Who are these geniuses working tirelessly behind the scenes and known affectionately as The Glam Squad? These are the hair and makeup artists and fashion stylists who create the looks behind the artists. They empower artists to shine, whether they are shooting a video, a magazine spread or walking the red carpet. I spoke with one of Nashville’s premier hair and makeup artists, Tarryn Feldman. Tarryn has worked with many amazing artists we all know and love, artists like Kelsea Ballerini, Maddie and Tae, Luke Bryan, Icon for Hire, Phillip and Becky Sweet, Margo Price and so many others! Her passion for beauty and the artists she works with continue to be her biggest inspirations.
You found your love of doing makeup for others at a very young age. What is it about doing makeup that inspires you?
I loved the transformations makeup created. It tells a story. I didn’t think of makeup as an actual career for such a long time. It never really dawned on me, but it did my father. He encouraged me to go to makeup school. While I had gone through hair school in high school, I knew I never wanted to work in a salon! It was then I went off to makeup school, majored in special effects and graduated the top of my class. (laugh)
Was there a moment or experience that paved the way for your career as a hair and makeup artist?
When I was around twenty-two years old, I met a friend of a designer I knew. She worked in the porn industry and was working on a really big budget movie doing all of the costumes for it. She wanted to know if I would want to do hair and makeup for it. I said, “Sure!” I got paid like $400 dollars a day for twelve days of shooting. After getting this huge pay check, I was like, “Man, porn is where it’s at!” I took over the industry for five or six years doing everyone’s hair and makeup and made so much money. Then I woke up one morning and didn’t want to do it anymore. That’s when I moved to Nashville.
What were some of the best and worst moments of working in the porn industry?
The best part of my experience in the industry is that I can now work with anyone. No matter how crazy a person is, I can handle it. The worst part, which has nothing to do with hair and makeup, is how some women were treated. It’s no secret, there is a disgusting part that exists in every industry, even in the music industry. Lots of people get sexually violated sexually, people sleep around, people cheat on their partners, and this certainly was true in the porn industry. I learned a lot in my early days in porn, met some really great people, and I think the experience gave me this edgy platform where I can now just be cool with whatever happens. There is little I haven’t seen.
My mom and her husband lived here and I knew I didn’t want to work in the porn industry anymore; I wanted something more for myself. I knew I was better than that, more talented than that, and wanted to do more with my career. But honestly, when I moved I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to do makeup again.
Was there a moment when you moved to Nashville that lit your passion again to do hair and makeup?
My first Christmas here, my brother and his new girlfriend, a photographer from Los Angeles, came out to visit. We ended up doing this really fun shoot with my little sister. My brother’s girlfriend and I fell in “business love” and ended up starting a photo studio together. This was how I started doing hair and makeup again.
With both of you being new to the Nashville scene, how did you go about getting your name out there?
She was a big pinup photographer in LA, the industry was dead, and we needed to make money. I pushed her out of her comfort zone and we targeted doing magazine spreads, weddings, and artists. We were fortunate to shoot people like Luke Bryan and Phillip and Becky Sweet and did really, really well. It was my first company and her first company and while it ultimately ended, it served a purpose. I become a better business woman and figured out what I wanted. It also gave me the contacts I needed to skyrocket my own career.
The level of competition for makeup and hair stylists seems really high. How have you been able to differentiate yourself from other hair and makeup artists in the industry?
As a stylist, you have to be relevant, know your craft, and you can never get lazy. You have to constantly be evolving because beauty is constantly evolving. I am always obsessing about new products and trends and it can’t just be something you do for money. If that is your focus, you are never really going to make it very far. I really care about my career and I want to be really good. I want the people I work with to feel happy and confident when they work with me. As a member of an artist’s glam squad, it’s important for me to always have a clean kit, be happy and nice to the people you work with, be present on social media, have a website, and to offer the artists I work with diversity in the products I use.
What is your favorite brand of makeup?
I love Kevyn Aucoin. His line is amazing. And while I am trying to phase out products that are tested on animals, I am still in love with brands like Urban Decay, Kat Von D, BECCA, and Marc Jacobs. I love all brands because every brand has something great about it.
How do you stay on top of the trends in the industry and see what’s happening with all things hair and makeup?
Instagram is a great platform to see what everybody else is doing. Watching red carpet events is important, as well as watching what’s going on in the UK and Japan because they have it figured out.
You seem to enjoy working with women. What makes working with women so special for you?
It’s a challenge and I love it. Every female is different. I feel my connection to women is better than it is with men when it comes to doing their makeup and their hair. I can sit and talk to a female client about products, makeup and hair all day long. But also, if I want to slap my name on something, I want it to be f@*!ing cool, and doing a guy’s hair and makeup isn’t as cool to me. Men are sexy, easy and fun to work with, but I have worked really hard to be that person people call when they need someone to do a female. They know you call Tarryn Feldman.
What is that feeling you want female artists to experience when you are done working your magic?
