So you want to be a makeup artist…

but where the heck do you start?

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Me doing bridal makeup in 2008

I’ve always been interested in makeup. My mom first got me started using Clinique when I was in 7th or 8th grade I believe, and from there started my obsession. In high school, I started experimenting with colors, getting bolder and brighter. Finally in college, I discovered MAC Cosmetics…that was the best and worst thing to ever happen to me. Best in the fact that frequenting the MAC counter helped me become more creative and fueled my desire to learn more about the art, and worst in the fact that this obsession caused me to be constantly broke. Makeup is expensive, as you all know!

I would practice all the time on myself, even copying some of the avant-garde looks around Halloween time that were featured on the MAC website…I think this was called “Envy” from 2005:

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I was also huge into MAC communities on LiveJournal where we would post different makeup looks that we did on ourselves. Here are some of my other “early” looks, which, at the time, I was so proud of. Now looking back, these actually aren’t that bad, but I see just how much I still had to learn!

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I would practice every day with different colors, looks, shapes, etc. until finally I wanted to take the next step and actually get my makeup artist license.

Now, this would probably have been super easy if I had lived in a big city like NYC, but in Buffalo? I had to do lots of research.

There are a few places in the area that offer Esthetics and Cosmetology programs, such as the Salon Professional Academy and Continental School of Beauty. I really looked into these places, and the programs are great, but my big problem is that these schools really only touch a teeny bit on the makeup application process and are heavier on skin care/facials or hair styling. I wanted to focus solely on makeup.

I then began to broaden my horizons in terms of location. In 2006 I stumbled upon the website for the School of Professional Makeup in Toronto, ON, and that was it. Everything about this school was PERFECT and exactly what I was looking for. And to make things even better, they offered a part-time Makeup Art with Airbrush program (they still do!) It takes about 2 hours to get from Buffalo to Toronto which isn’t a bad commute at all. And my parents were absolutely fantastic in the fact that they would drive me every Saturday to class and then hang out in the city for a few hours while I was in school.

This program was the best thing that I could have done. The owner/instructor, Rob Closs, was amazing and taught me so much, not only about makeup application and color theory, but about the actual business itself. I learned life changing things about foundation matching and eyebrow grooming…LIFE CHANGING.

What was also great about this was that at the end of the course, you got to make up a model and have a professional photo shoot with professional photographer David Ho to start your portfolio. I knew that I was going to be doing mostly bridal, so I went with very light feminine colors- my lovely BFF Krystle was my gorgeous model:

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After I graduated, I kept practicing, and did makeup for multiple weddings and photo shoots. Here are a few gorgeous bridal photographs from my portfolio:

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Photography: Knight Studio

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Photography: Nickel City Studios

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Photography: unknown

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Photography: BFD Studio

So my advice to any of you who are thinking about becoming a makeup artist, is first to PRACTICE. Practice on yourself, your mom, aunts, friends, anyone who is willing! Also, I bought a lot of makeup related books to gain inspiration from…my favorites are Making Faces and Face Forward from Kevyn Aucoin. If you are willing to work hard towards your goal, you may even want to look into attending a makeup or cosmetology school. Just make sure that you do your research to see if the program is right for you!

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