Frontline Artist Interview: Shannon Caldwell Dowling

Shannon at work on Lindsay Fleming.jpg

Shannon is the definition of superwoman. She's a Dallas / Fort Worth, TX based makeup artist with a massive personality and entreprenurial spirit. 

Frontline: Tell the readers who you are!
 I'm a makeup artist who does editorial, commercial and bridal in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  I also teach MUA business and manage a team of incredible up-an-coming artists while trying to work on product development. More importantly, I'm a mama to the coolest 4 year old ever and wifey to my fuzzband.

Frontline: What kind of makeup do you specialize in?
 Beauty...I love skin. I'm not really "artistic" in my approach.  I take a more to the "Eve Pearl" philosophy where light and architecture are king.

Frontline: How did you come into the industry?
 By total accident.  I was always that kid who did everyone's makeup and hair for prom & homecoming.  During college, I competed in Miss Texas to pay for it and really got my hair set on fire there...after I was put out to pasture I started teaching new & former contestants, doing their weddings and learning from ANYONE who would teach me (this was before you could get YouTube Certified).  Later, I spent some time at a counter and learned so much about serving every category of client. After years in commercial real estate & automotive marketing, I hung out a shingle and the rest is history!  I still take every class I can get my hands on...I hope to never think I know everything!

Frontline: There are a lot of people making a name for themselves on social media, in makeup. What's your take? 
 Good for them.  I come from the generation of keeping your head down and quietly getting the job done.  You assisted for free and were intensely grateful for the opportunity.  You literally prayed for the day that you were allowed to touch a face.  Being a professional cheerleader, model or pageant girl didn't automatically make you a makeup artist. 

This is a different generation and I have to admit to being a late adopter...and PAINFULLY private, to boot.  If it weren't for the tremendous audience that social media affords me, I wouldn't be on it at all. THAT BEING SAID,  I want to caution those who are only popular in the social media realm to have a good backup plan if their only skill is "real good eyes" and great photoshopping.

Frontline: What was the craziest experience you've had on a job?
 I got punched by a bridesmaid...wrong place, wrong time, wrong target.  I packed & left.

Frontline: What are some must-have products you need in your kit?
 RCMA foundations, Smith brushes, Revlon Fire & Ice lipstick, Viseart anything, Clarins Lotus oil,  Senna creme blushes, MUFE water blend, Hydraluron (not sure what I'm going to do when I run out of backstock, it's discontinued), L'Oreal Voluminous  Mascara in Carbon Black.

Frontline: What advice would you give an up and coming artist looking to build a career?
Ask questions. Listen more than you talk. Don't go after the "big whale" until you can catch 3 tons of salmon in a day. Try EVERYTHING. Hygiene is religion.  Use what works. Know how but KNOW WHEN.  Screw up A LOT but not on a client's time or dollar. Shadow, apprentice, follow. Keep your ego in check...the MOST successful people in this biz didn't get there spouting their resume to anyone they could corner.  Do you.

Frontline: What's your favorite hair and makeup artist clothing company?
 Um, duh. Frontline Artistry.

Frontline: Where can we find you?
Web -
FB -
Instagram -

Frontline Artist Interview: Kiana Jones

Kiana Jones started out as a YouTube special fx makeup artist who quickly gained notoriety for her unbelievably good (and by that I mean gross) special fx gore. She runs a YouTube channel which focuses on teaching FX makeup: Freakmo, and is slowly transitioning into the professional makeup industry. You can also follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and IMDB.

Frontline: How long have you been a special fx artist?
Kiana: I started four years ago.

Frontline: How did you learn your craft?
Kiana: I'm self taught. I have a few DVD's by people like Stuart Bray and Neill Gorton, a Stan Winston School subscription, a few good books by people like Todd Debreceni and Mike Spatola, a subscription to Makeup Artist Mag and the Prosthetics mag, and lots of industry friends who are very generous with their knowledge.

Frontline: What is your specialty?
Kiana: I love gore! I love making encapsulated silicone prosthetics from reference images of injuries.

Frontline: What sets you apart from other artists?
Kiana: Right now I'm not sure anything does, but I'd love to keep pushing this as far as it will go until I have an answer to this question.

