Where to learn to be a Make-Up Artist in Toronto
I knew I was close to Complections International Academy of Make-up Artistry when I spotted a man on the sidewalk in full mime-white makeup. Yes, you often see a lot of weird things around Yonge and Bloor, but usually nothing that deliberate. Of course, there's much more elaborate creation going on inside the school on Saint Nicholas Street, where pretty 1920's night-on-the-town makeup is held to the same esteem as a bloodied, disfigured face.
While the school is actually moving to a new location next year (which, it turns out, is the Old Fire Hall on Lombard Street), Complections' communication director Katrina Massey takes me on a tour of the facility, showing me where esteemed instructors such as GianLuca Orienti (who worked on a recent Elle cover) and alumni including Sabrina Rinaldi (the most recent P&G Makeup Artist of the Year) have walked the halls.
Complections now has six classrooms of about 14 students, where workshops focus on hair and fashion, makeup for plays and theatre, TV and movie makeup, prosthetics, and "creature" design. Katrina leads me into several of the rooms where students are working at their mirrored stations, painting each other's faces or carving out two-headed monster molds.
We then pass through the hallway, which is lined with posters on which Complections students, alumni, and instructors have worked. There's Hilary Duff's blemish-less face on a poster for The Perfect Man (a timeless classic, indeed), a poster for Hairspray (Complections folk helped with John Travolta's prosthetic.. uh.. chins), and lots of horror and thriller flicks.
Indeed, I couldn't help but notice the Complections retail shop by the front entrance sold professional brand fake eyelashes, foundations, shadows, and maple syrup bottles of bright red "Flowing Blood." Speaking of which, if you got your morning Metro the back around Halloween from a blood-thirsty zombie, know that that was all Complections student work.
"Our students come from all over Canada--all over the world, actually," Katina says as she leads me up to the second floor. "At any given time about 15 per cent of our students are international; we've had students from China, Mexico, India, and we just had one from South Africa."
Along with the all the normal lessons--like, you know, how to create that "impaled with a steel rod" look--Complections also teaches its students about personal finance, interviewing, and organization. As someone fresh(ish) from a university degree, I can recognize just how invaluable those lessons must be. "Students learn how to quote themselves, how to invoice, that sort of thing," Katrina says. "There's no such thing as a permanent job in this field; everything is contract. In that way, makeup artists are always looking for jobs."
Though a Complections education does come with a great reputation, it also carries a pretty hefty bill--almost $22,000 for a 32-week program, to be precise. Students can usually find work even while they're taking classes, though, especially from people calling in looking for freelance artists.
"We have people calling for someone to make them into zombies, and brides looking for someone to do their makeup." No one, as of yet, has asked to look impaled, but I say just wait until Complections has moved further downtown.
Photos by Jesse Milns
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