"How do I become a Make-up Artist?"

This is a question I am often asked by budding Make-up Artists and those looking to take a new career path. My advice to you is simple ‘Practice, Practice, Practice’ or the three P’s as I usually say. After all how will you know if you’re good at something before you have even tried it?

Ok so you want to be a Make-up Artist, the job title sounds kool and you have seen the M.A.C staff rocking the brush belt and love makeup so much you would swim though it if you could!

There are many traits a good Make-up Artist should have such as a professional and friendly attitude towards everyone after all you wont be working on supermodels all of the time! Product knowledge is also the key to being a good artist as you will often be asked by your client ‘So what is primer actually for?’ there is no time to um and arr over what products can do for your client so you always need to be a step ahead in the game so don’t be shy to visit your favourite make-up counters regularly to see what’s new and even pick up a few free samples!

There is no right or wrong way on how you can become a Make-up Artist as there are such a wide range of opportunities out there depending where you live and work as an artist. If you live in the country you my find your main client base are those having their make-up done for a special occasion or wedding. In the larger towns there is more scope for Fashion Shows, Promotional Photoshoots and even studio based makeovers. In the BIG cities you have the opportunity to work on TV, Commercial, Theatre, Film..the list is endless really.

I am going to tell you my success story on how I became a Make-up Artist. I hope you find the information useful and if you have any questions after this please email me as you can understand its pretty impossible to cover all you’re your unanswered questions on here. I began my makeup career by looking at makeup styles I liked in magazines and recreating them on myself using my plain old make-up. I knew I had an artistic passion so the creativity to experiment with different types of makeup and designs flew freely in my mind.

In my early teens I would practice my makeup on friends or family, having an older sister was great as I would sneak into her room while she was getting ready for a night out and watch how she would carefully create the black eyeliner flicks you so commonly see today. After doing a friends wedding for the first time and seeing how happy she was with the results this really spurred me on to look into the formal qualifications to become an artist and I completed a home study BTEC in Designing and Applying Makeup this gave me such good knowledge of the technical side of running my own business and the legal implementations of paying tax and insuring myself and my future customers.

There are so many makeup schools and colleges out there, if I could recommend them I would say the Academy of Freelance Makeup and the London College of Fashion, they offer both short and long courses for you to study at. I however chose to study with Samantha Chapman of Pixiwoo. Samantha is an accomplished make-up artist and make-up tutor with extensive experience in the Fashion, Television and Music industries. My five day training was just what I needed to really kick start my career as a Make-up Artist we worked with so many different products it was a great way for me to find out what makeup I liked most and based my kit list on what I preferred.

After my BTEC and five day intensive course I was on my own and if I was going to make it I needed to build a portfolio and show the world what I could do. I contacted the photography groups and courses in my area and asked if I could be of assistance to any photographers wanting to do some shoots with models I could do my makeup on and in return they would give me images to use on my website and on my promotional items. The term is usually called TFP (Test for Prints) this is where the Make-up Artist, Photographer and Model each work for free but benefit from the finished article – The Photographs! This is a process still used today and is great for those starting out in the industry as without each other we couldn’t show case our talents.

After doing lots of TFP work I decided to set up a website which I set up and manage myself, I looked at other artists already in the business and set my price list, I had business cards printed and was ready to advertise myself in local newspapers and on free directories, I approached the industries I wanted to work in such as Wedding Dress Shops and Photographers with Studio premises. I took out an insurance policy to not only cover my kit which is very expensive stuff once you add up all the different types of foundations and lipsticks I needed to buy. After buying a kit and taking out my insurance policy I was ready to start work and best of all get paid for doing what I love most! My main client base is brides so was thrilled when my first enquiries came in. I have worked on so many brides now I have lost count! I later went on to learn hairstyling and am currently completing an evening NVQ Level 2 in Hairdressing so I will be able to cut and colour hair too! I have completed an eyelash extension course as I found brides wanted this service, as well as manicures and pedicures, you can go on to learn so many more skills within the industry and can take it as far or as basic as you like. Ideally you need a car to be able to get about from job to job as carrying a make-up kit around is not the easiest job in the world.

Here are my top tips to becoming a Make-up Artist:

The three P’s – Practice, Practice, Practice, we all know practice makes perfect so get your friends and family to model for you at any opportunity! This way you can see if you really can cut it as a Make-up Artist, after all your friends and family with give you honest opinions on what you do to their faces!

Research, check out the Makeup Artist job description here: this gives you so much information on what you can expect to earn, what to expect from the job and so much more. Look at local Make-up Artists in your area and see if they would be happy to talk to you and have you shadow them on a typical day when they are working. This will also give you an insight as to weather or not this is something you would really like to do as a career. There are so many books on makeup artistry so get down to your local library and see what you can learn from a good old fashioned book! Look on Youtube there are hundreds of makeup tutorials and advice on how to become a makeup artist just look at this one from the lady I trained with Samantha Chapman

Training, not everyone can afford to gain a qualification in makeup as it’s an expensive job when you first set up your kit can cost anything from £500-£5,000+. If you want to train at a school or college check out The Academy of Freelance makeup, you won’t be disappointed. While you don’t need to go to a school in order to be a makeup artist, some form of training is required. As a make-up artist, you need to know about all the latest products and techniques being used. If you don’t wish to go to a professional make-up school, consider getting a job at a cosmetics counter where you can receive training and have the opportunity to work on customers. Many make-up artists that work in film and theatre have degrees in theatre.

Volunteer, now that you have some training under your belt, you will want to develop your skills and network. You should volunteer your skills as much as possible, whether it is doing the make-up for your friend’s wedding, or doing the make-up at the local community college, there are numerous ways for you to continue to practice your skills as a make-up artist.

Develop your portfolio, while you are volunteering, you need to start keeping a portfolio of your work. Your portfolio is a photographic record of your work, and is absolutely essential. Use those volunteering opportunities as a chance to build your portfolio. If you are volunteering on a movie set, make sure to get some good photos of your work. If you want to work in fashion, cut a deal with a photographer that you will do the make-up for free in exchange for quality pictures remember this is called TFP. Contact local places and colleges you know that offer photography courses you will make some great contacts.

Specialise, now that you have spent some time developing your skills, learning about the different areas that you can work in, and developing your portfolio, you need to decide which area you wish to specialize in. If you wish to work in film or theatre, consider joining a professional organization like the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Also, contact your local film office. If you want to do event make-up for weddings, you will need to start marketing your skills. Show people your portfolio. Perhaps you can team up with a hair stylist for events. Maybe you wish to work as a regional make-up artist at a cosmetics counter, in which case, speak to local make-up artists, show them your portfolio, and find out who might be hiring.

Be confident, lastly have confidence in yourself and you will go far. So what are you waiting for get out there and show the world what you can do with some foundation and a mascara wand. Having a shining personality and kind nature will see you go far in the industry, make friends with other artists as after all you can’t do everyone’s wedding makeup and there will be days when you need to rely on another artist to recommend.  

All the best in your new venture and Good Luck!