Make-Up Artists

Stuck for careers inspiration? Three insiders explain what you need to know to glam up the stars…

YOUR ROUTE IN Kimberley, 25, is a make-up artist from Leeds (
‘I always knew I wanted to be a make-up artist, so after my A-levels I did a three-year media make-up degree at Bradford University. It covered everything from fashion, film, TV and theatre to bridal stuff, and really prepared me for work – though my course didn’t have work placements, so i’d always check for that. There are loads of other ways to get in, including short-course diplomas at college. Thy’re more intense, but quite good as they offer experience along the way. You can do them over a couple of months, and they can cost up to £12,000. you come out with quite a big loan from uni, so both routes are pretty much the same price, but I think it’s definetely worth the inverstment. When I finished my degree I worked for free for other make-up artists in order to build up my portfolio, as it’s impossible to get without one. The jobs started coming through word of mouth. So far I’ve not applied for any of them – I got them all through contacts.’

A DAY IN THE LIFE Amy, 24, is a freelance TV make-up artist from London
‘I work on TV shows like The One Show and Keith Lemon’s Lemon la Vida Loca. I’m normally up at 5am, so I wear a comfy dress or jeans with a T-shirt but never heels, as you have to be on your feet all day. I see people in 15-minute slots, which is plenty for a guy, but for girls it can be stressful. The clock is constantly ticking. You have to be prepared for anything – I’ve been on my knees powdering people’s private parts for nude scenes in films before. For lunch you always get an hour – as the days are so long you need to have a break and eat. We might have already done an eight – hour day by then, so I usually need to grab people afterwards to redo their make-up. When I get home at 8.30pm I crash. I feel sorry for my boyfriend, as all my energy goes into such a long day.’

WHAT THE JOB DESCRIPTION WON’T TELL YOU Lucy, 28, is a make-up artist to the stars
‘You have to have a thick skin to work as a make-up artist. Celebs can have enormous egos and a lot of them are insecure, with unrealistic expectations. Sometimes it’s hard to bite my tongue when they give me a hard time. Certain reality TV stars will beg you to pile on more and more foundation and false lashes. They can get stroppy if you don’t give them exactly the right shade of eyebrow they want too. I often want to tell them they look like a drag queen, but it’s my job to tell them they look good.
Fake tan is the bane of my life, it might look good on TV, but it stinks and celebs sometimes turn up looking a bizarre colour. There are hazards of the job too. The other day, a celeb had a giant cold sore in the corner of her mouth. I tried to work around it, but a couple of days later a big one appeared on my face. It was gross. If you’re the kind of person who’s OK not knowing where their next job is coming from (or when you might get paid), it’s the best job in the world. The hours can be long and there are a lot of early starts too, but no two days are ever the same. 

WHAT’S THE MOST I COULD EARN: Top freelancers can earn up to £3000 a day on fashion shows and editorial campaigns.
KEY QUALITIES: Creativity, reliability, confidence and communication skills.
QUALIFICATIONS: A degree isn’t essential but competition is fierce, so most people get a diploma or foundation degree in professional make-up. Work experience is another in-route, through contacts.

(Please Note: The information is from the More Magazine article ‘Spotlight on Make-up Artists’ in Issue 4th March 2013, I did not write this!)

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