Makeup Artist Career



Makeup artistry, in its simplest form, involves the application of makeup to the skin (usually the face and neck). But people in this profession—and certainly the people who rely on them—know that it is much more than that. Like an artist on canvas, the technique of the makeup artist is what usually sets them apart from their colleagues. It is this reason that some of the world’s best makeup artists have achieved fame and fortune.

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Makeup artists may work in a number of settings, each of which has its own set of requirements. Therefore, one makeup artist’s job description may look distinctly different from another makeup artist, depending on the setting in which they work. While some makeup artists work seamlessly between industries, others focus their craft on one setting.

Makeup Artists in the Fashion Industry

Makeup artists in the fashion industry are typically busy, sought-after professionals who are called upon to provide their makeup artistry services at fashion shoots and runway shows. Because makeup artists are most often led by the demands of the designer, editor, or fashion photographer, these beauty professionals must be able to create a specific look as to accommodate their client.

Makeup artists in the fashion industry are often part of a hair and stylist team, and they may work with a number of colleagues to prepare many models. If a specific look is called for, makeup artists must confer with one another to ensure that the look is consistent among all models. The fashion industry, because it is often fast-paced and demanding, requires makeup artists who are capable of remaining calm under pressure and working in less-than-ideal situations, such as in cramped spaces at fashion shows or in outdoor fashion shoots with difficult weather conditions.

Makeup Artists in the Theater Industry

Many makeup artists focus their careers on the theater industry, which requires professionals with highly creative minds to create makeup looks that achieve both visual and character interest. Specifically, makeup artists in the theater must create looks that are visible and/or appreciated from a long distance. They must also keep in mind special effects, performance space analysis, and varied theater lighting. Makeup artists in the theater are also often called upon to handle wigs, facial hair, and prosthetics.

Makeup artistry in the theater industry is not always just about applying makeup, but about transforming an actor into a specific character; it therefore often requires additional, specialized training in areas such as special effects makeup, airbrushing, and prosthetics.

Makeup artists working in special effects, for example, may spend hours creating a character, and they often work alongside directors to bring the character vision to reality.

Makeup Artists in the Television and Film Industry

The largest number of makeup artists work in the television and film industry. Whether they are applying makeup for basic newscasts or creating special effects makeup for Hollywood motion pictures, the job opportunities for makeup artists in television and film are diverse and plentiful.

Makeup techniques in this industry are directed by the needs of the production. As such, makeup artists must be flexible and capable of meeting the needs of the producer or director. Because today’s television and film screens are crisper and clearer than ever, the work of makeup artists is more important than ever. Makeup application must be precise and even the smallest details are critical. Like makeup artists in the theater, makeup artists in film and television must be able to work with special effects and prosthetics; therefore additional, specialized education and training are often pursued.

Makeup Artists in the Cosmetic Industry

The cosmetic industry is a huge industry where makeup artists can utilize their skills and talents in a number of different areas, whether they are working a department store’s makeup counter or serving as head of product development. For example, Bobbi Brown breaks down job opportunities with their company as follows:

  • Beauty Team: Comprised of individuals are able to exemplify Bobbi Brown’s philosophy and makeup artistry techniques
  • Business Managers/Counter Managers: Manages the overall performance of a Bobbi Brown counter, including sales and staff
  • Account Coordinators: Cover a specific territory, where they work closely with the counter staff, ensuring that all counters are kept to the brand’s standards and that all makeup artists are educated about the newest products and techniques
  • Account Executives: Responsible for multiple stores within a territory, working with retail partners to manage sales goals and objectives
  • Regional Sales Directors: Responsible for managing a region to ensure that all sales and project objectives are achieved
  • Education Executives: Educate counter staff on product knowledge and skills necessary to achieve Bobbi Brown standards and goals
  • Field Executive Directors: Responsible for supervising the regional sales directors and education executives
  • Corporate Positions: Includes positions in the corporate office in marketing, product research and development, finance, supply chain, human resources, and information technology

Although many of the jobs within a cosmetics company require additional education or degrees in areas such as finance or business management, all benefit from the education in makeup artistry.

Makeup Artists in the Salon and Bridal Industry

Makeup artists are often hired to perform special occasion makeup for events such as weddings, proms, and black tie events. Makeup artists in the personal services industry may work out of a studio, salon, or spa, or they may work as mobile makeup artists, traveling to the client.

Many high-end spas and salons have makeup artists on staff, while perhaps just as many makeup artists work as independent contractors, renting salon space. In larger cities, makeup salons are quite commonplace, with many popular makeup artists booked months in advance, such as during awards season in Los Angeles.

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