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Whether It’s on sets for film or television productions, for live shows such as concerts or theatrical performances, or for clients who want to look their best for a special occasion, Make Up artists are in demand across all walks of life and all levels of income. Some work in salons or spas, some work from home or even on location.

Whether you specialise in stage, screen or special occasions, make-up artists have an important role to play and here are some qualities that most clients will be looking for in a make-up artist, including:

  • Artistic flair and creativity – as well as enhancing someone’s features and recreating particular looks, if you can innovate and use your abilities to design new ways of applying colour and creating new looks then demand for your services will increase
  • Good communication skills – whether it’s getting exactly the look a bride has asked for, or recreating an idea from a director, prioritising effective communication is the only way to ensure that your work meets expectations.
  • Excellent organisational skills – you will need to manage your supplies, ascertain how long each job will take, handle your bookings schedule, keep records of everything you earn and spend and deal with clients.
  • Flexibility – you may be required to drive across the country to do a star’s makeup at dawn, or to be on hand to touch up a bride’s face before the reception gets underway, so you will need to be prepared to work outside normal office hours, at weekends and to work wherever your clients need you.
  • Confidence and the ability to work well under pressure – you may have limited time, a critical audience, or a client who changes their mind at the last minute, and you need to be able to handle all of those things and more with a calm demeanour and a steady hand.

Anyone who wants to become a freelance make-up artist can expect to perform the following tasks:

  • Client consultations where you will need to prepare designs and put together ideas in order to ensure that you are able to provide the service hey are paying for.
  • Maintain an accurate inventory of your supplies to ensure that you have enough stock to fulfil all upcoming orders, and keep records of all your outgoings to enable you to set your prices at a sustainable level.
  • Design a process for assessing clients’ needs and requirements including checking any allergies they might have and getting written confirmation of the price and details of their requirements.
  • Incorporate and style hairpieces or wigs
  • Design and create special effects including prostheses, use of new products or techniques or recreating classic looks using authentic methods.

Qualifications and training

There are no minimum requirements for anyone considering becoming a make-up artist, but it is much easier to find work if you have completed a recognised qualification and there are plenty to choose from. There are shorter courses which can give you a diploma, NVQ or HND in a range of topics, including make-up for film, television, stage, events, learning how to give general make-up advice and cosmetic sciences. There are also degree courses which will cover almost all aspects of training as a make-up artist and will prepared you to take your career in any direction you choose.

Qualifications can also include hairdressing, special effects make-up for productions, prosthetic preparation, scientific research into new cosmetic procedures and a range of other specialisms should you choose to follow any of these paths.

Benefits of freelancing as a make-up artist

One of the main benefits to freelancing as a make-up artist is the flexibility that self employment offers. Many freelancers earn more than their employed counterparts, although your work schedule may not be regular so it is always best to consider your average earnings when working out what you can expect to earn. Our Freelancer Calculator is perfect for helping you to work out how much you could take home if you decide to become your own boss.

There are other benefits to freelancing which can include:

  • The ability to choose your own hours – as a freelancer, you can decide when you will and won’t work and arrange your jobs around any other commitments you might have.
  • Tax benefits – as a freelancer you will have the potential to take advantage of tax planning opportunities and to maximise your income.
  • Being your own boss – you have the final say on who you work for and what jobs you do.
  • Job satisfaction – because you can choose who you work for and which projects you will take on, you will be able to steer your career in the direction of your choice and have the chance to enjoy it in whatever way you choose.

Finding work as a make-up artist

As a freelancer, you will need to actively seek out clients, whether that’s using contacts to gain personal recommendations or searching through jobs sites and wanted ads to try and build up a roster of clients. Often freelancers find that word of mouth advertising is the most effective, and particularly in specialised industries where many potential clients will know one another. If you get the opportunity to work with a big name in your chosen field, then you could find that work comes your way without you needing to market yourself a huge amount.

However, even if you are lucky enough to be sought out by potential clients, there are some things that are always worth doing to ensure that the work doesn’t dry up:

  • Set up your own website – you can include details of your qualifications, experience and an online portfolio where you can showcase your work. If you need photographs, then you can volunteer at a local events such as fashion shows or you can offer your services to a local college or amateur dramatics group in exchange for some photos of the end results.
  • Create business cards – there are plenty of websites which have software that can help you create a business card that really sums up your services. Always carry a supply around and hand them out to anyone who seems interested in your work.
  • Talk to your contacts – from suppliers to college tutors, old friends to classmates and former colleagues, anyone who works in or around the industry could be dealing with potential clients or might know someone who is hiring.
  • Local adverts or promotions could help you to get started with a potentially loyal local client base.

Good luck on becoming a make up artist! You may also find the following pages helpful:

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