how to become a make up artist by... nicole thompson

As M•A•C's global senior artist, Nicole shares how she came to travel the world helping people feel beautiful in their own skin.

by i-D Staff
01 December 2016, 1:30am

As soon as Nicole Thompson began doing makeup for events and shoots she was hooked and knew it was what she wanted to do with her life. With a big personality and a flare for colour it was a natural career choice, but little did she know that a few years later she would secure a coveted position as M•A•C's Global Senior Artist. For the last seven years she's represented the cosmetics giant on jobs around the world and here she shares her ideas on making it in the industry. 

What I do and why I do it...
Makeup. Because it is the best feeling to make someone feel beautiful in their own skin. This job is as much fun as it sounds and it's taken me around the world so why stop now?

A day in My Life...
I wish there was one typical day but it wouldn't be my life I was describing. My favourite day, out of all my crazy days, would be when I wake up with my happy husband Adam and our little unicorn baby gal Frenchie and start the day with coffee and laughs.

From there I could be rushing off to a photoshoot, hosting a makeup masterclass, doing makeup for clients, working with the incredible artists in my team at M•A•C on a workshop or a fashion show or event. Otherwise I might be doing press interviews, planning and brainstorming upcoming creative projects or getting on a plane. It's never, ever dull. 

The moment that made me..
When I stepped into the colourful world of M•A•C. This changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. At the time I was working part time to support myself while I was busy assisting and saying yes to everything for free. Little did I know I would fall in love with what the brand represents, the people within it and that I would find my dream role that has opened the world up to me and my makeup brushes!

To degree or not to degree, that is the question...
There are many self-taught makeup artists out there who have forged their own incredible careers - you can definitely have a makeup career without studying if you have the contacts to steer you in the right direction in this difficult-to-navigate industry. Studying the basics of the profession of makeup will ALWAYS be helpful, but not always essential. I am glad I studied makeup. Through my studying I learnt all aspects of makeup: from special effects to period character makeup and the basics of beauty makeup. It helped me realise what I was good at and how the Industry works so when I left college, I was confident in my ability and where I wanted to go. I was ready to jump in, head first!

Photography Thom Kerr via Laud Magazine

What I wish I knew then that I know now...
That patience will pay off and all that hard work will come back and reward you. In the beginning say YES to every opportunity as it is a way of helping you discover your unexpected path and the happy surprises, twists and turns along the way.

I spent years feeling like I was in a hurry to get to the top, to be the best. I took every opportunity and ran with it, while sometimes putting my life on hold to do it. I worked like a mad woman for the dream and I used to get quite frustrated when it didn't happen instantly.

In recent years I've really felt like I have come full circle in my career, that finally what I put out there into the universe is coming back to me. All the hard work over the years has paid off in full and I feel like I am now able to enjoy the incredible, varied work that comes my way and also live a life that I love with my incredible family and friends.

I'm excited by tomorrow because…
Who knows what will happen? My life is an adventure, even when I believe I am super organised and know exactly what my schedule holds, things pop up and often change quickly. There is absolutely NO way in a million years I'd have dreamt that I would be where I am today, with a bucket load of experiences I will never forget. 


Photography Thom Kerr via

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