How do you handle referring makeup artists and networking jobs that you cannot take? Do you post jobs on FB pages with your peers? How we as makeup artists handle job referrals and networking is very important to both our reputation and our long-term business. Many times as a makeup artist I receive job offers on days where I am already booked. One of the downsides to being a freelance makeup artist is that there is only 1 of me. If I am booked and another job comes along, I have to decide how best to service that client and maintain my relationship with them. I want them to call me the next time they have something. So how to proceed?

On the one hand, you can say no and let them find someone else to do the job. Will this client ever call you back? You really have no idea. The other option is to assist them in finding someone. This way you maintain the relationship with them and also have a hand in picking the artist to fill your shoes. I personally like the second option. It keeps me in the picture and also allows me to make sure the client is getting a quality makeup artist. I do the leg work and hope that they will think of me the next time they have a job, or at least see me as a resource. But what if they call the artist I suggest the next time they need someone? What if that artist pursues them as a client, or hands out their business card? How does that artist need to conduct themselves?

When I was with an agency here in town and wasn’t available for a client, another artist was put on the job. The agency was the client’s contact, not the artist. And so the agency kept the client “in-house” by having someone on their boards doing the job. I never knew if a client was calling and asking for me, or who was working on jobs with “my clients”. And so when I became independent I would refer an artist and never think about the implications. I would take a referral and treat that client as if they were my own. I came to see that by passing clients around and not keeping in touch with each other on the job, as artists we were hurting ourselves and the industry. We never knew who was working what or why we never heard back from a client after a referral. We were all working as individual hunters. However I started to realize that as a pack, we would all be more successful.

Recently at our monthly Shop Talk: Business Forum meeting at Terri Tomlinson Makeup Training Academy, we discussed how to handle the situation. All were in agreement on how best to refer jobs and also handle jobs that are referred to us. We all decided that we would follow the same parameters in order to create a consistent flow of work to and from artists in the community. One of the realizations we all came to was that we all needed to understand and work within the system. Here are some points.

  1. Referring a job is finding a replacement for yourself on a specific job (one-time bases).
  2. Networking a job is passing a client to another artist. This is long term. If the Original Artist (OA) gets a call for a job that they cannot do, they may refer it to another artist and tell them, this is yours to pursue. Perhaps it is a job for a less experienced artist or a lower rate. In this case, the OA networks the client to another artist.
  3. When working as a referral on a job, we are representing the original artist.
  4. The client relationship belongs to the original artist and we do NOT give out our cards unless asked specifically, nor do we pursue that client.
  5. Our relationship as the referred artist is with the original artist! This is important. Who are you likely to get more work from? That one client or the original artist who knows they can trust you and count on you?

How We Handle Referring a Makeup Artist to a Client:
When referring an artist on a job, the OA follows this process:

  1. They discuss the parameters, budget and details with the client. They tell the client they will find a referral for the job.
  2. They find an available artist.
  3. They tell the referred artist the parameters, budget, and details of the job. They let the artist know that this is a referral.
  4. They connect the client and the artist.
  5. After the job they may contact the client and check-in. They may also check in with the artist to see how things went.

How an Artist Handles a Referral from the OA:

  1. The OA contacts us for availability and details.
  2. Contact with the client is made.
  3. We do the job and bill the job.
  4. We DO NOT promote ourselves to the client.
  5. We are representing the OA and respect that relationship.
  6. We touch-base with the OA afterwards.
  7. If the client then later contacts us directly for a job we:  Tell the client we will need to contact the OA to check, and contact the OA with the option of taking the job.
  8. If the client specifically wants us on the job and not the OA, we need to still contact the OA.

No one ever owns a client. Sometimes the client will prefer another artist, or the referred artist over the OA. That is life in the industry. However, the way I like to see it is that the OA doesn’t own the client, but they do own the job that came to them. So we respect that chain of command. It is also good for the clients to know that we are a community and talk to each other. This keeps them from under-cutting us or shopping for a lower rate. That is why I always get the rate set on a job before I refer it out. Then we are all on the same playing field.

What are your thoughts on the matter? How do you handle similar situations?

It is really in the end all about integrity. Does your desire for long-term growth and community outweigh your need for that one job and that one paycheck? I think if we look to the bigger picture we can all see the value of operating this way. I for one am committed to my community of artists. I thank you for reading.

Until next time, Terri Tomlinson Makeup Artist Dallas



Terri Tomlinson- Makeup Artist based in Dallas, TX creating hair and makeup for print, film, video, runway, Television and the real world for over 20 years. She loves super natural, clean makeup, HD, and getting people “camera ready”. Terri owns Makeup Training Academy offering professional training to new and existing makeup artists. She consults on makeup for HD, speaks publicly, and serves as an on-camera Beauty Expert.