Frontline: What advice would you give an up and coming artist looking to build a career?
Kiana: Have a good attitude, don't gossip, be willing to learn and try to learn as much as you can, and be open to advice and feedback.

Frontline: There are a lot of people making a name for themselves on social media, in makeup. What's your take?
Kiana: There's two sides to this, for me. One on the one hand, I see people come up with ingenious creative solutions to get faster and cheaper fx makeups done; not everyone has the patience or the money or the knowledge to make encapsulated silicone appliances. This also allows people who live in countries where you cannot get all the FX makeup products, or where there are no makeup schools, to be able to learn and practice fx makeup. One the other hand, I have seen mediocre and unprofessional makeup artists get a huge cult following, to impressionable pre-teens, who probably don't even know who Dick Smith or Rick Baker are. It's created a new area of fx makeup where it doesn't need to look realistic, it doesn't need to last through a 12 hour filming day, it doesn't even need to move on the face, it just needs to be easily recreated with cheap materials. It can get depressing.

Frontline: Who are some of your industry idols?
Kiana: Adam Johansen, Damian Martin, Mike Marino, Thom Floutz, Vincent Van Dyke, Bill Corso, Stuart Bray, Steve Wang, Steve Johnson, Francois Dagenais, Duncan Jarman, and Barrie Gower, off the top of my head.

Frontline: Who is a hair/makeup artist beside you that we need to pay attention to?
Kiana: Kate Anderson!

Frontline: Where do you find your inspiration?
Kiana: I find a lot of inspiration through photos of real injuries, I like browsing on the app Figure. 1 to find reference images.

Frontline: If you weren't a special fx makeup artist, what would you be doing?
Kiana: Maybe something in Visual Art, which I studied before makeup.

Frontline: What’s the most important beauty advice you could give?
Kiana: Wear sunscreen everyday! It will keep you looking younger much, much longer.

Frontline: What was the craziest experience you've had on a job?
Kiana: I think I'm lucky in that I haven't had any super crazy experiences yet. YouTube in general is a bit of a weird experience because you subject yourself to being cussed out by 7 year olds in the comment section, and then their moms when they realize what their child is watching, and it's somehow my fault that they weren't monitoring their children's online activities. That still confuses me greatly.

Frontline: What are some must-have products you need in your kit?
Kiana: I adore silicone, so I always take Sculpt Gel with me just in case. Also Fleet St. blood in dark, and my Skin Illustrator palettes.

Frontline: What are some products every woman needs to keep in her purse?
Kiana: Band-aids, painkillers, and chewing gum or mints.

If you have a strong stomach and want to see some insane special fx makeups, including simulated gore, check out these videos...
Creepy Skin Mask
Bath Demon

Frontline Artist Interview: Jill Glaser of Makeup First School

We first met Jill several years back at The Makeup Show in Chicago. In a town full of hard people, Jill may be the most hardcore. She's a badass, to be honest. She's an attorney, a makeup artist, a (reputable) makeup school owner, and more.

Frontline: Tell the readers a bit about you.
Jill: I am a state-certified freelance makeup artist, working primarily in makeup for high definition media.  I am also the founder and owner of Make Up First ® School of Makeup Artistry, located in the heart of Chicago’s business district.  I am the proud mother to three grown daughters, all of who work in various facets of the creative industry.

Frontline: What made you get into makeup?
Jill: As a young girl, I would watch my mother (a professional watercolor artist) apply her makeup, using highlight and contour techniques to best enhance her features.  As a pre-teen and adolescent, I would spend hours in my bedroom, applying different products and using different techniques on my face; I would always take the makeup off before leaving the house-I just thought it was fun to “play”; in fact, I wore only mascara and lip gloss and mascara for decades.  In high school, I had the highly coveted job of working at the local pharmacy, where I was able to eat all the chocolate I wanted and play with all the makeup for sale.

