Star Pupils

April 18th, 2017

April 18th, 2017

We’re always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing – the inventive new product, the catwalk-ruling trend and, of course, the hottest young artists making waves in the industry.  We spoke to a few of bright young artists who have recently graduated from courses to see how these Star Pupils are faring.

Brogan Sharp – Graduate of Shaune Harrison’s Academy Brogan-Headshot

WP:  What inspired you to get into make-up?

BS:  I was 6 or 7 years old and for Christmas my parents gave me Michael Jackson’s Number One Hits DVD.  I watched Thriller for the first time and was totally obsessed with the Werewolf and zombie make-ups that Rick Baker and his crew created.  Special effects make-up became my passion from that point on.

WP:  Why did you choose to train where you did?

BS:  I had just finished my first year in college after leaving high school and I was looking to study and learn more about special make-up effects.  I saw make-up artist Shaune Harrison was opening up a new Academy where I live in Manchester.  I looked at Shaune’s film credits and body of work and knew it would be the perfect place to learn.

WP:  What opportunities for growth and support did the school offer you?

BS:  I learned a lot at Shaune’s Academy and he also gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of working artist in the industry through assisting Shaune’s make-up demos at numerous trade shows in London.  I also worked on various films and TV programmes with Shaune; being able to sculpt, mould and apply some of the main characters’ make-ups, the whole experience has been really great.


WP:  What has been your biggest achievement since graduating?

BS:  Actually being a working make-up artist on set is an accomplishment.  Working on the reboot of The Mummy film at Shepperton Studios was a great experience, as was my recent work with The Makeup Designers – Love Larson and Eva von Bahr – on the new Lars von Trier film.  I’d also say travelling to Los Angeles and being able to meet and receive great advice from several of the artists that have greatly inspired me – Rick Baker, Arjen Tuiten, Steve Wang, Howard Berger, Mike Hill and Vincent Van Dyke.

WP:  What advice would you give to people who are thinking of training to be a MUA?

BS:  I’m just starting out myself so I don’t have many answers, but I’d say that you’ve got to practice what interests you and go to trade shows and learn all you can.  Reach out to the artists that inspire you.  Many of them are accessible and friendly to offer critiques and advice.  If you’re really good, it might come more easily for you, but being an artist is difficult; you’ll have to work for it.



Jenny Watson – Graduate of The Iver Academy


WP:  What inspired you to get into make-up?

JW:  I have always been interested in hair and make-up, especially in TV and film as you are helping to create a character.  You can completely reinvent a person by making the subtlest changes to a character’s hair and make-up and I love that!  I never really thought of it as being a career at first as it felt unattainable.  However after researching the career path further and seeing the fantastic opportunities available, I decided to just go for it.

WP:  Why did you choose to train where you did?

JW:  I chose to train at The Iver Make-up Academy for a few reasons.  For one, it offered a 6-month course which was the perfect duration of time for me to train.  The content of the course was also fantastic, covering a wide range of different topics.  Secondly, I had been interested in Greasepaint and after it closed I saw that The Iver Make-up Academy had a lot of the same tutors.  This was important to me – to be taught by exceptional make-up artists who are very successful in the industry.  As soon as I set foot in the building I felt that it was right for me, and everyone was so friendly and helpful that I knew I had to go there.  The fact that it is based in Pinewood Studios is also a huge bonus.

WP:  What opportunities for growth and support did the school offer you?

JW:  You are always encouraged to ask questions and practice, practice, practice!  I often borrowed equipment from the school to take home at weekends to practice which was so helpful.  While training, we were also offered jobs and work experience including fashion shows, face painting and theatre.  After graduating there is also the agency which offers jobs such as short films, music videos and more.  I always know that I can call whenever I need help with anything.


WP:  What has been your biggest achievement since graduating?

JW:  I have been so lucky in the fact that I haven’t stopped working since leaving the Academy.  I finished my course in July and went straight to work on a TV show, which was so much fun, and I am now a trainee on a feature film with an incredible team.  Both jobs were through recommendations from tutors and I am extremely grateful for that.

WP:  What advice would you give to people who are thinking of training to be a MUA?

JW: I would say to do your research.  Make sure you understand the industry and all the options available to you.  It’s great to check out different schools and see which suits you, and always remember that if you are willing to put in the work you can achieve anything you set out to do.  It really is the best job ever!



Sam Shuck – Graduate of Creative Media Skills SamWorking

WP:  What inspired you to get into make-up?

SS:  My earliest memory of special effects make-up stems from my uncle’s love of all things character- and creature-related.  I was introduced to Alien’s face hugger when I was very young and thought, “I want to be the person that makes those creatures.”  I didn’t know what it was or even what the industry was at that age.  I started watching horror movies, probably at a much younger age than my friends and it was actually The Exorcist make-up which reinforced my passion; I knew that this was the career for me.

