Makeup Artist

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!

Sam Fine and Romero Jennings' Favorite MAC Products by Erin Baynham

While de-cluttering cleaning my room the other day, I happened to find one of my old MAC Pro Masterclass workbooks. It included a Q & A with select makeup artists who give workshops for the company. I'm thinking that this book is from the Sam Fine masterclass in Harlem circa 2007. If you're interested in taking a MAC Pro masterclass, check out this link. You'll need to have a MAC Pro card to access this part of the website. Many MAC stores and counters offer classes to people who aren't makeup artists, as well as private lessons. Just inquire with an artist.

Sam Fine Favorite MAC Products '07/Scandalous Beauty

Another of my favorite artists, Senior Artist Romero Jennings, also has a great list of goodies. This list is loaded with a fantastic selection for a universal lip palette.

Now remember, this is an old book, and some of the products aren't even available anymore.  In fact, they might have found better substitutions than what is listed. Also, this doesn't mean that their kits are only comprised of MAC products. However, I figured it would be fun to share. Don't forget that these are suggestions, and if you do or do not happen to have these items, your kit can still be fabulous!

Romero Jennings Favorite MAC Products '07/Scandalous Beauty

Don't forget to follow Sam Fine and Romero Jennings on twitter! You never know when they are going to drop little bombs of beauty knowledge (which happens often).

FAQ's by Erin Baynham

Here are some frequently asked questions about MAC Cosmetics, written without any sugar coatting. Let's get straight to the point, shall we? If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave them in a comment or e-mail me! I took this from The MAC Fetish, may she rest in peace! (Although I am considering resurrecting it...hmm.....) Oh, and don't you just LOVE Fafi?!?!

What’s the difference between NC and NW?

There are 4 skin tone classifications:

NC-Neutral cool, for golden undertones
NW-Neutral Warm, for more red undertones
C-Cool (Studio Fix Only)
N-Neutral (Studio Fix Only)

What’s the best way to apply liquid and powder foundations?

Brushes of course! I prefer to use the 109 brush with liquid and cream foundations for a silky soft finish, then using the 187 or 150 brush for powder afterward. Keep in mind, the larger the brush, the more sheer the powder coverage. If you want to really cover the face, use a smaller brush like the 129 or 187.

I have several different skin tones, how do I even them out?

You can do this in several ways.

One, you can choose the darker color that you have in your skin, and match your entire face to it.

You can also use several different foundations, to basically highlight and contour the face. For example, if the outside of your face is NW45 and the inside of your face is NC50, you would use both foundations in the appropriate places.

Also, you can wear one color in liquid or cream and another in powder. For instance, I wear an NC50 cream or liquid foundation, but I always wear NW43 Studiofix on top to even out the warm and cool tones in my skin.

How can I get rid of oil on my skin?

Again, many options. Matte texture is a silicon based gel that creates an instant oil-free base to use with or without makeup. Oil Control Lotion helps to slow down the production of oil. This is a moisturizer, so you could use it all over your face. Blot Powder is a great quick fix, sops up all the oil on your face. Comes in loose and pressed.

Do I need blush?

You don't have to, but many Women of Color don't think they need it. So untrue! It shows up on our skin and it looks great! Old faithful colors include, but are not limited to, Raizin, Ambering Rose, Plum Foolery, Breezy and Gingerly.

Can I wear Bronzer?

Yep, Refined Deeper Bronze looks great on NC50's up and NW40's and up. Bronze is pretty on NC35's and up, as well as NW30's and up.

How do I make my eyes look bigger?

When you line the eye, don't do it all the way around. Line the outside of the eye or the 3/4 of the inside of the lashline unlined. Instead of lining the lower lashline with dark colors, use lighter ones.

How do I make my eyes look smaller?

Basically, you want to put dark color all around the eye. This means to line the upper lash line as well as the lower lashline, the darker the better.

Can I really wear any colors?

Yes! Never say, "I can't wear that" or "That doesn't go with my complexion". You just need to learn how to wear it!

Which foundation works for which skin types?

Honestly, you can wear any MAC foundation when it is teamed with the correct skincare items. But, let's say you don't use any of MAC's skincare. Here are my recommendations.