Frontline: You became an attorney before you went into makeup professionally. Tell us about that.
Jill: I grew up in an era and in an environment that did not consider makeup artistry as a viable career choice, so I attended college in Washington D.C., and graduated within three years with a double major in Psychology and Education.  Following graduation, I taught second and first grade in Virginia.  I loved the kids, but after only two years, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career that was dominated by men: I decided to become an attorney. I returned to Chicago, and with my Psych degree, I was able to obtain a job as an Adult Probation Officer, so that I could save money for law school.  Working as a probation officer helped me define my upcoming legal career; I wanted nothing to do with criminal law and everything to do with business, which turned out to be an important decision with respect to the business of makeup artistry. After graduation from law school and admittance to the Illinois Bar, I worked first as a commercial litigator, and then as transactional attorney, putting together and closing deals for multi-million-dollar businesses.  I actively practiced law for eleven years.

Frontline: What made you transition from law to makeup?
Jill: I loved practicing law, but really missed my daughters; after eleven years, I was fortunate enough to be financially able to be a stay-at home mom.  I did not work outside the home for the following sixteen years.  When I was ready to reenter the workforce, I found that employers were willing to hire me only as a glorified secretary or paralegal; I wasn’t really heart-broken because I had lost my enthusiasm for law.  I continued on as a full-time stay-at-home mom until…Pivotal moment:  For one of my daughters’ middle school plays, I was randomly asked to volunteer for the makeup committee.  Working with transformative makeup, decades later, I was reminded of my love for makeup artistry.  I decided there and then to take some makeup artistry classes, (Columbia College-Continuing Ed Department) just for fun; that “fun” turned into a healthy obsession with makeup artistry.

Frontline: How did you grow your freelance business?
Jill: Able, Affable and Available - Starting as a freelancer in 2000, (pre-computer marketing days), I worked retail part-time, and as a freelancer on the side.  I provided makeup services anywhere and everywhere for little or no pay in order to have photos of my work, as well as to build a referral network.  I reserved a company name, organized the business, branded the business and then, together with a skeletal website, business cards, and comp cards, I cold-called every photographer, agency, production company, etc in Chicago with moderate success.  I worked at live events, advertised in bridal magazines and participated in several bridal trade shows.  I then advertised in the Chicago Creative Directory (both print and online).  Little did I know that advertising in the Chicago Creative Directory would be the “game-changer” of its time; I started booking one commercial job after another.  After three years, I was able to quit working retail, and devote all of my time to building my business as a full-time freelance makeup artist.

Frontline: Why Did I Open Make Up First® School?
Jill: In approximately 2003, the Continuing Education Department of Columbia College closed, leaving Chicago without a state-certified vocational program for the training of makeup artists.  In 2005, I thought about my background as a teacher and a business lawyer, and decided that it was time to seize the opportunity and open a school.  I created the curriculum, practiced actually teaching makeup artistry classes at a local community college, and then began the laborious process of filling the forms for Illinois state certification.  I opened the school in September 2006, offering night classes only, so that I could continue to freelance during the day.

Frontline: What advice do you give to students who graduate from Make Up First® School?
Jill: Able, Affable and Available!  From day one, we emphasize, among other things, the following:

First and foremost, be a good person.  This is a small industry: If you do not treat others with respect and integrity, you may find yourself out of work.  Keep in mind:  It’s not about you; it’s about the client. Every job and person in your chair should be treated as worthy of all of your attention. Regardless of what you have been told, assume the project will be filmed or shot in high definition (or more!) and there will be close-ups taken.  As soon as you complete the Certification Course, concentrate on organizing and branding your business, which includes your website and portfolio. In the beginning years, set aside virtually all evening, weekend and holiday plans for work; your social life will have to wait.  Accept virtually every freelance job, even if it may be outside your comfort zone:  if too uncomfortable, ask us for help.  Don’t stay in any one “day” job too long:  once you have learned everything you can, you need to move on so that you do not become complacent.  Be patient; this career is hard and will not happen by itself overnight.  Keep learning by researching, networking and taking any additional workshops or courses offered either at the School or elsewhere.  Keep in touch with the School so that we can help with your portfolio, answer ongoing questions, and send you on jobs!

