Sunday, July 28, 2013

How to Become a Makeup Artist Timeline

I learn best with visual guides so I decided to put together this "basic timeline" of events that depicts the journey of a Professional Makeup Artist. Everyone's journey as a Makeup Artist is different, there is no one way of getting there. There is no cookie cutter to become a Pro MUA. Everyone has their own unique story but I wanted to create a timeline that would depict general milestones to get there. So let me elaborate on the "stages"

I'm sure we can all agree that to start a career as a Makeup Artist you need to have a passion for it. It is important because this translates into your work, into every face you touch, and into your daily life. I believe the reason this is the most important quality is that there will be days that don't go so well and there will be people that will tell you "You can't make it". On those days your passion is needed the most because it will be what fuels you to continue on your journey. It's also important because our industry is constantly changing and it's important to know about the latest products, it takes passion to continue evolving as an artist. Just Do It.

After passion this is the most important step in becoming a Makeup Artist and guess what? It NEVER ends, a true Makeup Artist knows that in order to achieve better results in your career you must constantly learn, learn, learn. So as far as training we have a few options you can enroll in a Makeup Academy, self teach, be fortunate enough to assist a Makeup Artist or a combination. This all really depends on your budget, lifestyle and the support system you have around you. As fun as this industry may seem it's not always the easiest to break into, there are so many talented MUA's out there so you must be able to back up your portfolio with actual technique.

Makeup Academy- Every city is different I live in Los Angeles and it feels like a new makeup school opens every week. We have many options here but other cities may not be the same. Ask for a brochure or even better if you can visit the location while class is going on. Also make sure to talk to graduate students to find out if they were not only trained but what relationship was maintained with the academy post graduation. Don't think that more tuition means better education, do your homework - Google the school, the instructors, past students, ask if there is a kit included and job placement relationships with the  academy. I know at Downey Makeup Academy the tuition is $3K and I've heard nothing but amazing reviews from  numerous past students. Compared to another distinguished institution here in LA that charges 8K+ and I haven't heard such great reviews from their past students. Don't forget to find out what your state laws enforce, in some states you MUST be a licensed cosmetologist to do makeup it varies by state.

30 Questions to Ask a Makeup School Before Enrolling

Self Taught- So many makeup artist are self taught, including yours truly. We are fortunate to be around at a time where you can find out how to become a MUA with the touch of a button. We can use Youtube, blogs, Pinterest, Facebook and the rest of the social media outlets that are currently available. I'm personally a huge fan of books, those written by legendary MUA's and those used in Makeup Academies ( My Joe Blasco book changed my life) My other favorite source of education is trade shows, seminars and classes held by cosmetic lines. I love going to Nigel's Beauty Emporium to attend classes by Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics & Make Up For Ever and I try to never miss a trade show (IMATS,The Makeup Show, PHAMExpo) Click here to see my list of Makeup Artist Trade shows in 2015

Both options are great but your success will depend on one thing... YOU! Your drive, your passion, your hustle I've seen amazingly talented MUA's from both backgrounds.

Your portfolio will be your biggest money maker if you put it together well, what do I mean by that? Well, you will need to have two portfolios: one online and one physical one. In our industry both are important especially when you are landing higher paying jobs but it seems that a physical one is becoming non existent. Most people with the power to hire you have very little time and want to be able to see a website in a second. I also know of artist who carry an ipad/tablet around and that's their port instead. Your portfolio should show off your BEST work,  your range of work, and have a focused theme. If you are trying to do fashion makeup focus your portfolio on fashion, there's no reason you should build a commercial portfolio if you want to be featured in high fashion magazines. Also make sure you have a range of race, age, and facial features. It is important to have models of all colors in your book, you never know who will be sitting in your chair. In order to build your portfolio you will have to do "test shots" with local photographers. At the same time your Makeup kit should be coming together, this part can take some time. You'll quickly find out that makeup can run pretty expensive even with our MUA discounts. In my kit alone I probably haul around close to $5,000 worth of products. I'm going to create another post dedicated to portfolios, testing & makeup kit, so I can go in depth for each category. Click here to read my full makeup artist kit list and download a free pdf!


In this stage I recommend artist to work as many aspects of our industry as possible and figure out what they love doing most. As a MUA you can work doing fashion, commercial, film, trade shows, become an educator, bridal, makeovers, salons, theatre, special events, special FX, red carpets, I mean the list is endless! I always say try each one at least 3 times to get a true feel for what it entails, also try mixing up the crew or client involved. Many times the creative team behind your project has ALOT to do with your outlook. This is a great stage to network & self promote to build your clientele, this can take time and is another constant task. At this point it may be a great idea to assist other MUA's no matter what level you're at as a makeup artist there will always be a MUA you can learn from so be humble and excited for assistant opportunities. Work as much as you can on as many different people, projects, and events. They say you become an expert in your field when you've done 10,000hrs of work, so start clocking in.


This is a stage not all Makeup Artist need to take especially now with all the social media outlets we have available and it varies city to city. Most major artist though tend to be signed with an agency and receive most of the highest paying jobs. Often times a big client won't want to go through the hassle of hiring separate models, photographers, mua's, and it becomes easier to go to a one stop shop for all their needs. An agency will become your booking agent, take a percentage, and protect your reputation. Always make sure to Google an agency your interested in, talk to current talent, and always read the fine print. Most contracts include length, whether or not you can take non agency jobs, and a code of conduct.

Full List of Makeup Artist Agencies

At this point most MUA's have at least 10+ years in the business. You are able to book high paying jobs, celebrity clients, and really have the luxury to pick and choose clients. Many MUA's can go so many different routes from being a celebrity MUA to launching your own cosmetic line to being the head MUA for a department on a hit TV series or movie. There are also awards available for MUA's like Academy awards for Best Hair & makeup. At this point most MUA's are also part of a local MUA union. Success is defined individually so don't think you have to be doing Beyonce's makeup to be a fulfiilled MUA, success comes in different forms so go out there and find yours.