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How to be a Good Trainee Makeup Artist by Natalie Milne

Natalie was on our very first Peter King Television and Film Makeup Course and she has gone from strength to strength ever since.  Judging by the work ethic she recommends below, she’ll go a long way!


Unfortunately there is no magic answer to this, but I suspect you knew that!

When I finished my training I was desperate to find hints and tips of how to be a good trainee, unfortunately there wasn’t much information out there. So, after two years of working in the industry, I like to think I have gathered a fair amount of handy tips that I would love to pass on to anyone taking their first steps into the world of TV makeup.

Your first port of call is your tutors, they are your first contacts in the industry and hopefully (if you have worked hard and proved yourself a good learner during the course) they will be able to help and guide you to your first work experience position…. and from there *fingers crossed* on to being a trainee.

Being a trainee means long hours, hard work and a lot different tasks: Sorting and organising the bus (a vehicle that’s converted into a travelling makeup room), keeping it tidy, organising continuity photos (a tedious, but highly important task!), doing tea and coffee runs and sometimes doing some very strange tasks that not even my list could prepare you for!


  1. Don’t give up! The first year trying to get your foot in the door is a killer, but keep going, it’s worth it-once you’re in, you’re in.
  2. Be kind, friendly and polite to everyone you meet- you are representing the hair and makeup team, don’t let them down. My first string of jobs all stemmed from a friendly chat with a facilities worker, so you never know who your next break could come from.
  3. Knowing tea and coffee orders are essential! You can get a long way just by making regular tea runs! (same goes for breakfast orders)
  4. Never stand about with your arms crossed while others are working (seems obvious, but I have seen it happen!) If no one needs help, do the washing up, organise continuity, prepare your set bag ready to leave for set, always be doing something.
  5. There are endless learning opportunities, even during potentially more ‘mundane’ tasksWatch how artists style hair while sorting out the grip tray, look at the different brush brands artists use while you clean them.
  6. Always be listening, you never know where you could be of help and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be willing and open to learn from the talent around you.
  7. Always find a minute to build contacts and relationships, especially if you are working as a daily. Designers and supervisors work on crowd buses as dailies too, they could give you your next job.
  8. Try and have everything in your set-bag, be that ‘go to’ person. Build up your kit with each job you do, write down any products you’ve had to borrow, as they are usually the ones you will need in the future.
  9. If you haven’t already, do a barbering course and be confident with barbering. This is an essential skill to have.
  10. Other trainees are not your enemies, you are not each other’s competition. You are there to help each other up the ladder. Remember you will hopefully all be working as makeup artists, supervisors and/or designers at the same time: don’t alienate yourself from your future team mates. Learn from each other and support each other through this mad journey!

Above all, make yourself invaluable to each team you work on. Every team is a little bit different and it takes a keen eye and an ability to adapt quickly to be a good trainee, but the rewards are tremendous. You will learn from the best in the business and (so long as you are a hard and reliable worker) you will get there…I promise!


You can see more of Natalie’s work on her website – http://www.nataliesimone-milne.com/

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