How to Become a Makeup Artist in Chicago - QC Makeup Academy

Ever thought of moving to the beautifully diverse city of Chicago? Well, now would be the time! It’s a fantastic place to start your makeup career. There are plenty of unique industries ready to teach you new skills, and a vast market of potential clients.

No matter what industry you’re looking to specialize in, follow along on our trip to Chicago and see if this is where you need to be!

Where to Work in Chicago

Location: Wicker Park
Preferred Makeup Jobs: Theatrical makeup artists, performance makeup artists
Preferred Makeup Style: Evening, special occasion, stage makeup

In the northern area of the Windy City, you can expect to find a lavish dining and entertainment experience for a night on the town. For makeup artists, this is the area you want to patrol if you’re looking to break into theatre and stage makeup! Whether you’re working at one of the big theatre companies or freelancing for musicians, there are plenty of events to keep you busy.

Working in Wicker Park will give you the opportunity to freelance, work with clients for a big date night, or get hired by a performer coming to town. You’ll certainly be able to taste the diversity the Chicago makeup industry has to offer!

Makeup careers in the city

Magnificent Mile
Preferred Makeup Jobs: Beauty counter makeup artists, salon makeup artists
Preferred Makeup Style: Daytime, high-end makeup

For a makeup artist looking to inch her way into the Chicago beauty scene, the Magnificent Mile might seem daunting. But there are so many opportunities for makeup artists in this thriving downtown neighborhood that you can’t pass up the chance! This area is loaded with shopping malls, so it’s a great place to start your makeup career with a cosmetic company. Sephora and M.A.C. Cosmetics are, of course, in the vicinity!

Plus, Magnificent Mile has a plethora of salons and spas that you can work your way into. Most salons offer makeup services to their clients, and the looks they go for can range from everyday natural to full glam makeup! This is definitely the place to expand your techniques and styles.

South Shore
Preferred Makeup Jobs: Bridal makeup artists, performance makeup artists
Preferred Makeup Style: Bridal, stage makeup

Working in South Shore will make you feel presidential – literally! This is the spot where Barack and Michelle Obama were married, and it’s no wonder why it’s such a hot spot for weddings. From the beach to the beautiful architecture and venues, this is every Chicago bride’s dream.

More than this, you can take your shot at landing a high-profile job with one of the performance centers. There’s both a cultural center and an opera company that host performances, which you know they’ll want the best makeup for!

Bridal makeup artist in Chicago

Preferred Makeup Jobs: Theatrical makeup artists
Preferred Makeup Style: Drag makeup, glamour makeup

If you’re looking for an energetic new place to work, head to the always bustling Boystown! Known for its welcoming neighborhood and lively nightlife, you won’t be disappointed by the makeup jobs available. Freelancing in Boystown means you’ll get to practice working on different faces and creating new looks, including male makeup and drag makeup looks. Plus, you get to delve into the nightlife industry! Catch some clients who are heading onstage to perform and you’ll be sure to get some great recommendations for your looks.

Chicago Makeup Artists to Follow

Paula Heckenast

Paula Heckenast has worked on countless celebrity faces, including that of Stan Lee and Tom Felton. And it’s clear why Paula’s a top choice! Her makeup applications are clean, yet creative. From her editorial work to her flawless bridal clients, this is one makeup artist you can’t NOT follow.

Check out her portfolio and get inspired by her success!

Shannon O’Brien

Aspiring to work with celebrities? Take some pointers from Shannon O’Brien’s career – she’s worked on the gorgeous faces of Sophia Bush and Meghan Markle, and has dipped her toes into a range of fashion work. Shannon’s classic looks are what make her stand out. Her makeup applications don’t stray too far from the norm, but there’s a personality behind them that makes you do a double take!

View her Instagram profile to get a peek into her daily life.

Applying celebrity makeup

Sonia Roselli

If you want to break into the bridal makeup industry in Chicago, you’ll need to be up-to-date on Sonia’s work. As a renowned bridal makeup artist, Sonia brings every bride’s dream to life. From timeless elegance to modern and sleek, Sonia builds a look that compliments her bride as much as it does the wedding!

Keep track of the bridal beauty world by following her on Instagram!

Jenny Patinkin

A great inspiration for celebrity and editorial makeup artists is Jenny Patinkin’s gorgeous portfolio. She’s created countless makeup looks for the cover of Splash Magazine, and has worked on editorial campaigns for various companies. Her looks are always elegant, giving her clients a notable rosy glow on a flawless complexion.

There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Jenny’s work – less truly is more!

An Makeup Artist’s Salary in Chicago

Depending on where you choose to work in Chicago, your makeup artist salary will likely be in the range of $35,000. The average for a freelance makeup artist is just over $33k, where an employed artist is about $36.5k. This is a pretty high range, considering how competitive the market can get!

Celebrity makeup artist on set

In order to boost your salary, test out a few different niches to expand your makeup services. Work your way up and practice so you can start landing high-end clients in the ritzy areas of Chicago. Attracting bridal clients is a great way to get recommendations anywhere – but with Chicago’s gorgeous parks and views of the water, you’ll want to capitalize on this bridal epicenter to build your name!

Are you ready to make the move? Find out how you can become a makeup artist anywhere in the world!

Author Katie Deck

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