paths of makeup artist
Freelance Makeup Artist
Within this category, there are nearly endless options. Many freelance makeup artists start their own makeup businesses. As your own boss, you can decide all the different niches you want to work in. From fashion to bridal to special effects makeup. As a freelance makeup artist, you are able to freely take on contract opportunities as they arise. This is one of the most flexible careers out there!
Film and Television Makeup Artist
This diverse option will put you on the set of films, television shows, and commercials. In most cases, you’ll do natural makeup application. The goal is to make actors look like “enhanced” versions of themselves. Occasionally, a role may require aging or specialty applications. As you grow your media portfolio, you may have the opportunity to work with celebrities.
Runway Makeup Artist
Becoming a runway makeup artist isn’t for everyone. The work is fast-paced and fun—but it can be extremely stressful, too. You’ll be applying makeup to models to complement a designer’s collection. If you are the key artist, you may also have the opportunity to design the makeup concept. These makeup applications affect the trends for the upcoming season. Expect to create bold, exciting, or at the very least, provocative looks.
Print Makeup Artist
If you’re shooting a commercial, you’re selling a product. Think about familiar ad campaigns (excluding makeup ads) you’ve seen throughout your life. The looks tend to be quite simple. Afterall, you don’t want the makeup to distract from the product being sold in the ad!
If you’re working for a fashion or magazine publication, you’re selling a lifestyle or a brand image. In this case, your job as a makeup artist isn’t just to sell the clothing. Your work should also enhance the mood and “feel” the garments are supposed to give off.
If you’re shooting for editorial, you’re selling a story or communicating a theme. Editorial looks will likely be more avant garde compared to commercial work. Your job is to create a dramatic look to tell the editorial story.
Ultimately, you must work with your employer or client to meet their goals.
Red Carpet and Celebrity Makeup Artist
These applications are the ones that get the most press. A celebrity’s images travel the globe and becomes the inspiration for many beauty and fashion trends. As a celebrity makeup artist, you may work with someone once or you may work with them for years. It all comes down to your chemistry with the celebrity client. Not to mention your ability to create beautiful looks that complement, but do not overshadow, their public persona.
Theatrical Makeup Artist
Theatrical makeup is a little different than the other makeup opportunities out there. Your story-telling abilities are on full display in this role. For most theatrical makeup jobs, you’ll need to design makeup that enhances the actors’ natural physical features. Audience members sitting farthest from the stage should still be able to see the actors’ expressions. A theater can be huge, so it is necessary for eyes to look bigger and cheeks to appear rosier. Occasionally, there will be a character who requires specialty makeup. But the majority of the time, the makeup simply enhances the actors’ existing features.
Costume Makeup Artist
This may not be everyone’s first choice, but face painting and temporary tattoos can earn you a decent part-time makeup salary. Whether you work at an amusement park or at children’s parties, you will gain income and valuable makeup practice as you build your professional portfolio.
Mortuary Makeup Artist
Working in a funeral home can be very rewarding. When working in this capacity, it is your job to make the deceased appear as they did when they were living. This is work can bring a great deal of comfort and peace to loved ones. Most makeup artists who work in funeral homes will also attend mortuary school to learn embalming techniques to provide full-service transformations.
Bridal Makeup Artist
If women only pay to have their makeup done once in their lives, they will choose their wedding. On their wedding day, a bride will have thousands of photos taken of her. Knowing this, brides (and their wedding party) want to look their best. If you are an expert at bridal application, you can make an amazing living (even in a small town!)
Spa/Salon Makeup Artist
There are a lot of makeup job opportunities available in a spa setting. Almost every spa and hair salon has a makeup artist consultant. Especially if a client wants to have their hair, nails, and makeup done at the same location. A salon makeup artist may do makeup for weddings, special occasions, or to provide lessons. Often in a spa, an esthetics license will be required. Especially if they are doing a facial treatment or other permanent or semi-permanent chemical treatments prior to makeup application.
Other Makeup Artist Careers
For many, after earning their makeup artistry certification they will want to work on the front lines and be applying makeup every day. In fact, many people believe that a career in makeup begins and ends with cosmetic application. But there are other job opportunities in the beauty and makeup world. Check out these other makeup careers available to the certified makeup artist.
As a makeup artist, you could work alongside cosmetic chemists in the development of new products. Having so much direct contact with so many people, a makeup artist can offer amazing insights to the scientist. Whether it be ideas for new products or the testing of current ones, your insights can have a major impact on a product’s development.
Use your professional makeup training to teach the next generation of artists! Teaching makeup artist classes can be an amazing opportunity in the makeup field. Whether you are sharing classic techniques or simply showing people how to look and feel their best every day, education is a noble pursuit.
Brand Representative or Retail
As a brand representative, you have the opportunity to introduce products and brands to both consumers and retail locations. When working as a retail makeup artist, you’ll demonstrate product use, teach essential makeup application skills, and find the perfect product to meet the customer’s needs. These jobs are often commission-based and require that a specific quota be reached each day. Working as a professional makeup artist at MAC or Sephora fall under this category.
You may also have the opportunity to travel and teach teams at major retailers the secrets behind your product. How you share your knowledge will directly affect whether or not the retailer succeeds in selling the brand you represent. Brand reps may even work on television, in infomercials or on home shopping television.
If you have a talent for writing, beauty writing may be the career for you. Whether you share your knowledge and insights on a blog or write for a national magazine, there are many untapped opportunities in the writing field. Backed by your professional makeup education, you can review products and test out the latest trends. Your articles can provide valuable insight to consumers. This is a great way to share your passion with the world.
Growth Activity: Choose your career option(s) you plan on taking as a makeup artist and if there is more than one path, how will you incorporate that in overall goals.
Research the duties, requirements and salary associated with the direction you are looking to take in the industry.