A Makeup Artist’s Guide to Mastery The Standard Procedure
Faculty Mentor: Mary Farahnakian, Theatre Media Arts
It is a rare opportunity to be able to study makeup design in a collegiate setting, especially one of
Brigham Young University’s standard. Because I have the unique perspective of approaching
makeup with an academic perspective, I wanted outside research to aid my personal career
pursuit as well as explore the different jobs in the makeup industry. I wanted to find the common
standards of procedures within different fields to compile a presentation for other makeup artists
as well as inform others of Brigham Young University’s excellent program.
To complete my research, I first divided the makeup industry into different fields and their subfields:
theatre (wigmaking and design), Film (commercial, movies, television), high fashion
runway, print (commercial and fashion editorial), youtube and instagram makeup artistry, special
effects (sculpting and production), events (wedding, formal, red carpet), personal client makeup
artists, and product development or manufacturing. I attended the International Makeup Artist
Trade Show (IMATS) in Los Angeles for 3 days in January of 2015. I purchased and
experimented with different makeup products and focused on specific techniques that
professional makeup artists considered necessary. I interviewed 32 makeup artists from different
fields I tried to not turn a job opportunity down so that I could see the industry standards first
hand. I then compiled key aspects of my research findings and presented it at Brigham Young
University for faculty, fellow students, and outside guests.
Attending IMATS was incredibly beneficial for my research because it was a meeting point for
almost all of the fields of makeup artistry. I was able to attend many classes by successful
makeup artists and answer many of my own questions. I was also able to start purchasing
product to experiment with. I purchase makeup that makeup artists used in the classes and
deemed as essentials in every makeup artist’s kit. I was able to personally talk with many
makeup artists that were the top of their field.
This past year I was able to design hair and makeup for two main stage theatre shows, act as
department head for makeup and hair on seven commercials, three short films, one feature-length
film, do hair and makeup for three weddings and over ten photo shoots, and assist on one fashion
show. This work was key in my research because I was able to put into practice what I was
learning about at IMATS and during interviews.
My interviews were key in discovering a standard of makeup. This part of the research allowed
me to cross reference the answers of differently interested makeup artists. Some of the questions
I initially asked had no commonalities throughout the industry and in result were inconclusive.
The makeup union does not matter to sculptors, product manufacturers, or Instagram-based
makeup artists. Almost everyone had different answers to the best way to enter the industry after
graduating and what had changed. While talking to these professionals, I discovered that these questions did not have commonalities because they were more field-specific. There was not an
entire industry standard because questions about unions, entering the industry, and change were
all more effected by the specific field. Interestingly enough, the specific questions about
necessary technique, skills, and advice were all very similar.
These similar answers could be divided into three main aspects of what is necessary for a
makeup artist: knowledge, skills, and investment. The answers from makeup artist’s interviews
and my observations all aligned with the three categories. Knowledge consisted of understanding
shape, anatomy, effect of light and distance, tools, color, and character. Skills were the
application of the knowledge; i.e., color theory, manipulation of shape and anatomy, skincare,
cleanliness. These two categories could be learned at cosmetology school, college, in brandspecific
classes, or even self-taught. The third aspect, investment, was the most interesting and
encouraging discovery. Every makeup artist I talked to encouraged makeup students to develop
their passion by investing in the project, results, and people you work with. They all pointed out
dedication as the most necessary element. This was incredibly encouraging to myself and my
peers, as it is easy to get overwhelmed with the many different faucets of makeup artistry.
The results of knowledge, skill, and investment were solidly enlightening and though I was
unable to present at United States Institute of Theatre Technology conference, I did present this
research at Brigham Young University on December 8, 2016 for faculty, professionals, fellow
makeup students, and outside guests. The presentation went incredibly well and was enlightening
to the faculty of the university and outside guests. It was valuable to makeup students and
professionals alike because of the interesting intersection of standards between all fields of
I consider this research to be invaluable for makeup students because it allows one to narrow
down what to base a makeup artist’s education on to make a successful career possible. No
matter what the specific interests are of an artist, they can focus on building a foundation of
knowledge, skills, and passion.