A career as a makeup artist can be exciting and different every day. The satisfaction comes from using makeup to help people look their best or become characters far different from their usual selves. Makeup artists work in entertainment, theater, television, film, retail stores and on their own. They learn the necessary skills through courses at local colleges, universities or community colleges and on the job.
Before the Makeup
Makeup artists must learn important skills even before picking up a sponge or brush. They learn to assess a client’s skin type, including coloring, condition and sensitivity. These factors determine the type and colors of makeup to use. Learning color principles is an intricate skill that takes into account race, ethnicity, obvious skin color and undertones of color. Makeup artists must also study a client’s bone structure to decide where and how to apply types and colors of makeup to achieve the desired results.
Makeup artists learn to properly prepare the skin before applying makeup, using cleaning, toning and moisturizing techniques for different skin types. They practice applying foundation, blush, eye and brow liner, shadow and lip color. They also learn how to alter makeup application for work, evening and other looks. They may go beyond the basics to learn how to apply makeup for high fashion runway looks, theatrical productions, bright and low light, and indoor and outdoor events. They learn how to apply and touch up makeup for on-camera talent, for photo shoots under varied lighting conditions, and for indoor and outdoor stage performers.
Tools of the Trade
The makeup professional uses many tools, from sponges, brushes and high-tech airbrushes to a wide range of makeup types. Aspiring artists learn the uses for the many types of brushes and the pros and cons of makeup types. They may specialize in covering imperfections with makeup or covering tattoos with airbrushing. Makeup artists who work in the theater may use more than makeup to achieve a character’s look, bringing in wigs, beards, false eyelashes and prosthetic body parts.
Attributes and Traits
To be a successful makeup artist, you should be creative and artistic, enjoy experimenting with ideas and materials, and have a good eye for color. Makeup artists may work long hours, mostly on their feet, requiring both stamina and fitness. The job can be stressful at times, too, with early mornings and travel for photo shoots and late evenings for theater work. Preparing for performances can put added pressure on everyone. Good communication skills will enable you to talk effectively with producers, writers, actors and your bosses so everyone agrees on the goal.
Qualifications and Licensing
Makeup artists must have at least a high school diploma or GED, and most have also taken college courses or earned a certificate in cosmetology. It is also possible to learn makeup skills on the job. Some jobs require you to be licensed, however, and licensing requirements vary from state to state. Most states require that you pass a written exam and spend about 1,000 hours in education, either in school or on the job.