Stacie Smith, 22, is studying for a BA degree in Makeup and Prosthetics for Performance at London College of Fashion and also works as a freelance Make Up and Hair Artist, specialising in wig making. She lives in London with her two housemates.

Profile: Stacey Smith

Photo by Ian Barber

I usually wake up around 6am on a weekday, although if I’m on a shoot or assisting it can often be earlier, in order to get to location and set up before the actors and models arrive. As soon as I’m up I head to the gym or for a run as this helps to set me up in a positive frame of mind before I officially start my day. If I’m on a makeup job, I’ll check my emails, the location and schedule before having a shower and double checking my kit.

I wear black to shoots, as it’s easy to keep clean and ensures I’m not a distraction on set. It’s important to be prepared for all weather conditions so I wear Dr Martens which are sturdy but also warm and comfortable, and I always, always bring a coat. For my line of work, it’s more about practicality, which means being comfortable but professional at the same time. If I’m working in a team of makeup artists which is often, it’s common for us to dress similarly, bringing various items of clothing suitable for all weather conditions.

When I get setup on location, I ensure that my makeup is clean and setout ready for the actor. I then adjust the chair to the correct height and position and the bench roll is arranged with the cotton buds, tissues, cleansers, toners and moisturisers that I’ll use on the actor.

This is the ideal setup but it varies drastically from job to job. You learn to work with what you’ve got and adapt to your environment and previously, I’ve had to set up in a pub toilet and a car boot to name but a few, bizarre places! Cleanliness and ensuring that the actor or model is relaxed and comfortable are the two most integral things, regardless of where you’re working.

Throughout the day I drink copious amounts of water to keep myself hydrated. For breakfast I have a coffee with porridge and honey. For lunch it depends on what the day entails but it usually consists of a fruit salad and a yogurt. I have another coffee in the afternoon and for dinner its often an assortment of vegetables and chicken or fish. I also like to have a warm ribena towards bedtime.

On the days when I’m at Uni, demonstrations start at 9.30am so we’re there at 9 in order to setup and get prepared for the upcoming demo. Once we’ve watched the demonstration (which lasts until around 1pm), we all have lunch together before practising what we learnt on our classmates. The day officially ends around 5pm but if we want extra practice or testing we stay until 7.30pm – this happens often when we get towards deadline time!

In the evenings, my housemates and I have dinner together and I’ll do research or portfolio work until bed time. Research informs our design ideas, and depending on which stage of the project I’m at, this can vary, from knotting a wig to experimenting with gelatine pieces. I’ll also visit theatre shows to unwind or watch films, where I can analyse the makeup.

Ian Barber

Stacie specialises in theatre artistry

The most satisfying part of my course is learning such a variety of skills within a limited amount of time. We have brilliant technicians and tutors that have an extensive knowledge of the industry, who guide and advise us. It’s also incredible seeing a design go from research of the narrative, through to being made, milled and torn and then suddenly transform into a real creature or person, all by your own hands.

The one thing about this line of work is that you have to be persistent and committed. Often when making a prosthetic or wig something can, and often does, go wrong. To limit this, you should experiment and ask for advice or attend tutorials as much as possible. It’s a constant play with materials – testing their limitations to accomplish the best result.

As a makeup artist you also have to ensure that you’re prepared for everything. You’re not just a makeup artist, you also need to be able to help on set whenever you’re needed, whether this is to hold a microphone, or supply tissues to a child that has a runny nose.

My proudest moment so far was heading up the department for wigs for a V&A production called ‘Letta’s dream’ with Stefanie Kemp and Katherine Vose. It was an insight into how much work goes into putting on a production from sourcing wigs and budgeting, to designation of jobs, dressing and application of the wigs.

To anyone looking to follow the same career path, I’d say you need to be passionate about the different elements of makeup, prosthetics or wigs and learn from others in the industry. There’s an endless amount of knowledge to learn!

It’s also important to gain experience in different areas of the industry from prosthetic studios, wig departments and film to TV and theatre, to see what you enjoy doing the most and develop your skill sets.

To view Stacie’s work, you can visit her website at or follow her on Twitter at @SmithStacie

Beth Gladstone

Beth is a Writer and Digital Marketer who founded The Full Agenda as a place to talk about the things that kept her and her friends up at night. Currently working as a Marketing consultant to various SMEs she is a big fan of the startup market and loves technology, apps and anything social media related. When not obsessively checking Google Analytics, she can be found reading, writing or relaxing with a glass of Prosecco.

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