Multiple BAFTA-winning make-up artist Morag Ross, who has worked on Cate Blanchette in Elizabeth and The Aviator, is hosting a free masterclass this Saturday (November 23). Morag will discuss her craft and process as a make-up designer and her award-winning collaborations with directors and actors. We chat to her to find out more about her exciting career, and how you can get one of your own…

So, tell us about what your job entails…

I design character – specific make-up for actors in films. This could involve ageing, period, fantasy, special effects, or beauty make up. Once the design has been approved, I do the make up every day and maintain it on set, following the situations dictated by the script – weather, emotions, illness, physical confrontation…. All these have an effect on how a person looks. Early mornings, late nights, feeling under the weather, these also have a bearing on a face and have to be addressed by make up.

What’s the best part of your job?

 Probably travelling, which I love. But also, being able to paint faces for a living is something I never imagined even existed when I was an art student. Perhaps that is the best bit, and being able to combine what I learned at art college with what I learned as a make up artist has been amazing.

And the worst?

The worst, or maybe the most difficult, aspect of my job is that it can completely take over long periods of personal life. It’s a demanding job, time wise. Friends, partners and family need a lot of patience. I have missed a lot of events through the years. And the very early mornings are something quite difficult these days.

How did you get your job?

When I was at Glasgow Art School I did a lot of ‘art make ups’ as part of my work. (It was the time of punk and New Romantics.) I also saw Bertolucci’s ‘Il Conformista’ at the cinema, and it really opened my eyes to the beauty of film as a medium. Someone explained to me that the BBC had a make up training school and suggested that I apply for a place. And I got in!

After spending a few years there, I left to go freelance, just at the same time that Channel 4 was starting up, and lots of music videos were being made. It was fortuitous, I got lots of freelance work, and my first design job was Derek Jarman’s ‘Caravaggio’. I was really fortunate.

What advice would you give someone who would like to become a pro make up artist?

To want to work in this field now, I think I’d say be relentless in trying to work with people you admire, and be prepared to take your time learning. Now there seems to be less work around, and many more people trying for jobs, so it’s tough. But you only need one link to begin to prove yourself. Be committed and be patient. I wasn’t (patient, that is), but with hindsight it’s good advice I wish someone had given me.

Join Morag’s free BAFTA Crew Masterclass on Make-Up Design this Saturday (Nov 23), 4.30pm-6pm, at The Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick