Working as a professional dancer and singer for 17 years, forty-four year old Leigh Blaney knew her career had a shelf life.
Having worked in many theatre productions Leigh was no stranger to stage make-up and decided to explore how she could expand on her skills and possibly pursue a career within this field.
Six years later Leigh is now an award-winning Make-up Artist, with her own studio and established client base and has been named 1 of the top 5 Make-up Artists in Glasgow.
Here Leigh tells us about her journey and how training to be Make-up Artist has secured her a successful career. Leigh said, “I initially started out with the night class as I wanted to see if I was any good at it. The course was so good and gave me a really good insight into the industry.”
Spotting her natural flair for make-up Leigh’s lecturer Caroline encouraged her to continue her studies working towards an HND qualification.
Deciding to study make-up full-time was the best decision I ever made.
'Each year was as enjoyable as the other, focusing on a range of skills from fashion and avant-garde make-up to theatre and prosthetics. Every day presented new and exciting challenges and styles and techniques that I thought I would never use again and have. Like the life cast that I made in third year and now use for all of my theatre shows – it comes in so handy.
‘As a mature student I was naturally a bit apprehensive as I wasn’t sure if I was too old for it. But I had nothing to worry about - the class was a real mix and age never really came into it. We all got along so well and I’m still friends with many of them. I now see being a mature student as a positive thing as I was ready for it – I was there for a reason and had the drive needed to succeed.”
Honing in on the computing and business skills gained during her time at college, Leigh setup her own website and launched her business; Make-up by Leigh Blaney.
“I knew exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated and quickly got my website up and running and linked them to my social media accounts. Straight away work just started coming in. Although I advertised as an all-rounder it was the bridal work that came.
‘Weddings are a huge business and have ended up my bread and butter with bride’s booking anything from a year to two years in advance. I love being able to make girls feel amazing on what is one of the most important days of their life.”
Leigh’s talents and professionalism with her brides has seen her win the Scottish Confetti Awards for 2 years running, be nominated 3 times for the Vow Awards, and has been named 1 of the top 50 Bridal Make-up Artists in the UK and if all that isn’t enough her work regularly features in the Scottish Wedding Directory and Tie the Knot magazines.
“It’s amazing just how far I’ve come in 6 years. It’s an honour to be thought of so highly, particularly with winning the Confetti awards as they are voted for by the brides themselves – it just make it all worthwhile.”
But as well as bridal make-up Leigh has returned to her roots but this time swapping the limelight of the stage to behind the scenes, providing stage make-up for a number of productions including Cats and Westside Story.
“It’s great to be able to return to the theatre. I do about 8 shows a year which allows me to utilise the range of skills that I learned. It’s very different to occasion make-up as it’s really fast paced – you could have a cast of 60 and have to completely transform their look from scene to scene.” Looking back at her time at college Leigh is under no illusion that without her HND qualification she would not be where she is now in such a competitive industry.
The first thing I wrote on my website was that I’m fully qualified and fully insured something I wouldn’t be able to say if it wasn’t for the college.
'But it’s not just the qualification it’s also the confidence that came with it.
‘You hear a lot of people saying their self-taught make-up artists but I don’t know how they possibly can be. I had some skills beforehand but learning about all the different skin types and tones is a different ballgame and not something you can learn from watching a YouTube video.
‘To sum it up it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done. Being on stage was great at the time and great for the age I was but make-up is a long-term career and one that I thoroughly enjoy.
Click here to find out more about our Make-up Artistry courses.