What does a Make-Up Artist do?

A Make-Up Artist ensures that Performers have suitable make-up and sometimes hairstyles for appearing in front of an audience for a production. Make-Up Artists can work in film, live music, photo shoots, television and theatre. Their work involves creating images and characters through make-up, hairstyles and prosthetics according to a brief.

What are the main responsibilities of a Make-Up Artist?

  • Communicating with clients to clarify visual requirements
  • Reading scripts to ensure they find the right materials and styles that may be required. E.g. a production set in a particular period such as Shakespearean
  • Research where required 
  • Creating sketches designed for hairstyles and make-up
  • Liaising with other members of the team to ensure all are focusing on the correct thing and aiming towards the same outcome
  • Ensuring that appropriate action is taken to reduce the risk of side effects from using special effects make-up/hairdressing techniques
  • Casting facial and body moulds and sculpting latex foam, these are called prosthetics
  • Fitting and maintaining wigs, hairpieces and prosthetics
  • Taking detailed notes and photographs of work to maintain an up-to-date portfolio

As well as opportunities on the Get Into Theatre website, you can also search The Stage jobs.

What qualifications do you need to work in make-up?

Often, academic qualifications are not as important as creative and practical skills. It’s possible to become a Make-Up Artist without a degree. Make-Up Artists often complete traineeships and freelance work within the industry to gain experience. You can find training and experience opportunities in Make-Up here. 

What skills do I need to work in make-up?

  • An understanding of period make-up and fashion
  • Excellent practical make-up and technical skills
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Good self-promotion 
  • Organisation
  • Time management

What does a career in make-up look like?

A lot of Make-Up Artists start as Assistants, helping with shows and photoshoots for productions and work their way up whilst completing some form of training. It is common for Make-Up Artists to be freelance so it is essential you must be able to promote yourself and your work so it’s a good idea to take pictures of work you’ve created. Read our blog 'How to become a freelancer in theatre' for more information about this. Some Make-Up Artists do other jobs in between make-up jobs to earn money. Read our blog 'What jobs can you do between theatre jobs to earn.'

How much can a Make-Up Artist earn?

A trainee Make-Up Artist can earn no less that the national minimum wage in London. More experienced Make-Up Artists can earn £170-£320 for a ten-hour day.

Find theatre vacancies with The Stage Jobs here


Photo: Shutterstock

Published: 02 July 2019