Life On The Job: Make-up Artist

Summer Chew, a make-up artist tells gradmalaysia.com readers what it's like to be in her shoes!
gradmalaysia_ Make-up Artist_Summer Chew_2017
Summer Chew
Make-up Artist
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What will I do?

The job scopes out there are plenty – depending on what piques your interest. You may be a make-up artist for high fashion magazines, fashion runways, TV, movies or music videos, for brides, red carpet events, celebrities’ personal make-up artist or teaching make-up at schools. You may even be a YouTuber!

Is it for me?

First and foremost, you need to be interested in art. Basic skills especially knowledge in colour and face proportion are very important. It is okay if you are not good at drawing on a piece of paper but keep practising and you’ll get there.

Secondly, you would need to learn the type of products you will be using for specific clients. Think of yourself as a chemist understanding his apparatus to prevent a mishap. This is very important because this is someone’s face you are handling.

Thirdly, interpersonal skills are important as a make-up artist. It is important to be able to comfortably interact with them face to face. Pun intended. Having good people skills is a bonus after assuring them with a portfolio, will keep clients coming back.

So, here are some questions you can ask yourself if this job is for you!

  • Are you passionate in art or just make-up specifically?
  • Are you comfortable with strangers?
  • Are you comfortable with spontaneity?
  • Are you good with being under time pressure?
  • Are you a team player?

What is the most enjoyable part of the job?

After all the back and forth communication during the planning stage, you would have a clear vision of the look the client wishes to create with you. However, there will be inevitable pop up challenges that would require improvisations to be made at the eleventh hour. These new improvisations – that no eyes have ever seen before – are fresh ideas from the top of your mind at that given moment.

It is the excitement during this journey that is the most enjoyable part of the job. The thrill of seeing your hard work on video, photo or a magazine for the first time or seeing the look of awe on a bride’s beautiful face during her wedding. The thrill of working together with a team to bring an abstract idea into concrete reality is my favourite part of what I do. It is really fulfilling in bringing out the best in people through beauty.

Who will employ me?

Your clients would include those in the media industry, like Astro and magazines like Vogue. Cosmetic brands like Bobby Brown, Nars, Inglot are always looking for make-up artists.

You have a sea of potential clients from all walks of life, some of which would include: fashion designers for their runways, singers, celebrities, or regular people attending red carpet events or exclusive functions.

How much will I earn?

Based on my research, the lowest can be at US$24,000 to as high as US$100,000 per year or higher with the overseas market included.

You can do freelancing as well but always start with a company to save up first. Once you have a steady stream of clients, only then should you consider coming out to do freelancing as a permanent job.

How can I specialise in this line of work?

Academically, once you decide what industry you wish to work for, you should start looking for courses that cater to the kind of skill you want to specialise in.

For the movie industry, you can look in SFX skills that specialises in character building like Captain Jack Sparrow or monsters like Teen Wolf, Harry Potter or Lady Gaga’s alien looks.

For the fashion industry, you can look into make-up that caters specifically to photo shoots and runways. You’ll also be learning history of make-ups from the oldies to the millennium.

For the bridal industry, it specialises more on the natural look. The products you are taught to use could be different depending on the schools. Air brushing is also one of the skills that is very popular now. Hair service should be included as it is the norm here in Malaysia to be provided together.

What advice do you have for graduates?

It’s a job that is always changing in trend yet it is an oxymoron delight; where it is always different with the seasons, but always comes back in a circle with a modern twist.