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What is a makeup artist?

A makeup artist is someone who uses cosmetic techniques and processes to create beauty upon the human body. In its simplest form, it enhances a person's appearance, bringing out color and features and hiding or smoothing out flaws, using cosmetic products. At its most extreme, makeup artistry creates imaginative characters and special effects for films, television, photography and theater.

There are two main categories of makeup artist. Cosmetic or fashion artists range from the clerk at the store makeup counter to the artist who prepares fashion models for photo shoots. The artist knows how to make the subject look her or his best, and understands the different effects required by lighting and digital photography. The fashion artist also works with designers to create a certain look for the model, such as emphasizing lip shape or cheekbones. Thanks to digital cameras, makeup artists are increasingly in demand for weddings, fashion shoots, fashion shows, corporate headshot photography, and other special events that will be photographed or recorded.

The other main type is theatrical and film makeup artist. This person enhances an actor's features to emphasize the character he or she plays in performance art. Young actors can be made to look old, older actors to look younger, creative characters can be created from nothing, and the makeup can change as the character changes in the course of the story.

Like a fashion makeup artist, the theatrical and film makeup artist learns to work with different lighting conditions, the distance between the stage and the audience, and the requirements determined by digital and high definition cameras. At its most creative, special effects artists create fantasy creatures, the illusion of blood and gore, imaginative sci-fi creatures, characters from eras gone by, and so much more. This field is often regarded as one of the most creative and lucrative areas of makeup, but it can also be one of the most challenging to break into.

The qualities of a good artist include, but are not limited to: great customer service, creativity, self-motivation, good time management, understanding of art and design, great listener, comfortable making recommendations and offering feedback to clients, arm-hand steadiness and manual dexterity and near vision (ability to see detail up close). Does that sound like you? If so, perhaps becoming a certified makeup artist is the right path for you. 

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