In fall of 2019, Sierra Perez came to Portland, OR to attend The Art of Makeup School just after graduating college. It was her first big move away from home, Sacramento, CA the only place she had ever lived. It was supposed to be a temporary move while she attended The Art of Makeup, but after staying in Portland she fell in love with the city and decided to make it her home. Little did Sierra know that in only a couple of months she would be in the midst of a world-wide pandemic at the start of her new life away from home and new career.
Sierra knew she wanted to be a part of the beauty industry “practically her whole life.” In the fourth grade she wanted to be a fashion designer. For a long time she also decided she wanted to be a hairdresser. Her friends started asking her to do their hair and makeup for middle school dances and more events in high school. “In high school, I was in colorguard, and my coaches recognized that I was interested in the beauty industry, so they gave me the responsibility to come up with the hair and makeup looks for our shows at football games and competitions. After this, I started to focus more on makeup artistry and started to plan my life around it!”
For many years Sierra was set on moving to Los Angeles to go to makeup school and start her career there. However, upon graduating college, she took a trip to Seattle just for fun and was reminded how much she liked it there. She changed her mind about L.A. and decided Seattle would be a better place to live. It was still a big city with many opportunities, “but isn’t as crazy as L.A!” she said. She spent a lot of time researching schools in Seattle, but not finding what she was looking for, she started looking in Portland to broaden her options. When she came across AoM she booked a flight and took a tour of the school. She completed the Multimedia Master Makeup Program and graduated in December of 2019 just before the pandemic hit. If you think the pandemic held her back, you’re wrong!
What were the stand out skills she learned at AoM that she uses most in her career? “I feel the career marketing portion, the lectures from special guests that came to AoM, and the “field trips” we took to work at fashion shows are really what spoke to me the most, because I was never more serious about any career before makeup artistry, so all of the topics and experiences that were covered in these portions really interested me. I also had no idea how useful the out of the kit special fx skills would be until I started working on short films!”
How did Sierra start off finding work and what marketing skills did she implement from AoM? “In order to find work, I emailed almost every makeup artist, photographer, photography studio, and modeling agency I could find in the Portland area while keeping an eye on the job board that AoM offers! I worked for free at first and assisted other makeup artists which led me into making relationships with people in the industry, and they started calling me back to work with them again! I also keep my website updated and I created a makeup Instagram page to showcase my work, and I have gotten a few gigs through that! AoM gave me so many resources that helped me be successful such as many great websites, Facebook groups to be part of, offering the job board, information about pro programs with different makeup brands, and the kits we received…are amazing!”
Some of Sierra’s favorite jobs so far was working on a Nike commercial for the WNBA, some short films, an album cover for Stephanie Schneiderman, getting published in TearSheet PDX fashion magazine, and assisting a few celebrity makeup artists “was so much fun!” she says. “After meeting different actors and actresses, it’s such a cool feeling to be able to later recognize them on TV in the other things that they have worked for in the past! It’s also awesome to have relationships with them that allow me to be able to congratulate them directly once they learn that they just landed a role in a huge TV show such as Riverdale!” Sierra loves working on films. “the feeling I get is so rewarding when I see my work on the screen and to see my name in the credits at the end of a film.”
The pandemic didn’t hold Sierra back at all! Sierra proves that when you’re that ambitious and pro-active, you can achieve anything no matter the circumstances! What was her biggest challenge? Getting out there, meeting people in person, and knowing she was breaking into a community where everyone else knows each other. It was hard being the new person. What was the most challenging job of her career? She worked outside on location during the record breaking heat wave! It was the 3 hottest days, 115 degrees, and she was on her feet outside for 15 hours a day taking care of 4 actors while making sure she was ok too. She had to make sure her actors were hydrated, kept cool with cold towels, while having to constantly blot their sweat in the heat.
What’s in store for the future? She would love working on more editorial photo shoots, and shoots with the NBA, but her ultimate dream is touring with a band. She would also like to work with more celebrity makeup artists, and create more relationships with other cast and crew members. When she moved to Portland her first goal was to work on a Nike job, but she already achieved that only 9 months after she graduated from AoM. To have achieved so much in her first year and a half after graduation is pretty astonishing, but it’s only the beginning of Sierra’s exciting career in makeup artistry. It’s only a matter of time before she is on tour doing makeup for a very successful band too!