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Meet Silverlake Makeup Artist: Sarah Bahlibi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Bahlibi.

Sarah , please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve had a lifelong passion for makeup. When I was 5 or 6 I carried a briefcase around my neighborhood and gave all my friends and neighbors makeovers, most likely in the style of Madonna, mole and all. I never really realized it could be a real job that pays your bills so I pursued other interests in school and after professionally, working in Child Care through high school and after. At some point, an Aveda Institute opened in my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan and my mom and grandma encouraged me to go study skincare. In my entrance meeting with the school leader she repeatedly emphasized this is NOT a makeup program, but a skin care program. I completed the courses and was interested in the subject but still more interested in makeup. I always studied trends and makeup styles on my own and would replicate them on myself, my interest leaning more towards beauty, great skin, beautiful faces rather than dramatic faces. When I graduated I immediately decided to move to Los Angeles and try to be a makeup artist for real. I arrived, got a nanny job to support me and went out in the city, meeting people, introducing myself as a makeup artist, etc. I met a girl who was hiring makeup artists for an event at the Playboy Mansion and she hired me! I was so happy but scared, I had never done a job before and didn’t own a makeup kit. I immediately put one together, arrived at the job and did some makeup! While I was there I also studied the other artists, their kits, etc. From there I booked a music video, then another, then another. I worked for Anastasia Beverly Hills until I was ready to give up my day job and go full-time freelance, which I did in 2012. I booked an assistant position on a TV show, and then another and another. Since then I have continued the same formula but now I get word of mouth jobs the most. TV/Film and Print are my favorite jobs. I’m pretty new to print and have gotten some wonderful mentors who bring me with them on bigger campaigns, I’m always grateful for senior artists who let me learn from watching them. There are some wonderful people in this industry.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has absolutely not been a smooth road. It is very hard to get the ball rolling on a freelance career and equally hard to keep it going. It’s only been in the past year and a half that I feel like I have enough work, and even now the thought it could end any day is always in the back of my mind. There have been many many many days I worried I need a new plan, wondered if I would work again, etc. As a freelancer, you have to have availability to work tomorrow, or next Tuesday, or for the next 3 months out of state. Having a day job isn’t possible because you would have to turn down gigs because of your ‘regular’ job. It takes a lot of faith, courage and very hard work. Every off day I’m emailing, updating my sites, calling contacts, out meeting people and just expecting the best, because if you don’t expect you will work and fight for it, you won’t work. This path is not easy by far. It takes a specific type of mindset and 100% of your energy, not to mention the hours in TV/Film are grueling, so the exhaustion is high but so are the rewards and sense of accomplishment.

What are your plans for the future?
In the future, I hope to get more opportunities in advertising and print. I’d love to do larger ad campaigns and beauty campaigns. I also would love to do more film. I have a few artists who take me with them as an assistant and I’m enjoying the experience. I think assisting is one of the best ways to grow as an artist.

Let’s explore some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way. What was the most difficult part of your career so far?
At one point my makeup jobs were fewer and further between. I had a day job that involved a lot of driving and sales work, I was frustrated spending time on a job that wasn’t advancing my artistry and that I couldn’t get enough freelance work to support myself on makeup alone. I had to take a big leap of faith and quit my day job, spending all my off time emailing and meeting people who may be able to hire me. I did a lot of jobs that were underpaid in order to get by. I felt frustrated and unsure if things would work out for me. I just used the fear to push me more, intensify my drive and eventually it started paying off.

Do you ever feel like “Wow, I’ve arrived” or “I’ve made it” or do you feel like the bulk of the story is still unwritten?
One of the first times I felt successful was when I had a star wagon for the first time. There have also been times where I’m working with my friends I went to makeup school with, and I look around and think ‘wow, we’re really doing this’. I feel the best when I look at my work and think ‘YES! This is amazing work!’ or when I have a celebrity client who is very happy with their look. There have been some pretty high high’s. Working in the chateau marmot was exciting, or waiting in the entry way at a house for a celebrity client. Those are still exciting moments. For the most part, I can have a day in a star wagon on Monday and on Tuesday I’m working in a field off an apple box with terrible lighting for a film project. It’s not always a glamorous job, no matter how successful you are, and I still have a long road of hard work ahead of me. I’m not sure what it will take for me to feel like I’ve really made it. I think I will always have further to go and more I’d like to accomplish.

Contact Info:

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