How and Why I Became an Inclusive Makeup Artist to Empower Women

Hey! I’m Karla “KC” Witkamp, a woman that wears many hats (literally!). Here is a little bit about how I became a professional makeup artist and what inspires me. 

Art has always been present in my life. Growing up I did oil painting for several years. Makeup began as something I wanted to learn for myself. I thought it would be fun to know how to do my own makeup. After I took my first makeup class though, I experienced an “aha” moment, and I knew this was what I wanted to do for a living. It was love at first sight!

From there, came my “why”:

Empowerment and Inclusivity

It is my passion to celebrate and empower women by enhancing (not masking!) their natural beauty. I do this through inclusive makeup artistry, which means that I work on ALL skin ethnicities and skin tones. This “why” is central to every already beautiful and unique face I work on. I love showing women that they don’t need to look like someone completely different to feel beautiful. I love enhancing their best features. It’s what I am known for.

I am fortunate to love what I do for work and find purpose in it. Whether you are an aspiring makeup artist or feeling pulled towards pursuing your own passion professionally, I want to share my journey with you.

Work Hard, Have Fun, and Go with the Flow

As I mentioned previously, the decision to become a makeup artist just kind of happened as a result of following my interests and listening to my heart. Once I discovered my love for the art, I said YES to every opportunity that came my way and I just went with the flow. I appreciated the freedom it gave me; that every day was different from the last, and that I could stretch my creative muscles through my work.  I also loved getting inspired by the people that I got to work with.  To see the results of my hard work, time, effort, and energy gave me an incredibly rewarding feeling of accomplishment.  As a published makeup artist, seeing my creativity shine through in magazines and on TV is very rewarding; but that is not what success is all about or what makes me feel successful. I get to work with incredibly talented people from all over the world and different backgrounds that also love what they do, and when we get together, we each bring our gifts and talents creating this energy on set that is so special. That magic is what success is about; the richness of every experience that fills your tank in many ways.

Find Your Purpose

What the heck is purpose? I’ve found that a bit confusing in the past. So don’t we start with: What brings you joy? If you’re struggling to find your dream career, it may help to readjust your focus towards finding the things that fill your tank or that leave you with those butterflies that show you you are going in the right direction. Before you can find your “what,” it’s important to find your “why.”

Personally, I LOVE making people feel comfortable in their skin. I love enhancing their features and showing them that they don’t need to cover themselves in layers of makeup to be beautiful. This brings me joy! 

When you feel good, you do good. You act with confidence, and you feel empowered… lady! You are unstoppable.

I love this aspect of my work. It’s important that I am an artist who makes people feel the best versions of themselves. No matter what they do for a living, where they are in life, or where they come from, I am there for them! I build genuine connections. We have real and honest conversations. I am 100% there for them and they trust me. It’s like friends catching up and having the best time.  

Outside of makeup, I hope to encourage others to do what makes them happy; to live a life that they feel is worth losing sleep over it. We all find and create our success so differently. For me, it was important to be consistent in my work and treat every job as if it was the best opportunity I ever had. This helped me to push myself, provide quality work, and give my all. 

Make Connections

As you focus on your “why” you’ll notice that everything starts to come together and the road becomes a little bit more clear with every step you take. There are many different forms your career may take as you continue to gather more skills and experience. Some expected, some unexpected – but all part of the process.

For myself, I was working in the fashion and entertainment industry for years. I realized that my knowledge in red carpet, television, photography, and video could easily translate into bridal makeup. Just like celebrities, brides need to look great in a variety of settings at the same time. As I ventured into the wedding industry, I began getting referred for more and more projects. I’ve been very fortunate to work with amazing clients and vendors that value my work ethic. I’ve built great connections, worked hard, and continue to treat others with kindness and respect. Your work will speak for itself.

I always have a lot of fun whether I am working on an Editorial or a Real Bride. I seriously couldn’t choose one over the other, I love them both because they are so different. For example:

Editorial Bride: An editorial shoot is very creative but there are many aspects that can be controlled. You have a team of several people on set making sure the model looks perfect. There are people checking lights and holding reflectors. There’s also a photographer getting your best angle, a stylist making sure your dress is always perfect and well-fitted, and makeup and hair artists ensuring the model looks flawless. Everyone on set is checking that every detail is picture perfect. If it is not, then we stop and fix things. It’s a creative collaborative space where new concepts are made, several looks are done, and everyone is doing what they are passionate about.

Real Bride: They have a special place in my heart because I get to be a part of their big day and new chapter in life. The room is filled with their closest friends and family members, and you are there to make them feel their very best. It is so important that they look flawless from beginning to end by creating a look that it is long lasting. There are real emotions (hello waterproof products!) and excitement. I feel an incredible real sense of meaning and purpose with my brides.

Now you know why I love them both and why it is so hard for me to choose a favorite. They each come with their own sets of expectations and emotions, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I LOVE my job!

Take Action

I wish I could give you a list of steps to follow to be successful, I mean, I would want a copy of that too! But the truth is that we all have our own journey and the more we focus on our own path instead of copying someone else’s, the more clarity you will have about what to do. These are some of the steps that have worked for me and I continue to apply. 

Follow your heart and love it hard! I hope that by now, you know how much I love what I do. With that comes a lot of willingness to work hard, stay focused, be committed and organized. If there is an artist that you admire, reach out! Offer to assist them. This is a great way to build experience and gain a realistic perspective of what the job is about and what would be expected of you.

Always Be Professional and Kind

While this is an extremely fun job, it’s still a job. Maintaining a sense of professionalism with every single person you are around while working is the best way to build your career; and to be honest, a great work ethic takes you far.

Then, start building a good kit with quality products. This is SO important! Hygiene is also crucial. Not only will this help you avoid problems with clients, but it will also ensure that your products and brushes last for a long time.

Finally, my biggest piece of advice is this:

Just go for it.

Often, we talk about what we want to do for so long that we never actually do it. We can spend years dreaming, planning ,but never doing. The thing is:

You don’t have to wait until you are good at it or an expert. Start now.

This has been (and still is) an extremely rewarding job, and I’ve loved it all – the challenges, the successes, the long days, and the adventures. I wish the same for you and that you feel inspired to follow your dreams. 

You will find what feels meant to be and it will be like it just happened because it always was.

Want to know more about me and my journey? Visit my About Page to learn more.

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Ellen Nef
May 5, 2021
I love this post so much, I love your positivity and joy in what you do, and I love that you encourage others to shine and find their own paths and talents. So grateful I've been able to watch your journey and career grow!