What is a Make-up artist? The School Leaver Guide
What is a Make up artist?
Depending on the type of event that they are covering, a Make-up Artist ensures models, performers and TV hosts look presentable for an audience or on camera. They work alongside photographers and production teams to reach a creative goal. A Make-up artist will also need to work to a clients’ brief if they are doing the make-up for a wedding or party.
If you want to be a freelance Make-up Artist, it is best to start building up a portfolio on social media – Instagram is a great platform for this.
What does a Make up artist do?
A Make-Up Artist needs to have extensive knowledge of the latest fashion trends as they will be expected to replicate similar or produce equally inventive designs for clients. A typical day for a Make-Up Artist will involve:
- Fitting headpieces and wigs on models
- Keeping up to date with viral trends
- Sourcing materials within a client's budget
- Ordering equipment from specialist suppliers
- Working quickly and professionally to complete the makeup within the allocated time
- Taking pictures and maintaining an online portfolio
- Sketching design ideas for hairstyles and makeup
- Demonstrating an understanding of colour tones and photographic effects on makeup
- Making sure makeup products are in line with a client’s ethical values (e.g. some clients may not want to use brands that test their makeup on animals)
- Being knowledgeable of the chemicals and products in makeup and making sure clients will not have an allergic reaction (artists may perform patch tests on clients)
- Liaising with hairstylists, fashion designers and photographers (if they are working on a magazine or clothing shoot)
- Working with directors and reading scripts to form a better understanding of the type of character that clients may be playing in a film, television series or play
Skills & interests required for a Make up artist
- A sociable demeanour
- Ability to make clients comfortable whilst doing their makeup
- Detailed knowledge of fashion
- Able to keep up with makeup trends
- Excellent makeup skills
- Ability to self-promote on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube
- Good understanding of camera and lighting process
- An ability to think innovatively
- Able to network with hairstylists, art directors, magazine editors, directors, actors, producers
The working hours of Make-Up Artists tend to vary week from week, particularly if they are freelance. Weekend work and late shifts are common in this position.
On a set or in the clients’ home.
Travel is necessary to and from the venues.
Salary ranges & earning potential
A Trainee Make-Up Artist earns an hourly rate of £5.90 to £7.38 under the National Minimum Wage. The rate will depend on the Make-Up Artists’ age.
Make-Up Artists over 25 years-old will receive the National Living Wage at £7.83 per hour.
Artists working in London receive an hourly wage of £10.20. The price is higher to reflect the higher cost of living in the capital.
Head Make-Up Artists can earn between £170 to £320 for a ten-hour editorial work.
Lead Make-Up Artists can earn £450 a day for fashion events like London Fashion Week.
Perks & benefits
The opportunity to potentially work with celebrities and well regarded artists from other fields.
There are no minimum qualifications needed for this role. A higher education qualification is not required. However, NVQs in Beauty Therapy, Hairdressing and Theatrical Make-Up can offer artists the confidence and networking opportunities that they need to enter the industry.
The most important step toward getting a job as a make-up artist is experience. Trainee artists tend to work for free or offer low rates in order to build up their reputation and clientele. Prospective make-up artists can also can shadow make-up artists and work backstage on campus plays or small production companies in order to build up experience.
Useful subjects to study at school
- Art & Design
- Costume Design
- Beauty Therapy