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Conversations with Ashley Watts

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Watts.

Hi Ashley, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started my career in makeup artistry by complete chance. I was a huge tomboy who never was interested in makeup until I met my friend Sarah while in college. She was working as a counter manager for a brand in the cosmetic department at our local mall. She ended up convincing me to come work for her for a special event, and to my own surprise, ended up loving the challenges and creative problem solving that came with that realm of art. I’ve pretty much consecutively been involved in the makeup world since that day in 2009.

I eventually got burnt out working at a corporate cosmetic jobs and decided to pursue my own freelance career. Which was one of the scariest moves I’ve ever made. But once I started doing makeup for weddings, photoshoots, and building up clientele, bigger and bigger jobs kept coming my way. I got lucky enough to start landing larger bookings with brands like Krispy Kreme, Ralph Lauren, Elle Magazine, and many more. I wasn’t sure how to navigate “on set” life quite yet but I knew as I was growing that was exactly where my passion was — creating collaborative visions for companies, people, and brands that want to push boundaries, be bold, and be creative. So I eventually went to beauty school to get my license, and then followed it up with a small stint in NYC at Make-Up Designory completing their multimedia makeup program that would teach me how to build out characters, work with high definition cameras and the set etiquette needed to navigate the industry on this side I wanted to be on.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There’s been a lot of struggles along the way, as I briefly mentioned before. I think finding where you belong in a broad industry like makeup artistry is something that leads you down a lot of wrong paths before you find the right one. When I first began serving private clients like brides, special events, and proms it was all about luxury services and making it an experience time was no object, and the vision was direct. But once I started landing large clients, it was about speed, precise application, and understanding clearly visions of the entire team with multiple departments. It took a lot of experience before I learned which I was best at and where I wanted to be.

I vividly remember before I went to MUD, I was working with a large German production company with a multi-million dollar client. I wasn’t even sure what to charge, and I ended up quoting them some ridiculously low price for the job. I had no clue what I was doing, and at the end of the job, the producer pulled me aside and said I needed to find an artist to intern with (which at the time wasn’t a thing that really existed in this NC market), a ton of tips on how to be a better artist on set and a brief glimpse of what I needed to be charging for jobs like those. That’s how I ultimately decided to take things more seriously and embark on my journey in school. I really feel like he helped propel me in the direction I’m still heading in today — even if I did spend the whole drive home crying from embarrassment.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a professional makeup artist based in Raleigh, NC. I work mostly in TV/Film, Print/Ad, and 4k+ HD video work. I’m most proud of my dedication to crafting my skills and determination to always find ways to learn from those around me. I think the thing that sets me apart from the rest is my ability to deliver makeup applications that look natural and real, never overdone.

What does success mean to you?
I define success as the perfect balance of a career you’re proud of and a life you love. I think setting healthy boundaries for yourself leads to the type of success and happiness everyone craves without leaving you overworked and burnt out.

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Image Credits

In order as they appear: Rodney Brown (main image) Lauren Rader Marie Killen Lia Clay Skyler Brown Daniel White Daniel White

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