Over the years, I have received a lot of e-mail from people asking about how to get into the makeup field for film and television. I decided to add this page to my web site to give my comments on this subject.
Please read it thoroughly before emailing me with questions.
Each make-up artist in the business has their own story on how they got into the business. For me, I was taught basic stage make-up by my father, who had been in Vaudeville when I was a young girl. I started in this business as a performer. When I made the decision to become a full-time make-up artist, I began reading books such as Stage Make-up by Richard Corson, Special MakeUp Effects for Stage and Screen by Todd Debreceni, Fashions in Makeup: From Ancient to Modern Times by Richard Corson, Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years by Richard Corson, Technique of the Professional Make-up Artist by Vincent Kehoe and apprenticing under other make-up artists. There are many other books out there, but these give you the basics.
Another good source about the business of Make-up is Make Up Artist
Magazine. They have a book and video section that you can purchase some of the books I have mentioned here, plus many other wonderful sources of information about the craft including links to other make-up artists,make-up suppliers and schools for make-up. On the main page of my site is the link to other crafts people in the industry, check those out as well.
Here is another link that you should check out for good professional make-up information at Makeup411.com
To get into this business, there are several things to remember: there are no guarantees, no steady paychecks, it’s either feast or famine and sometimes its not what you know but who you know.
There are many schools out there. You must research them carefully. Always check credentials. Never go on just what they tell you. No school should guarantee you employment. They can only teach you the skills to get you started to seek your own employment. Sometimes colleges and universities have master classes and symposiums. Check your local papers for their class schedules.
If you live in a large city like L.A. or New York, you have an advantage because there are many more resources and other make-up artists to apprentice under. Take advantage of these resources and count yourself lucky to have access to them! If you live in Australia, Melbourne has grown as a film community. The United Kingdom, London has a large industry. Canada, Vancouver and Toronto is bursting with film and TV activity. Watch for scams! Some unscrupulous TV production companies are advertising on Craig’s list by offering positions in exchange for union hours. This is scam for free labor. Union productions have to pay their employees what is agreed upon in the contracts. No one can work for free and get union hours credit! Be careful.
To get into the union? Well that depends on where you live geographically. Each local has their own criteria to enter. All require a lot of professional experience(three to five years on legit projects) and testing to enter or attendance in union-sanctioned classes. The skills required for the test are skills that every make-up artist should know and have.
To conclude, you better really love this business and be prepared to not have job security. Get the books and read them. Continue to take classes. Practice on your friends. Learn the craft. As I said before there are no guarantees in this business and always have some sort of other skill to fall back on during the lean times.