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How to Become a Professional Makeup Artist

Getting into the makeup artist field requires perseverance as well as talent. If you have these, you'll be packing your bags for Hollywood before you know it.


  • Step 1: Understand the realities of the field Understand the competitive and demanding nature of this field. In addition to having talent, you need to be willing to work long hours on an episodic schedule.
  • TIP: Many makeup artists only work sporadically and 70-hour weeks can be typical.
  • Step 2: Volunteer for student films and small theaters Offer your skills as a makeup artist for free on student films and for community theater productions to strengthen your resume.
  • Step 3: Take makeup artist classes Enroll at a reputable school that offers makeup artist classes. Note that most of the top schools are in the Los Angeles area.
  • TIP: Check out some schools before making a selection. You can find many on the web.
  • Step 4: Enroll in an animatronics school Enroll in school for an animatronics degree. Because of the growing demand for movie special effects, this training can give makeup artists a competitive edge.
  • Step 5: Attend the International Makeup Artist Trade Show Attend IMATS, the International Makeup Artist Trade Show. This is the premier annual event for the makeup artist industry. At IMATS, you’ll have networking and educational opportunities.
  • Step 6: Enter the Student Competition at IMATS Enter the student competitions at IMATS, if you're currently enrolled in school. Student winners of either the Beauty/Fantasy or the Character/Prosthetic competitions get industry-wide recognition.
  • FACT: In 1981 Rick Baker won the first-ever Best Makeup Oscar for An American Werewolf in London. He then recreated his werewolf for the Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" video.

You Will Need

  • Occupational knowledge
  • Willingness to volunteer
  • Training
  • A computer with internet access
  • Perseverance
  • An IMATS ticket

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