Makeup Artist

Job Description (What the job involves)

Make-up artists apply make-up to enhance someone's appearance . If working within a beauty salon, they may be hired to make someone over for a special occasion such as a wedding day.

However, it is to film, theatre, TV and fashion shoots/shows that we normally associate make-up artists. It is within these sectors that make-up artists also transform and change appearances through prosthetics and special effects make-up.

A make-up artist artist carries out the following functions;

  • Provide Makeovers. Make-up artists are called upon to do makeovers for special occasions like a wedding day.
  • Work to a Brief. If working on a film/TV/theatre set a make-up artist will have to speak with the producer, director, lighting agents etc to establish the sort of look they want them to create.
  • Research. Just as a theatre costume designer has to do some research when creating costumes, so a make-up artist has to sometimes conduct research so that the look they create is consistent with the period and style of the production. Make-up artists may also have to read through a script for clues as to the appearance of their client.
  • Sourcing Products. A make-up artist is responsible for sourcing the products needed for a job and create where necessary a budget to work to.
  • Preparing People. A make-up artist has to prepare their client for their intended role. If preparing a presenter for a TV show then they will aim to make them look their best by applying corrective make-up and face powder. For actors on the stage more theatrical make-up is needed. And of course there are occasions where advanced make-up artists will be required to alter images by using special effects make-up (latex).
  •  Record Details. Make-up artists sometimes have to record details of the make-up they've applied (incl taking photos) so that it can be recreated at a later stage. This is especially the case with TV productions where different scenes can be shot in no particular order.

Skills and Personal Qualities

  • Excellent Social Skills. Make-up artists often work on individuals that are nervous (wedding day, live TV performance, catwalk) and therefore she/he has to be calm, friendly, conversational and open.
  • Lots of Energy. You can spend a lot of time on your feet, and outside of the more traditional working hours of a beauty salon be working long, irregular hours.
  • Highly Artistic and Creative. Make-up artists need to be creative, imaginative, resourceful and have a keen sense of colour and eye for symmetry.
  • Steady Hand. This is especially the case when a make-up artist is working on minute detail or sensitive areas like the eyes
  • Work Well under Pressure. Make-up artists often work in pressurised, manic environments and against a strict timetable. It's essential therefore they work well under pressure
  • Up to-date Knowledge. It's important that they have up to-date knowledge of fashion trends and latest colours and products

Opportunities and Progression

Make-up artists can enjoy fascinating careers. Many start as make-up consultants in a department store or in a beauty salon where it's more about selling products, giving advice and making members of the general public look and feel good about themselves for a special occasion.

However, there are also very interesting careers open to make-up artists on fashion shoots, working with photographers, TV productions, film sets and theatre.

Sometimes film companies and fashion houses will hire make-up artists. You can join as an assistant and work your way up through the ranks. Most make-up artists however work freelance and therefore reputation and the strength of their portfolio is all important.

The other career avenue that make-up artists can take is to venture into training and consultancy to a cosmetics firm.


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Potential Salary and Benefits

Make-up artists can be very well paid and this is testimony to the importance of the work that they do in the highly visual world of fashion and theatre.

The following are guidelines only;

A new make-up artist can earn around £15,000 a year

Make-up artists with more experience can earn over £25,000 a year

A chief make-up artist can earn over £45,000 a yea

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