How to work as a professional makeup artist

Pro Makeup Artist Tips

We get asked daily for Pro Makeup Artist Tips and how to do what we do. So here is a question from one of our viewers and here is what we think you really need to know before becoming a pro makeup artist!How to work as a Pro Makeup Artist

Laurie getting Lauren Holly ready on the set of “Down & Derby.”  Photo by Eric Johnston 



How did you and your mom start doing hair on movie and photo shoot sets? i have been a hairstylist for over 11 years and would love to have that experience. thanks, KC Willis

our answer

Hi KC,

How to work as a Pro Makeup Artist or Hair Stylist’s a long story, but we’ll try to keep it simple (and not bore you to death:)

How to be a professional makeup artist

Laurie prepping the cast of “Zombies,” for Sci Fi Channel.

Laurie (mom) started as a makeup artist and went to a makeup school and a film school (for FX & film makeup) and later went to hair school and got a hair license.

But while in film school, would do student projects and just started getting referred all over for a lot of various jobs.

Tiffany (daughter) had a kit taller than she was, at the age of 5 (with all of mom’s old makeup). When she was 12, she traveled all over the US and Canada with Laurie as she was working on movies. Laurie would pay Tiffany $10 per day to just be there and to be good (we’re big into bribes, J/K!)

Later, Tiffany went to hair school as well.

How to work as a Pro Makeup Artist

Tiffany on set in Springfield, Illinois with crew members, Eric Johnston and Ben Cook.

In college, Tiffany had a full ride scholarship and was planning to go into psychology, when Laurie needed to fill a position in the makeup dept. of a show…after some arm twisting (j/k) Tiff dropped out of college and went on the road, working on her first big movie in NY, Wisconsin, Illinois, Canada and England. It was a blast and Tiff did amazing work, knowing she had to prove herself.
And the rest is history 🙂

How to work as a Pro Makeup Artist

Playing in the makeup trailer with the cast of “Gentlemen Broncos”

Advice: You’re on the right track by starting as a hairstylist–for anyone else we say, get a hair license

  1. Get a Cosmetology License (even if they only want to do makeup) It increases your skills, gives you better dexterity and confidence, and makes you better at doing things like hand laying facial hair, shaping brows, manicuring nails, etc. It also teaches you the color wheel inside & out, which will make you better as a makeup artist as well.
  2. Professional Makeup training and SFX training are vital. We’d go beyond that to say, get trained for the specific line of work you want. Sometimes a professional is willing to allow you to intern, but that should only be done once you’ve gone through hair school and makeup school.  We figure a mistake costs a show about $5000 a minute, so learning on set isn’t a great idea for anyone.
  3. Volunteer to help youtubers, and film students/ or budding photographers.  It is a mistake to go marching into the elite photographers and expect that they will be ok with you learning on their dime. That rarely happens, and there is  learning curve that you need to pay for or the production will.  We’ve seen stylists and “artists” fly in from nowhere, and they typically fly right back out again once it’s obvious from costly mistakes that they really don’t know the business.
  4. In order to get experience, plan to give your work away for 1-2 years in order to prove yourself and build a portfolio and network. But once you’re ready to play in the big leagues, get your rates up to the going rate or you’ll actually hurt your image and be known as the “cheap” makeup artist or a wanna be. People tend to respect artists who charge what they are worth.
  5. It’s a lot of hard work, for sure! It’s an extremely competitive field, so don’t try to cheat the system. Be nice to everyone, because you’re a nice person, not because you’re a kiss up.
  6. Don’t ever put down another artist. When someone isn’t qualified or talented, it will speak for itself. We like to run a positive team on set, and the energy it brings is wonderful. When someone is really negative or wants to gossip, it can change the dynamics in an instant. We also know that if that person is gossiping about someone else to us, we will be next on the hit list. SO our motto is, just don’t go there. There’s way too much good going on that we can enjoy. Life is wonderful if we let it be!

For those of you still reading, you deserve a medal, lol! thanks! Please comment – we LOVE hearing from you!!


Laurie & Tiffany

Please Comment, we LOVE hearing from you!


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