Going From The Classroom To The Stage: How To Get Started In Theater Makeup

Cosmetology school prepares students to work with makeup in a variety of settings. Graduating students who pass their licensure exam can work in a retail store, at a spa or for a theater company. If you hope to get started in the competitive field of theater makeup, though, you'll need to prepare yourself to enter the industry while you're still in a cosmetology school like Cannella School of Hair Design. Here are two ways you can set yourself up for a successful career as a theater makeup artist.

Get Licensed in Multiple States

Licensure requirements for makeup artists vary from state to state. Right now, only Louisiana has a specific makeup artist license, but other states require makeup artists to be licensed as estheticians. In most states, makeup artists must have some type of license.

For the best chance of getting a job as a makeup artist with a theater company, you should pursue licensure in more than one state. This will let you not only apply to companies that perform shows in specific theater or city, but you'll also be able to join traveling troupes. You may be able to obtain licensure through reciprocity in other states, or you might have to sit for an additional licensing exam.

Get Photos of Your Work

When applying to theater companies, you're going to need examples of your work -- and they shouldn't just be examples of everyday styling. Theater companies want to see that you can make someone look good for the stage, which is different from making a bride beautiful for her wedding day.

Whenever you know someone who's dressing up in a costume, offer to do their makeup. In return, ask to take a picture of them when you're done. The more pictures you can collect, the larger and more diverse your portfolio will be when you go to apply for jobs.

People don't often dress up in costumes, so you'll have to take advantage of the few times they do. You may know people who will be in costume for the following:

  • Halloween
  • movie premiers
  • renaissance festivals
  • comic conventions

With multiple licenses and a portfolio of work in hand, you'll be all set to apply to work as a makeup artist with a theater company. While you could pursue additional licenses and build up your portfolio after you finish cosmetology school, working on these things while you're taking classes will put you ahead of others in the field. You'll be ready as soon as you graduate to begin looking for a job backstage.