Finding the happy medium between pushing a client to try something new while also achknowledging the risks involved is a dine line. Billy explains why.
I think all of us would agree that the dream client is one who completely trusts our creative instincts. For hairstylists, I would imagine it's the woman who walks in, sits in your chair and says, "Do whatever you want." For me, it's the ultimate compliment when a new client tells me, "Do what you think, I trust you. You're the professional and know what you're doing." But this element of trust comes with a lot of responsibility and accountability for all of us—and especially when it comes to hair.
I've said it a million times: I'd never want the responsibility of being a hairstylist or colorist, because with hair, you can't go backwards. Make a mistake with cut, color or perming, and the results can be complicated at the very least; worst case scenario, you could lose a client forever.
For a makeup artist, typically the worst that can happen is that you wipe it off and start over again, and for this reason, people think we have it easier than hairstylists. That's not exactly the case with editorial makeup artists; we usually face time constraints, so we have to make the right choice the first time. But you always take a risk whenever you work with a new client, and unfortunately, the worst thing that can happen is that you make a mistake that millions of people see, and which you can never take back. It can live on forever in paparazzi shots. Everybody remembers when Faith Hill appeared at an awards show with a jagged platinum cut; it was so far removed from her image that the press will never allow either her or the hairstylist to live it down.
We have a tremendous amount of responsibility to our clients. We need to listen to them, ask them how much time they have in their routines, what their lifestyle is, and whether or not something is practical for them. And while we want to help a client evolve and grow, the hair or makeup we create for them must be appropriate, otherwise we run the risk of embarrassing them.
In some cases, I have the luxury of studying celebrity faces on TV or movies or music videos before ever meeting them. I make mental notes to myself all the time: "If I ever do her makeup, I would love to try..." That was exactly the case when I recently got to work with Claire Danes, who we watched grow up on her TV series My So-Called Life. Claire is naturally beautiful and doesn't need much makeup. But when she gave me creative license, I decided to do her in a way that I had never seen her before, and I'm thrilled to say it was a success.
So we should take all these things into consideration whenever we get the urge to use a potential client as an experiment. In the meantime, a "big up" to all you hairstylists and colorists out there. I wouldn't trade places with you!