Recently I was asked to write a review of the makeup school I went to for this website. Art School Reviews is a website dedicated to potential students looking to learn a little more than just what the schools’ sales pitches are. Here’s what I came up with..
Growing up, makeup was something that allowed me to stand out in a crowd, and allowed me to embrace the creativity that I found difficult to express in other ways. It was always something I thought about pursuing, but didn’t know much about. It was appealing, but I wasn’t sure what my options were. Being the impulsive person I am, I decided to look into schools that offered the program I was looking for. I wasn’t interested in doing nails and waxing for the rest of my life. I was looking for ways to express creativity and to create art. That’s when I found Blanche Macdonald’s Makeup Artistry Diploma Program.
The Expenses (because we all know it’s not cheap)
The cost of their tuition is very expensive, so be very prepared to live the starving artist lifestyle while attending Blanche Macdonald. When I attended two and a half years ago, I was working two jobs while trying to afford living and going to school. I took the late summer program and paid about $11,000 in tuition. You were also required to purchase a basic makeup kit for a huge price tag. The kit included an airbrush, a compressor, and very basic (sometimes harder to use than other products that they recommend) products for Beauty, TV and Film and Special Effects. Keep in mind that this was two years ago, tuition costs must have increased exponentially since then.
Every time a new module starts, you can expect the first day to be a shopping day, where you would go to get your supplies for the course. This is sometimes frustrating when you’re not prepared. But don’t think that you can get by fine with just the basics in your kit, because there are a lot of supplies that need to be bought. The teachers will give you a list of all the items that need to be bought for the module, and will emphasize the fact that they are all required for the next day.
However, if you’re on a budget, don’t stress too much about it. Simply stay in communication with your teacher and let them know what your situation is. They’re there to help you succeed, and buying supplies for school over food is probably not the best option. A lot of times other students are willing to buy in bulk and split the costs amongst each other, and there were a lot of products on those lists that you could get away without for a while. The most expensive modules for the course are TV and Film and Special Effects, and the supplies can range from $1,000-$1,500 for just those classes.
Every teacher I had at Blanche Macdonald was directly from the industry, and most of them were still freelancing on the side. They are very thorough in their teaching process, and give you the chance to work on as many different faces as possible. Through the program, you are expected to work with a different partner each day so you learn to work with what you are given in any situation. From beauty to special effects, you may even learn to master working with someone allergic to latex (which is by far a makeup artist’s worst fear while working on set). Here’s a simple breakdown of the program.
Makeup 1 – This is where you learn the basics of running your own business, how to stay professional, and making networking a priority. It goes through where you can find your products locally, and how to use them correctly and efficiently.
Hairstyling – Here you learn the basics of working with different hair lengths and types. You will learn up to 20 different up-do hairstyles and will have a chance to create your own look for the final exam.
Makeup 2A – Fashions in Makeup/Photographic Makeup – This module is a definite blast from the past, giving you a chance to experience different looks from every era in the 1900’s. Each week they will teach you about a decade, and you will recreate a certain look from it. At the end of this course you will have a final exam, where you will get the chance to work with your first two professional photographers! The assignment is to test all of the skills you have learned so far. You will have to accomplish 3 looks featuring the Skin, Lips and Eyes with a limited amount of time.
Makeup 2B – TV & Film – TV and Film teaches you the ins and outs of the film industry and what to expect. You will learn how to handle makeups in different lighting and useful skills such as covering tattoos and theatrical aging. You will also learn to create a character and to execute continuity. Be sure to have quite a big budget for supplies for this section of the course!
Airbrushing – This is an introductory level course, which will teach you the basics of how to use the airbrush that comes with your kit and how it is helpful to you. You will learn different effects that will help detail certain looks you are trying to create. You will learn to understand how to use different mediums and will have the opportunity to create a character using body paint. Good luck finding someone who will want to be photographed almost completely nude!
Makeup 3 – Special Makeup Effects – By the time you get here, you will have a basic understanding of how to use some of the products you need for this program. You will learn how to apply what you already know towards safe and effective makeup application for prosthetics and so much more. Here you will get the opportunity to do latex aging, creating wounds using different mediums, applying bald caps and prosthetics.
Art & Technology – Finalize all of the images you and your photographers took to create portfolio-worthy photos!
A Few Pointers
Keep in mind that throughout the program, you are expected to bring in your own models for photo shoots. Make sure that you fully explain to your models what to expect throughout their sitting, and explain all health hazards. You don’t want someone bailing out on you at the last minute!
Also, a camera is definitely required through the length of the program. Throughout the program you are expected to take as many photos as possible so you can work on your portfolio. Props are encouraged! Having jewelry or clothing that goes with the look you are trying to achieve will make your photos that much more believable and useful in your book!
This school has great resources, so use them while you can. There are postings throughout the school where you can find volunteer gigs so that you can actually get out there in the real world! The more volunteer experience you have, the greater chance of you succeeding in this field. Take the film industry for example, it is almost impossible to find gigs that will pay you unless you are part of a union. And application towards the union requires an extravagant amount of volunteer experience, so take advantage of those postings while you can!
I was very impressed with the way the program covers every sector of the makeup industry from working behind the counter, to weddings and other special events, to working on sets, and to introductory lessons on hairstyling and airbrushing. The teachers were all very helpful and loved to see the eagerness to succeed in all of us. There were only a few people in my class that came out of the program wanting to pursue the same area of makeup as they did when they first started.
This program is great for people who are serious about pursuing makeup. There are a lot of people coming and going from the school, and competition is tough. I know a lot of graduates that aren’t using their schooling for anything, and only have a huge debt to show for it. If you’re just interested in taking the course to make yourself look better or do your friend’s makeup, it would be better to just watch Youtube videos and figure it out yourself. But if you are serious about an actual career, I would highly recommend taking this course.
Volunteering and networking are the only things that are going to get you ahead in the industry. Once you start looking into it, you’ll find that it’s more competitive than you might expect. As I was going to school, volunteering wasn’t much of an option because I was trying to earn a living and learn at the same time. I haven’t had much of a chance to do anything with my skills for a long time, but I’ve recently started working on my portfolio again and hope to someday work on set.
You can see some of my work on Model Mayhem!