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Presto! You’re pretty!

With a wave of a highlighter or a mascara brush, make-up artists can do magic, creating beauty out of ordinariness… Neha Sharma tells you more

education Updated: Jan 19, 2010 16:57 IST
Neha Sharma

Bipasha Basu’s smouldering eyes, Preity Zinta’s rosy cheeks, Katrina Kaif’s Cupid’s bow pout… if you have not been born with such assets, you can always bank on a make-up artist to gift these to you.

A special breed of magicians with mascara brushes for wands, make-up artists are adept at the art of highlighting the best of your features and concealing any flaws. Learning this art requires time, practice and creativity. For beauty expert Blossom Kochhar, it has been a lifelong love affair. “I was always interested in make-up. For me, it is an amazing art form where the face is the canvas and there are movable expressions. I studied at Pivot Point (Complexions) Chicago, and then did workshops around the world to update my skills,” she says.

So what does one require to make it big in this career? Experts say you should have the aptitude of an artist and then take a course at a good make-up school. You should also have basic knowledge of skin types and colours and know how to handle make-up instruments. Although one can do a make-up course after school, it is better to finish college and then do a course, the duration of which can range from three months to a year.

For Shalini Singh of Style Studio by Shalini Singh, “it started with a natural love for colours. I did a professional course in Germany in personal make-up and then did an advanced course in Delhi. While the former teaches you basics like foundation, concealer and application, a course in advanced make-up familiarises you with facial structures, face types and the colours that go with them. Then you move onto lip and eye correction.”

Once you finish the course, you should assist an experienced make-up artist and look for an internship. At times, you can request them to just let you observe them. When you go to meet the established names, carry a few photographs that demonstrate your work. Kochhar advises, “Do as many faces as you can. The more you practise the better. Make-up is all about knowing the texture, tonal value and colour of the skin as well as type of skin and features. No two faces are alike. Make a portfolio of your work.”

Make-up expert Simmi Ghai says, “After finishing training, start meeting up with stylists and fashion photographers. Go to cosmetics companies, meet with editors of fashion magazines or (film/TV) production house heads.”

Everything in this field works by word of mouth. So keep an eye out for runway shows or any small event where participants require make-up — to showcase your work. Singh says, “I interned with Ambika Pillai, who let me assist her for half-a-dozen shows. Now, after 13 years, I have completed a three-year stint with ColorBar to start my own studio.”

Avenues for a make-up artist are many. You can do fashion shows, bridal make-up, conduct seminars and workshops, work in a salon, work as a presenter for a cosmetics company, for a TV studio and even for a choreographer. On career options, Kochhar says, “You can work with a photographer, as a portfolio make-up artist, in the theatre and the movies, for a cosmetic company, advertisement or model agencies.”

Once a reputation is built, a make-up artist makes good money, but one has to keep competition in mind. “You have to do the best make-up quickly, at times on very demanding and difficult people,” says Ghai.

Make-up artists must also always keep updating their skills by attending international seminars, buying and testing products from all over the world and sharpening their techniques. Given the same products, two individuals can create different looks on the same face. Thus, technique is very important.

What's it about?
Make-up artists generally beautify the face of a model for a runway show, a bride for a wedding or an actor for a stage production or a film by enhancing and concealing the right features. It requires a thorough understanding of face types, colour and make-up techniques

Clock Work
9 am: Reach the salon
9.30 am: Start working on faces
1 pm: Lunch
2 pm-7 pm: Meetings and workshops
7.30 pm: Leave for a runway show

The Payoff
A beginner in the field could get Rs 5,000 per assignment, which would include working on two-three looks for a model (for a magazine or ad shoot). This goes up to Rs 50,000 per assignment and after that maybe even Rs 20,000 a face

A creative bent of mind
. Steady hands
. Love for experimenting and playing with colours
. Interest in skin texture and facial structure
. Familiarity with basic make-up concepts

How do i get there?
After Class X, or XII, or graduation, join a good make-up school and do a course in personal make-up. Go for a course in advanced make-up after that. Make a portfolio and visit salons and well-known make-up artists looking for apprentices. Work on as many faces as you can to gain experience

Institutes & urls
Style Studio by Shalini Singh (site under construction)
D-45, Pancsheel Enclave, first floor
Conducts 2- or 3-day course for Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000
.Vidya Tikari
B-21, Lajpat Nagar-2
Conducts 10-day course for Rs 40,000
.MUD (Make-Up Designatory)
53-54, fifth floor, Govardhan House, Nehru Place
Conducts a one-month course in all areas of make-up for a fee of Rs 55,000.
Students get international certificates, and are listed in the International Make-up
.Make-Up Studio
B-6, third floor, Kalkaji
Conducts a basic 3-day course for Rs 10,000 and a one-month course for Rs

Pros & Cons
Scope for creativity as there are no boundaries
. There is no repetition or monotony
. Meeting and networking with a lot of interesting people
. Good money
. Lots of travel
. Physically tiring. You may have to do back-to-back assignments
. Working on models with tantrums and demanding customers
. There may be lean periods when you have no assignments

Stay a step ahead of the competition

A veteran make-up artist speaks on the rewards and pitfalls of being in this field

How did you become a make-up expert?
I have been in the hair and beauty business from the age of 11, studying and working under my mother Blossom Kochhar.

I started training myself in hair and went on to make-up and aesthetics by the age of 14. I was a trained teacher and then started working in fashion and films in my teens. I have trained over a 100 students in professional make-up.

What does it take to be a make-up artist?
A creative bent of mind — you are like an artist, and your canvas is the face — and a solid foundation from a good make-up school. Physically, it’s a taxing job with long hours of standing up, and you also end up travelling a lot.

After training, how should one go about looking for work?
Start floating your portfolio, meet photographers and co-ordinators, assist other make-up and hair artists. For a steady job, get in touch with cosmetics companies that need make-up artists at their shops to sell their products.

What can one expect as s/he moves up the ladder?
Competition! There is always someone new entering the industry who will work for a lower price, for longer hours. So keep yourself updated, always stay one step ahead, be professional at all times.

What is a typical day like?
Hectic when we are working. Otherwise, there are days when you can chill. Some days we start very early in the morning or it gets quite late at times.

What is the advantage of being in the profession? Or the problems?
We meet a lot of interesting celebrities, fashion people. We travel. The money we make is good. But this is an industry where a lot of rubbish can happen, too! You need to have strong moral principles.

Samantha Kochhar, hair and make-up expert Interviewed by Neha Sharma