The Definitive Guide: How To Become A Make-Up Artist

Published: 07 Jun 2018

MAKE UP ARTIST
 

You only need to look on Facebook or Instagram these days to see some of the jaw-dropping transformations skilled make-up artists can achieve on people’s faces – and often by using only a few products, too!

There’s certainly no Photoshop for real faces, so a good make-up artist needs to know his or her stuff when it comes to applying cosmetics. As far as job satisfaction goes, this is a role that offers huge rewards.

Making people look and therefore feel great is a huge perk of the job – and if you’re a self-employed make-up artist you’ll find that lots of referrals will come in regularly via good, old-fashioned word of mouth.

So, what does a make-up artist actually do day-to-day? If you’re thinking of entering the industry, you’re in luck. To help you make your first tentative steps into a competitive career, we’re bringing you a guide which includes everything you’ll ever want to know about the profession. Enjoy!

What is a Make-Up Artist?

So what exactly is a Make-Up Artist – and what exactly does it entail?

  • Job Description

    So, what does a Make-Up Artist do in terms of day-to-day duties?

    A make-up artist could work on anyone from the general public, to models and performers. His or her job will include creating suitable make-up and hair looks, before the client appears in front of the camera or before an audience.

    You might also decide to work for yourself, doing up brides-to-be ahead of their wedding day, or working exclusively with teens on prom make-up.

    In terms of where you might find yourself working, this could vary to, including:

    • Films
    • Television
    • Live TV
    • Theatre
    • Photoshoots

    In every case, your work will involve creating characters or looks via the medium of make-up. You might also double up as a hairstylist too, and some make-up artists will specialise in prosthetics, for example.

    You’ll always work to a brief, whether it comes direct from a member of the public who wants their make-up doing for a wedding, or by way of a large company.

    Working hard to understand and interpret the requirements of each client, you’ll produce a visual representation that ticks all the right boxes. Sometimes you’ll be asked to apply heavy make-up fit for under bright theatre lights, while the rest of the time you might be on hand before a wedding or event to offer a subtler approach to a made up face.

    Many make-up artists choose one specialism, like wedding make-up, and stick to that. Advertising yourself this way – as a self-employed make-up artist, of course – may lead to more bookings as clients like to put their confidence in someone who has plenty of experience in a particular field.

  • Hours of Work

    You only need to look on Facebook or Instagram these days to see some of the jaw-dropping transformations skilled make-up artists can achieve on people’s faces – and often by using only a few products, too!

    There’s certainly no Photoshop for real faces, so a good make-up artist needs to know his or her stuff when it comes to applying cosmetics. As far as job satisfaction goes, this is a role that offers huge rewards.

    Making people look and therefore feel great is a huge perk of the job – and if you’re a self-employed make-up artist you’ll find that lots of referrals will come in regularly via good, old-fashioned word of mouth.

    So, what does a make-up artist actually do day-to-day? If you’re thinking of entering the industry, you’re in luck. To help you make your first tentative steps into a competitive career, we’re bringing you a guide which includes everything you’ll ever want to know about the profession. Enjoy!

  • Main Responsibilities

    A make-up artist’s job comes with a lot of responsibilities. Of course, these are dependent on the nature of the job itself; you could find yourself working as part of a team (with a manager to look up to), or you could be working on your own.

    In either instance, any one of the following responsibilities might be yours:

    • Good communication skills
    • Reading scripts or studying the production to work out what tools and materials you’ll need ahead of the job
    • Sketching rough designs for hair and make-up, before showing them to the client
    • Maintaining good health and safety standards
    • Ensuring the overall look is consistent and coherent
    • Swatting up on different kinds of lighting (theatre make-up will be heavier, due to bright, white lights)
    • Implementing a practical understanding of the photographic process
    • Understanding different skin conditions and therefore which make-up and products to apply
    • Basic hairdressing skills
    • Keeping up-to-date with new industry advancements
    • Time management
    • Working quickly yet accurately at all times
    • Taking photographs of your work in order to keep a relevant, up-to-date portfolio
    • Fitting and maintaining wigs and hairpieces
    • Fitting prosthetics and casting facial and body moulds in sculpting latex foam

    We bet you didn’t have in mind that there would be so many skills and responsibilities associated with becoming a make-up artist. But the fact is, in a creative role like this you’ll be expected to display all kinds of artistic skills.

    Showing a willingness to learn and develop – as new trends and products are introduced to the market – will also stand you in good stead for a career in the industry.

Key Make-up Artist Qualifications

So, what qualifications do you need to become a make-up artist?

Historically, academic qualifications are not as important as creative and practical skills. Did you know, then, that it’s possible to make your way into the industry without a degree, or even a HND?

In general, though, entry is slowly becoming more formal, with candidates undertaking a number of courses as a precursor to freelance industry experience. There are plenty of colleges and universities which offer a variety of two-year foundation degrees as well as a three-year Bas, and you’ll also discover NVQs in relevant subjects.

You might also decide to go down the internship route, though, shadowing an experienced freelance make-up artist to learn your craft.

Vital Make-Up Artist Skills

We’ve looked at key qualifications, but what about key skills? Here are just a few that you’ll require to succeed in the industry:

  • Good imagination
  • Creativity
  • Great communication and people skills
  • Patience
  • Concentration and attention to detail
  • The ability and willingness to work under pressure
  • A willingness to develop and adapt your skills
  • Innovation; displaying how you stand out artistically will go a long way in this industry
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What is a Make-Up Artist's Salary?

By now we reckon you’ve more than decided if a career in the make-up industry is or you. So you’re probably also wondering about the kind of salary you can expect to be on.

Trainees should receive no less than the national minimum wage or the London living wage, which means, of course, that you’re not going to be making mega bucks straight away.

For a 10-hour working day, a make-up or hair assistant can charge up to £200, with make-up designers asking for anywhere up to £300 per day. This is based on make-up artist requirements for low-budget TVs and films, though; working with the public might mean you’ll have to keep your prices competitive in order to achieve new business.

To really make your mark in the first instance, consider working for free. Many make-up artists initially do this. Alternatively, they might ask for only a small fee on low-budget productions or editorial shoots. By doing so, they can build up their portfolio while learning on the job. While most make-up artists work on a freelance basis, many will work on behalf of companies. In terms of the former, rates are negotiable, with really good make-up artists earning hundreds of pounds per day.

MAKE UP ARTIST salary

How To Become a Make-Up Artist

So, how do you become a Make-Up Artist then?

As with most professions like it, experience counts for everything. Make sure, then, that you grab any opportunities that come your way with both hands. Anything that comes along is a chance to boost your CV or add a new client to your roster.

Consider networking, too. This is a great way to build up contacts when you’re just starting out, but you can also showcase your portfolio while you’re at it.

Why not set up a website or blog too? It could feature an online gallery showcasing your work or past experience.

How To Develop Your Make-Up Artist Career

So you've been working as an accountant for a while and want to know where you can go next?

So, what to do after you’ve made your mark in a make-up artistry role? How about aiming for a chief make-up artist or make-up designer role?

Work hard and with buckets of enthusiasm and you could find that lots of exciting doors open. Watch this space!

So there you have it; everything you need to set out on the road to a new Make-Up Artist career!
 

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