Back To School

December 3rd, 2015

December 3rd, 2015

With so many make-up training avenues available, we thought we would turn to some of the top educators and teaching artists that we know in order to get some solid advice on what to look out for, and what helps students stand out.  Course creator, glitter goddess and all-around fabulous person Julia Townend has been involved in structuring courses for a wide variety of colleges, so we turned to her for some in-depth knowledge first.


Julia Townend


I believe in good training, whether it is on a short course or a full time academic course.  Each individual responds to different types of training and I have seen good results in both the state and private school sector.  I would advise potential students to visit the colleges they are interested in, check out the syllabus, the teachers and the facilities.  If the potential students take time to research about the make-up industry and identify where they would like to work, this in turn could influence where they study.

All state-based colleges and universities compose of both practical and academic studies, and students are required to pass units of study to achieve their full qualification.  In my opinion the leading courses at a BA/Fda/HND level in the UK at present are Arts University Bournemouth, London College of Fashion, West Thames College, Swindon College and York College.  This is due to a combination of their course structures, facilities and teaching teams.

Private colleges offer training in a shorter time which is mainly taught via practical delivery and often taught by artists who currently work in the make-up industry.  For film and TV training I think Delamar, CBMA, Iver Academy, The Make-up Artist Academy, Bath Academy of Media Make-up and DFMA offer good courses.  For Fashion make-up training I think House of Glam Dolls, Pixiwoo (who occasionally announce one-off courses), DFMA, The Session School and Louise Young all offer a wide range of courses.  For make-up artists wanting to update their skills I would suggest the courses at Creative Media Skills as they have excellent training and facilities.  These are my personal opinions on the colleges I know.


I work as a freelance make-up artist and am asked regularly to form part of course validation panels for new and existing make-up courses.  This enables me to visit colleges and universities in order to make a critical observation of what they are offering their students.

I think fundamentally the college has to identify the source of future employment for their students, especially if the students are local to the college.  Does the area have theatres, fashion shows, film & TV studios where the students could gain employment in the future?  If not, what other sources of future employment could there be for the students?

There are governing bodies for Make-up Qualifications ranging from Degree levels (BA Honours), Foundation Degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates, National Diploma’s, VTCT, ITEC and City & Guilds.  If you are designing a programme there will be units you select to put into the programme.  Ideally it is best to have a mix of make-up and hair units for the students to study as they will need to offer both hair and make-up in their future employment.

The facilities that the college has comes into play when designing a course – it is important to ensure there are enough work stations for the cohort of students, good ventilation, good lighting, electrical points and wash basins.  Ensuring there is enough make-up stock, wigs and electrical equipment for a full class in order to deliver the programme.


If the course is aimed at an Fda/HND/BA level then the college should check that they have the right staff who can teach the academic side of the course.  Checking that you have a make-up team to deliver the studies is also important, ensuring that the teachers have worked in industry in the subjects they will teach.

When I designed the HND Specialist Makeup programme at West Thames College I achieved the full potential of the course within three years as I had a clear focus of how I wanted the course to be.  I also knew how to market the course at make-up events.  I knew that by having a stand representing the college at IMATS would give us a strong profile.  By Year Three of the HND Specialist Make-up course we recruited for the places we had available quickly and ended up with a long waiting list for that year and each year after.  The additional seven years of running the programme achieved more potential in ways I had not even dreamed of, thanks to a supportive Manager, the course team I had and also the talented students we were recruiting.  The course became well known throughout the UK and further as an excellent place to study.  Our students won first place in the IMATS Make-up Competition for five consecutive years, and their work was featured in Make-up Artist Magazine regularly following the IMATS shows.  Their work was even used for the promotional visual for five of the IMATS shows.

Mike Spatola – The Cinema Makeup School

 Mike Headshot

[On working at the Cinema Makeup School]  It’s amazing, it’s a regular job in a place that I truly love – I love the kids, the students.  I’ve personally employed many of them, or recommended many to other artists looking for help.  The best ones show that they’re good with their skills combined with an amazing work ethic; even if they’re not the best in the class, that’s what makes a great artist that you want to work with.

I would absolutely hire someone of good ability over incredible ability if they have the better attitude.  Who is the team player, who will make the actor feel good in the morning, right after they’ve woken up, and start the day off right?  It’s all about trust in this business.

Amanda Green – The Make-Up Artist Academy


I have noticed some amazing changes in the industry.  There are beauty bloggers galore, YouTube demos and lots of people now wanting to work as a “make-up artist”.  With so many courses out there these days – which are great, don’t get me wrong – it can be confusing to find the right one.  If you want to work in TV and film, for example, then a one week course in make-up is simply not going to get you there.  Local colleges also do make-up artist training nowadays, but you need to make sure your tutors have at least worked in the industry and have a few years’ experience to be able to advise you how to get there too.  Otherwise, how can they help?

Make-up artistry has always been a competitive business, although I’ve actually found that there are more opportunities than ever for MUAs to find work.  It used to be only pro shoots, which would be so hard to break into and get experience, but now artists are being booked by the general public for weddings, corporate events, proms, Facebook and Twitter shoots (yes, really), YouTube users, even Halloween.  It seems that everyone wants to look good with so many cameras around these days.

But, if you want to work in the professional industries, it’s still very important that you get professional training.  I was given a card by the owner of a top international MUA agency recently who told me that she was only interested in new talent who had been trained by professional MUAs.

Louise Young


Training is essential.  Good training by reputable schools and make-up artists is key, so be sure to do your research on this.  You wouldn’t believe how many courses are available that aren’t industry recognised and are taught by people who aren’t even make-up artists.  Don’t lose sight of your final goal, even if you do have to take on other jobs to keep money coming in.

Anne Morrissey – The International Make-up Academy


I can usually see from the beginning who will excel and stand out from the rest, and it is usually down to their passion and commitment.  They get so excited talking about make-up, they do loads of practice – even out of class they keep experimenting and trying things out.  A high-flier is usually someone that is also very personable, punctual and has the ability to make people feel special, that nothing is a bother for them.  It’s all about attitude.



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By Deborah Murtha

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