When a woman feels good, she is unstoppable. It’s a real thing. There are times where life gets in your way and things are challenging, but I get their lipstick on, make their hair look great, and they can leave my chair saying, “Come at me, because I will eat you!” These moments are all about the artist. I want them to feel comfortable, at ease and leave feeling incredibly confident.
What’s one of the craziest or strangest shoots you have had to work?
I mean I worked in porn, so there’s that. Wherever your mind takes you, that’s what happened. I never talk about it, but I don’t care if people know. It is what it is and it’s been a hard part of my journey.
What are some of the biggest lessons learned that have influenced your career today?
Don’t talk sh*t about people. Always do the right thing. Be transparent and communicate with your clients. Never try to get away with anything.
What goes into preparing for a shoot?
I always prep the night before. Because every client is different, I customize my kit so I can be prepared with a variety of options. Everyone has different skin, so I can’t use the same products. It’s always good to have a mood board and talk through it with the artists. If I have never worked with an artist before, I may meet with them, but I am at a point now where that isn’t always necessary. But mostly, for me, I just make sure everything is clean and organized so I don’t have to think about anything in the morning. What might surprise people about my job is that I am really just trying to figure things out and see what works. It doesn’t always happen right away. It takes a little time to figure out someone’s face, what they like and don’t like.
How would people describe your work as a Hair and Makeup Artist?
People have described my work as perfectly imperfect. Nothing that you see about my work is perfect but it’s really edgy. If you look at my clients on red carpets or in music videos, they look different. I think that’s where my coming from Los Angeles has given me a bit of an advantage. I don’t like things to be symmetrical and perfect. I like things to be a little f@*!ed up and messy.
Is there an artist you wish you could work with?
I always thought I could be friends with Pink. We both have this sort of “f” you” attitude, and I would love to work with Melissa McCarthy. But, at the end of the day, I will work with who I work with and I love that.
Most of your business comes to you now through referrals. Do you feel there will come a time when you may have to be more proactive in the marketing of your company?
With so many new people moving to Nashville, I may get to that point, because I want to work with everyone. But, even though I am very competitive and want to be one of the best here, I still want everyone to work too. The thing with me is that I want to earn it. I don’t want it handed to me. I want the blood, sweat, and tears, and I am just going to keep doing this until I don’t want to anymore.
What have been some of the struggles of being an entrepreneur that you hadn’t really expected and being able to balance the business and creative aspects of what you do?
It’s hard to be a creative and not completely drop the ball on the business end. Because I don’t have an agent, I have to deal with my own paperwork and my own invoices. I can’t mess this up. You have to email people back and not take 17 days to get back to someone or simply go MIA. You have to be on top of it…always. I enjoy that aspect of it. I love the creative side of it and also really love the business side of it. My goal is to continue to get better at the business part of things because when that happens, more opportunities come about.
What else do you aspire to do with your brand, Tarryn Feldman?
I want to develop a product at some point, and while I don’t know what that is going to be yet, I am already starting to experiment with some ideas.
What is it about the music industry that drew you in?
Musicians are some of the most insanely gifted people I have ever met in my life. I am sure there are some musicians who are terrible to work with, but most musicians I know and have worked with started from the bottom and worked really hard to get to the top because they believed in their craft. I like to be around people like that. I like to be around people who understand the meaning of life, humanity, love, hurt and all of these things. Songwriters and musicians are just special. The songwriters I have worked with, their voices will bring me to tears, and I am like, “I get to f@*king work with you? That is so cool, and you are my friend too.” It’s just awesome.
Is there a life experience that influenced who you have become today?
My upbringing was hard. My parents were so busy hating each other and getting divorced that I didn’t have someone to say “this is right or this is wrong”; I just had to f@ck up a lot. And, in your twenties, you think a lot about who you are what you want to be. I knew I wanted to be a really strong, happy person, filled with laughter and being surrounded by talented women. This is what I am doing. I want to surround myself with people I aspire to be like.
What advice do you give young professionals who want to become hair and makeup artists?
My main advice is telling them it’s a hard road to travel. It’s not going to take 2 or 3 years, rather realistically, it is going to take 5 to 10 to have a solid career. I encourage them to do a bunch of free stuff. It’s important to think about the value of the project and how it could benefit you in the long run. Some of my favorite shoots were ones I was never paid for.
Is there one that stands out?
When I was in Los Angeles, I did a huge photo shoot for Christian Audigier and Ed Hardy. My work was all over the billboards and I got like $300 dollars for that sh*t. I also did a cover shoot for Billboard magazine with Kelsea Ballerini and while it didn’t pay a lot of money, it was one of the f@*cking coolest shoots I have ever done.
What do you wish people knew about you?
That I am a really good person. It’s not that I don’t think people think that about me, but I am an unapologetic person and I have a bad mouth. I have an aggressive and sometimes abrasive personality, so I think people might assume I am a certain way. I am actually just a really sweet person. I cry. I make cookies. And while some people might look at me as this intimidating bitch, I am really that person you call when you need something. I will always be there.