vlada haggerty lip art instagram

I've spent hours on Instagram to do nothing but steal someone elses idea.

Instagram is a treasure trove of inspiration and creativity.
Why think of an original idea?
Instead, take someone else's creation and put your spin on it.

Step 1: Steal their idea.
Step 2: Remix it.
Step 3: Give them credit.
Step 4: Repeat.

Stolen from 'Steal Like an Artist' author, Austin Kleon

One Makeup Artist that continues to innovate the lip art genre and inspires makeup artists internationally is Vlada Haggerty (@VladaMUA).

This L.A. based powerhouse is currently the Smashbox Cosmetics Lip Editor in Chief.
She has over 786K Instagram fans, received international recognition in competitive settings, and has been featured in such major publications like Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Refinery29, Bustle, and so much more.

Vlada haggerty vladamua

We've seen, time and time again, the power of having a strong and engaged Instagram following aka Influencer status.
It can mean:

  • Opportunities to collaborate with brands
  • More clients reaching out to you for private work
  • An increase in sales, if you are selling a product alongside your service
  • And a plethora of other opportunities

I reached out to Vlada to talk about her brand as a MUA Influencer on Instagram.
And on top of learning from this 'Well of Knowledge', I'm going to point out some actionable tips you can use TODAY to help grow your Instagram following and build your personal brand as a makeup artist.

Let's get started.


vlada haggerty lip art instagram

Just yesterday, I was looking at a MUAs profile and saw that she had posted a picture of her coffee that had a thick foam head and a dollop of brown sugar in the middle.

Her coffee looked like it had a belly button.
So I left a comment, saying that her coffee has a belly button.
She replied back, lol-ing and agreeing with me, and then went on to like 6-7 of my images on my profile.
Think about it.

When someone 'likes' your image, that's nice. But when someone leaves a 'nice comment' on one of your pieces, you get that shot of serotonin (the chemical responsible for pride and status) - and that comment holds weight.

Don't worry, we all get our fix from time to time.

Anyone can 'like' an image.
But if you want to stand out, 'leave a comment'.

Why does a comment matter more, because is shows effort.
You took time out of your day to think of something nice to say about THIS image.


'Likes' are measured, but a 'Nice Comment' is remembered.

I used to say to at least leave a single word comment like 'Cool', 'Dope', or 'Nooice!' - but the Age of Bots has ruined that sentiment.
I personally hate bots.
They're fake, you can spot them immediately, and it's just plain lazy.

My face when I see your damn bot in my feed.

Plain and simple:

  • Be thoughtful 
  • Talk to the people who leave a comment on your feed as you would a friend.
  • Dig a little deeper into your verbal repertoire and leave a "belly button" comment - if you're feeling fiesty.

BONUS: Engage with the people who have commented on that person's profile.
This is your Wolf Pack - it's okay to start a dialogue. You may even make a new online friend.


vlada haggerty lip art instagram

Many MUAs who start out posting on Instagram, do "common" looks at first, even Vlada.

“...I moved to LA. We moved in December and it was a very slow time for me as a makeup artist, so I started doing makeup on myself and taking pictures of my lips... After a while I started doing eye makeup and full face makeup... expanding the range of makeup looks I post on my page. ”

— Vlada Haggerty

Then either you see another's work and your inspired to do something similar OR you just get bored and you begin experimenting.
You're an artist. Your style evolves.
That's just the motion of it all.

For Vlada, it especially paid off when she was creating these dripping liquid lip looks because she has received international coverage, features in magazines, online publications, has worked with major brands and clients, and has been featured on multiple Instagram feature accounts (which was how I found her).

vlada haggerty lip art instagram

Did she know the drip look was going to be such a big hit?
Hell no! No one does!

You experiment every day.
You do the work and put it out into the market and let the market decide.
Play, experiment, remix someone else's creation and add your own twist to it - and let happy accidents happen.

“[Surrounding yourself with] creative minds definitely lets you be more free and let go of the fear of what other people may say or think. [Don’t get] too comfortable and not [develop your] skill. ”

— Vlada Haggerty

And when in doubt, learn from the masters and do your research.

“We have to stay on top of all the trends, of all new techniques, products, etc...I’m learning every day from multiple people, to name a few: Pat McGrath (@patmcgrathreal), Tamana Roashan (@dressyourface), Darya Kholodnykh (@darya_kholodnykh), Mia Connor (@miaconnor) and many more! I love learning personal tips and tricks people have gathered over the years of working in the industry.”

— Vlada Haggerty

All and all, don't be afraid to get WAY OUT of your comfort zone, make a mess, and create something different. It may take a LOT of trial and effort, but different here, wins.


vlada haggerty lip art instagram

I am a hashtag fiend. I am CONSTANTLY finding new hashtags and feature accounts to try to connect with my Wolf Pack.

If you don't know about proper hashtags beyond: 'style', 'beautiful', 'mua', and 'pretty' - I'm going to need you to get your head in the game.

Here's a snapshot of the tags that I keep on a Google Spreadsheet:

#AMAZINGMAKEUPART is the hashtag for a feature account named, Amazing Makeup Art, where they showcase people's body painting work. They have over 156K followers.

If featured, that's 156K eyeballs on your work.

A pair of those eyes could be for a magazine, or another feature account, a local model, a local photographer, a makeup company, jewelry company, or a person who will become a superfan of your work.

