How to Become a Celebrity Makeup Artist

For some aspiring artists, working in high fashion and doing makeup for celebrities is the dream. It’s one of those makeup jobs where the artist becomes a celebrity in her own right. It is fun, flashy, and you get to meet a lot of amazing people.

But is it attainable? Some makeup artists believe that working at this level is a right reserved for the privileged fewโ€”those who have paid their dues and are makeup masters. There are also those who believe that professional makeup training will hurl open the doors. That a makeup certificate will immediately land them makeup jobs without even trying. Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Keep reading for my tips on how to become a celebrity makeup artist!

Relocate to where the celebrities are

There is no right or wrong in how you pursue your makeup career. But if becoming a celebrity makeup artist or working in high fashion is on your wish list, you will need to live where the celebrities are. In that case, you have three choices.

airplane flying and relocating for makeup job
  • Move to a major city with a thriving runway, film, TV and theater industry. Get to work networking and showing everyone how amazing you are.
  • Find an agent who can book you work in one of these cities. Seek out someone who has the “pull” to get the client to fly you there and back.
  • Move to a popular celebrity vacation spot, and land the client that way! For some, a celebrity client will come fast. For others, it could take decades.

When I started my makeup career, working on celebrities was not a major goal of mine. My celebrity experience happened as a side effect of working as an actor myself. It happens differently for everyone. All I can say is be prepared. If you do makeup well, you will be equipped to work high-profile makeup jobs.

If a major job does not land in your lap you right away, donโ€™t fret. Keep working on everyone you can. Sharpen your basic makeup skills and learn new ones. As a professional makeup artist, no makeup job is a bad job. Anytime you have a brush in your hand, you have the opportunity to grow as an artist. The more you know, the more you develop. You’ll begin to meet more people. Be sure to always showcase your passion for makeup artistry. Others will see it, and you will be to land the job or client you have been waiting for.

Nathan johnson as Janky Clown on HBO series High Maintenance

Nathan Johnson as Janky Clown on HBO’s High Maintenance.

Remember that it’s not an overnight process. You may work hard, push yourself on a daily basis, and won’t land a big job for a while. This is not a reflection of your talent. It just means the time hasnโ€™t come yet. If you are not working hard and just waiting for it to happen for you, well, keep waiting (and perhaps consider another career).

Find a job as a makeup assistant

This shortcut can help you to land celebrity clients faster. If you develop a solid relationship with an artist who works with celebrities, you may be able to get a job assisting them.

In most cases, you’ll be in the room assisting the lead makeup artist as they work on the celebrity client. But sometimes, you may be able to directly prep that client’s face. This is valuable experience. You’ll learn how to behave in front of a celebrity. And if the lead makeup artist sees your skill, they may recommend you to their agent, or to a celebrity they cannot see due to another booking. Taking a job as an assistant makeup artist may be one of the best ways to opening the door to celebrity makeup artistry.

What you need to become a celebrity makeup artist

become a celebrity makeup artist like Nathan Johnson working with Nia Vardalos Paul McCartney and Paula Abdul

There are two huge things you need to possess if you want to have a career with celebrities.

  1. Be great at what you do. Your makeup skills should be finesse and reflect your own unique artistry. Find your voice and work on becoming consistent. That will take you 70% of the way there.
  2. If you are a kind person who’s a great listener, you will be another 10% closer to your goal. Treat people with respect, work hard, keep your brushes clean. If you put your best foot forward and network, there will be very little that can stop you from achieving your dream career.

Makeup is an competitive industry. But celebrity makeup artistry is even more high-profile, and thus even more competitive. Everyone started somewhere, though. Pick up your brush, hold your dreams close, and pursue your ambitions!

Don’t count on landing celebrity clients without a stunning portfolio. Check out these 5 looks every makeup artist should have in her makeup portfolio!

Author Nathan Johnson

More posts by Nathan Johnson

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Lyda Plummer says:

    I am a full time performer who has picked up makeup as a passion within the past 3 years. Being able to do my own makeup perfectly has been a load off of my back for when I perform. Within the past year, I’ve grown a huge interest in doing makeup for film! Doing makeup for actors in theatre sparked the interest.I currently live in Tx, but when I finish school I plan on traveling (especially to the big cities where opportunities are). Working as a celebrity makeup artist isn’t really my goal, I am leaning more toward film. Eventually I’d love to get into prosthesis like what the artists did for Lord of the Rings! But if working with celebrities would open those doors, then I surely wouldn’t turn it down. Thank you for the blog!

  • Robi says:

    Hi- I have been a free lance for the last 12 years along
    with owning a make up studio/products–
    I would absolutely LOVE to travel whete the best opportunities are–any suggestions????

  • Catherine karnes says:

    Lookin for course qc makeup artist to work with celebrity

  • Chrissy says:

    Hello, thank you for the article, very informative! I’m a freelance makeup artist/ stylist, I attend cosmetology school at Paul Mitchell the school Michigan. My goal is to become a celebrity makeup artist and alsohave my own glam squad And offering services for celebrities. I just don’t know where to start..

  • Jane Cordeiro says:

    I live in Windsor, Ontario and we have a beautiful Casino where a lot of singers from all over come to perform. I would love to be in contact and have the privilege to meet with these people and do there makeup. I put a lot of passion into my makeup artistry. Any guidance, I am totally up for it please.
    Thank you,

  • Robi says:

    Hi -I am a seasoned make up artist/free lance make up artist in my city of Louisville KY-I have a make up studio(22yrs) In the bizzz. Longer——-
    I SO want to do makeup for the celebrities–I am So ready–I welcome all suggestions!!!!!
    One of my besties client that I dearly enjoyed so much was Jean Sawyer Hayes–miss her-met Diane Sawyer just once -she came in to my studio /her
    mom-to meet me–WOW!!!!!!!That day I was so busy
    But she was so gracious (helping her mom on sat morning)
    Thank you& Take care
    Robi ๐Ÿ™‚

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