If you love nothing more than putting lipstick on your friends, but none of your friends like you doing it and are mostly males (who don’t like blusher), then maybe consider the make up industry.
We spoke to some make-up artists who have entered into the profession in three different ways; via a course, by teaching themselves and through on-the-job training with a cosmetics company.
THE COURSE TRAINED THEATRICAL MAKEUP ARTIST: AMII STEWARD
Amii quit a Business degree in the middle of her first year to do a two year BTech at Kings Lynn in media makeup because the big, bold and theatrical looks had always appealed to her. She now freelances for weddings, has worked on West End shows such as Wicked!, Jersey Boys and We Will Rock You, and specialises in wigs.
General courses work for those who aren’t sure where to specialise
“You learn a bit of everything,” says Amii, “and then you can decide what to focus on. For example, I had no interest in wigs until studying them on the course.” If you’re creative, then prosthetics is something to consider, even though she found it a little complicated: “Special effects is the way to go if you’re artsy, but it’s difficult to find models willing to let you try stuff on them. People don’t like just breathing through their nostrils…”
Another thing to bear in mind is that there are very few straightforward makeup artists on set in theatres nowadays. The budget isn’t there and a lot of productions just teach the actors how to do it themselves; so it’s good to specialise, while also knowing the basics. “Most courses will have a module in hair, and it’s good to dabble in everything because a lot of learning happens on the job.”
You’ve got ready made contacts – use them
One major benefit of taking a course is that your tutors will have ties within the industry. “In my first year, my tutor had done quite a lot of freelance so passed on some of her contacts,” Amii recalls. “We’re similar personality-wise, so she gave me details of people she knew I’d get on with, which is a bonus. Also, the fact she’d recommended me gave me a bit more confidence, too.
“The more famous courses, and those the big film studios offer like Ealing Studios, may cost more, but the contacts will be second to none,” advises Amii. It’s important to keep in mind the potential networking opportunities when choosing the course; who have the tutors worked for? How long have they been in the industry?
Work experience is essential
Your course tutors can help you organise your first foray into the world of makeup artistry, which is a lot less scary than going it alone. But don’t rely on them to hold your hand. “It’s who you know,” Amii says, “and grabbing all opportunities that come your way.” Her first work experience came because a company were filming in the house of someone she knew in her village, so she called and got hold of the project manager’s details, “within a few days I was working in the main trailer with David Tennant, Bill Nighy and Eddie Redmayne.”
The moment she’d got a West End show (because someone she knew, knew the wig mistress on Wicked!), the chances of steady work becomes much higher. For instance, while Amii worked on Wicked!, the wig mistress rang Jersey Boys to see if they needed anyone. And they did.
THE SELF-TAUGHT FREELANCER: SANNA of LOOKAMILLION
Sanna has been blogging since she was 15, and recently been featured on the Illamasqua site and worked with Eylure. She’s now 17 and couldn’t afford a beauty course so is studying for her A-Levels while building the Lookamillion empire. Her blog is increasing in popularity (check out the number of commenters), she has over 3,000 followers on Instagram and is constantly travelling across the UK to freelance for weddings and parties. Impressed?
Have an identity
As a young Muslim woman, Sanna wears her headscarf in all her blog photos, which is different to the mainstream all-American, blonde beauty bloggers. “There aren’t many Muslim woman with headscarves blogging about beauty,” she points out. “Dina Tokio is a huge inspiration for me, she’s brilliant. It’s important to have your own individual style.”
The danger with doing a course, Sanna believes, is coming out having learned someone else’s makeup identity. “It’s important to do what you find interesting and beautiful, as opposed to what the current trend is that season,” she advises.
Collaborate with others
Sanna has collaborated with a couple of other bloggers, and finds it spikes traffic to her site, as well as helping out her social media profiles: “It’s a sort of ‘I’ll promote you if you promote me’ thing which is good for both,” she explains, “and it means now I’ve got some readers in America as well as just the UK. It’s a great way of getting exposure.”
It’s good to also contact big brands to see if they’re interested in being featured; Sanna reviewed Illamasqua and, in return, appeared on their site which boosted her audience massively.
Social media is your best friend
Just search the hashtag #bbloggers to see how big an impact twitter has on a beauty blogger’s career. “Since I’ve got the social media side sorted, that’s when the work has come in” Sanna says. “I get most of my wedding and party requests because of it.”
