Becoming a working Makeup Artist

“How can I become a Working Makeup Artist?!” I don’t get as many request for this as I used to get. Youtube has made everyone feel they are a “makeup artist”. Youtube is great and it should be a part of your learning curriculum, but it is just a part.

Makeup Artist Basic Training

I believe basic training is important. I studied cosmetology in Munich Germany beginning at age 17. I learned all aspects After graduating, I apprenticed and interned and learned the practical business of skin care and beauty. I did hundreds of facials, waxings, nails, and eyelash extensions, but very little makeup at my job.

Learn by Doing. Do it , do it, do it!

I started doing makeup and hair styling for photography when I was 25 years old. I was lucky having a client who owned a photography studio who I was able to work with and learn from.

You must have the hand / eye coordination and the artist must be in you. If you have that, and the desire, all I can suggest is — learn it… live it… love it… obsess with it… study it… and most importantly do it…do it… and do it!…. on yourself, every girlfriend, relative, neighbor whatever.

You need good products and makeup is expensive, so the sooner you can get paid work the better. It’s a bit of a catch 22 — you need good work to get good work — so you have to create your first portfolio as if they are actual real jobs, they need to look professional and you need to be able to see what does — and what does not — look professional. If it doesn’t .. don’t show it. If you can’t see it — then you are in the wrong business.

Your Makeup Kit

I have — at every job — almost 100 pounds of makeup and hair care products and implements, as well as an auxiliary lighting setup for when I must work in those dark “closets” or corners that I often must work in — and invariably I will still find something new that I want to bring with me the next time…

You need to build your makeup and hair kits so you can be prepared for every possible situation that might happen on a shoot or at an event. You need to have, on hand at all times, endless types and shades of foundations, blushes, shadows, concealers, puffs, sponges, powders and more….

You need to have a variety of eyelashes, different curling irons, blow dryers, hot rollers, clip in hair in a wide variety of colors and lengths, and your own salon worth of hair styling products and tools.

A Working Makeup Artist needs to work

Once you feel you have the skills and your tools in order, you need to find talented photographers who are willing to take a risk using you. If you are going for “beauty work” try and get work on pretty people  and get lots of good photos of your work. Build a portfolio of quality photos where your make up and hair look great! You will most likely work for free or for very low rates until you have a portfolio of high quality work to show. The work needs to at least look like it is from real jobs. (but don’t make phony VOGUE covers!)

Remember though… a true working makeup artist mudy work on all ages and all genders. Everyone can apply makeup nicely on fresh young faces. Doing makeup on older women is different. Makeup on men is also very important. Practice on everyone and every gender.

Creative Makeup

There are a lot of people calling themselves makeup artists. They put on crazy colors, and feathers, and do all kinds of “creative” things… I think that is great, however in my entire career I have only had a handful of jobs where the clients wanted crazy “creative” makeup.

I don’t do Cirque de Soleil or science fiction films. For me, the most important is knowing how to make people look their best. Make them look beautiful, in a natural way – subtle to dramatic — but always working to bring out their best features while minimizing problem areas.

Market Yourself

Once you have developed your skills, and have some work and references, you need to make people aware of you. I suggest you build a professional website to show your work and tell people about yourself and show and tell them why they should hire you. Print up your business cards and promotional pieces… send out letters of introduction to all of your local potential employers and clients, call them, meet them, and then do it all over again.

You will also need to promote your business website in every way possible so that you come up well in the search engines, and buy additional advertising in markets that your potential clients will be looking to. You can figure that you need to spend around 20% of what you want to make every month on marketing and advertising. You can be the best artist in the world and if no one knows, you will not be successful. You have to get the word out.

In time, people will learn of you, and the jobs will start to come. Good photographers and producers know how important good makeup and hair is to a shoot.

Responsibilities of a Working Makeup Artist

Getting your foot in the door is very important, and once you do, you better not fail and you better be on time, work hard and be professional. You are often the first person, and often one of the last, that the client or talent sees before they go on stage, in front of the camera or down the aisle. Your job is to not only make them look beautiful but to “feel” beautiful and relaxed and confident. A future bride wants to be beautiful and confident. Being a makeup artist carries huge responsibilities. Your work can make or break a project, session or event.

You need to be prepared to work in tight quarters, back rooms, public restrooms, in the back of vans, cars, wading in water, climbing up (down) rocks in 110 degreee or 28 degree weather as the case may be. But it is still a great job!

Remember, “patience is a virtue” — 20 yr old celebrity stylists are the exception and not the rule — Passion and love for the art is wonderful, but experience and knowledge is very important, and it takes time and a lot of practice to get it.     —

Best Wishes and Good Luck!