I was just starting. He explained that no one is going to recognize your work if you’re only putting in half the work because you’re being paid half of what you think you deserve. Sometimes getting paid in experience is the best payment. I always feel super lucky because I do feel like I’ve come a long way in a short amount of time, but there’s always work to be done. I also feel really lucky because I’ve met some really wonderful people along the way. Other makeup artists, photographers, directors, brand-owners who have helped teach me and given me advice whether they know it or not. It’s always a good feeling when I hear that someone I worked with previously recommended me for my next job. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right. There are always times that I feel discouraged because I didn’t get the job I really wanted or there aren’t many jobs, but in my opinion, it’s always about being productive and ambitious but also about being yourself and being your own fan.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles has some of the best restaurants in my opinion and I love to eat. When I first moved to LA, I lived and went to school in Koreatown so it holds a special place in my heart. Document Coffee Bar on Wilshire and St. Andrews is a must for anyone into coffee shops with an artsy but friendly atmosphere. Alchemist Coffee Project on Vermont and 7th is cozy and has an amazing menu with super cute latte art. Wiches on Wilshire is a small walk-up counter that has amazing sandwiches and one of LA’s best breakfast burritos. BCD Tofu House is a Koreatown must for soft tofu stew or Korean classics like bulgogi or galbi ribs. Escala is a super fun Colombian-Korean fusion bar and restaurant with Kimchi fried rice con Pollo that’s to die for. Night Market and Night Market Song are the best Thai food with a colorful atmosphere. I used to go to Pho So 1 in Van Nuys with my grandparents when I was kid so it has both nostalgia and some of the best pho around. When I’m not eating, I love a lot of LA’s museums. The Broad, LACMA, The Getty, La Brea Tar Pits, The Natural History Museum and oddities like the Museum of Death. I also like to buy cheap tickets to shows at the Hollywood Bowl and take picnic dinner or snacks and drinks. I’m also a sucker for hiking in Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon. Griffith is best around sunset so you can look out across the city lights.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have too many people to list when it comes to thanking people. I really want to thank my teachers at Cinema Makeup School, especially Sven Granlund who mentored me and supported me wholeheartedly. I also have a great group of creative friends who work with me a lot. Delaney McIntyre and I work on makeup passion projects together and I’m always endlessly blown away by her creativity and support both in our careers and as a friend. Louis Pei is a photographer friend of mine who never fails to show up when I need someone to bounce ideas off of or take pictures of my crazy ideas. The amazing community of makeup artists at Knott’s Scary Farm that inspire me to push creativity and techniques. I am also truly grateful to two amazing mentors I’ve had, Olivia Ivy and Bill Corso. These are two people who have taken me under their wings and taught me so much both on and off set. Being able to work with them has given me so much experience beyond what I expected.
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