Collaborations – The Facts

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Every day I read 10 times over, someone wanting you to work for free.  And with the current direction of this industry with more and more social media make-up artists, there always seems to be someone willing to work for free (normally someone starting out, with no or very low outgoings, who think that the ‘exposure’  will help them have a full time career.)


With so many people in the creative industry asking others to work for free I decided to write a post aimed at helping you to understand what is and what isn’t a collaboration.


My intention is to help you to understand why you may decide to sometimes take on collaborative work which could benefit you  as well as the rest of the team and should also help you to value yourself and your services as a make-up artist and hair stylist.

catwalk make-up

So, what is a collaboration?

collaboration; the action of working with someone to produce something.


In simple terms, it is where a team of people may decide to work together for free (or to collaborate) to create an idea that they have.  This can be to gain experience, try out something new, network and the opportunity to work with a new team, to gain photos for your portfolio and more.  The main purpose of a collaboration is for you all to work together to produce final images that can be used by every member of the team and that is agreed on beforehand.


Some people may decide to collaborate just for fun, to have a creative outlet or simply because they like to work with particular people and this gives them an opportunity to work together again.


To be clear, a collaboration should be a team of people coming together to create something that benefits everyone.  A theme is helpful, but shouldn’t be dictated by any one member of the team.  It is good to work together beforehand and create a moodboard to all get on the same wavelength but no-one should be dictating exactly what is required by others as this then becomes ‘their’ shoot and you are simply working for free.


Obviously, this topic isn’t completely black and white.  If a look is dictated to you and it is something that you would benefit from having in your portfolio then you may agree to it.  The main point that I am trying to get across is that a collaboration should benefit every member of the team that are working together and show all of your strengths as and when it can.

catwalk make-up
Amy Prifti make-up
Creative Make-up
catwalk makeup

So, when is a collaboration NOT a collaboration?

Put quite simply, it is when one person is profiting from that collaboration.

For example – If a designer would like you to collaborate on a photoshoot that will create images for their website, this is not a collaboration – This should be a paid shoot.  The designer will be selling their clothing from the photos on their website.  This is their shop window and it is how the clothing looks overall that helps to sell.  Therefore the designer will be profiting and you will have worked for free for a designer.


My personal opinion is that if one member of the collaborative team profits, they should be sharing out the money with the team that helped them to make this money.

Amy Prifti make-up

Every day I log onto facebook and there are more and more people asking for someone to work for free.  They don’t even have to offer up all information before 25 plus make-up artists comment that they are free, can do the job, please can they be considered.

This is having a huge effect on make-up artists trying to make a full time career out of make-up artistry.  How can they compete with everyone offering something for nothing? – I know that my mortgage won’t pay itself or that my bank will offer me up a free month in return for a collaboration so why have things got so complicated in the make-up world?

I understand that this is a competitive industry, there are so many make-up artists trying to make a career out of it, and I believe that there are enough jobs to go around for us all, but not whilst someone else is offering their services for free.  We need to work together and know our value before anyone else will start to value us.

I urge you in future that when you see a post on facebook or Instagram asking you to work for free, please find out the minimum information so that you can decided whether that collaboration is for you or not;

  1. When? – are you available on the date? or is this flexible?
  2. Where? – Are you close to the location? will you incur travel costs? Is someone happy to pay those travel costs for you?
  3. Kit fee? – Is someone happy to cover your kit fee for products used? – This will cover the cost for you to replace your products. (never be scared to ask – the worst you will get is a ‘no’ then once again you can decided whether or not to take the job)
  4. Who are you working with? – Don’t just take any job that sounds amazing.  Ask who else is attending.  You need to look at what models, hair stylist, photographer, studio, stylist are involved.  Research and make sure that what you are getting from this shoot is beneficial to you.  Make sure that the photos you end up with are to a high standard and will show off your work in the best light.
  5. Once you are happy with all the above and still happy to work for free, that is totally up to you.  But PLEASE do your research and make sure it is beneficial to you for giving up your time and your costs involved.

Front Row Fashion Show
Afro retro fashion show
Front Row Fashion Show

Yes there is a fine line and ultimately it is up to you whether or not a certain job will benefit you but  I urge you to know your worth, work out how much it costs you to give up a days work / marketing / website building / social media interaction product costs, time and travel costs before agreeing to a collaboration and really make sure that the collaboration will ultimately be beneficial to you.  What are you getting out of it?


Photos for your portfolio /  that you can use to help build your business / use for marketing purposes are all  good reasons, but these can also be achieved on paid jobs which will quite possibly also be higher profile.


The promise of publication – Quite frankly unless it is being published in a mainstream magazine that you can walk into your local shop and buy, I wouldn’t go with this promise.  There are SO many online magazines out there that people submit their work to every day.  Yes, it is great ‘kudos’ for you, something you can share and start calling yourself a ‘published make-up artist’ but very rarely will this get your skills noticed and everyone knocking at your door to offer you paid work.


The promise of it turning into paid work – If someone has promised you that by working once for free, the opportunity is there for it to turn into future paid work is somewhat ‘meh’ – Once again, very rarely does this happen.  This can be for a couple of reasons;

  1. They might be promising a lot of people the same offer and now have a never ending list of make-up artists willing to work for free under the same promise.  They now have access to quite a few make-up artists working for free so will take a while to get back to you UNLESS they were extremely impressed with your skills, professionalism, time keeping, speed of work etc and see you as good value for money.
  2. They might not like your quality of work and therefore just as it ‘might’ lead to paid work, it also ‘might NOT’ lead to paid work.  People will rarely book you based on being a ‘nice person’ if your skills aren’t up to scratch.

So, can we do anything to stop the struggle within this industry?

YES – I believe there is a lot that we can do.  It starts with;


  1. Supporting each other.  By offering work for free, you are stopping someone from earning.  If we all work together and come up with a minimum wage that we are willing to accept then people will expect to pay us for our skills, experience and professionalism – This minimum should be £50 per face but in reality, a photoshoot for a designers lookbook or marketing job should start at £250
  2. By knowing your worth.  Yes, we all have to start somewhere, but as my previous post suggests, you need to be charging at least £30 for one make-up before you are in profit.  Anything less and you are actually spending money on the shoot that you are doing.  Knowing your worth and valuing yourself also means that people will value you.
  3. Communicate, ask questions, get advice from other make-up artists.  Stop being so precious about the job.  Listen to others, trust your own decisions.  Trust your gut.
  4. Stop seeing other Make-up artists as ‘competition’ If we all help, support and guide each other, not only are we helping each other, but we are building a community to be reckoned with.  The more we get to know each other, the more we can all start passing paid jobs to each other if we get double booked.
  5. Any more suggestions? – please comment on this post and I will share.  I love to hear your opinions and feedback so don’t be shy.

Happy working 🙂

All the best,


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  • Luciana

    Thank you so much for writing this post Amy!!! I couldn’t agree with you more!
    We all need to know our worth and help each other out!

    I hope you don’t mind if I share this?


  • Lucia

    You are so right. There are so many who would take advantages of make-up artists. Is sad.I wish they would value themselves more and stop this free work.

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