Makeup Masters: A Talk with Industry Professional Lorie Karnes

by | Sep 26, 2023

What job is the common denominator on every set, live production, editorial shoot, fashion week, and wedding? All these different work environments need a makeup artist professional, if not multiple! Under the realm of “makeup” work, there are so many different opportunities, but it can be a difficult world to breach for industry newcomers as there’s a lot of competition with other great artists. The industry outlook is positive though, with job availability expected to go up by over nine percent in the next 6 years.

Industry professional Lorie Karnes has been in the makeup, hair and effects (FX) industry for 22 years, and has a lot to show for her time in the industry. Her passion for the work she does is clear, starting her career after randomly getting a job at a retail makeup counter.

Lorie recounts the experience that made her realize she wanted a career in makeup, “…my changing moment was when a seven year old girl came in who had been burned in a house fire, and she was getting picked on at school. I sat with the little girl for a couple hours. They (the girl and her mother) purchased everything and left. A couple of weeks later, her mother came back to the store with flowers and a card to thank me for making her daughter feel like herself again. That’s when I knew I had found my path.”

The rest is history, as she went on to attend cosmetology school and moved to Florida to attend makeup/FX school. After graduating, she was able to find work at Universal Studios as a MU/FX and wig artist. 

Given there are so many applications and needs for talented makeup artists, many very qualified people are often gunning for the same jobs. Lorie says that education is the fundamental core of being an amazing, hirable artist in this competitive industry.

Lorie Karnes has been a HMU/SFX industry professional for 22 years

Education and hands-on experience has landed Lorie on many movie sets, red carpets in Nashville, and even secured her some loyal celebrity clientele. In her opinion, it’s integral to emphasize that going to cosmetology school as well as a reputable makeup/FX academy is truly what built her career to where it is today. 

Lorie continues, “You have to learn the rules to break the rules”, especially in an industry where knowing technique is just as important as being able to think outside the box. Understanding diverse work environments, color theory, safe product handling, the social dynamic between the makeup professional and the talent, and so much more has to be mastered by prospective artists. All of these things can only be taught through interactive, immersive education from seasoned professionals, like in programs available through Master Makeup Artistry at MediaTech institute

As a makeup artist and mother, she encourages those chasing their dreams to understand that you can do anything you want, but you will work harder than you ever have to achieve your dreams. Lorie looks at younger artists trying to break into the makeup profession, saying she wants to create a space so new artists avoid the same obstacles in breaching the industry like the ones she faced 20 years ago. 

In that sentiment, the experienced artist urges industry newcomers not only to seek education, but to also find a mentor that will act as a reference and guide for you through the process of making it in makeup. One of the best ways to find a mentor is in school. Having a mentor who has “been there and done that” already is integral to getting your foot in the door and working towards consistent job security. 

When asked about any additional tips she’d offer industry newcomers, Lorie had to limit herself to three, though she had a lot more to offer young artists. Her first tip focuses on consistency, not giving up on your dream, and perseverance. Working a job that is often based on gigs can be disheartening sometimes, but you never know what calls or connections will come through the next day. Stick with your dream, even on the difficult days. 

Second, she targets hireability. Lorie says it’s important to ALWAYS be kind and professional, because people hire people they like. In this network-reliant industry, it’s not uncommon that your personality will get you the job over your technical abilities. You still need the skill to back yourself up though, for lasting success.  Networking is essential in any creative media or technical industry, and makeup artists need to build a solid network if they want their phone ringing. 

Lorie’s last word of advice is to become multifaceted. In today’s industry and with the gig economy, learning several niches that you’re passionate about will keep you hired. Know how to do makeup, hair, effects, so you can work in any environment. She finishes by commenting that if you want to work in film makeup, even take production assistant positions to learn how sets work. Making yourself more versatile will only help you stay hired in today’s makeup artistry industry. 

MediaTech Institute offers hands-on, all around education that sets aspiring makeup artists apart from other competition, and our goal is to help you land jobs doing what you love. With our industry leading professional green screen, live sound stage, specialized lighting, airbrush equipment, microblading & permanent tattoo machines, and more, you will have all the tools you need to support your journey. On set opportunities in conjunction with MT’s Digital Film program offer aspiring artists the kind of hands-on experience that will make you a confident member of the makeup and SFX community.  

With an eye on the digital future of the art, our program sets prospective artists up to be the most hireable, up to date talent in the job market. Graduates leave with experience, as well as a headshot & resume, a digital portfolio, makeup kit & brushes, business cards & custom invoice, and more; all to set students up to chase their career dreams.

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