Frontline: If the 2010's will be memorable for any reason in beauty, it'll be the advent of YouTube and Instagram beauty. What's your take?
Jill: With social media, now anyone and everyone are claiming to be makeup artists.  I compare the majority of the Instagram and YouTube “artists” with myself as a young girl, practicing putting makeup on myself.   I had no knowledge of color theory, light theory, facial anatomy, how to conduct myself on a set, etc.  In fact, I had no idea what a crew or set would look like!   I think I became adept at applying makeup on my face, but there was no one but myself to critique me. I certainly was in no position to teach anyone anything.  Formal training, either on the job or by attending a reputable school taught by working makeup artists, coupled with several years of working in the field, are still essential for building the skills to be a successful makeup artist.  However- Makeup artists do need to be aware of, and adapt to, the social media phenomena.  Therefore, at Make Up First ® School, we incorporate some of the social media trends within our curriculum.   By so doing, the young artist is current, and can add the social media trends and techniques to the essential classic, formal education.

Frontline: What's the funniest / craziest thing that's happened on set?
Jill: The most embarrassing (funny) things I will have to tell you in private/confidence!

One Word: Immodium

I can share the following:  In the first years as a freelancer, a hair company exhibiting in a large trade show hired me.  This was at the time, unlike now, that vibrant, colored hair was not so common, particularly on adults.  The company needed one more model, and they asked if I would mind if they colored and cut my very long brown hair. I ended up with an extremely short, razor-cut, dated “shag” in the color of eggplant.  I looked like an adult Smurf for a long time.  And I didn’t even get paid extra for being such a good sport!

Frontline: What are some must-have products for your kit?
Jill: The “FIRST” Makeup Mixer by MaqPro (cleanser, moisturizer, primer, makeup remover); Make Up For Ever Flash Palette (eyes, lips, cheeks, foundation or base); Translucent Setting Powder, preferably the “FIRST” HD powder by MaqPro;  Cinema Secrets Pro Foundation Palettes (theatrical, beauty and clinical applications); Japonesque makeup remover wipes.

Frontline: Finally, what's one beauty product that you won't leave home without?
Jill: Rosebud Salve. Chicago winters are cold and windy. The Rosebud Salve is great for lips, cuticles, dry skin, and can just provide skin protection for our excessively windy/cold days.


Frontline Artist Interview: Terri Tomlinson

We recently caught up with our friend Terri Tomlinson. She's a veteran makeup artist, educator, and owner of the Makeup Training Academy in Dallas, TX. We said "Will you do a quick interview with us for the blog, pretty please?" and she said yes...SCORE!

Frontline: How long have you been a professional hair / makeup artist?
Terri: 27 beautiful years! I started out in retail while studying history in college and worked for lines like Lancome, Bobbi Brown, and Prescriptives. In '99 I sent myself to L.A. to study makeup for Television and later hairstyling for set. I had to start over, but moved into production and print work which I have been doing for the last 17 years. Back then if you could do makeup for Television you could "do anything". The TV cameras at the time (before HD) were very difficult to do makeup in.

Frontline: What is your specialty?
Terri: I think I am most known for clean beauty work and creating no-makeup "real people" for camera.

Frontline: What sets you apart from other artists?
Terri: I think I see color very differently.  might not be a typical artist because I'm more passionate about the technical aspects of artistry than the creative. For example, I'm not driven to do elaborate makeups or body art, although I greatly admire and respect those that can. I'm more fascinated by how to draw hairs in HD, or color correcting a five-o'clock shadow in a 4K camera that looks real. That is the stuff that pumps me up as an artist.

Frontline: What advice would you give an up and coming artist looking to build a career?
Terri: Be patient as it takes time. Young people think that they will take one class and be working on a movie and they just don't understand how long it takes to develop true skill and experience as an artist. Think about how long it takes you to get a college degree and then work into a field. That is the same with makeup.

Frontline: There are a lot of people making a name for themselves on social media, in makeup. What's your take?
Terri: This is a soapbox subject for me. I cannot take seriously anyone who only does makeup on themselves in their own homes. A whole industry of copy-cat hobby artists has emerged with social media. They all use the same product, use the same technique, and produce the same makeup regardless of the face it is on. The makeup style that I see the most on SM is so processed! Everyone looks the same, like an anime doll. Why would anyone want to look like everyone?