Oily-Studio Fix Fluid

Dry-Studio Tech, Moistureblend, Studio Stick (basically anything creamy)



Sensitive-All MAC Foundations are hypo-allergenic, but you may want to try water based foundations like Face and Body and Select Tint

What's the difference between the concealers?

Select Finish-Full coverage, will cover any and everything if you apply it the right way. LOVE this.

Moisturecover-Very moisturizing, great for dry skin and under eye.

Studio Touch-Up Stick-This is a creamy pencil, basically "draw" over anything you want to cover and blend. Very handbag friendly.

Studio Stick- Convenient, gives medium to high coverage, very natural looking.

Select Cover Up-Dries to a satin/opaque finish with a medium coverage. Great alternative to wearing foundation.

Which mascara works best?

This depends on how soft or intense you want your lashes to be. Pro Lash is a makeup artist favorite, it's a buildable mascara so you can use one coat for natural lashes or five coats for high drama. Zoomlash is my personal favorite, adding instant length and thickness. There are 8 to choose from, so I advise you to go to the mascara page to compare them. If you have short, thin or damaged lashes, don't forget to use Prep and Prime lash first!

How do I apply lashes?

The best advice I have had is to lift your head up and look down at the tip of your nose in the mirror. Doing this allows you to see your lashline and the lashes perfectly. Then, stick the lashes directly above your natural lashes, as close as you can get them.

How do I become a professional makeup artist?

*First, find makeup schools in your area. This is the best way to get the gig, especially if you can have the title "liscenced makeup artist".

*Attend workshops! There are plenty of classes around the country that teach you technique, safety, product usage, etc. Check out The Powder Group for some EXCELLENT classes.

*Practice! You do not necessarily have to have a liscence to become a makeup artist, but if you have a decent portfolio, and your makeup looks great all the time, you are more likely to get hired at a counter, store, or for freelance jobs.

How do I become a makeup artist for MAC?

I would let all of you MAC hopefuls know a bit about the business that you want to work for. I was just like all of you, going into the store and knowing that I could do it, knowing all of the products, owning most of it, knowing all of the makeup artists. But there are some things that I didn't know that I wish I had BEFORE I interviewed.

1. Expanding Sales-There are so many times that a customer comes in and only wants a lipstick or a lipgloss. I have to introduce them to lip conditioner, 2 to 3 lipsticks, 2 lipliners and a gloss, just to try to maximize the sale. Then, I'll ask if they have a blush to go with it. Although you do not have to sell $50 a transaction anymore, you still have to make your sales goal. Customers should not walk out with only 1 product.

2.Explaining- While demonstrating, explain everything. Tell the customer that you are using Bare Canvas paint over the lid with the 217 brush. This will prevent creasing and prolong shadow wear. Then, tell them you are applying improper copper CCB with the 249, which is best used for emollient products, etc. Next, apply the base color with the 252. etc The more you explain, the more they know they need it, the more they buy, thus you make your goal! : )

3. Viva Glam-This collection needs to be your last name. Tell everyone about it. Sing its praises. Try it on everyone. At my store, it's really the only thing that we keep track of. I keep a personal goal of selling 10 every shift.

4. Foundations-uh, I hate matching foundations! My first few days, I just prayed that nobody asked for them! Always ask what your customer wants their skin to look and feel like. This will determine what cleanser, and moisturizer that they need. Always partner up products! For most looks, I'll always use studio moisture fix, strobe cream, oil control lotion (in the T-Zone if they are oily), and fix+. This is a great way to maximize a sale! Certain foundations change color on people. Using 2 foundations on people is common. Using 2 concealers on people is common. I'll also use the 190, 109 and 150 brushes, for face and the 217 and 239 brushes for concealer. If it takes you 10 minutes to prep the skin and finish with the foundation, that is common. Foundations...I could go on forever....

5. Wear your interview makeup and outfit like you are it. Walk in there acting like you are MAC and you know MAC like the back of your hand. Your makeup should be flawless, your appearance should look like you can go out afterward to the hottest club or social event and you wouldn't have to change a thing you have on. My former trainer said this to me, and it has always stuck with me...Be the best YOU that you can be!!! And if at first you don't succeed, try and try, and try, and try again!

This is just some of the stuff that I wish I thought about before I freelanced for MAC. There is so much more, but I can't think of anything else right now lol. Hope some of this helps!