The Importance of Makeup Artistry in Hollywood

If someone were to tell you that all you needed was Meryl Streep or another A-list celebrity and a good script for a movie to succeed, they would be wrong. Dead wrong. The correct answer would be that you would need a good actor, a good script, and a good makeup artist for a movie to succeed, in my opinion.

There is no question that the makeup artists in Hollywood do not get the credit that they truly deserve. Sure, they will be recognized in some capacity but not nearly in the same breath as the artist who acts and portrays characters. I believe that, in itself, is a travesty to the artists who are assigned the job of transcending an actor into a character completely separate from themselves. Without the careful and masterful creativity that is mandatory for a makeup artist, the character will remain a one-dimensional figment of our imagination. In order for actors to transcend into someone other than themselves, they would have to believe that they have been transformed. No one, and I mean no one, is capable of doing that better than the makeup artists in Hollywood.

Many believe that being a makeup artist in Hollywood is easy and just loads of fun. Well, that is not completely true. Yes, it can be very exciting to work on a movie set and be surrounded by such creative and talented people but the work is hard and the days are long. The pay is initially very low and the market is saturated with young, makeup artists vying for a spot on a makeup team that will launch their careers. It is not all glamour and glitz. To become a successful, makeup artist in Hollywood requires a lot of blood, sweat, and tears and the road is not always paved in gold. Many people would agree that these driven but creative people do not nearly get the credit that they deserve. I am definitely one of those people.

The makeup artist most singular job is to help convey the message of believably to the audience. As early as 1931, a makeup artist by the name of Jack Pierce was able to transform Boris Karloff into Frankenstein’s monster. The importance of such innovation by a makeup artist has only increased since then. A makeup artist is key in any effort a Hollywood movie is made and that contribution should not be taken lightly.

Whether it’s Greg Cannom who transformed the late, Robin Williams into the legendary, Mrs. Doubtfire to the exquisite, intrinsic work of Stan Winston, who morphed Johnny Depp into Edward Scissorhands, the proof is in the pudding. The vision must align with the script and this visual medium needs sound, makeup artists to bring it to fruition. The makeup artist allows the directors, writers, actors to bring their vision to life. The very best makeup artists are rarely seen and recognized even less. But, they are the glue that keeps the visual together. A bruise must look like a bruise and a robot must look truly robotic in order for your movie to be believable and ultimately, turn a profit. Being a makeup artist is viewed by many as a labor of love. Going through the ranks from school to an assistant can be grueling but part of the process to reaching your goals. Ultimately, the makeup artist is one of the few people whose job can bring the illusion tumbling down if not properly executed. Once you lose your viewer, it is nearly impossible to regain it. If it is a small budget indie or a large, multimillion dollar studio film, the makeup artist still has the same job and is required the same level of passion and execution.

In the grand scheme of things, the makeup artist is one of the most integral parts of the Hollywood movie scene and will continue to be.

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