Fascinating and Fashionable: Amy the Makeup Artist

Amy Presson is one of the sweetest, warmest, friendliest women I’ve ever met. She is also my polar opposite because she knows just about everything there is to know about makeup. Founder and owner of local makeup studio Jett Makeup, Amy does everything from eyelash extensions to airbrush makeup, hires out for special events and weddings, and even gives the occasional makeup lesson! (A smoky eye tutorial from her is on my holiday wishlist.)

Since we work in adjacent worlds but I know so little about hers, I thought it would be fun and fascinating to talk with her about her career trajectory and love for cosmetics and beauty. Let’s hear from Amy!

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Have you always loved playing with makeup?
My interest with all things beauty, hair and makeup began in my early teens and continued well into my college days. At that time, I felt intimidated by not knowing what products to use. Back then, makeup products were luxury items for me. Since I could not afford much makeup on my own, I often traded makeup with my friends if we were going out. I had fun experimenting with different looks, and I was always the girl that my friends would go to for hair styling and makeup. Even at an early age, I loved playing with makeup and knew that I had a natural talent for it.

Was a career in beauty something you could’ve predicted for yourself?
I knew that I wanted to do something creative for a living. However, with two teachers as parents, I was expected to enter college after high school. My favorite subject in high school was art class, so when I graduated high school, I wanted to incorporate my love of art into my future career. After high school, I entered a multimedia program at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona. I studied 3D modeling, computer animation, and computer programming. I loved the creativity and structure of the program, but I knew that sitting at a desk all day would not be something that I would enjoy long term. After college, I was lucky enough to be recruited by a friend who asked me to consider working part-time at a cosmetics store. At that time, I thought of it as a fun job and a great way to make a little extra money. However, I had no idea that it would help steer me into an industry that I would eventually have such a passion for.

Did you study or train?
I worked for Estee Lauder for more than six years. During that time, I received extensive training on skincare and cosmetics. I became more confident with makeup applications, and I sought out other makeup resources on my own. I self-studied different application styles, and I tried new makeup techniques on anyone who would sit in my chair at work or at home. I also trained in New York City to learn airbrush makeup application and techniques used for photo shoots by celebrity makeup artists. I attend beauty conventions every year to learn about new trends, products and tools used in makeup applications. I have also been fortunate enough to receive training from Emmy award-winning makeup artists who have shared a wealth of knowledge and advice.

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What was it like?
Learning new techniques for makeup applications can be intimidating at first. However, I enjoy the challenge, continually practice and push myself towards perfection with each client that I work with. The variety of the work and seeing immediate results with my clients keep me motivated.

What did you find most valuable?
I found the experience working in the retail cosmetics industry very valuable. Working in retail cosmetics allowed me to hone my skills on hundreds of faces varying in age, color, shape, and skin type.

When and why did you decide to strike out on your own?
I began receiving requests from my retail customers to do makeup for weddings and other special events. Early on, I knew that I wanted to offer something very special for my customers. Jett Makeup was originally created to offer celebrity style “red carpet” makeup services on location only. In 2009, I launched an eyelash bar and airbrush makeup studio in Edina, Minnesota. Our menu of services remains limited to airbrush makeup and eyelash extensions so we can focus and deliver on what we do best.

What does a typical day look like for you?
Most of my weekdays consist of working directly with clients and managing my team. During our peak wedding season, I work offsite most Fridays and Saturdays with wedding parties. I also host special “girls night out” parties at our studio. Although I do the majority of my work in our studio, I also do onsite commercial work for local businesses including fashion shows, photo shoots, etc. I really love the diversity that this industry offers!

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What do you love most about helping women with their makeup?
I love showing women how to have fun with their makeup and wear it with confidence. We offer makeup lessons which are the perfect way to get comfortable with applying makeup at home. During a lesson, our clients bring in their own makeup so I can consult with them on the best way to use their own products and colors to achieve the best results possible.

What is most challenging?
The most challenging aspect about makeup applications is effective communication. Getting a client to clearly articulate their expectations for the service takes skill and patience. I have found that it is beneficial to take extra time during the consultation and thoroughly interview my clients to gain as much information about their makeup preferences as possible. At the beginning of an application, I will often start out light and continue to consult with the client throughout the application so we can achieve their desired result.

What would you say to someone hoping to become a professional makeup artist?
I would encourage those considering makeup artistry as a career to practice makeup applications on as many people as they can. Ask for constructive criticism from your models to determine what you naturally do well and what you can improve on. Work on a wide range of skin types, ages and skin colors. Advance your work with challenging skin problems such as acne, hyper-pigmentation, melasma, and bruising. Above all, have fun with your work and your clients … your passion for applying makeup will carry you through your most challenging jobs ahead.

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