Profile: make-up designer

Jill Conway is an experienced make-up, hair and prosthetic designer whose career spans over 20 years in television, film and the photographic industry. Behind the scenes on Casualty, she talks about her job as a make-up and prosthetic designer, the level of research involved in designing injuries and shows us some of her gruesome work.

Make-up and prosthetics designers are responsible for designing and applying make up to actors. Depending on the nature of the production this can mean creating historically accurate looks, transforming the age or structure of a face with prosthetics, or mimicking wounds or illnesses.

"I'm actually very squeamish." – Jill Conway

In pre production make-up designers work with the director, the lighting team and the production designer to ensure that the make-up fits with the overall visual concept of the production and that it looks correct on camera.  During production they apply the make-up to the actors. They must also check on continuity on camera, ensuring that actors look the same in every take.

They work closely with actors. They have to be able to put people at ease and to respond to the different ways in which actors like to prepare before going on camera.

Jill, who has 15 years' experience on Casualty, says there are number of core attributes for the role, including self-motivation, patience, stamina and people skills.

Working on Casualty requires Jill to research the appearance of wounds and injuries. She does this by examining medical photos and forensics books and by talking to doctors. Ironically in real life Jill is squeamish.

She advises would-be make-up designers that it takes a lot of perseverance to get into the business. The route in is normally through a make-up course and through assisting other more senior make up professionals.