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Wadhurst, United Kingdom

©2017 NICOLA DOWNEY : HAIR & MAKE-UP ARTIST

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Will you make it as a make-up artist?

December 4, 2017

 

The great thing about our profession is that there are many different directions we can move in, continually learning as we go. There is so much variety to our work that we needn't get bored or feel stuck and I particularly enjoy working across different mediums and with different people. In many ways, being a hair and make-up artist is a great job but the road to success can be extremely hard.

 

Training as a make-up artist these days is very different to what it used to be. Long gone are the days of in-house training at places such as the BBC and Granada. The short intensive training courses with invaluable work experience opportunities have been eclipsed by lengthy and very expensive courses at private make-up schools. You can even do a degree now but how many students actually make it in the industry? It was always an incredibly competitive one but who really succeeds? Is it down to your qualifications or is it down to your experience and who you know?

 

 

My Journey

 

I trained at a private make-up school many years ago on a 4 month intensive media course at the age of 24.  Prior to this, I had been taking a 2 year evening course whilst working a full-time job and came to the conclusion that in order to stand a chance of succeeding in this industry, I needed to train somewhere well-known.

 

The course was good and I was very fortunate to be chosen as a trainee for one of my tutors, who happened to be a big name in the television industry. I was given three amazing opportunities with her and then I soon realised how tough the industry was and how disposable you are. I at least had a chance. Only one other student on my course made it as a make-up artist and the course was not cheap.

 

Undeterred, I contacted another make-up artist and she took me on as her assistant for television commercials. I much preferred this work but again, it became clear that it's down to the contacts you make and would I be able to get more work myself?  After a while, I was offered work in my own right but unfortunately had to turn it down due to existing commitments and this is where the dilemma occurs in our world. Can you afford to say no to a job knowing full well that there are plenty of other make-up artists available and waiting?

 

At this point in my career, I had worked on some big shows, a film and regular commercials but I still needed to take office work in between to pay the bills. Having a partner in full-time work certainly helped but I had rather hoped that my work would be more consistent. The turning point for me came when I decided to move into theatre. I really just wanted to improve my hair skills as I wasn't hugely confident but I soon found that I loved the fast-paced environment, working with the most amazing wigs and extremely friendly people and soon enough, my skills and confidence soared high. As a media make-up artist, you are expected to be good at hair too but I still meet make-up artists today who lack confidence with hair and I think it is down to a lack of experience of working in-depth with hair.

 

 

I started working at Glyndebourne Opera near Lewes and at Royal Opera House with their education department, over 7 years ago and I have not looked back. I have also kept up with some media work for Bank of America, Topshop and Eurosport. I've been running a successful bridal business for over 14 years now and while it can be a tiring job at times, it is incredibly fulfilling and a very good earner. I've been able to use my hair skills from the theatre world really well and working to a half-hour call during a show really helps to make you quick! Always useful when you have a large bridal party to work with.

 

I've discovered a love for teaching through running stage make-up workshops with Royal Opera House and now teach a variety of courses from hair braiding to eye make-up. Recently, I started professional masterclasses aimed at working make-up artists and hair stylists, who would like to add new skills to their businesses.

 

 

My professional Masterclasses

 

I am not an accredited make-up school and I'm not interested in becoming one to be honest. It is a saturated market and I'm concerned at the number of students paying an absolute fortune for courses that they will never use. What I am offering is aimed at people already working in the industry who would like to gain confidence in or learn new skills which will benefit their careers and businesses. I'm passionate about passing on tricks of the trade and in my opinion, as a working hair and make-up artist, being able to give you relevant and real world training is hugely beneficial.

 

On completion of your masterclass, you will receive a certificate from me and an opportunity to assist on relevant jobs to further increase your confidence.

 

 

Shhh Studio

 

 

 

In February 2018, I will be running my masterclasses from a fantastic studio in Wadhurst, East Sussex. While it is located in a quaint village high street, Wadhurst is easily reached from London (1 hrs commute) with a direct train line to the village every 30 minutes. There are fully kitted out workstations for 4 students at a time, which is the maximum number I like to work with to give you more individual training. All products and tools will be provided. You just need to come along and learn!

 

 

Upcoming Masterclasses - February 2018

  • Hair Basics - we learn how to prep hair for styling using heated rollers, tongs and straighteners

  • Braids & Plaits - learn how to create many braids and plaits including french, dutch, rope and more

  • Wedding/Red Carpet Up-do - find out how to deconstruct a style and how to create beautiful up-dos

  • Natural Make-up - we learn all the basics to a natural make-up and how to achieve a beautiful and flawless look

  • Glamorous Make-up - learn how to create bold and dramatic looks

  • Make-up for MLM Presenters - find out how to use your products effectively to increase sales within your business

If you are interested in attending one of these masterclasses and would like more information,  get in touch here.

 

 

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