Celebrity Makeup Artist Interview: Tia Dantzler / by Erin Baynham

Tia Dantzler

Tia Nance-Dantzler is one of the sweetest people I know, and by "know", I mean on the internet. She's quite humble, which is a rarity these days. Her hands have graced the faces of  Jennifer Hudson, Maxwell, and our  Commander in Chief, Barack Obama. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point. Read on for a glimpse into her career!

How Did you Get Started Doing Makeup?

It all happened on a whelm. I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend my Brother's wedding and his Bride-to-be asked if I would do her makeup and I gently told her that I didn't know how to do makeup. Then my Mom said she would do it so I stepped in to do her makeup for fear of what my Mom would do to her!

Did you go to makeup school? 

I did eventually attend Columbia College Chicago for their Makeup Artistry Program. It taught me basic and advanced makeup skills, all about highlighting and contouring, stage makeup, clinical makeup and so much more. What I valued the most was that one of my instructors really noticed my "gift" and gave me the hardest time which in turn has truly been a blessing for me now.

Did you work at any makeup counters? Was this a benefit to you? If so, how?

I had the pleasure of working at the Estee Lauder counter and later went to work as a MAC artist. I valued my time at the makeup counters because I was focused. I went into the job knowing that I would gain alot of knowledge in working with all skintones. I didn't want to limit myself as an artist so I jumped at the opportunity to work with every nationality. Doing makeup repetively was definitely a plus in honing my skills.

 Do you do bridal work? If so, give us details.

I don't get the opportunity to do many brides these days due to my schedule. Although, I have done a few platinum destination weddings in past couple of years that were amazing. However, years ago I worked with many brides and that was one of my favorite things to do. I loved to gently transform brides on their "special" day.

People always have crazy stories about doing makeup in the worst places! Where's the most unfitting place you've worked?

I would have to quickly say when I did a major ad campaign in a dessert in California. I wasn't given all of the details so I had no clue we would be shooting in a dessert. Hence, I wasn't prepared dress wise. I had on the wrong clothes and shoes and I felt I could've planned better kit wise had I known.

What are the things you wish you knew before becoming an MUA?

I wish I was more aware of the challenges you would face as a MUA. What it takes to market yourself, how to build a great rapport with clients and so much more. This is why I'm in the process of writing a book of experience so I can share some of the experiences that I have encountered to help shape and mold me in my career.

 How do you keep your makeup skills fresh?

I pull inspiration from so many places. I love finding inspiration from fashion magazines, the internet, the event, the dress, the atmosphere etc.

 How do you market yourself?

When I first started out I did as much free work as I possibly could and although that was a sacrifice it all payed off in the end. Doing this allowed more people to hear about me and the rest is history. I believe in following up with people quickly after meeting them which has scored me lots of work. Also using social media to showcase your work is another great way for people to learn of you and your work.

Tia Dantzler

How did you go about creating your kit? 

I started off with the basics. I purchased Sonia Kashuk brushes, Black Opal Foundation Sticks, and Wet 'n Wild lipliners. I started off slow with just the necessaties then when I started working at Estee Lauder and MAC I was able to use my discount to re-focus my kit. I use to buy so much makeup that I thought I needed and now I advise young MUA not to get caught up in purchasing every product at the counter. Experience has been my best teacher. I use products that I can use multiple ways to lessen the amount of products I travel with. I also cater my kit to the jobs which takes more time however, in the end it gives me better focus on the job at hand. I've had so many of my luggage pieces torn from traveling that I use Olympia Expandable Luggage which I've now had a couple of years and it's in perfect condition.

Do you have a professional portfolio? Has this helped you?

Early on I started testing with photographers, hairstylist & stylist to get the perfect images for my portfolio and to my liking. Testing for the perfect image took lots of trial and error however, I'm pretty confident in my portfolio as a result. My portfolio has definitely scored me work. I would ship my portfolio to potential clients often to gain critiques as well. I still find the drugstore handy when looking for products. One of my staple products to use on my clients for red carpet events is Johnson's Baby Oil Gel which gives the perfect to the skin and it's found at every drugstore for under $10.

Do you have any makeup artist role models? 

I have so many role models and most are not makeup artist. I love to pull inspiration from individuals that are truly making an impact in their industries. One of my inspirations is Carmindy from the show, "What Not To Wear." She silently moved her way to the top and I love that about her.

For more information on Tia, be sure to follow her makeup blog, The Beauty Elixer. She's also an active tweeter, so follow her there too!