Don’t spam followers with links to your site; retweet others’ posts, get involved in twitter beauty discussions and show your appreciation for other blogs. “If I follow a beauty blog, they’ll follow back,” Sanna explains, “then you can approach them for collaborations or see if they’ll feature your posts.”
You need to have a presence on any image-led form of social media you can. Facebook and Twitter are a given, but set up an Instagram, have a Pinterest and set up a Tumblr.
Think bigger than the blog
A blog on its own is one thing, but Sanna also works at functions and weddings to keep money coming in. “I make around £300 per wedding,” she says, “which really boosts your confidence and people skills.” She hopes to offer makeup tutorials in the future, which is why she continued with A-Levels (Psychology, Sociology, English language and Finance).
“I want to do a degree in International Business and Finance after A-Levels because it’s important to know how a business works,” she says. “I also want to teach young people like me, to give affordable tutorials for girls and guys who can’t afford the courses.”
Practise, then practise some more
Lipliner was Sanna’s weak spot, so she practised her way to expertise: “Watch other beauty bloggers, watch beauty tutorials, spend time trying out different looks and make sure you’ve mastered all the basics,” she says, “so lips, eyes, blush, foundation, contouring…”
If you find something you’re especially good at, say dramatic eyeliner, then use that as your focal point and work outwards. “Everyone has their own strengths, and you need to find out what yours are through experimenting.”
Jo is the style editor of Heat magazine, and works with a team of makeup artists on professional shoots. Lily works on beauty counters and has received on-the-job training with major department stores in London. Here’s how to get, and make the most of, on-the-job training:
Be careful what you say
It’s a small world, and those hiring will look not just at your portfolio, but at your reputation too. “We’ll always look at an artist’s book first, see the previous work they’ve done and go on recommendations from the industry,” says Jo, so when on work experience, or getting on-the-job training it’s important to be nice, receptive and, to put it frankly, a joy to work with. That way when there’s a job opening, someone will be more likely to say “Oh I know so-and-so and she’s GREAT!”
Join an agency
There are hundreds of agencies providing cover for beauty counters in department stores across the country. “They provide full training and you learn all the basics,” says Lily. “A lot of agency people are makeup artists who do the job part time between film shoots as it’s good practice and flexible hours.” So if you work alongside the artists, you’re in the position to ask for work experience. Or just a day shadowing them. And remember, Jo looks at on-the-job training, so if you build up enough experience, you can move to either a permanent position on a counter, or work for somewhere like Heat.
Be comfortable working with models/celebrities
This is essential, and why working a beauty counter is such good experience; not everyone is comfortable having their makeup done, and you need to learn how to act. “There’s a big difference between models and celebs,” says Jo. “A celebrity may not feel as confident or comfortable trying out new looks as a model whose job it is so appreciating this difference is key.”
Lily also finds the general public equally varied: “Some are happy to take advice, whereas others have a specific look they want to stick to,” she says, “it’s about learning to spot skintone, but also how to know how receptive they’ll be!”
Know your cosmetics.
Google the range you’ll be using, if about to start a new job/do work experience/go to a new counter. Often you’re thrown into a situation using a brand you’re not familiar with, or a model is replaced at the last minute with a totally different skin tone. “On the counter, you learn how to identify the ranges,” says Lily. “All cosmetic brands have the same types, but with different names. Lipsticks are always either hydrating, matte or gloss. Foundation is longlasting, anti-fatigue etc. Identify which is which, and you’ll feel more comfortable using the makeup.” This goes for everything; if you can keep up to date with the new products and what they do, nothing can faze you.
Master the basics
If there’s anything you’re worried about, practice on willing subjects or ask someone senior. “When I arrive at a new counter, I always ask the manager what the best selling product is,” says Lily, but if you’re working on the job, always ask the makeup artist you’re shadowing.
Liquid eyeliner and foundation-matching are two of the most frequently asked makeup questions, so here are Jo’s tips:
Liquid liner tip: “To beat the wobble effect when applying liquid liner simply hold the elbow of the hand you’re applying the liner with with your other hand. It totally steadies it and ensures a perfect line!”
Foundation matching: “Never try foundation on the back of your hand, it’s a totally different shade to your face, the best place to try it is on your jaw line, where it meets your neck. Try at least three in the shade closest to your skin, put a stripe of each one on your jawline and then see which one is the least visible in natural light.”