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How to become a make-up artist


The make-up industry is worth £25bn annually, and a recent study suggested some women spend upwards of £1,000 a year on cosmetics.

So how do you get a foothold in this booming industry? What experience or qualifications do you need to be a successful make-up artist?

Meet make-up artist Andriani Vasiliou, 28. She's beautified celebrities from the England rugby team and Cristiano Ronaldo to Marina and the Diamonds and Paul Daniels!

Andriani studied fine art at the prestigious Saint Martins College of Art and Design, "which is quite a fashion-led university," she says. "When I finished my degree I was torn, because I specialised in paintings but I was passionate about fashion. I tried to figure out a way to incorporate the two which lead me to make-up."

Dizzy with inspiration, Andriani went on to study at the elite Glauca Rossi School of Make-Up, which accepts only 15 students per term. Andriani was driven to do more than work on a department store make-up counter, and leveraged her tutors' established positions in the industry. "I was lucky, the teachers at the school were all working make-up artists and I got taken on as an assistant quickly," she says.


In the make-up industry training is imperative. It gives you both an understanding of the fundamental rules of make-up application and much needed experience. Reflecting on her own training experience, Andriani says: "You must be good at using colour and have a vivid imagination. It's a creative industry where you're collaborating with photographers, stylists and hairdressers, so you have to be able to bring an idea to the table; that's the sort of thing people can't really teach you."

Training in the make-up industry gives you both an understanding of the fundamental rules of make-up application and much needed experience

Every glossy magazine contains the handy work of make-up artists and beauticians, transforming the faces of celebrities and models. Kevyn Aucoin was a pioneer in the beauty industry, and blazed a trail in the 80s alongside Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier and Alexis Vogel.

The role of a make-up artist can cover many different aspects aside from making models look edgy or carnally appealing. Hollywood's eminent backstage make-up artist Jack Pierce was famed for his weird-and-wonderful take on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein when he created the look for the 1931 movie.

For those who would like to emulate the likes of Aucoin and Pierce, Andriani offers the following advice: "Try finding somebody you can assist. I think that's the most amazing way of getting experience. You'll be working on jobs you wouldn't be getting booked for if you were working by yourself - you become a part of it all."

By shadowing a mentor you learn how people keep their kits and discover new products, "just email all the big agencies and arrange appointments, see if you can become somebody's assistant in one way or another," adds Andriani. The value of working with someone who has a large contacts book is priceless.

Challenges and rewards

There are many make-up artists already plying their trade, so Andriani advises, "Hard work and determination will get you through." She recounts on her past experiences, "There's definitely been times when I've thought 'oh my gosh, what am I doing?' But my passion always sees me through. I think that if you haven't got enthusiasm, you'll probably give up or get swallowed up."

Becoming a make-up artist isn't something you should fall into half-heartedly, and a robust work ethic is necessary to succeed in this industry - not to mention a distinct durability.  "I didn't expect to still be working as hard as I am, desperately trying to climb that ladder" says Andriani, continuing "nobody told me it was going to be this hard - I think it's something people need to be aware of."

However, Andriani wouldn't have it any other way, "I think it makes you appreciate it more. The harder things are, the more satisfied you feel when you get a result."

With all this said, what are the rewards? "I love the freelance lifestyle and being my own boss" says the young female entrepreneur. "I enjoy the irregularity…well, most of the time! Its great meeting new people everyday, and working with different teams" she adds.


Day by day

The nature of freelance work is erratic, some weeks you can be rushed off your feet, and others struggling for bookings. Andriani explains, "When I first started it was quite common to get a phone call at five in the morning for a job that was starting at eight o'clock that day, because someone had called in sick or some sort of drama - but you've got to be ready to hop out of bed and get to it."

However, according to Ms. Vasiliou, this spontaneous lifestyle beats the mind-numbing banality of a 9 to 5. "It's a total buzz" she says emphatically.

Having worked for only four years as a make-up artist, Andriani is still relatively new to the industry. She continues to work under her mentors, and embraces any job she gets assigned to.

"One day I could be doing a fashion shoot, the next day a wedding, then I could be doing a real life shoot, or a portrait for an actor" says Andriani.

On the subject of working hours, Andriani comments, "Some days can last up to 16 hours if you're doing a music video or filming for TV, which is pretty tiring.

"On the other hand, I started a job today at 10:30am and was finished by lunch time! It all depends on the nature of the job." Because she doesn't have a studio, Andriani does all her paperwork and invoicing from home, usually in front of Hollyoaks.

She has been a make-up artist to four brides: "I felt like I was playing an important role in their special day, which was amazing." However, Andriani's main passion lies with fashion shoots, where her artistic background and flair ignite and come to life.

"You really get to use your imagination," she explains. "It's about creating a really beautiful image, and that's where the painter in me comes out, and I feel like I'm in my zone."

To survive in the beauty industry you must be a people person, according to Andriani. "It's all about the chemistry on set" says our intrepid make-up artist. Once you find the right people, and if they're going places, then you have your foot on the first rung of the ladder.

"I know that there are certain photographers that I really enjoy working with. I recommend them for a job, and hopefully they do the same for me," adds the avid networker.


2010 is shaping up to be a watershed year for Andriani, who now has a group of regular clients. "Sometimes I think, 'what if they all fall out of love with me overnight, and I'll be back to square one again!', but that's just me being silly. Ultimately, I'm in the strongest position I've ever been in this industry."

With her current portfolio and range of experience, Andriani has proven she can fashion a successful life as a make-up artist. "The more years I put in, the more confident I'll feel. My clients will be loyal to me in the same way I've been loyal to them," she adds.

Being her own hardest critic, Andriani has high expectations for the future, "There are so many people out there trying to do the same thing, and everybody's got to get their break at some point."

"I have a fixed fantasy. I have this vision of living in New York and being successful, in a wonderful brand like Chanel, doing cosmetic campaigns" concludes Andriani, and BusinessWings has no doubt this likable, driven career-woman will one day achieve this goal.

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