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How To Create a Stunning Makeup Artist Portfolio to Attract Clients

How To Create a Stunning Makeup Artist Portfolio to Attract Clients

The first rule of an impressive portfolio is having a stunning first image. As they say - a first impression is the last impression, a stellar first image will ensure that the first impression of your portfolio catches your client’s interest and attention

Aparna Pandey
Aparna Pandey

In the creative field, every artist needs a portfolio to showcase their work. For makeup artists, a portfolio is one of the most important aspects of their profession that helps in showcasing work and also get more clients. Even if one has a strong recommendation and goes by word of mouth, a new client will always want to see the makeup artist’s portfolio before hiring him/her for the job. If you are reaching out to new clients, a professionally created portfolio will help you build a first impression on them. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned professional having a good portfolio will always be critical. So how to build a professional makeup artist portfolio - let’s find out in this article.

Makeup Artist Portfolio - The Basics

A makeup artist portfolio is a collection of photographs that showcases the variety and expertise of your work. There are two kinds of portfolios - online makeup artist portfolio and print makeup artist portfolio. Both portfolios have their own advantages and need.

Online makeup artist portfolio - In a digital world, online makeup portfolios play an important role when clients are looking for a new makeup artist for an important event, shoot, wedding, etc. In a digital world, where communication through emails, WhatsApp, Messenger has become a norm, having an online portfolio ensures that you can send your portfolio to the client whenever they ask for it and not wait for a face-to-face meeting with them. An online portfolio can be a website, your social media page, or a digital copy of your portfolio.

Print makeup artist portfolio - Print makeup portfolios are usually hardbound print leather books with transparent files to insert a photograph. Just like how yesteryear’s family photo albums looked. Print portfolios play an important role when you go for in-person meetings with clients. It also helps them easily choose a look from the portfolio.

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How to Create a Makeup Artist Portfolio - Best Practices

Creating a portfolio is a must for a makeup artist irrespective of whether you are a novice or a professional. The best portfolios showcase two things -

  • The artist's unique style, technical skills, and techniques.
  • Expertise in the field and the clients you have worked with.

How do you build a makeup artist portfolio that leaves a lasting impression on your clients and help you get more work? Here are some best practices -

Choose your niche

As a makeup artist, it is important to choose your niche and showcase your expertise in it. More often clients prefer makeup artists who have expertise in the kind of makeup they are looking for be it bridal, model shoot, an important event, etc. It is important that you choose your niche and showcase your full-fledged potential in that. Seasoned professionals can have expertise and experience in more than one niche, you can also build two portfolios or divide them into sections - for print. On an online version, you can have various segments. For e.g. Amrit Kaur one of the leading makeup artists has divided her portfolio into - Bridal, Fashion, Special Occasion.

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Have a stunning first-image

The first rule of an impressive portfolio is having a stunning first image, that will set the ground for the rest of the portfolio. As they say - a first impression is the last impression, a stellar first image will ensure that the first impression of your portfolio catches your client’s interest and attention.

Use note-worthy client images

If you have worked with an influencer, famous actor, noteworthy artist, or model, use it to your advantage. As a newbie, you might not have that advantage, in that case, if you have assisted a noteworthy makeup artist you can use that reference to your advantage. Ensure such pictures are the first few images in your portfolio.

Showcase a variety of images and styles

Clients will always want to choose a makeup artist who is versatile and know how to create various looks - this is proof of their hold over the art. It is important that you add as many looks as possible to your makeup portfolio. If you are a bridal artist - choose a variety of bridal looks - Muslim, North Indian, South Indian, and more. At Vah Vah in our makeup course, we teach a variety of bridal looks. Even if you are a newbie you don’t have to wait for assignments, you can always add the looks that you learn while taking a makeup course. If you have a generic portfolio then ensure you add various looks like clean makeup, makeup for a fashion shoot, events, etc.

