I'm currently working towards an IMA qualification in Makeup Application, which is a foundation style course that focuses on the fundamentals of daytime, evening and bridal makeup. I've really loved the process of working with different 'clients' (at this point volunteers!) and creating a portfolio and I would love to be able to turn this passion into a career in makeup. I'd love to work within fashion/editorial, but it seems like these jobs pay less so maybe it would be better to get more work in corporate, commercial, bridal, etc. Am I right in thinking this?
This would be a complete career change for me so I'm unsure about what my next step should be. Should I look into other makeup courses once I've completed the IMA course? Should I search for beauty counter and assisting jobs to gain experience? Based on my research so far, I've seen advice for beginner makeup artists to get experience in these areas. If I were to get a job on a beauty counter in Cambridge (where I'm based) or London, it would have to be on a full-time basis as the cost of living is high. But would this mean I'd miss out on potential assisting opportunities? Can you have a full-time job and assist?
Any experienced MUAs reading this, what did you do when you were starting out?
This is what I did after I graduated make-up school. I went the retail route, working for several counters, worked for a fashion / commercial agency, and then got into the film / television union. Through all this I did the occasional wedding here and there.
Typically when students graduate from a make-up school, they get make-up jobs in the retail industry, (working at a counter). This is because the initial pay is better and faster, as students need to pay their loan / debt off. This is also a great opportunity to build up your kit with tools and product with your employee discounts.
However, this leaves the weekends or whatever 2 days you might have off to pursue other make-up opportunities such as bridal and working on your book. The unfortunate side of retail is that their busy times are the weekends and this is where they put their new-hires. And most weddings happen on the weekends, so this is what you have to consider when first starting out. Bridal is it's own discipline and some make-up artists just specialize in doing just that and nothing else, So this might be another area you might be interested in pursuing.
Working on your book is a bit easier as hooking up with up-and-coming fashion photographers and up-and-coming professional models will have flexible schedules. Yeah there is no pay for this, but when you shop your book around to fashion / commercial agencies there is a potential to be hired by one. When you get hired the pay is not great, but you do get exposure in major fashion magazines, and with commercial producers which will lead to more gigs which will equal more pay, not necessarily better pay, but more pay. Commercial gigs do pay better than editorial fashion jobs. The plus side working with an agency is that you're assigned a Booker that will get jobs for you, the cost is that they take an agency fee (5 -15 percent) per job, which is deducted from your pay.
Say you get hired with an agency, At first you'll be assisting with a Key MuA. In the North America, the term is you would be a Junior Artist and the Key would be the Senior Artist. Once you progress after several months, you'll be considered for a Senior Artist position.
There is also working in union / non union TV and film productions. Since you're fresh out of make-up school, contact a film school and submit your name to any student film productions being in pre-production. Again there is no pay working on a student film, but there is screen credits which will help you in getting into the film union. Once you get into the union, after a lengthy application process, the pay is extremely amazing, that is because film work is temporary like a few weeks to a couple of months, so it may seem like you're getting 4 months pay for only one or two months work. Working on TV series is similar, work for 4 to 6 months, get paid for 8 months, of course this is generalized, but you get the idea.
At any rate, you don't need to take any more make-up courses, unless it's a very specific course that you want to hone your skills for. For example taking a facial hair workshop, or a bridal marketing workshop. The rest is just practice, practice, practice.