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MFA Wig and Makeup or Cos School

makeupenthusiastmakeupenthusiast 0 replies1 threads New Member
I am about to graduate in the Spring with a BFA in Theatre Design and Technology and I want to be a makeup artist for Film and Theatre. I don’t know what the right choice would be, I’m planning to apply to both CCM and UNCSA for their MFA in Wig and Makeup Design, but I don’t know if getting my cosmetology license instead is a good idea? Any thoughts?
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Replies to: MFA Wig and Makeup or Cos School

  • anastasiasmomanastasiasmom 148 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Maybe compare the curriculum at CCM and UNCSA with what you will learn getting your cosmetology license. You could also consider the connections you can make and or intership/work experience you could get in the film and theatre world too.
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  • eclecticbreweclecticbrew 1 replies0 threads New Member
    Full Disclosure: I am a makeup/wig designer/educator with an M.F.A. from CCM. I considered both schools when I started looking at grad degrees.

    If you think you want to do both theatre and film, I would recommend considering if you are more interested in hair/wigs, or prosthetics/ makeup (or all of it!) If you eventually apply to a film union you may have to choose between hair (which requires a cosmetology license) and makeup. There are a lot of short programs/schools that offer specific film training (which I won’t get into here- but you can google it or take a look at what’s advertised in makeup artist magazine.) These can be useful IF they offer training in the specific skills you need/want and/or training under specific people you want to apprentice under.

    If you’re passionate about live theatre I would also consider Opera as a valid and useful training ground. Musical theatre, straight theatre in intimate spaces, and opera are all very different venues with a wide required skill set. THIS is where it is very handy to have a cosmetology license. A lot of Wig Master or Makeup Supervisor positions will want you to have your license so they can do haircuts (and possibly other treatments) in house. If you want to Tour- it’s a HUGE bonus to already have your license - plus, it’s always nice extra income. It will not hurt you to get your license before/while you’re working on applying to schools and it’s also harder to make that happen if you’re working full time.

    If you have a chance before/during your application to grad schools, I would try to work on an independent film/video shoot and see how you like the process. The pacing is very different than working in live theatre and you may love or hate that. I would also take any/all opportunities to teach yourself- which you might be already doing! Offstagejobs.com often posts opportunities for recent graduates trying to get more experience.

    As far as the two schools- both have their pros and cons. The following is anecdotal information and should be taken with a grain of salt:

    UNCSA:
    Program was started by one of the first Graduates of the CCM program.
    Large, occasionally rotating faculty/staff
    Focus on all areas of makeup/wigs, but especially film
    Good Connections and Vibrant Arts area.
    Conservatory-Style Training
    Wide Variety of Projects on and off-campus.
    Undergraduate/Grads

    CCM:
    Program is run by one of the founder’s first students
    Lots of Hands-training and opportunities for Graduate T.A’s
    Focuses on All areas, but especially traditional wig building and live theatre/opera.
    Good Connections and Vibrant Arts Area
    Conservatory Style Training
    Wide Variety of Projects on and off-campus
    Graduates only.

    I’m a firm believer that you should consider grad school because you want specialized further training, and/or better opportunities/connections or if you think you may want to teach at the collegiate level in the future. If you’re excited about makeup and wigs but not sure where to start, getting some professional work in first will not hurt you while you figure out your style and interests. You should also consider the cost of each institution- which I can’t currently speak to - in what they offer for tuition reimbursement, graduate assistantships, teaching stipends, etc. You should also consider than any further academic training in this field can get cost-prohibitive (which is NOT a discouragement, but rather advice to save now) in that you will likely be taking a hot of other theatre-related and art classes and will probably need to purchase tools and supplies specific to your professor’s preferences.


    If you’d like some further reading here are some texts I’d recommend.
    Texts to consider:
    Stage Makeup, 11tth Edition (or newest Edition)
    Authors: Richard Corson, Beverly Gore Norcross, James Glavan
    Publisher: Pearson Books
    ISBN: 978-0-205-64454-4

    Wig Making and Styling: A Complete Guide for Theatre & Film (Newest Edition)
    Authors: Martha Ruskai and Allison Lowery
    Publisher: Focal Press
    ISBN: 978-0-240-81320-2

    (Lowery has also followed this text up with a couple more specifically on different periods of hairstyling)

    Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen: Making and Applying Prosthetics
    Author(s): Todd Debreceni
    Publisher: Routledge
    ISBN-13: 978-1138049048

    Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years
    Author(s): Richard Corson
    Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers
    ISBN-13: 978-0720610932

    Fashions in Makeup: From Ancient to Modern Times Revised edition Edition
    Author(s): Richard Corson
    Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers
    ISBN-13: 978-0720611953

    Dick Smith’s 3-D makeup Course
    Makeup Artist Magazine
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