How to Become a Make-Up Artist
Theatrical and performance make-up artists create make-up and hairstyles for actors, singers, musicians, models and other entertainers. Make-up artists working in cosmetology may create looks for weddings, special events and private clients. A certificate, diploma or degree from a 9-month to 1-year beauty school or 2-year community college can help one to become a make-up artist.
Five Steps to Becoming a Make-Up Artist
Step One: Earning a High-School Diploma
Completing a high-school diploma or GED provides the basic skills to understand the field of make-up and prepare for college. In some states, a high school diploma or equivalent is also needed to get a cosmetologist's license. Helpful classes include drama, art, design and English.
Step Two: Getting Postsecondary Training and a License
One way to prepare for this career is with a 9-month to 1-year diploma or certificate from a cosmetology school. Some offer concentrations in special effects make-up for film, including courses in life casting, body-parts casting, mold sculpturing, using foam-rubber silicone, design and drawing. Other concentrations may focus on bridal make-up or techniques geared specifically to theater, television, film and fashion photography. Make-up schools can also prepare students for cosmetology licensure.
Prospective make-up artists may also want to consider an associate's degree in drama or theater from a 2-year community college. Such a program may offer courses not only in stage make-up, but also in lighting, stagecraft and production. An associate's degree can provide a solid foundation for future education, training and advancement.
Step Three : Gaining Experience and Contacts
Students in cosmetology programs gain hands-on experience working in school salons. Make-up artists can also earn early experience by volunteering services for independent films, student films or local theater performances. This provides both credited work and the chance to meet other artists in the film and theater fields, which can lead to further job opportunities.
Step Four: Creating a Portfolio
Keeping photographs of your work can help build a portfolio, which demonstrates your abilities to future employers and clients. Make-up artists can collaborate with photographers to create work that can contribute to portfolios for both. Ideally, a portfolio should highlight the variety of styles and looks the artist can create.
Step Five: Finding Work
Theatrical and performance make-up artists may work for theaters, television stations or production companies. They make work as employees or contract as freelancers. Employment opportunities are typically strongest in areas with numerous film production companies, theater groups and other media and performance companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, make-up artists in May, 2008 earned median hourly wages of $12.63 (www.bls.gov).
Cosmetologists, who may work in beauty salons or independently, may find wider, less geographically concentrated opportunities. Jobs for cosmetologists and hairstylists are expected to grow at a rate of 20% from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau. Cosmetologists earned median hourly wages of $11.13 as of May, 2008.
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