MUD Grad Profile: Stephanie Panek
“Every job is a job you can learn from – whether you make $50 or $700 a day.”
Stephanie Panek’s passion for make-up artistry started young, when she was inspired by Cindy Crawford. “I would ask my mom to buy me make-up and I would try to replicate all of the make-up applications from all of the magazines. I was a subscriber toElle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Seventeenmagazines and Cindy was everywhere,” she says. “She is the reason why I love make-up today.” After studying Beauty Make-Up at Make-Up Designory (MUD) in 2005, she was well on her way to a promising career working with some of today’s hottest celebrities.
Stephanie says that some of the most valuable lessons she learned at MUD had to do with being professional. “I had worked independently for two years before I went to MUD. What really helped me and prepared me for the ‘big leagues’ was how much you learn about what happens on set, cleanliness, lingo and how to network. MUD taught me that no job is a small job. I have learned so much from my small jobs.” She also cites MUD’s open door policy with regard to graduates as a key factor in helping her to expand her professional make-up tool kit: “I could always go to the MUD shop and ask questions like, how to do freckles or bruises, etc.”
After graduation, Stephanie started out with small freelance jobs. Along the way, she developed a skill for networking, a vast amount of experience, and a work ethic characterized by determination, perseverance, and professionalism. “A producer friend of mine once said to me, ‘Keep up what you are doing, and I guarantee that in three years you will wake up one day and you will just be working.’ It happened just like that. I worked hard… I kept networking …I always have a good attitude, I’m always on time and I do a great job. And now people call me that I have worked with before, and I get referrals.”
Today Stephanie’s experience spans a wide range of industries, including films and commercials, print, red carpet and weddings. She has worked with celebrities that include Marcia Cross, Denise Richards, Jim Belushi, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Deborah Gibson, Bridget Fonda and Ed Asner. Most recently, she worked on the Cartoon Network show, Dude, What Would Happen? She has developed a particular approach for working with celebrities: “It’s scary to have to make the initial phone calls to celebrities, to ask if they have allergies, their likes and dislikes, and to just introduce yourself… every celeb has made me stronger to meet the next. I leave my ego at the door and put on my ‘big listening ears’. I always ask what [subject] they would like me to stay away from, and if they would like me to change anything, please let me know. I listen and don’t get offended. I pride myself on having integrity; they can trust that I will not gossip.” She adds, “The biggest compliments I receive are being asked back to work with the same people and crews, and also having celebrity requests to be their personal make-up artist.”
Stephanie finds creative inspiration by working in the moment. “I’ve realized that there is no such thing as ‘always’ or ‘never’ in make-up,” she says. “If I feel bold, I’m bold. If I’m feeling the color green, I’ll use green.” Her advice to aspiring make-up artists? “A first Art Director that I’ve worked with on a number of projects says, ‘You are only as good as your last day.’ So leave with a great impression. Be great at what you do in a timely fashion. If you have a great attitude and are fun to work with and professional, I will hire you over and over and over.”