Once you’ve decided to be a professional makeup artist, the obvious question is, ‘How am I going to make money?’ Luckily, there are quite a number of opportunities for makeup artists. You can sign on to become the in-house artist of a TV show, or freelance for magazines and runways. You can specialize in bridal makeup, or join the makeup team of a beauty brand. Here are just some of the career options available for professional makeup artists.
Department store counters
This career path involves working for a particular beauty brand, and then teaching potential customers how to use the products. It can be very fulfilling work because you can be part of a customer’s makeover—and see their self-confidence shoot up right before your very eyes! Beauty brands will also sponsor your training, and bigger brands who work with magazines or runways may send you to shoots, expanding your network considerably.
Another version of this is working in direct selling, where you apply makeup and sell the products as well. You’ll earn surprisingly well from commissions, and simultaneously meet clients who may get you for weddings, family portraits, etc.
This is quite a rewarding job, but it can be demanding too. Brides can be quite nervous and exacting about what they want (and sometimes you’ll have to deal with in laws, too). Your work includes a run through or trial, and the big day itself. You need to travel to go to the bride’s location, too. The good news is one wedding can be quite profitable, if you do both the bride and members of the entourage.
TV and film
You need to be familiar with different kinds of era and character makeup, and be adept at special techniques like making actors look lder or younger, replicating an injury or illness, or even making them look like monsters! It’s a competitive industry, though, and you will have to start as someone’s assistant. Prepare a professional portfolio or look book. You may be required to join an artist’s union. However, despite the difficulty of breaking into the industry(and the long hours on the set) this kind of work is quite exciting and memorable!
Magazines and commercials
Generally you get these kinds of jobs only after building a name in the industry. The obvious benefits are the high pay and opportunity to travel (imagine a fashion shoot in the Carribean!). But there is intense preparation, and you need to know how to follow a creative brief and deal with people with strong personalities.
You can build your way up to the big budget projects by first working on music videos and magazines, as well as smaller TV projects such as industrial videos and educational documentaries.
Live performance and runway
Basically you do makeup for theater, concerts, and fashion shows. The skills required here are speed (you will often have to do makeup for several people) and accuracy (you can recreate a look).
Photo from japonesque.com