You get 30 hashtags for each post.
Fill the space.
Get noticed.


vlada haggerty lip art instagram

Have you ever heard the statement, "You're only as good as your network".
Let me explain via a story completely unrelated to Instagram or MUA.

There's a YouTube movie out called Kung Fury.
This 2015 smash hit is, BY FAR, the greatest B-movie, 80s throwback action flick, I have ever seen.
This film has over 28.6 Million views on YouTube. It raised $630,000 through Kickstarter. It competed at Cannes and may be reimagined into a feature film.

To help promote the successful Kickstarter campaign, the director David Sandberg, put together a trailer and asked everyone who participated in the film to post it on their social media.

In the first 5 hours, there was barely a blip of traction to the Kickstarter page.

"But then", as Fast Company found out in an interview with Sandberg,

"the guy who plays Thor in the trailer (Andreas Cahling) – he’s like a legendary bodybuilder who has a big following on Facebook. [One] of his followers saw the trailer and posted it on Reddit.

After that, the whole Internet exploded.

Within 24 hours of launching, we reached our goal [of $200,000]. People started calling. I freaked out. Hollywood was calling. Agents. Managers. It was crazy. I basically didn’t sleep for a week because of the adrenaline rush".

As an MUA, you will have the opportunity to work with a lot of people, if you so desire:

  • Models
  • Makeup companies
  • Photographers
  • Jewelry companies
  • Online publications, and more!

Remember that we all start off small.

We all start from zero, followers that are your friends from school, and your biggest fan - your younger cousin Jacqui.

vlada haggerty lip art instagram

So, how do you build a better network?

  • Start making instafriends.
  • Go back to #1 above.
  • Connect with someone locally who has a network slightly bigger than yours and shout each other out on your platform.
  • Do an online collaboration where you both do a themed look - different interpretation.

In the end, it's all about adding value to that person who has a larger network than you.

“I used to use Model Mayhem a lot, I met a lot of great people through that web site.”

— Vlada Haggerty

One good way to add value and slowly build your network when you're just starting out is to run a technique called 'Cross Pollentation'.

Your model/client posts your work (and tags you) to her followers and you do the same for her.
Just like Thor did for Sandberg.

vlada haggerty lip art instagram

You're both leveraging each others audience which can result in new opportunities, new likes, and/or an increased following.

Want to try something closer to home?

Recruit your friends. They, are usually, EAGER to jump in the seat and be made over. Plus it will give you GREAT practice in working with, a 'client', so that maybe one day, they'll pay you.


vlada haggerty lip art instagram

This is where I messed up in the beginning of my Instagram escapade.

I was ALL OVER THE PLACE in MULTIPLE genres outside of Makeup Art.
I was doing typography.


Painting Shoes.
Inspirational Quotes.

puck'n khaos typography instagram

My work back in the hey day.

Then one day, I just started focusing on one craft - instead of 5 - and showcasing things that I love.
If people come to my profile now, they'll see the rows of consistency and have a feeling of my style AND what I do. This is my foundation:

  1. Pop art body painting
  2. Hip hop choreography
  3. Graffiti Art

That is the question you will be answering on your page, with each post, daily:

"What do you do"?

This new visitor should be able to figure it out, within the first 6 seconds, WITHOUT reading your bio.

If they can't, and you're all over the place, they'll leave.

Vlada haggerty eye makeup instagram

So what kind of Makeup Artist are you?

Are you into body painting?

Anime looks?

Wedding makeup looks?

Lip art?

Eye art?

If you're unsure, play around with each style, pick your poison, and double down and start creating.


I said above to steal like an artist, but credit the work.

Repost images, credit the work - EVEN re-watermark it if you find it helpful.

vlada haggerty lip art instagram

I know of a BRILLIANT graphic artist named Alice X. Zhang whose sketches are shown in exhibitions internationally, has appeared in countless online publications, and leads the Dr. Who magazine cover series.

She is at the top of her game in her community.

Alice zhang doctor who

She went inside a local coffee shop one day and saw one of her images framed.

She wasn't selling prints of that particular piece, at the time, and there was no indication on the image that she created it.

So either they removed her watermark signature (most likely) or she didn't put it on there (extremely doubtful).

Same ordeal with Vlada.

One day she's going through her Instagram feed and sees one of her designs on a high profile celebrities page, WITHOUT her watermark and with NO CREDIT that she created this piece.

The words 'that's that bullshit!' comes to mind if you have the misfortune of this happening to you.

Your work dangling in your face and NO ONE - except you, the shop owner, and the Instabootlegger - knowing who created it!

Not crediting other artists work, continuously, is a sure fire way to become a pariah in the community quickly.

Karma will have them with no blotting papers or sponge to clean up the oil spill on their face when they see their ex coming up the street eventually.

But until then, watermark your work.

HINT: I have the tendency to watermark my work on the outer corners of the image, because I don't want it to disrupt the image - or at least that's my excuse. If you leave it on the outer corners, it is easy for someone to crop your name OUT. Therefore, strategically watermark INSIDE of your images so if someone DOES try to crop out your name, they can't do so without hacking up the image. Get me?


You have been given a pretty good base on how to start your MUA brand on Instagram.

Pick your page's theme. Any images that are on the sight that don't support that them has got to GO!

Leave a comment on one of your MUAs Instagrams profile and dope them up with serotonin.

Add watermarks to your work.

Run collaborations and more.

But above anything else - have fun, and BLEND, BABY, BLEND!

Is there a strategy that you've used to gain attention and brand yourself as a MUA. Share it in the comments below.

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