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Makeup Careers

Career Options

What kind of makeup artist do you want to become....exploring your options

So you want to become a pro makeup artist but you don't know how to break into the business. The first step in becoming a makeup artist is to decide what kind of professional makeup artist you want to be and get a clear sense of direction.

It is important to understand that each option has its pros and cons depending upon the lifestyle you want to lead. To be the best, you have to absolutely love what you are doing because although it is a glamorous industry, it is also hard work. To succeed you must also be passionate about the business side of the job and prepare yourself for the time and effort it takes to make it. The hours involved for movies and print are long and expectations are high but for those that are talented and determined the rewards are tremendous.

This guide will help you prepare and become educated about how to be a respected, in demand professional makeup artist for print, film, TV and commercials. Your makeup artistry career is just waiting to begin.

Choosing the type of makeup artist you want to be

As a pro makeup artist, there are several directions that you can take depending upon what kind of makeup artist you want to become. Having said that, it is wise to gain some experience in your top three choices to get more hands on experience and to confirm where your passion lies and where you excel.

Be open minded and ready to learn in any situation that may present itself . Seek advice from older, established beauty industry experts. You may wish to seek out bridal makeup artists, industry photographers, makeup counter representatives for makeup artist brands, salon makeup artists, and freelance makeup artists who are willing to share their knowledge.

Exploring Career Options

Some of these makeup artist options may give you a weekly consistent pay check and provide the experience you need to build your portfolio or reel and to advance in the industry. Note that you will eventually need to build either a makeup artist portfolio or a demo reel.

Department store makeup artist: This job is a perfect way to gain industry experience. Try to get a job with one of the well-known makeup artist brands such as MAC or Charlotte Tilbury. Rather than working for the actual department store, work to get an interview with the makeup artist brand to become one of their in-store event pro artists. This may provide steady income while providing you with some flexibility to build your portfolio and meet with photographers and production companies. This job can involve sales and is usually commission based.

Bridal makeup artist: Get a business card made and contact the local bridal photographers and bridal shops. Ask them if they use or recommend makeup artists. This type of artistry work involves doing consultations and pre-wedding run throughs. If you do not have your portfolio yet, try to assist a busy working bridal artist first while you build your portfolio and web site images.

Salon, beauty & personal beauty service: Higher-end beauty salons will typically have an area for a pro makeup artist to apply makeup for clients who are attending special events such as weddings and parties. Salon makeup artists may also be asked to provide makeup tutorials. Check in your area for salons that use makeup artists and arrange to meet the salon manager to discuss doing makeup for salon clients or possibly renting an area for  providing professional makeup artistry with the option to sell makeup lessons and the pro-makeup line you use.

Media production: film, television & commercials: A makeup artist wanting to work in any of these mediums will need to acquire a minimum of 600 working set hours to apply for membership in the local union. Note that there are some non-union film and commercial jobs available that you can work to meet the union hour requirements. The media production path is by far the most complex career option in makeup artistry; it is very large area that offers many choices. Shooting a film can take weeks or months whereas a regular TV show would provide a weekly shooting schedule. Media production makeup artists work with actors, producers and directors. You will be working on a large production set, and will work closely with others in your field such as hair, wardrobe, and costume designers.

Print makeup artist: A print makeup artist will work with models and photographers hired by  magazines, catalogs companies, fashion shows and editorials. Most of the editorial makeup artist jobs are booked through representation from an agency and are shot in studios and on location. To work in editorial requires a strong portfolio; the better your book, the higher paying the job. We tend not to recommend makeup schools that say they specialize in fashion, print/advertising makeup, as most of the techniques they offer are not ones you would typically use on a real photo shoot in fashion and advertising. These trends change rapidly and most learned fashion looks do not apply to being a fashion makeup artist. Advertising and fashion will most always have an art director that dictates the unique feel or look of the model for the line or advertisement.

Theatrical makeup artist: There are several fine theatrical makeup programs available today through colleges and trade schools that can help provide the training that one needs to be a successful theatrical makeup artist. Speak to the program director about how best to make industry contacts once you have graduated.

Whatever path you choose, we wish you all the best in your makeup artistry career.

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