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what does a make up artist, theatrical performance do and how do they do it ?

1. What required education do I need to have a job here?

2. What's the wage and salaries earning?

3. Is there any benefits that would be provided?

I want to know this information because theater is my passion.

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David’s Answer

A theatrical make-up artist applies (and sometimes designs) make-up, prosthetics, and special facial and body effects onto performers' faces and bodies in theater, film, television, video games, and live action events.

You do not necessarily need a college degree to be a make-up artist, but you can gain valuable education and experience while in college if you do go that route.

A college theater department may have classes in make-up, hair and wigs, prosthetics and appliances and special make-up effects, etc., where you can learn and apply the knowledge you gain in the same place with supervision and feedback.

You can also gain training in a vocational setting, such as a cosmetology school, where you can focus on make-up (and maybe hair and wigs, a valuable option if available).

Pay varies widely, depending on how much you are able to do, and where you put your energy into working. Union make-up artists in film, television, video games and live action events can make $40 - $50 per hour and more, and even more if you can design make-up. Professional union make-up artists can get benefits with their job, depending on the contract and industry they are working in.

David recommends the following next steps:

Investigate schools that have make-up specialties in their curriculum, colleges and vocational schools.
Watch shows like Face Off on television and see if the participants say where they received their training.
Take classes in make-up and other related fields, including possibly chemistry and the like to understand the ingredients in what you wnat to work with and how it affects humans.
If you know any make-up artists, ask them if you can interview them to learn about their career.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Charlene,

The magic of theater is brought to life not just by the actors, but also by the skilled make-up artists who transform them into their characters. These artists wield their brushes and prosthetics to create visual masterpieces that align with the story's themes, enhancing the overall theatrical experience.

1. Learning the Craft:

To excel as a theatrical make-up artist, it's vital to have a strong grasp of makeup techniques, color theory, and human anatomy. While a formal education isn't strictly necessary, many successful artists have honed their skills at specialized schools or by earning degrees in makeup artistry or similar fields. Some renowned institutions to consider are:

Make-Up Designory (MUD)
Cinema Makeup School
Joe Blasco Makeup Center
The London School of Makeup

2. Earning Potential:

As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median yearly income for make-up artists and special effects artists was around $48,140 in May 2020 [1]. However, one's earnings can fluctuate based on factors like geographical location, experience, and the type of production. For example, Broadway productions often pay more due to their larger budgets and national prestige [2].

3. Perks of the Job:

The perks offered to make-up artists in theater can vary depending on the production company or theater they work for. Some may provide health insurance, retirement plans, paid leave, or union membership [3]. Therefore, it's crucial for aspiring make-up artists to thoroughly research potential employers and productions to understand what benefits they could receive. Joining professional groups such as Local 798 IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) can also offer access to valuable resources and negotiated contracts [4].**


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Make-Up Artists and Hairstylists:
Broadway Salaries: https://www broadwaysalaryguide .com/
IATSE Local 798 - Benefits:
IATSE International - About Us: https://www iatse .org/aboutus/index.php

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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Charlene !

I would briefly like to answer your questions and then provide some advice for you about a career as a theatrical make up artist.

There is no particular education requirement for this position, however you will need the education and most importantly experience. Your salary would be determined project to project by the employer or client so it is not possible to say what your salary would be due to the many conditional factors involved. If someone hires you, they will offer you a specific salary and if you work for yourself, you can name your fee. The same with benefits. It will depend on where and how you work, if you'd be full time and again, it depends on so many factors that it's not possible to know your benefits before you begin your career or training.

If you wanted to go to college, you can choose a major that interests you but should take as many Stage Make Up courses as your college offers through their theatre department. If you major in theatre, you will be required to take the full spectrum of theatre courses such as Stagecraft/Set Construction, Costuming, Stage Make Up, Acting, Directing and others that your college would require plus theatre electives . Cosmetology or Esthetician school will not teach you about stage makeup and will require much of your time and also passing a licensing exam. My advice is that your time and financial commitment would be better spent at college where you could get a holistic education in theatre with makeup being one of the many disciplines in this collaborative field of work. A good theatrical department in a college would be able to teach you all you need to know about hair and wigs for the stage.

The experience part of theatrical makeup will be very important and you can begin obtaining it now. Let your current school and your community theatres know that you'd like to volunteer to do make up for their productions. You will have to actively initiate contact with people and this will help you to build a portfolio of your work. Include street make up as well and photograph all of your work for your hard copy and online portfolio.

You can join the television and film union SAG-AFTRA or the theatrical union, Actor's Equity, after exploring more about these unions and seeing how much it costs to join and how much you'd have to pay for dues even if you are not working. You can find their websites online through a search to learn more about them.

You have asked what a theatrical make up artist does. They design/create and apply makeup and facial and body prosthetics to actors. Many makeup artists I know are able to create masks, partial masks, special effect prosthetics. Sometimes they work with a crew depending on how large the theatre production is. After reading the play that they are working on and meeting with the director, the make up plans are established.

I would advise that you seek experience as soon as you can. The earlier you start, the more you'll learn and get the feel of it. If theatre is your passion, make it happen and not just an elusive thought. You can do it ! My degree is in Theatre and even though it was for acting, I went through all of the facets of theatre and it turned out that I am glad that I did. It really prepares you. Once you are in college, you will begin to get a clear idea of the stage makeup field and I am happy to know that you are exploring now.

Best wishes on your new discoveries and journey towards your dream career !