What’s it like starting out as a newly trained make-up artist? For Dani Haigh, having Brushstroke by her side has helped her career in many ways. Dani trained on our 2 Year Make-Up and Hair Course (2013 to 2015) and her working career started while she was still a student with us.

What kind of work opportunities did Brushstroke offer you?

On my first term, I was offered work experience on The Football League Show and a promotional video for Visit Britain. For the Football League Show, I had to make-up two male presenters and a guest, followed by on-set touch-ups. Then the Visit Britain work experience involved hair and make-up for 4 short films about Britain’s importance internationally on the fashion scene. The films were promoted in 215 countries and the content played on 2,500 global partner websites such as the New York Times, Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan and the South China Morning Post.

And then during term 2 a very exciting opportunity arose through one of our tutors, Marella Shearer

Yes! Marella Shearer, as hair and make-up designer on series 2 of Mr Selfridge, was looking for students from Brushstroke for work experience. I and 3 other students from my class ( Sammy Lammond, Hannah Dooley and Chantelle Murphy) were chosen to be part of her hair and make-up team for 3 months. Then, I was asked to stay until the end of filming as ‘crowd trainee’ with Sammy Lammond.

What were your duties as crowd trainee?

Based in the crowd room we had to be one step ahead of the other make-up artists at all times. Sammy and I were always first in, making sure all the equipment was switched on and ready, hair pieces set out and any continuity pictures to hand. We were also in charge of making teas and coffees, and sorting the breakfast order for the rest of our team!

Once the major part of the supporting artists’ make-up was finished, we added lipstick and blusher. Then we’d take continuity pictures. At the end of each day we would ‘de rig’ – unpinning hair and accessories and putting pins and grips in the right place. We’d make sure that the make-up room was clean, tidy and organised ready for the next day including printing all the continuity pictures. Basically it was our job to be the helping hand, always on alert and making sure that we knew where things were instantly.

What did working on Mr Selfridge teach you?

It taught me so much – starting with how a big production works and the different roles of the make-up team and crew. I learnt what is expected of me as a trainee, which skills I needed to practice for a period drama. Also, being organised, how to read a call sheet and what continuity means. Most importantly I learnt that there is no room for errors!

What else have you been working on?

I’ve been very busy, getting in lots of practice and experience:

  • A Song For Jenny: Marella took me on as as daily make-up artist on her team. A Song for Jenny was about the 7/7 bombings so I got to practice a lot of grazes, wounds.
  • Drunk History (series 1): I was then contacted by another Brushstroke tutor, Juliette Tomes, who was the crowd supervisor on Mr Selfridge. My role was as the make-up trainee and I have to say this was the craziest job ever! It was so fast paced: 2 make-up calls a day, lots of wigs and my first time working with facial hair. Cheryl Mitchell, who trained at Brushstroke many years ago ,was also part of the team.
  • Star Girl: my next job was a short film, called Star Girl which I also got through Juliette Tomes. This was a massive prosthetic job because I had to apply a prosthetic every day and body-paint the actress from head to toe. It was quite a full-on job, but it taught me so much about applying prosthetics. Sammy Lammond also helped for one day – we got to watch a life cast and saw the moulds being made.
  • BBC iPlayer: working with Juliette and Cheryl led to me being a make-up trainee on 3 short films for iPlayer. This was a really fun job and it really helped my confidence as a make-up and hair artist.
  • Unforgotten: Marella asked me to work on her next job where I shared the role of the main team trainee with Sammy Lammond. Having worked with Marella previously, she trusted us to make-up a lot of the main, well-known actors. I was also working alongside Brushstroke tutor, Shelley King.
  • Agatha Christie’s And then there were None: this 3 part series was filmed in Cornwall and I worked with Marella as the make-up artist for Charles Dance. In the story everyone gets murdered, so there was lots of blood, wounds and prosthetic pieces to apply! I hadn’t a lot of experience in applying prosthetics so I learnt a lot on this job. This remains my favourite piece of work so far  – it was a pleasure to work with such a well-known cast of actors.
  • I want my Wife Back: once again I have Marella to thank for inviting me to work on this comedy with a cast including Ben Miller, Caroline Catz and Susannah Fielding. Emma Grieve and Tinna Traustadottir from my course also worked with us as dailies.
  • Drunk History (series 2): I worked on this as a daily make-up artistJuliette Tomes was the make-up designer. Within the make-up and hair team were Brushstroke-trained Lacey Corbould. For work experience we had Ellie Vacher, Jess Parsons and Jassi Auluck – all from Brushstroke.

What made you choose to train at Brushstroke?

When I visited Brushstroke I instantly felt at home and the 2 Year Make-up and Hair Course offered everything that I had been looking for and wanted. Initially, I studied at Leeds City College, on their 1 year make-up and special effects course. I wanted to continue my training but had to decide whether to go to university or to a specialist hair and make-up college. It was a matter of choosing the right course and place to study. I did a lot of research and visited other colleges, universities and make-up schools, but they only offered shorter courses and I wanted something more substantial.

I was so pleased that on my visit I got to see the prosthetics assessments in the workshop, this was the area of make-up artistry I had been most excited to learn about and found so interesting. It was at that point, that I decided that Brushstroke was the place for me to study. I had to move from Leeds so it was such a help that Brushstroke also had its own local student accommodation.

What’s next for you and how would you like to progress?

I would like to branch out and explore as many different aspects of the industry as I can (film, theatre and fashion) and gradually work my way up to designer level. Stating out as a newly trained make-up artist was less daunting for me because Brushstroke has been my platform into the industry. I have been so fortunate to have been given these opportunities and introduced to so many people. Brushstroke has also been so accommodating in allowing me to take time out of my course and let me return to complete vital parts of the course that I missed.

You can follow Dani on Twitter and Instagram and we’ll do our best to keep up with her and talk more as her career progresses.