A glimpse of Hiral Shah’s website showcasing a variety of looks

Also, try to include photographs that showcase - 1) your expertise and finesse in the basics 2) Images that are creative - may be showcasing latest trends or re-creation of a celebrity look, etc. Sometimes recreating some celebrity looks can also give you visibility. Take for instance Parineeti Chopra shared makeup artist Natasha’s recreation of her look in the movie The girl on the train.

Add before and after photos

Before and after photographs are important when you are showcasing your work in terms of make-overs, bridal makeups, etc. For editorial work, they may not be that critical. If you are focussing on bridal makeup, or makeovers of events, etc. ensure that you have a before-and-after section in your portfolio. You can take some inspiration from the Student’s progress section on our website, which showcases our student’s progress and some of the looks created by our students.

Client testimonials

Choosing a makeup artist is an important decision for clients irrespective of whether is a wedding, an event, photoshoot, or anything else. Client testimonials will play an important role to gain their trust. You can add written and video testimonials.


Client testimonial section on Vidya Tikari’s website

Use the power of Social Media

Social media can help you gain reach and showcase your talent in a creative way. Have different sections to showcase your niche. Do not mix up your professional makeup social media account and your personal account. Remember your social media page is an extension of your portfolio. Keep the name of your page straightforward so that people know it is a makeup artist’s profile. Some examples are - @makeupartistprafullakotary, @makeupbypriyankapanwar, @parulgargmakeup, etc.

How to get started with the right photographs for a makeup artist portfolio

Photographs are the soul of a makeup artist’s portfolio. Using professional-looking images will in gaining client’s trust and also showcase your work in the best possible way. Here’s how you can go about including the right images for your portfolio -

Work with a professional photographer

If you are just starting off, it may be helpful to get a photoshoot done within your budget. You will need to choose a photographer and a model for the shoot. If you are on an assignment like at a wedding or event you can request the professional photographer at the venue to click a couple of images of the look you create for the client and use those images too in your portfolio.

How to take professional pictures on your own - photography tips

Not always you will have the feasibility of hiring a photographer and models or using a client’s photographer. In that case, you can always go about doing your own photoshoot, Here are some things to make note of while doing a photoshoot on your own.

  • Use a good camera - as basic as it sounds, it is important to use a good camera - if you have a DSLR (you can also rent them) it is great. If not using a high res mobile camera will also work. Ensure you keep the settings to HDR while clicking pictures.
  • Use a grid - A  grid will help in building a symmetrical frame. The intersections of lines in the grid will help in better positioning the subject of the shoot.
  • Use the right focus setting - You can choose or change the focus point of your shot and highlight the background or the foreground, whatever will make your image look good.
  • Understand the basics of settings - Whether you have a high res mobile phone camera or a professional camera, understand the settings before getting into the shoot. For instance - Contrast helps in making changes in the lighting - increasing it will make the overall shot brighter and decreasing it make the overall shot darker.
  • Use lighting equipment - Use additional lighting or basic ring lights or dressing table lights can help you set up the right lighting.
  • Find the right angle - The bottom-up angle usually is a great angle for portfolio shoots. It helps to lengthen the neck and visually open the face.
  • Brighter makeup - The camera usually lessens the overall brightness, so the makeup for the photo should be brighter than usual with additional textures.
  • Practice as much as you can - take some test pictures before you go for a final shoot. It will help you finalize the right angle, lighting, etc.
  • Use photo-processing apps - Use basic apps to enhance the photo but do not overdo it.  Overdoing the filters will make your photos look photoshopped or artificial. Some apps that you can use are - VSCO Cam, Snapseed, etc.

Wrapping up

Creating a makeup artist’s portfolio is an ongoing process. As you grow in your experience, and gain newer clients your portfolio will also have to reflect that. As you go along you will have more photographs to showcase, trends to capture, and much more creative ways to enhance your portfolio. It helps to refer to portfolios and websites of the experts in the field when you are starting up.