Special effects makeup artist

Special effects makeup artists create artificial and special appearance characteristics, such as baldness, beards, artificial nose prosthetics and pimples, on characters in the theater, movies, commercials and other places where such changes in appearance are needed.

Most special effects makeup artists work as contractors in the film industry, usually in collaboration with other professionals such as costume designers, directors, lighting technicians, sound technicians, actors and makeup artists. In some cases, wig production is part of the job, mainly within theaters.

Main tasks

• reading scripts, meeting artistic directors and preparing for the premiere of a piece
• contributing ideas on the appearance of a character
• creating an overall look in collaboration with actors and artistic directors
• creating masks, designing special effects makeup, makeup and hairdressing
• being on hand during performances
• keeping work facilities clean, removing makeup and ensuring that wigs and accessories are in order

Competence requirements

Special effects makeup artists need to be meticulous and creative, have a fertile imagination and be good at presenting their ideas to others. It is important to be able to work both independently and in a team, but the work can often be demanding, with irregular working hours.


Studies in artificial design are not available in Iceland, but Dramatiska Institutet in Sweden has offered a BA degree in the field. In Iceland, however, work-related courses might be offered, such as theatrical makeup or wig making.

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