Is Film School Useful for a Makeup Artist?
Much like other technical aspects of filmmaking, becoming a makeup artist often does not involve enrollment at film school. The artistry and craft that is needed to work with makeup to create striking appearances, bizarre alterations to human features, and monstrous abominations straight from a nightmare are not typically learned from filmmakers. Makeup requires artistic ability, just as much as computer created special effects, pre-production concept designs, and set dressing. As such, you are likely to find the best training to become a makeup artist not at a film school, but at an art school or specialized program that offers courses in this field.
For many people, when they think of a career in filmmaking, the natural tendency can be to assume that film school is the best choice. The reality of film school, however, is that it is often not aimed at everyone who works on film productions or in Hollywood. There are literally hundreds of people who work on most major film productions, and only a handful of these people typically attended film school to learn what they needed to know for the work they do. Artistic professions within the film industry are especially open to education that does not involve film school, and this includes the work done by a makeup artist.
Makeup artists often have a background in makeup and the various techniques used to create a wide range of effects in film. Rick Baker, for example, a famous, award winning makeup artist taught himself many of the methods he has used to create remarkable makeup effects in a number of different films. He ultimately was awarded an honorary degree, a Doctorate of Humane Letters, but the skills he needed to work in the industry were not gained through a film school education. Ultimately, many makeup artists learn from other professionals working in the industry, and often teach themselves as young people working on smaller film productions.
The tendency for artists working in the film industry, especially those in makeup and makeup effects, to teach new artists who wish to enter the industry is supported through educational methods such as the mentor-extern system. An extern looking to learn new techniques and gain contacts within the industry can be paired with a knowledgeable and experienced mentor who can teach the student what he needs to know. You should consider finding a school that can help pair you with a mentor in the industry, rather than spending time and money on film school that could just end up teaching you what you do not actually need to know to become a makeup artist.