How to Become a Make-Up Artist
What You Need to Know
- Make-up artists are required in a wide range of settings from theatre and film to fashion shows and photo shoots.
- As well as a high level of technical skill, make-up artists need to be able to use their creativity in interpreting a clients brief.
- As the industry is very competitive, many make-up artists multiple skills. For example, many are accomplished hair dressers.
- Whilst academic qualifications aren’t essential, many highly respected institutions offer courses you can take to learn the necessary skills. The University of Make UP offer a Professional Makeup Course that comes with a Makeup Kit.
- You may have to take a good deal of unpaid work and build up a strong portfolio before you can find paid work.
- The majority of make-up artists work freelance and pay varies greatly according to the work you are able to find.
- For established make up artists, agents play a big role in bringing in new work.
A make-up artist ensures that models, performers, presenters and others have suitable make-up and sometimes hairstyles, before they appear in front of cameras or an audience.
Many people assume that this means make-up artists slap foundation on television personalities’ cheeks and if they’re lucky, get to paint faces on modelling photo shoots. But there are many other sides to what can be a demanding and competitive trade.
Make-up artists are used on films, television, in the theatre, at fashion shows and other live performances, and on photographic shoots. Their role is to interpret the make-up requirements of clients and to produce both a creative and technically accurate visual representation. They may also organise the make-up for period dramas and help create complex special effects on films.
Many make-up artists are also accomplished and experienced hairdressers; their job can include sourcing, styling and maintaining wigs for TV dramas and films. Competition in the industry is tough, and you need to possess as many skills as possible to have the best chance of being hired.
Academic qualifications are not as important as creative and practical skills. It is still possible to become a make-up artist without a degree or Higher National Diploma (HND). However, many make-up artists do take qualifications before going freelance. The London College of Fashion offers a two-year Foundation Degree in Specialist Make-up Design, as well as a range of short courses.
This is a competitive business and you need to be keen and hard working to do well. Equipping yourself with the necessary make-up and brushes is expensive, as is getting photographs of your best work to make up a portfolio,
Many budding make-up artists are expected to do unpaid work experience to build up contacts and a portfolio before they can find paid work.
Working as a make-up artist can involve very early mornings and long days, so test your commitment by finding as much experience as you can. Work backstage at amateur dramatic productions, or assist a more experienced make-up artist or photographer. This will give you an insight into how the industry works and help to build a network of contacts.
Word of mouth and showing your portfolio to prospective clients is important if you want to get paid. Always take your portfolio round in person. This is an industry in which it is vital to get on with people and where self-promotion can get you a long way.
Any contacts you’ve made during your studies are worth pursuing once you’re looking for work. Online media directories such as Skillset will help identify companies to target with a personal call. Professional journals like The Creative Handbook, published by Reed, are also useful.
The BBC also provides support for a small number of make-up artists through its Design Trainee Scheme.
Most make-up artists work freelance, and pay rates vary widely. The minimum pay as recommended by the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (Pact) and the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematographic and Theatre Union (Bectu) is £184 per day for junior a make-up/hair assistant going up to £279 for make-up designer prosthetics.
These rates are for peak-time drama television production and high budget feature films. Low budget productions will pay less, while commercials can pay around £500 a day. Fashion and editorial work ranges from £250 to £2,000 per day, while top make-up artists designing for fashion shows regularly earn more than £3,000 per day.
Artists with published editorial work, known as “tear sheets”, can negotiate additional fees for their published work with companies that use them to endorse a product range.
Once make-up artists are established, they often have agents who find them work and take a cut of earnings.
Most work is based in London and other major cities, where TV companies have their studios and the fashion industry thrives.
We hoped you have found this article useful, if so please take a look at UK Net Guide’s site job centre, we aim to have lots of employment opportunities that via job advertisers online for you. It’s easy to perform a search, and then simply click on any jobs advertiser’s details or logos; you will be taken to more information about the employment opportunity.
- Many make-up artists work in jobs in the film industry. Read our guide to breaking into the UK film industry to find out more about the opportunities out there.
- Read our guide to finding work abroad to tap to take you skills to sunnier climbs.
- Pro beauty have lots of advice for beauty professionals.