So you want to be a Special Effects Makeup Artist…

What led you to your desire? Walking Dead zombies? Star Wars aliens? Classic horror flicks? Do you follow famous artists such as Rick Baker or Tom Savini?

Every movie, show, commercial, and photoshoot has a regular makeup artist doing normal makeup looks. But when it comes to monsters, aliens and bloody wound scenes, a Special Effects Makeup Artist is called in. Also referred to as Special FX or SFX.

The artist confers with the production design team and director so they can decide on a design. This usually begins with rough sketches which morph into actual mockups. If the design is agreed upon, the prosthesis is made.

These looks can take several hours to apply as well as several hours to remove. The artist may stay on the set in case of anything needing to be fixed during the shoot.

There is no special certification requirement for Special Effects Artists, however most have a basic Cosmetology/Esthetics education. Esthetics is an important part of knowledge because it focuses on the skin and its care. While in school, you can also hone your special effects makeup skills and build a portfolio of looks showing off your creativity.

Most producers expect you to have your own kits for basic looks, but some will add it into their budget, so building your own kit is essential.

Once you’re trained and feel confident of your skills, and have built a good portfolio, you can search for jobs on boards such as ProductionBeast.

You can also become an assistant to an already established SFX artist to get your feet wet. Many complicated looks take several people to accomplish. This is the time to network and gain the experience for your resume.

You can look up current salaries online, if you’re curious.

Start now by enrolling in the John Amico School of Hair Design’s Esthetics Program. We offer days or evenings, full- or part-time. You can graduate in as little as 6 months. Many shows and movies are filmed in Chicago, but you can also decide to work in Hollywood or New York. Wherever your passion leads you! Text ‘FX’ to 708-631-2521 for more info.