Successful makeup artist shares career tips

Julia Townend, makeup artist, spoke to students at Bradford College

A makeup artist who has worked on Call the Midwife, The Royals and Phantom of the Opera has been giving advice on how to break into the industry to students at Bradford College.

Julia Townend, a makeup and body artist with more than 20 years’ experience working in fashion, theatre, film and TV, spoke to students on the Media Makeup with Special Effects degree at The Northern School of Creative Industries, University Centre Bradford College.

Julia, who runs a makeup studio in Birstall, JT Makeup Studio, said: “To be a makeup artist is an amazing career. I feel honoured to do the work I do. It is hard work. You have to be resilient and persistent and you have to get on with people and make connections but it is great fun.

“I wanted to tell the students to stick with it. They are on a great course with great facilities and excellent training and I wish them all the best in their careers.”

Julia offered tips on gaining work experience, networking and social media to the students who quizzed the successful freelance makeup artist on various aspects of the industry and her career.

Julia Townend talks to Media Makeup students

With Yorkshire being an increasingly popular filming location, Channel 4 choosing Leeds as the location of its new national headquarters and the BBC and ITV having major bases in Salford Quays, Julia feels it is a great time for students in the North to be entering the business.

“Things have changed a lot since I started out,” she said.

“I moved back up North two years ago after 30 years being based in London. There is now a big film industry up North and great places like Opera North and Media City in Salford. There is a lot of work and lots of opportunities for students to get work experience. It is an exciting time.”

The celebrated makeup artist is set to move to larger premises in Birstall in January and hopes her new studio in Smithies Mill, Bradford Road, will continue to help boost the talent pool in the region.

“I want to help bridge the gap between North and South,” she said.

“I do workshops, invite established designers from London and there is a makeup shop as well.

“I am not taking any business away from colleges. It is about enriching education. I run monthly drop-in sessions for students and I am pulling favours and bringing in some great artists for talks.

“In London, I had a great network in the makeup world.  It is great to think we can start something like that for artists up here.

“I see it as a creative hub for the North of England.”

Lisa Dawkins, course tutor on the Media Makeup with Special Effects degree at Bradford College, who, as well as colleague Polly Jenson, combines teaching with freelance makeup work, said: “Polly and I are keen to encourage and help students build a strong network of contacts in the industry.

“It is vital for them to have first-hand experience and knowledge. I have been in the industry over 25 years and realised that networking is the key to progression into paid work.

“I feel very passionate about what Julia is doing and that colleges benefit from her wide industry knowledge.”

Students from Bradford College attended a masterclass at JT Makeup Studio in April makeup designer Tina Earnshaw who has designed makeup for Titanic, Mamma Mia and The Talented Mr Ripley.