As I’ve worked in the cosmetics industry I’ve had the opportunity to work with makeup artists, makeup schools and professional makeup companies; living in Hollywood, California for the last 10 years has increased my exposure to those various companies. Throughout that time I’ve also had the opportunity to learn how to apply the makeup that I’ve been creating for years and even learn some of the fun aspects of makeup artistry including working with latex and silicone FX makeup. I’ve been fortunate in that all the additional knowledge I’ve acquired has been a result of work that I’ve done with these companies. Many of the students I’ve met, haven’t been as fortunate in that they’ve had to pay full price (sometimes upwards of $30,000) for the same knowledge. At the end of their studies they are generally given the opportunity to venture out and apply their new trade for free, maybe if they’re lucky than can get a kit fee (usually around $45) for a day’s worth of work. I’ve heard the term “paying their dues” applied to this over the years, of course the people saying this were the same ones charging the 30 thousand dollars. I for one have always felt like the new makeup artists are being taken advantage of, perhaps it has more to do with my inner capitalist screaming at the thought of a person giving away their time. The old adage “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” comes to mind: When you start down the path of giving your services or product away for free, it is incredibly difficult to ever break that cycle. Whereas it may take a little longer for you to be a makeup artist when you charge for your skills, I believe that when we earn payment for our work we carry our heads a little higher and the have more pride in our work in the end gain greater respect from our customers.
That being said, I want to share with you some of the things that I’ve learned that can help you save a lot of money if your interested in learning more about makeup artistry.
A while back I listened to an interview that Denis Leary gave with regards to becoming a filmmaker, his advice was,” If you want to be a filmmaker, take the money you were going to spend on film school, go out, buy a camera and make your movie.” Similar advice can be given for makeup artistry.
With the filmmaking technology ever changing, and with all the needed skills required to be an expert shade matcher and makeup artist, it could seem overwhelming to start pursuing your makeup dreams without having to spend 10’s of thousands of dollars in instruction. However if you have no experience in professional makeup artistry, perhaps one of the best books on the market for self-instruction has to be Richard Corson’s “Stage Makeup”.
This instructional book provides a wealth of technical knowledge of how to manipulate light and color to achieve effects. These lessons can be applied not only to stage and effects makeup but also to all makeup applications. You will also find that many of the lessons being taught by Richard Corson, are the same lessons being taught in the makeup schools for thousand of dollars.
Having access to the knowledge is only part of the equation for being a makeup artist. Another, potentially more expensive part is building your makeup kit. A makeup artist can very quickly spend thousands of dollars to build their kit and when you consider that most cosmetics have a maximum shelf life of 3 years (many have an even shorter shelf life and natural makeup has as little as a 90 day shelf life past the date of opening) it is very easy to spend a great deal of money on makeup over a short period of time. When you also look at just the base make ups (foundation & correctives (neutralizers, shaders and highlights)) it is not out of the realm of possibility that you will buy upwards of 25 to 30 different shades of makeup, given the need to have to blend for lighter skinned and ethnic makeup, even though makeup artists will generally custom blend makeup by combining the numerous shades they have in their kit, they will still need to buy many shades in order to be able to create the many different types of skin tones they may encounter on the set. Given that many professional foundation brands may cost upwards of $15 to $20 per ½ oz. of makeup, you can very quickly spend up to $600 just for foundation. If you consider the frustration of discontinued makeup and other discontinued cosmetics, the benefit of being able to make your own makeup becomes apparent. Being able to make truly custom makeup has been a desire of professional makeup artists as long as there has been the need for different colors. By custom blending your own colors you have the ability to carry less base materials and spend considerably less money to achieve the same, if not better end results. Whereas you might spend upwards of $600 dollars for 25 to 30 individual makeup bases by purchasing a custom blending kit such as the Ultra Matrix 3000 custom foundation kit by By Jove Cosmetics, you could spend as little as $30 for their starter kit which would let you blend up to about 2 oz. of foundation and/or correctives. With the refill bases for By Jove costing as little as $10.50 an oz. in their discount program, both aspiring and professional makeup artists alike can see substantial savings in their makeup kits as well as the need to carry considerably less materials.
As companies like By Jove Cosmetics continue to expand their custom blending kits to include Blush, Eye shadow and Lip colors, any color in the rainbow will be achievable by everyone who can see color.
With free access to the internet being what it is, there is such a wealth of knowledge and networking access (via Facebook, Twitter and MySpace) that is available today that anyone who desires to be a professional makeup artist can do so from virtually anywhere in the world and you should not feel like you have to go to Hollywood or New York and spend tens of thousands of dollars to get your start.
By: D. Swanick
D. Swanick is a 23 year veteran of the cosmetic industry, having experience with working as a formulator, product developer and process engineer/operations specialist for many cosmetic companies. He has personally been involved with the creation, development and launch of many cosmetic product lines.