Frontline: Who are some of your industry idols?
Terri: I'm old school and love my history. Maurice Stein whom I first met in '99 when in L.A. for the first time is a big influence on me along with Leonard Engleman. I love Ve Neil's work, and James Vincent is one of my favorite artists in the business right now. I have the great pleasure of working with James as he and I have created a series of classes together called "The Art+Architecture of Makeup" where we explore different areas of makeup from both the creative and the technical sides.

Frontline: If you weren’t a hair / makeup artist, what would you be doing?
Terri: I'm thinking puppy wrangler would be good. Or an ornithologist as I'm fascinated with birds. Or a librarian! I love books.

Frontline: What’s the most important beauty advice you could give?
Terri: A full coverage "drag" makeup might look great in a ring light and on a phone screen, but in real life nothing is more attractive, modern, and youthful than pretty SKIN.

Frontline: What was the craziest experience you've had on a job?
Terri: I don't kiss and tell.....however there was this one art director who refused to call me by name and referred to me as "that makeup girl". She would follow me around saying, "I think that makeup girl is trying to leave early...where is that makeup girl.....??"

Frontline: What are some must-have products you need in your kit?
Terri: I use Lait Creme by Embryolisse in almost every makeup I do. Make Up For Ever 2C and 3C are great on camera basics. Also, you have to be able to adjust color. I have a color theory palette in my line that I use on every job. It is called Rescue Palette and it is manufactured for me at Maqpro. So I would say some kind of color theory creme palette is a must.

Frontline: What are some products every woman needs to keep in her purse?
Terri: A good lip gloss. I love glosses that are warm and rosy. And the Artist's Secret stick from Embryolisse.

Just The Tips: Taking Responsibility for Your Failures

This one may be a bit of a gut punch if you're the kind of person who points fingers anywhere but inward when things don't go your way. My job isn't to coddle you and tell you that you're always right. Believe me, I've been where you are. My job is to tell you that you're not always right, and if things are not going the way you want them to, it's probably your fault.

Now, that's not to say that everything that happens to you is completely under your control. But how you react and respond to adverse situations is, and what you do moving forward definitely is. In other words, learning how to learn from your mistakes and taking action accordingly.

Perhaps the greatest tool in every freelancers inventory is the ability to be humble, learn from mistakes, accept responsibility, and grow. Growth without understanding what causes failure is nearly impossible. Coming to accept your imperfection and harnessing the great power that comes with it will change your life.

Each failure is an opportunity to be humble and learn. In my almost 37 years I've had plenty. I am certainly no stranger to failure. But it was not until I convinced myself that my failures were exactly that...MY failures, was I able to learn from them, and not repeat them. It's such a wonderful feeling, learning from failure, that I don't even get mad about it any more. Every time my world catches fire, I get a little excited, because I know I am going to take something positive away from it. Mastering the "positive mental attitude" is incredible!

As a professional hair or makeup're going to make mistakes. And holy shit, they're going to be embarrassing, they're going to be seen by many people, and you're going to want to crawl under a rock. Before you do that, before you point fingers, and before you try to find someone or something else to blame...remind yourself that the only way you're going to learn from this, is if you take it on the chin. Like any boxer, after while you learn how to take a hit, and you formulate a mean counter-punch.

You're a member of the family. You're a Frontline Artist and we want to help you grow your business, and grow yourself. So talk to us. Leave a comment about one of your failures and let's dig in, explore it, and learn from it. Let's grow together, expand our businesses and succeed together! Until next time!

Freelance Isn't Free

NYC changed the game for freelance workers on October 27th, 2016, by passing the Freelance Isn't Free Act. The bill, led by NYC Council Member Brad Lander, provides expanded protections against non-payment for all of NYC's freelancers.

According to the Freelancers Union, freelance workers lose an average of $6,000 annually to non-payment. The new law provides a clear and seamless path toward recompense for the freelancer, and stiff penalties including double damage, attorney fees, and civil fees for the person or company who did not pay.

It is our hope that this kind of legislation picks up nationwide. Sign this petition to help bring it to your city if you are so inclined.