This weeks success story comes from Jess Ayliffe. Jess has worked on some amazing projects and in her short career has seen fantastic success. Here she tells us about her journey so far.
When did you decide you wanted to be a makeup artist ?
I had decided my the age of 15 that I wanted to go into the makeup industry. I was always creative at school and enjoyed art and design. I didn’t think A-levels would benefit me in my career choice so I decided to train at college in media makeup and then I studied at BAMM.
Did you have a particular field you wanted to specialise in?
When I first started my further training at BAMM I wanted to go into TV and film hair and makeup. However as the years have on by I’ve found myself working with wigs in theatre, on touring productions and at Chichester Festival Theatre. I really enjoy the diversity and that every job is different. In theatre you don’t get to do as much makeup unless its needed so I try to do bridal makeup and hair when I’m not working.
Why did you choose BAMM?
I chose to study at BAMM when I found out that Mel and Peter King came to watch my colleges final catwalk piece. I looked into the course more and more and thought it would be a great platform for my career and also refine my skills further.
Did your ideas of what you wanted to do following your training change during the course?
As I said TV and Film was my ultimate goal and since training I have worked as a trainee for the main team and in crowd rooms which I throughly enjoyed but theatre is defiantly where my career took off and I love it.
What was your favourite bit ?
I enjoyed the special effects module and also the body painting. I’d consider myself a creative person so both of these things I really loved. For my SFX module I created a doll with sewn up lips and button eyes. My body painting, I created a bodice in purple and pink with lace edging.
How long after did it take you to get a foot in the door?
I think this was the hardest part of my career so far. It took a good 6 months to get paid work coming in. I would constantly be ringing. emailing and advertising for any work and sending my cv to a million people. In the end it paid off but you’ve got to be persistent.
How did you get your in?
I got work experience at Thriller Live through BAMM. I followed the head of department around backstage during the show and watched everything that went on. About 3 months later I got a text asking me to go to China to work on the show for 6 weeks. This was defiantly my ‘ in’ and helped me get many other jobs in the theatrical industry.
What have you worked on since?
Since leaving BAMM I have done very TV and short film jobs as well as theatre. The theatre productions include: Thriller Live, Forty Years On, The Country Girls, Fiddler on the Roof, Sunset Boulevard, Me and my Girl and I’m about to work on Flowers for Mrs Harris. Ive also worked for the Bath Magazine and have done bridal makeup.
What have been your highlights?
My highlights in my career so far have been touring the UK with the production of Sunset Boulevard. I got to go to Amsterdam and Trieste ( Italy) whilst working on this show. These are places I would probably not go to otherwise. While in Trieste I found out my granddad was stationed over there in WW2 so I felt very lucky to go there. Also when I went to china with Thriller, we got a day in Hong Kong and we took a boat out to Kowloon City and watched the sun set and all the lights come on in Hong Kong, meanwhile big Chinese pirate ships where sailing passed it. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
Anything you would change?
I don’t think I would specifically change anything I’ve done in my career so far. However I did do a lot of free work at the beginning to gain experience. Sometimes people take advantage of your work and skill and you find you aren’t being paid to cover the cost of travel or materials. I would always try to get at least travel so you aren’t loosing to much money. Its difficult at the start because you want to do everything that you get thrown at you but sometimes ( I found ) it is better to wait for the right thing, that is more suitable to you as an artist to help further your career path.
What advise would you give to your younger self?
Be confident ! And don’t panic. I think when I first finished BAMM I would be working straight away and for some people that just doesn’t happen but you’ve got to be persistent with employers even if you think you are annoying them.
Whats the dream?
Eventually I would like to teach media hair and makeup. I enjoy helping all the work experience people that come into the theatre and it feels very rewarding.