Daydreaming about how to become a makeup artist? It’s no wonder. Getting paid to spend all day thinking about beauty trends, experimenting with different looks, and working with cool clients is what makes being a makeup artist a serious dream job, but like any other awesome gig, it also takes a lot of hard work. How exactly do you go from lipstick junkie to full-on pro? We called on industry insiders to fill us in.
John Stapleton has been working with M.A.C. Cosmetics for 18 years. As a senior artist for the brand, he’s traveled around the globe, discovering (and applying!) new trends everywhere from Lebanon to Brazil to Japan. Then there’s social-worker-turned-makeup-artist Katey Denno, who’s made a name for herself working with models, celebrities, and big-time photographers. And let’s not forget Make Up For Ever’s vice president of education and artistry, Simone Ciafardini. During her 25+ years in the beauty industry, she’s developed techniques used by Make Up For Ever educators, as well as a curriculum for Sephora.
Aspiring artists, put down that brush and take note. These experts were kind enough to share some valuable career advice. Starting with…
1. Practice. Practice. And then practice some more.
We all know practice makes perfect, and makeup artistry is no exception. Whether it’s trying out different looks on yourself or your friends, the more you do it, the better you’ll be. “Practice is key,” says Simone. “Learning from professionals is important to becoming a truly great artist, but making practice part of your everyday routine is also critical.”
John suggests getting hands-on experience by working at a makeup counter at your local mall or beauty store. “There you’ll find a revolving door of personalities, skin types, ages, you name it,” he says. “When people need beauty help, they turn to counter artists as their go-to experts. Customer service is a major aspect of makeup services, and the counter is the best place to get the most exposure and experience.”
“Figure out what you’re good at and what you need more practice doing,” adds Katey. “Play with product on as many skin types, facial feature shapes, and ages as you can!”
2. Research the makeup masters who’ve come before you.
Take the time to figure out what kind of looks catch your eye and who your makeup artist role models are. “Research who’s come before you,” Katey says, “and understand what you like about their work. Figure out which styles you’re most attracted to.” You can start by looking at books, magazines, websites, beauty vlogs, and celebrity images.