My career as a make-up artist

Working as a make-up artistWe caught up with Amanda Green, a make-up designer who also runs her own business to train future make-up artists, to find out more about her route to success.

Tell us about the job you’re doing now.  What does it involve?
Make-up designer for TV, film and fashion, I create looks for people and TV shows, working with actors, presenters, dancers and music artists and models. I’m also the founder and tutor of The Make-Up Artist Academy at 3 Mills Film Studios in London.

What is the most exciting aspect of your work?
There are many! Discovering a talented artist/make-up artist and watching them develop their talent and confidence on our courses and go on to do amazing work. I love that! Working on new productions with exciting, creative people, at a film/TV studios or on location as part of the crew. Working with famous people and in particular Hollywood stars. Applying make-up and seeing the transformation into something beautiful or creating an evil monster for a creature character. Watching your art come to life is very satisfying.

Would your classmates from school be surprised at what you’re doing now?
Yes, they would! I came from a very small village in Wales, back then even meeting a famous person seemed a distant possibility.

Was there a teacher who had a particularly strong influence on you and if so in what way?
I had the most amazing teacher who had a huge influence on me. Miss Silcox, she was kind, encouraging and helpful, she was my dance teacher. Without Miss Silcox’s help I’m not sure I would be where I am today. She helped me audition for a performing arts school in London when I was 15 and I was accepted. I moved to London, on my own, when I was 16 to start a three-year dance and performing arts course.

What school subjects were you good at and have any been surprisingly helpful later on?
Art was my best subject at school, I enjoyed anything creative and practical, sewing, woodwork etc. I was surprised to find I was also good at chemistry, which I now realise was the perfect combination of subjects to become a make-up artist, I work with chemicals every day, thinning make-up to use in airbrush machines or to dissolve wig glues or finding the right product to apply prosthetics. Understanding what products will work with each other for mixing or cleaning is very important.

How did you decide what you wanted to do after school?
This decision was fairly easy for me –  I wanted to do what I enjoyed and what came naturally to me. Art and dance were my choices but I enjoyed them both equally. I wanted to study both. Being accepted at a professional dance academy gave me the answer.  I would study dance by day and in the evening would go to art classes. I was exhausted but loved it.

And how did you get into your current line of work?
While working as a dancer I had the chance to work in film and TV and discovered the make-up department.  At 16, I auditioned for a major film that was shooting at Pinewood Studios and got it. On the morning of filming all the dancers were taken to the make-up and costume departments who transformed us into 18th century characters with wigs and beautiful make-up.  We looked amazing!

Did you take a gap year? Did it influence any decisions later in life?
I didn’t take a gap year, I felt very lucky to be offered work at the end of my course and got signed to an agency straight away.

What was your experience at college like?
College was great! Very hard work and tough at times but it was exciting.

What are you proudest of achieving?
Difficult question. Being part of the TV and film Industry. Opening The Make-Up Artist Academy. My dancing career. Designing my first TV show and film. Seeing my students working as part of a make-up team or when they call in for a chat and advice and they tell me what they are working on next.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Running The Make-Up Artist Academy.

What advice would you give someone still at school who wants to do what you’re doing now?
The way to become a make-up artist is to watch loads of TV and films, it’s true! Study the front covers of magazines, look at old masters in a portrait gallery, using make-up is not that much different from using paint, it’s just another medium. See how hairstyles and make-up change according to the fashion of the era. Read a book and start imagining how you would make the characters look. Then, when you are ready, take a course.

Can you give us a link for more information?
The Make-Up Artist Academy