Q&A with a Professional Makeup Artist

 Hello, beautifuls!

I have been in love with all things beauty for quite a few years now and the idea of being a makeup artist has always appealed to me.  I know many other makeup junkies like me may be wanting to understand more about the makeup industry as well. Since there isn’t just one “set-in-stone” path to becoming a makeup artist, it can be a bit confusing and difficult to figure out where to begin.

Since I had so many questions about this career path and thought it would be helpful and interesting to others (even if they aren’t interested in taking this path themselves), I contacted professional makeup artist, Shelby Bartrug from my local Seattle area.  Her Instagram feed and Facebook page always inspire me with her beautiful makeup creations and she was kind enough to answer all of my questions!

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1.     How did you get started in the makeup industry?

I got started when I was in high school. I went to cosmetology school and attended high school my senior year. I would work with the local theatre and do hair and makeup for them as well as local fashion shows.

         2.     What advice would you give to someone wanting to get started as a makeup artist?
    Well, when I started they didn’t have YouTube and tutorials.  Those can certainly be helpful for someone learning how to do makeup as well as just getting your foot in the door. Assist a makeup artist or apply for a counter makeup artist job at your local mall; It’s a good start.
    One other thing is to practice, practice, practice -and I don’t mean on yourself. Practice on a lot of people, because everyone’s tones, and facial structures are different.  You’ll need to know how to work with every skin type, shape, and ethnicity.

3.     What tools do you need to be a makeup artist?  Is it essential to have a lot of expensive brushes and makeup?

A kit is key. Starting out, you’ll need good brushes for sure. Now, that doesn’t mean they have to be the most expensive ones on the market; good quality. Do your research. In your kit, you will need all the makeup you would normally use on yourself; foundations, concealers, primers, shadows, blushes, lipsticks/lip gloss, bronzers and highlighters. A perk is if you get on for companies like M.A.C. or Sephora, because you get a lot of gratis which is an especially huge bonus when you are first starting out.

4.     Do you have any tips on how to build a good portfolio?

A good way to build your portfolio would be to team up with one or more professional photographers. This way, you’ll have professional pictures to show your work. 

5.     How do you publicize/market yourself?

I’ve gotten to where I am at now by a ton of word of mouth, but social media has been a huge bonus as well. In the beginning, you have to bust your butt. I would go to vendors to sell myself and tell them why they needed to work with me or use me as their preferred makeup artist. It wasn’t always as easy. 

6.     What is a myth about makeup artistry?

You don’t have to go to school to be a makeup artist. There are a ton of makeup artists that are self-taught. 

7.     What are career options for professional makeup artists and what is the career outlook?

The sky’s the limit to be honest, depending on what you want to do. Theatre, film, special effects, weddings…  The list goes on.

8.     Why is it important to attend a beauty/makeup school?  What classes would you recommend someone to take that is looking into makeup artistry?

Makeup school would be good to attend if you have absolutely no clue about makeup and aren’t sure if it’s for you. You’ll find out by the end if makeup artistry is something you would like to pursue or not.

As far as classes and schools, it depends on what’s available in your area. If you are financially able to travel, do so, because it will be worth it.

9.     What advice would you give to someone looking for real-world experience in the makeup industry?

Practice, practice, practice.  Get out there and show them you mean business and that they need to hire you.

10.  What is your favorite thing about being a professional makeup artist?

My favorite thing about being a makeup artist is that every day is different. I meet so many amazing people.  I get to make them feel beautiful on whatever special occasion it may be or just teach them how to look and feel their best through makeup.

Thanks for reading!  I hope that this interview informed you about makeup artistry and answered many of your questions about the industry!  I’d love to know if you are interested in becoming a makeup artist yourself!
Thank you for answering all of my questions, Shelby!  You were so kind and informative!

I’d love to connect with you on social media! :