We had the good fortune of connecting with Doris Lew and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Doris, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As a freelance makeup artist, you’re working for yourself. You’re not working for anyone which means you’re not getting a a steady paycheck or benefits. You don’t know when or where your next job is coming from or at all. As a single female, that is scary. I always wondered can I do this? How am I’m going to pay my bills or rent if I don’t get a job any time soon. So it is a risk to pursue a career as a freelance makeup artist. It is a unique career. It’s not like a ton of people are going to be knocking on your door requesting your profession. It’s a tight knit profession that only a small group of people would be interested in what I do. It’s not like opening a restaurant were everyone has to eat. No everyone is going to hire a professional makeup artist and when I first started in the business, I worked strictly in the film, TV, Photography industry. I wasn’t doing makeup for the public such as wedding or special occasion events like I am now. Plus I live in San Diego, not Los Angeles where the film, TV, Photo shoots are in abundancy. It took a lot of work and persistence and succeed in this business. I’m glad I did take this route. I did end up working quite a bit and developed a great steady cliental. As a freelance makeup artist you’re paid very well, more than you can make working at a steady 9-5 job with benefits. A makeup artist say at a department store, will make a little better than minimum wage and if you freelance you can make more in one day than you can make working fulltime at a steady job. So in the long run, you can come ahead taking that risk. This risk I’ve taken has given me the opportunity to own more than 5 ocean view homes in La Jolla and 3 rentals. I know I would never been able to afford to achieve that goal working full time with security and benefits. So in my case, yes it was worth taking the risk. I can’t imagine working at a steady 9-5 type of job.
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.
I’m a freelance makeup artist and I also do hairstyling. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. I’m definitely a seasoned makeup and hair person. I have more experience than probably more than anyone in San Diego. I’m also highly trained. I’m in the makeup artist union, but work non union jobs as well. When I first started in the busy, like any profession, you have to work your butt off. 40 years ago, we didn’t have internet or social media. I felt like a door salesman. I literally knock on doors trying to get work. There were 3 other makeup artists in town and only a handful of production companies and photographers. We were all fighting for the same jobs and everywhere I go I would hear the same thing, we are already have a makeup artist and I would hear the same 3 names. I was the new kid that moved to San Diego from LA. So the other 3 were established locally. I felt like I was either calling the same potential clients or visiting them every week just to get my foot in the door and it paid off, because once I got my first job, the rest was history. I just needed to proof myself to these people and then the referrals came. I then became an established local makeup artist as well and it’s funny to hear stories from the newbies that would come to town 10 years later trying to break into the market and when I finally meet these new people, they would say, everywhere they go, all they would hear is my name. I had to laugh at that because I know exactly where these newbies were coming from. So I’m glad to hear people are persistent. If you work for yourself, only you can make yourself successful.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
San Diego is a beautiful place to visit. I’m sure everyone would love to go to San Diego. It has the best climate and excellent food and so many place to see and visit in town. There are also so many other options that are driving distances. You can drive anywhere in California, but southern California is a short drive. In San Diego we have the Zoo, Sea World, Animal Safari Wildlife, Legoland, Balboa Park with many museums there and so many more to see and do. The food is amazing here. There are so many wonderful beach communities here. I live in La Jolla. Probably the best place to be in San Diego. Again beautiful weather, restaurants, site seeing. We have sea lions that people love to watch. So much to do and see it to mention.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I really like to give my Shoutout to all the makeup schools I’ve gone to. I started in Toronto. My girlfriend convinced me to go to modeling school with her which I resisted since I was a sports kind of girl and not a girly type. It was there that I discovered I had a nature talent for makeup artistry and continued my education at the Makeup School to be a makeup artist and won the highest honor of the school. I then moved to Hollywood to pursue more advance makeup for film and TV and special effects at Joe Blasco Makeup Center and won best makeup artist. Then continued to learn airbrush makeup at Empire Academy of Makeup. The reason I want to give a shoutout to all my schools is because I truly believe, I am as good as I am because of all the training I received. A lot of makeup artist out there are self made and I give them credit for succeeding on their own with out any formal training, but getting training has made my life easier to understand the business and how to trouble shoot instead of the guessing game which I’m actually good at. I think any makeup artist with natural skills can figure out a lot on their own, but to me nothing beats having formal training. I truly believe I would not have succeeded like I have or ever consider freelancing if it was for all my training that gave me the confidence that I can do this.
I do not know the photographers who shot some of the photos, but the photos where given to me by the brides and I have permission from then since the own the rights to the photos. Some where shot by me and yes I give my permission to use these photos.