Image courtesy of Warpaint magazine
Christine Vidler has over 35 years’ experience working in the fashion and TV film industry. As well as being part of the teaching team at The Iver Academy, Christine’s work has taken her all over the world, where she's worked on notable fashion productions: The Clothes Show Live and Top Model UK, plus worked with an array of British and American celebrities.
Christine talks about what it takes to be a successful make-up artist and gives her advice for getting into the industry…
I worked for the BBC in Television Production many years ago in their Television Studios and was fascinated by the make up artists working on the same shows as me. It had always been a career I wanted to do but in those days it was very difficult to get the right training and opportunity so I applied internally. Their training scheme was excellent and after three months intensive tuition I worked at Television Centre on various productions as a trainee for a while before becoming a qualified make up assistant.
Being able to make a quick judgement as to what is required and what will suit. Knowing what to use that will work. There is no second chance on the shows I work on so you have to know your kit and have the right tools.
My work in theatre, which includes operas and ballets as well as theatre drama productions is when these events are recorded as live or live for cinema and television. Theatre make-up can be very heavy and includes wigs which have extremely thick wig lace stuck to the forehead and sides of the face, as one would expect for a theatre audience, but it doesn’t work on a big screen.
Working with the wig and make-up teams at the theatres, we come to a compromise with the make-up, so it is more acceptable for the big screen and high definition. We’ll alter the wigs accordingly, too.
Performers need to be on-set for make-up and hair call times - the pressure to get them ready on time can be quite demanding. Any quick changes are done at the side of the stage, and any issues are sorted out in rehearsals in order for the recorded performances to run as smooth as possible.
Continuity is important when working with make-up for the stage and for TV or film. To have the same team of assistants is best as we all know what we are doing and should be like a well-oiled machine!
Students get tuition in theatre make-up and wigs. They are also shown how a quick change is done. We have theatre experts come into The Iver and talk about their career and experiences. To get training work at a theatre is so valuable as there is so much wig work done, from applying wigs, cleaning them, dressing them, blocking and taking them off.
There isn’t just one tool actually, but if I had to make a choice it would be two for make up which would be good make up brushes of all different shapes and sizes and a selection of good foundation bases. This is the canvas of your work and without a good canvas the painting wouldn’t look very good.
For hair it would be a good setting spray and a precise pin tail comb.
My inspiration comes from art galleries, particularly The National Portrait Gallery, historical books, architectural books and good editorials, particularly American Vogue.
When working on a fashion like any of the other live shows I work on it is a team effort. On a fashion show you work closely with the fashion designer. From the very start when the shows are still in preparation there are several meetings and that is when ideas are brought to the table. Personal skills are very important. You have to be able to understand a designer’s vision and see their passion. PR is of the utmost importance.
There are so many career highlights. As a professional, I never talk about models, celebrities or actors in a personal way, but the highlights that jump to mind are the amazing opportunities I have had in having access to places and events all over the world that I never would have had if I didn’t have this career. Far too many to mention.
My advice would be to get the best training possible, work hard and never assume you know everything because with this career you never stop learning new skills. Treat everyone how you would want to be treated irrespective of their position. Also to have compassion and enthusiasm.