WP:  Why did you choose to train where you did?

SS:  At the time of choosing universities aged 18, there wasn’t the options in courses that there is now.  Most Make-Up BA courses were 90% beauty and editorial courses which encompassed 4-6 weeks of special effects make-up.  The likes of Greasepaint School and The Iver Academy were far out of reach so when I found Creative Media Skills back in April 2016, a platform which brings teaching of specialist skills to students with all abilities, I knew that was the training for me.  The ability to work and take part in the CMS courses in my spare time was the biggest winner for me.

WP:  What opportunities for growth and support did the school offer you?

SS:  Creative Media Skills are incredibly supportive and provide a professional, but relaxed learning atmosphere.  The classes are kept pretty small which enables the students to learn more and ask any questions they have.  CMS bring the best of the best tutors and current professional artists to teach; I particularly enjoyed learning from Dan Frye and Stuart Bray.


WP:  What has been your biggest achievement since graduating?

SS:  I have been teaching myself make-up effects from sculpting to mould-making, life-casting to prosthetic application, and I am of course still learning.  I would say that my biggest achievement to date is having been working on a couple of personal projects at home outside of my theatre work.  Dan Frye and Creative Media Skills gave the students on the Intro To SFX course the opportunity to create a character with professional pre-made appliances.  I ended up bringing my own selection of prosthetics that I had sculpted, moulded and cast, and spent a morning creating a vampire character from scratch that I was extremely proud of.

WP:  What advice would you give to people who are thinking of training to be a MUA?

SS:  Work hard.  Learn as much as you can – research and get familiar with current artists and their work, practice and perfect techniques.  As a theatre prop maker and stage manager, some of these skills that I use in SFX make-up are transferable to my job; sculpting, mould-making.  I have spent a fair amount of money on materials so I can learn what they do.  I have Neill Gorton’s entire DVD collection as my bible.  Check out courses at universities or private courses, such as Gorton Studios’ seven week intensives.  You need to know through and through that this is the career for you.



Rebecca Robinson – Graduate of Brushstroke Make-up School


WP:  What inspired you to get into makeup?

RR:  When I was younger I was in the audience of a show being filmed at Elstree Studios.  I watched the make-up artists coming in for checks and I realised that was what I wanted to do and I never changed my mind.  I’ve always loved the film and TV industry, and it seemed the perfect job for me to combine this with my love for hair and make-up.

WP:  Why did you choose to train where you did?

RR:  Brushstroke were very welcoming the minute I walked in for my interview.  I loved that they are based in a studio, and I knew as soon as I got there that this was where I wanted to train.  The college and the work displayed there was so impressive, and the fact that the tutors are all at the top of their field and still working in the industry showed that my training would be up to date and of the highest quality.  I also really liked the fact that Brushstroke are happy to allow you to miss college for work opportunities, and you’re able to catch up on anything you miss at a later date.  For me that proved to be really important, as when I was offered jobs I knew that I would still be able to complete my training.

WP:  What opportunities for growth and support did the school offer you?

RR:  Brushstroke were amazing at helping me start my career with lots of work experience throughout my entire course.  I was given the opportunity to work in many different genres, including an opera with The Royal Academy of Music, a music video, and even obtained a West End credit – all this in my first year!  Towards the end of my training, Brushstroke recommended me to work on my first TV job, Prime Suspect 1973.  I worked for Marella Shearer, who is one of the many talented tutors.  Marella gave me the best on-set training I could have asked for and prepared me for future work in the industry.


WP:  What has been your biggest achievement since graduating?

RR:  My biggest achievement was after Prime Suspect 1973, when one of the make-up artists who was the supervisor on another big production asked me to work for her.  This became even more exciting when she then recommended me to another designer for more TV work.  I was really proud to be picked up and recommended based on my skills on set.  This was my biggest achievement as it showed me that my hard work paid off.

WP:  What advice would you give to people who are thinking of training to be a MUA?

RR:  Firstly I would say that where you train is really important – without the work experience from Brushstroke I think it would’ve been much harder to get started.  Take any work experience offered to you and don’t expect to always be paid, you have to start somewhere and everyone begins with free work.  Be prepared to work hard and not to give up at the first hurdle.  Finally, buy a good alarm clock – you’re going to need it!




Cleaning up for Autumn

October 4th, 2023
Read More →

Film+ TV Charity

Seeing The Whole Picture

September 18th, 2023
Read More →

Posted In

, , , , , ,


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By Deborah Murtha

Comments are closed.