5 Make-up Artist Training Tips

Imagine it’s your first day as a trainee make-up artist – what a fabulous opportunity. You’ve been dreaming of this day and now it’s finally arrived. Naturally, you’re going to be nervous as well as excited. Will you know what to do? Will people be friendly? How will you cope?

Being A Trainee Make-up Artist

At Brushstroke, we train our students so they’re behind-the-scenes-ready as make-up artists, right from when they start out as trainees.

We want our students to enjoy the experience so being prepared for the world of work as a make-up artist, is one of the key aspects of our training. We help you understand how to make a good impression while learning as much as you can on the job.

Make up Artist Training
Make up Artist Training

Trainee make-up opportunities at Brushstroke

There’s every chance you’ll get offered trainee jobs while you study at Brushstroke so you can put our training to immediate use. Obviously, we can’t guarantee these trainee jobs because they are simply opportunities that arise either through our contacts in the industry or from our tutors.

Sometimes, the trainee jobs don’t work out as planned but even this is good training for you. As a self-employed, freelance make-up artist you need to be prepared to change your plans and move on, taking advantage of the next opportunity that comes your way.

Our tutors often select Brushstroke students as trainees to assist them with their own film, TV, fashion and stage work. Take, for example, award-winner Marella Shearer. Much in demand as a make-up artist, particularly for TV drama, she’s selected 1-2 trainees annually solely from Brushstroke in the last 7-8 years.

Our tutors like to help the next generation at Brushstroke because they can be confident that our students are being trained well and have the right attitude.

What can you expect on your first day as a trainee make-up artist?

In reality, it isn’t until you are actually on set that you’ll have any idea what to expect on your first day as a trainee make-up artist. For a start, you need to understand what the cast is going to look like. Even though you’ll be supervised and given instruction, you’ll need to pay attention so you know what’s going on. (Cue a good night’s sleep and decent breakfast to help you stay agile and quick off the mark.)

Every trainee admits to being nervous on their first day but as a current 2 Year Make-Up & Hair Course student, Lucy Buckley (dailies trainee on ITV’s Clean Break) acknowledged: “Once I knew what was expected of me, I could concentrate and do my best.”.

So be clear about your duties and if you aren’t – ask!

One of Lucy’s main tasks on Clean Break was to check the cast members (playing city brokers) and fixing anything out of place. For example, reapplying lipstick and adjusting hair as many of the cast were wearing hats. This was an ongoing task throughout the day which involved her taking pictures to help ensure continuity and monitoring the cast on-camera.

Our students always report back that everyone on set is very friendly and helpful despite being madly busy themselves. Never forget that, even at the trainee level, you are a valuable member of a team with a single purpose of getting production off the ground. So on your first day as a make-up artist trainee be willing to take on any task. Make coffee – no one is ever too important to do that!

Make-up is 40% technique, 60% personality

Make up Artist Training
Make up Artist Training

Make-up is 40% technique, 60% personality

We’ve heard it said that being successful as a make-up artist is 40% technique, 60% personality because how you apply your skills is the key to your success. How you behave with everyone is how you’ll be remembered.

Keeping the performers happy is very much part of your job description. Actors, singers, dancers, models – they all need to be kept calm, particularly if they’re nervous or tired. Even if you are panicking don’t let it show because it’s catching and stress is the last thing a performer needs. Be nice, be helpful and hold a good conversation. If you think about it, the make-up artist spends the longest time with the performers – you see them first thing, throughout the day and, sometimes at the end helping them remove their make-up.

The 5 Things Tutors Ask of Their Trainees

  1. Be open to learning so you become flexible and quick to adapt. If you assume there’s always something to learn, your own skills will always broaden and sharpen.
  2. Follow instruction – listen and take notice. Ask if you aren’t sure because getting it wrong can be costly.
  3. Be clean and tidy work – both personally and with your work.
  4. Be welcoming – this is the performers’ area of calm so they can prepare in peace.
  5. Make the right impression. Don’t party the night before. Be reliable, be confident (but not arrogant).

Brushstroke prepares you for your first day as a trainee make-up artist. There’s a good chance that we can help you find the role in the first place too.

Make up Artist Training

A Collection from Brushstroke Makeup Academy Gallery

Zoe Carr

“Can’t thank the Brushstroke team enough for an amazing 9 months. I have loved every minute and can’t wait to take away all the skills and knowledge I have learnt and put them into practice. Lots of love, Zoe”

Katharine Scott

“The 2 Year Make-up and Hair Course has given me the confidence and the skills needed to work as a hair and make-up artist. I have been very lucky with the jobs I have been able to do. I worked as a trainee on Silk (BBC) with Marella Shearer and then went on to work as a trainee for Nick Dudman in his Make-up FX Department at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I have also continued to work at Warhorse in the west end covering for the wig mistress; a job that started initially as work experience from Brushstroke. Without the sound teaching and continued support from everyone at Brushstroke, I would not be as confident as I am in my chosen career. All of the teachers, as well as Louise, continue to be supportive; always happy to answer any questions I might have. Once again I would like to say thank you so much for everything!! All the Best, Katharine Scott.”

Fern Wright

“I have loved my time at Brushstroke! It was definitely the best choice I made. I’ve learnt so much here and I thank everyone at Brushstroke for making my 9 months here the best 9 months. Lots of hugs Ferny xxx”

Alix Gardner

“Joining Brushstroke was honestly the best decision I ever made. I have honestly loved every minute of it and all the team at Brushstroke have been amazing! Thank you so much for everything! Lots of love, Alix Gardner xxxx”

Katie Ross

“I have loved the 9-month course – it was such a good decision to join and now I have finally decided what I want to do, all thanks to you! Thanks so much for all your help and support, all the tutors and extra talks have been so great. Going to miss coming to such a lovely bubbly atmosphere every day! Thank you!!! Katie Ross xxx Ps. Extra thanks for all the Black Jacks!”

Serena Barney

 “Loved every minute of the 9-month course. I have learned so much from every tutor and can’t wait to put it all to use. Everyone here has been lovely and I’m so sorry to leave. It has gone so fast, I can’t believe it’s over. Huge thank you to all the tutors, students and everyone in the office for what has been an incredible experience. Lots of Lots, Serena xxx”

Nikki Kearns

“Having undertaken the 2 Year Make-Up and Hair course, I now feel I have the confidence, knowledge, basic skills, and understanding to stand me in good stead for a successful future career. Not only has Brushstroke taught me the skills I need to know, but they have also given me an insight into the industry and taught me invaluable information about the industry itself which has already proven so valuable to me at this early stage of my career. I found it to be such a bonus to have tutors who actively work in all areas of the industry, the skills, information, and even stories they had to tell about their work not only made me more motivated to get a successful career after leaving Brushstroke but also, I felt that it helped me to reach a higher standard of work as I felt I could understand the standards the industry would expect of me, also due to great encouragement and constructive criticism. So a massive THANK YOU once again to everyone for giving me such a great time over the past two years, you have really made it possible for me to achieve my goal of being a professional Makeup Artist!! Best Wishes Always, Nikki.”

Top Tips from Brushstroke Makeup Artist Alumni

“Be passionate about your work – and let it shine through all the time.”

Lorna Stimson

Student on 9 month Make-up & Hair ITEC

 “practice your skills over and over – that’s how you become proficient and confident.”

Elizabeth Rita

Student on 9 month Make-Up & Hair ITEC