Interview from make-up tutor Ruth Marcella
I get lots of emails asking how I got into make-up and advice about the make-up industry so I have decided my first blog post will talk about my own personal experience of being a make-up artist. I have been a full time make up artist for around 10 years and this is my only job and I do pay all my bills each month solely from work as a freelance make-up artist so I do make a good living from it.
To succeed in any competitive industry I think you need to love what you do. Whichever aspect of make-up that you decide to go into you have to have enthusiasm and passion to make it work. It can be a tough industry sometimes with long hours and it can be hard work lugging all the kit around and working to tight deadlines but each time I go on a job I feel so blessed to be doing a job that I love.
How did you get into the industry?
By mistake… …..
I could say I always knew I wanted to be a make-up artist but that would be a lie…. I fell into make -up purely by accident. I suppose looking back I have always been the one within my group of friends that would be the designated hair/make-up person but I never thought of it for a career. I studied Fashion and when I left I worked in a retail buying office in Liverpool. My friend was getting married and couldn’t find anybody to do her make-up how she wanted it, she begged me to help and I found the word YES slipping from my lips.
As the wedding approached I thought what have I let myself in for and panicked so booked onto a short make-up course at London College of Fashion so I would be better prepared. It was there within the stacks of MAC make-up that I fell in love and thought I want to do this EVERY day. I then got a job at MAC cosmetics, followed by a full make-up course before studying hairdressing and that’s about it.
When I first started I worked a lot for free. The thing I learnt about this period in my make-up career was to only work for free when it’s beneficial for YOU. At the beginning I wanted to do make-up and took every opportunity to progress. I worked with lots of photographers to build a portfolio. In this industry I believe your portfolio sells you. If your portfolio is weak it doesn’t matter how many qualifications you have you will not find much work. When I had a small portfolio I had a website built. I think it’s important to have a website as most people do and it gives potential clients a way to view your work quickly and efficiently.
After that I started to look for work locally as all these things cost money and I had to start making some CASH ££££$$$$$$. I started by doing a lot of bridal work. I enjoy meeting brides and found that it was well paid and with the hair skills I have, I was able to cater for make-up and hair. During this period of time I started to get more enquiries through my website for media make-up work and was able to start making more contacts. My work at the moment is a mixture of media assignments and make-up for individuals and I find this works well for my lifestyle as I chose the hours I work. There are many ways to get into the make-up industry but that was my entrance into this industry.
How do you find work? Make-Up is such a competitive industry and it’s too difficult to find work?
Many artist that have contacted me for advice tell me they have left college and are finding it challenging to find work. That is why Ella Creative Academy has a great aftercare program and tries to offer opportunities for work experience which gives students a benefit when breaking in to the make-up industry. If you think of every advertisement, commercial, TV Show, Editorial, Fashion Show etc. produced in the UK then that is a lot of available work. If you are good at what you do, are reliable, apply yourself in every job and work hard to put yourself in front of people that can hire you then there is no reason that you won’t get work. The great thing about Ella Creative Academy is that all the tutors are working in the make-up industry so our courses have been designed based on that make-up knowledge so when our students leave they have the knowledge to start working straight away.
I don’t live in a big city and find it hard to find work locally?
Where you live will affect the kind of work that is available to you. In terms of Media Work you are better placed to accept assignments if you live in a city that has a lot of production companies, ad agencies etc. In the UK that would probably be the bigger cities such as London or Manchester. In The US it would be most likely to be LA or New York. This does not however mean that you can’t succeed as a make-up artist if you don’t live in those areas. There will be media jobs outside the big cities; you may have a TV production company that is local to you that you can pursue opportunities within. The key is to do your research. Find out what is going on in your area and how you can become involved. It may be cost effective for you to travel to bigger cities for work but even if you can only work locally there always work available to you. The bridal market grows year on year and many brides require a make-up artist. If you are able to become known for bridal make-up then that can be a very lucrative market to work within. This also applies to the whole special occasion make-up market which includes proms, hen nights, graduations etc.
What part of the make-up industry to you enjoy the most?
My freelance life as a make-up artist is varied and I enjoy that. My background was fashion so I work on photoshoots and commercial work with men (grooming) also which is also interesting. I also have lots of private clients and have a number of bridal parties per year with my company Orchid Blush. I have worked on music events and fashion shows and love the fast paced make-up jobs which are always hard work but can be lots of fun to. As I work with international brand and also some celebrity clients its always fun to walk past as advert or poster or see something on the television and know that you were part of the team that created the images. I enjoy it all!
How did you build your kit and know which products to buy?
If there is one thing I love to do that is shop for make-up. I can’t get enough of the stuff. Building my kit took me a while and is still a work in progress. I like to try different products and work out what is the best fit for me as a make-up artist. When I first started out I had a lot of MAC make-up in my kit. I still use quite a bit of MAC but I have discovered other brands such as Make-Up Forever, OCC cosmetics, Inglot, Yaby. Many of these brands offer a professional discount and also produce make-up artist palettes which are great for make-up artists. It can take a while to build a make-up kit but it’s an investment.
As well as her freelance work, Ruth now passes on her expert knowledge to budding makeup artists in the making as the Principal of Ella Creative Academy, teaching fashion and media make-up course in Liverpool
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