By Monica Pavez
Goblins. Werewolves. Aliens and beauty queens. Pretty much any character’s look you can think of in any movie (or TV series) has been created or worked on by a makeup or special effects artist. If the job has been right, you won’t even notice the immense amount of work that has been done.
Growing up, like most other people, I didn’t really give much thought to the people working behind the scenes to bring stories to life on stage or screen. I knew of course that there must be people who’s job it was to make movies, but it seemed like this unrealistic dream job that a few lucky people got to do. Like oyster divers or panda cub babysitters, we can’t all do that for a living. Not to mention, how does one learn those jobs? Do you need schooling, or can you learn on the job? Do you have to know someone who can get you “in”?
Towards the end of my high school career, I, like the rest of my classmates, was feeling the pressure to decide on a postsecondary program. I had been an artisitic person my whole life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I would be a good artist. The problem was that when I started to go over the university materials and programs lists, nothing really jumped out at me. I decided instead to enroll in a 2 year art program at H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, where I could take arts courses that were in many cases equal to or better than taking the equivalents at an arts college. After graduating from that program, I worked for a while before deciding that I could see myself doing costuming work for theatre as a career. I applied to the Fashion Techniques and Design Program at George Brown in Toronto, intending to specialize in Costume Design afterwards. The program wasn’t quite for me, and I ended up dropping out. I spent the next several years working a few different jobs, but still feeling like I was waiting for the next phase of my life to start. I knew I wanted to go to postsecondary school, but I was at a complete loss as to what I should study.
Around what is now roughly two and half years ago, I began to hear about a school in Toronto called C|MU College of Makeup Art & Design. It was and is a private college that offers courses and programs for aspiring makeup artists. My girlfriend at the time knew someone who was attending the school, and so I booked a tour and info session at the school. Almost as soon as I finished the tour I knew that I had finally found what I was looking for in a school. It would give the skills, techniques, and contacts I would need to become a successful makeup artist. I immediately applied to the school, and I was accepted into their Complete Makeup Artist Program, which gives you a two-year equivalent diploma and you learn everything from beauty and fashion makeup to makeup for theatre and film, as well as prosthetic and creature makeup. During the program I was able to gain experience in the field by way of the job posting board that the school oversees.
I graduated from the program in early June, and am now in the process of building my freelance portfolio and hopefully a career as a makeup artist for film. If I learned anything over the years while trying to figure out my life, it is that you have to know yourself. Know what you are good at and what you are not; know what you do want out of your career and what you don’t. It will at the very least help rule out what you don’t want to study. I guess most of all, don’t panic, everyone has their own path to take!