Makeup artists' main function is to apply cosmetics and prosthetics make up on actors to enhance their appearance and achieve the desired visual image to help the actors "become their characters". Makeup artists in theatrical and performance industries work in a very fast-paced environment and may have to work with several actors at a time. This is especially true with makeup artists working in theater productions, where the actors perform live in the front of the audience.
In order to fully deliver in their field, theatrical and performance makeup artists sometimes study the script as well as research the settings and history of the plot. They constantly confer with other members of the creative team, from the creative directors to fashion stylists to wardrobe masters. Working with these professionals help makeup artists determine the specific needs of an actor to effectively pay out his or her character. Aside from cosmetic products, makeup artists are also trained in applying prosthetics makeup, which entails sculpting, molding and casting approaches.
Makeup artists have to check with the actors and make sure they do not have any allergic reaction to cosmetic products and prosthetics. They also clean and disinfect makeup items used by actors after their performance like wigs, hairpieces, masks, and other prosthetic materials.
Makeup artists in the theatrical and performance sector put in long hours of work every week, in some cases, most of them have irregular schedules, wholly hinging on the duration of the production. Depending on how big a production is, makeup artists have to work straight for several months which is then followed by a few months without work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 2,040 makeup artists employed in the theatrical and performance industry in the United States. The median makeup artists salary is $53,090 per annum or around $25.52 an hour. Those who belong the top 10 percent are raking an average of over $120,050 a year. Makeup artists in the bottom 10 percent are paid with a makeup artist salary of $20,490 per year or less.
Motion picture companies are rated as the biggest employers for theatrical and performance makeup artists. There are 920 of them working in the said industry and they are earning around $88,200 per annum, which is much higher than the national average. Performing arts companies rank as the second employing industry for makeup artists in the US. 160 makeup artists are currently employed in the said sector and are earning an average $60,890 makeup artist salary a year. The third biggest employer type in the country are amusement parks and arcades, where around 90 makeup artists are making $40,730 a year. These three employer types are also the top three highest paying sectors for makeup artists.
It is important to understand that makeup artist salary grades may vary from one employer to another. Factors that affect makeup artists' salary rates differ but it generally boils down to common factors such as working hours, compensation package and benefits, stress levels, duration of the production, and the qualifications needed for the position.
Those who want to become professional makeup artists, particularly in the field of theater and performing arts, may be required to at least have a solid college education preferably in the area of cosmetology. Among the most highly ranked school for cosmetology is the Academy of Cosmetic Arts in San Jose, California. That said, college degrees in film, theater, and art are also considered for entry level job positions.
There is a lot of technical components that a candidate has to master to excel in this profession. For example, advanced knowledge in the science of lighting and photographic process can supplement a makeup artist's creativity. Makeup artists can acquire such information by taking specialized classes in community colleges, local vocational schools, and even via distance learning programs online. Experience in the industry is also critical in building one's career and essential in attracting, maintaining, and expanding a client base, so many makeup artists start out in their career with volunteer work while still in training.
Certifications may not be required but many employers prefer to hire makeup artists who have undergone rigorous training and exposure to many makeup techniques and approaches. Joining a duly recognized organization can bolster a makeup artist's qualifications and increases his or her chances of getting a job with a significant starting makeup artist salary. Among the most trusted makeup artist organizations in the United States are the Hair & Makeup Artist Network (HMAN), International Makeup Association (IMA), and the National Association of Screen Make-up Artists and Hairdressers.
The makeup artist profession is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by just 3% over the 2010-2020 decade, which is significantly slower than the average for all professions. This means that there will be job openings for just 100 more professional makeup artists in the theatrical and performance industry over the next ten years. Aspiring makeup artists will likely face difficulty in finding stable and long-term work.
Makeup artists start out as makeup assistants, providing help to senior makeup artists and other members of the creative team. They do research on the script and consult with writers, creative directors, and the fashion stylists in order to establish the desired looks of the characters.
After a few years of gaining experience, acquiring new and advanced makeup skills and techniques, as well as performing well through a number of productions, a makeup artist can be promoted to the chief makeup artist position. Other career progression options entail specializing in a specific area, such as historical makeup or advanced prosthetics.
Other makeup artists can also venture to other industries such as fashion makeup and costume design. Several makeup artists also found success as independent makeup services providers, providing their services to a select clientele. Makeup artist with an extensive experience are also in high demand to endorse cosmetic products. Their experience can easily help them find employment in the marketing and business side of cosmetics.
Makeup artists can also explore their options to become postsecondary instructors and trainers in beauty school as well as in college.
Listed are several professions closely related to the makeup artist profession:
Many people with artistic flair and creative imaginations want to become makeup artists. However, the profession involves a lot more than just putting make up on an actor's face. Makeup artists must have a comprehensive understanding of the production's plot, historical details of the story, and other important information about the characters in the production. Makeup artists must also be knowledgeable in prosthetic makeup, stage lighting, and the photographic process in order to excel in this professional field.