Makeup Artist Career Essay Sample

Education has and always will be the lifeblood of my brand, both for its ability to empower and inspire. My passion lies in making sure both aspiring makeup artists and my customers have access to the right techniques, and tools (literally and figuratively) to succeed in today's competitive market. As a self taught makeup artist, I have experienced the ups and downs of the ever-changing beauty industry, which is why I created my very own Makeup Academy -- to educate, prepare and inspire the next generation of creatives. It may seem like all you need to become a working artist is a well stocked kit and some makeup know-how, but that assumption can be the first step to failure. Here are a few tips I like to share with my academy students across the globe to help them jump start their careers.

Start With Retail
There's never a dull day when you work as a freelancer because you never know who's going to end up in your makeup chair! I've met and worked with women from all walks of life, and it's my responsibility as the artist to read their social queues, adjust my attitude and make them feel comfortable interacting with me. After all, doing someone's makeup is a physical, intimate experience and I always want my clients to feel safe and confident in my hands.

I ALWAYS suggest starting in retail, the shop floor is where you learn those valuable people skills, selling skills (because at the end of the day, you're selling yourself!) and you get to practice your makeup and application skills.

Stay Informed
A good makeup artist knows what's happening right now, but a great makeup artist knows what will happen next. Not only do you need to be all over what's happening in the industry, but you need to know the trends AND be the trendsetter. After all, your clients are a lot more likely to pick up the phone and make that next appointment if they know you'll be clueing them into the latest looks and helping them find the hottest new brands and products. Even better, they'll be more inclined to talk positively about you, and that's something money just can't buy.

How do you ensure you're up to date on all the latest makeup innovations and hot new trends? Set aside an hour or two a day to browse your favorite websites, mags and blogs for the most recent beauty and fashion news. If you have the budget to travel, major cosmetic conferences are another great way to explore what's next in the world of makeup.

Promote Yourself
As a makeup artist, you are your own brand. As the founder, president, CEO, head of creative and sole employee, it is up to YOU to market yourself and promote your work. Begin with an online portfolio. Upload a few photos you are proud of and continue to add and change images as your skills evolve. Keeping your portfolio up to date with fresh imagery demonstrates that you are active, engaged, and in demand.

Embrace social media! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube play a huge part in helping you build your business. Allow future clients the opportunity to contact you with questions and feedback. Customers these days want and expect instant access, and the sooner you embrace the digital world, the faster you can acquire more work.

I wouldn't have chosen another career for myself; makeup artistry really combines skill, creativity, a certain amount of science and a requirement for emotional intelligence... But like anything, you really need to work hard to get anywhere. My biggest tip? Believe in yourself, plan, and then go for it. Everything is possible!

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Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Median—$32,630 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Makeup artists are experts at giving people a desired look through the use of makeup, wigs, and other tools of the trade. Many makeup artists work in a theater or performance environment. Others apply makeup for television and film. Some makeup artists put lipstick and mascara on department store customers in order to help sell mass-market makeup products. Cosmetic companies also employ makeup artists as consultants. Makeup artists are often hired for one-time events like fashion shows or weddings.

The job of show business makeup artists is to apply makeup to performers according to the specific needs of the person or show. In some cases, they may use makeup to make an actor look much older or younger, or even to look like a monster or alien. In other situations, the job involves simply hiding blemishes and making the performer look as beautiful as possible under stage lights. Makeup artists who work in this type of setting must be knowledgeable about the effects of stage lighting on a person's appearance. These artists must also be good at analyzing a script to make sure the characters end up looking the way they are described. All of these decisions must be made in collaboration with directors and costume designers.

Makeup artists are also special effects experts in a sense. They must have the skill to give performers realistic looking scars, make them look sick, or give them other unusual physical characteristics as necessary. Sometimes this involves making rubber or plastic "prostheses," or pieces that are applied to change the performers' appearance. To design the right prostheses, a makeup artist must be able to accurately evaluate the place in which the performance will take place, taking into account the size of the venue, lighting, and distance between the audience and the stage.

In the consumer market, a makeup artist must understand color and skin tone in order to match each customer with the right makeup. They must also understand what kinds and amounts of makeup are appropriate for different people. For example, makeup that looks good on a nightclub bartender might be totally inappropriate on a business executive—even if the two are identical twins.

Makeup artists must also be skin care experts. They must be on the lookout for allergic reactions and other possible negative effects of makeup. This involves knowing how to assess performers' skin types to avoid irritation or rashes.

The most important trait in successful makeup artists is creativity. They must be able to visualize a particular look, then bring it to life with the makeup, wigs, and prosthesis they have available.

Education and Training Requirements

Education and training requirements for makeup artists varies widely from one type of job to another. While students can specialize in makeup application at some schools of cosmetology, there is no standard certification required to work in the field. Many makeup artists acquire their skills by participating in amateur community theater or other smaller performance environments and learning from others with more experience.

Getting the Job

College placement offices can often provide information about how to find a job with a commercial cosmetics company or department store. The best route to a job in a performance environment may be to volunteer with smaller organizations in order to build an impressive portfolio—a collection of photographs of work samples. Internships may be available with television stations, theater companies, or fashion designers.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

While the demand for makeup artists is expected to grow ten to twenty percent through 2014, it is difficult to earn a comfortable living in this occupation. A very small percentage of makeup artists become well known and are sought after by stars and wealthy individuals for personal service. Fewer still end up designing their own lines of makeup products. Many makeup artists must supplement their incomes with "day jobs" that pay stable wages.

Working Conditions

Makeup artists who work for department stores, makeup manufacturers, or established film or television production companies or performance organizations can expect to work regular hours in a well-lit, comfortable setting.

Earnings and Benefits

Makeup artists' income varies widely according to experience and the nature of the job. Median annual earnings in 2004 were $32,630. Salaries for those just beginning their career tend to be quite low. Those with established careers in network television, the Hollywood film industry, or the Broadway theater business may command substantially higher wages. Makeup artists working full time for large companies usually receive health insurance, paid vacation, and other benefits, while those on the fringes of the industry must often provide their own insurance and retirement plans.

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