Bollywood Celebrity Makeup Artist Billy Manik graduated from our Comprehensive Makeup Artist Program back in 2011 and short of a decade later has achieved some of her wildest dreams. Hailing from Mumbai, Billy spoke to CMU about creating a name for herself in Bollywood, becoming a well-renowned celebrity makeup artist working on a variety of shoots from films to magazines and working with leading Indian actresses like Madhuri Dixit, Tamannaah Bhatia, Alia Bhatt, Yami Gautam, and Bipasha Basu, to name a few. She also speaks about the launch of Out of the Box Makeup Academy, the platform she created to give students in India the opportunity to learn and experience international techniques of makeup.
What inspired you to pursue a career in makeup artistry?
An Indian bride was my first ever inspiration to become a makeup artist. Looking at an Indian bride getting ready for her big day made me realize how much I love makeup! This industry gives me a new inspiration every day and makes me want to delve deeper into the art of makeup.
What is your favourite thing about being a makeup artist?
To enhance what already exists and is so beautiful—it’s like a 3D canvas. It’s amazing to see how you can get that little extra confidence on someone’s face with just a little bit of makeup.
Why did you choose CMU for your makeup artistry education?
After doing a course in India, I worked with Mac cosmetics. It was on the job that I realized how big and fantastic this industry is. I knew I definitely had more to learn. When I started looking for schools internationally, I came across CMU. What I loved about CMU is that they had a very clear plan towards the way they teach. The faculty was amazing, each and every teacher had years of experience in their industry. To learn from someone who has been there and done it all in the field was very attractive to me. I am glad I chose CMU because I had the most amazing time learning from the best.
What program did you enroll in and why?
I did the Complete Makeup Artist Program. At first, I had chosen the Comprehensive Makeup Artist Program, but as I went through each class I realized I wanted to learn it all. I knew I was not gonna get this kind of training anywhere else.
What did you enjoy most about attending CMU?
The warmth with how each of our instructors taught us. They had a lot of patience with us for every question or query. They didn’t just do their job but made sure we enjoyed our journey through school; making it fun and making sure we learn. Thank you for your steadfast diligence in teaching and for making us feel comfortable with your approachable, personable demeanour.
What’s the most important piece of skill you learned at CMU?
I would say the most important skill was to organize and prepare ourselves for the workforce. Teaching makeup is one part but how to conduct yourself out there in the field is also important. The skill of marketing your talent is an equally important one I mastered as a student at CMU.
Tell us about your accomplishments since graduating from CMU? What are you working on right now?
I have been lucky with regards to my projects. It’s been baby steps and I think that is the best way. One step at a time made me reach where I am today. Apart from working with celebrities on different projects, I also run my own makeup academy called “Out of the Box”. I like to keep my hands full, if not on shoot then I am busy teaching.
Could you tell us more about your Out of the Box makeup academy?
OTB is my dream. I’ve always dreamt of having something that India never had. Apart from teaching, OTB has a mindset where it helps our students grow professionally. We aim to give them an experience that stays with them forever! To take them on the job and teach them, promote their work and source out work for them as well. I have old students who come back to practice. My students call OTB their happy place!
How did you apply the knowledge you’ve learned here at CMU to create your own academy in India?
I have always had a passion to teach, so I first mastered the art of makeup myself. One thing that my instructors always told us at CMU was that if you don’t have new pictures of your work in rotation, that means you need to cover a lot of experience. When I got back to India, I definitely had luck along with hard work on my side. I did jobs in all kinds of makeup fields. From films to commercials, fashion shows, bridal events, parties, celebrities— you name it! When I knew I had my share of experience I decided to start my academy with all the knowledge I had to impart with it. I also believe the more knowledge you impart, you learn more and my hunger for learning is very high.
You’ve worked with some incredibly talented actresses, what is it like working with such renowned celebrities?
It’s great to work with them! They are some of the finest women I have come across. People think that most celebrities have a lot of tantrums, but I have to say the celebrities I’ve worked with— all of them are amazing!
How did you manage to get these celebrities as clients? Could you describe the process of how you cultivated these relationships?
Well, I guess hard work and talent pays off somewhere. It’s a step by step process. One job to another and connecting with the right people as you go. In my case, it was one ad film to another and then a movie. I was signed as a HOD on my first film in Bollywood. That gave me so much exposure and helped me get introduced to a few celebrities and then to a few more. Creating a relationship with celebrities is just like any other job. It’s a two-way street, if you do your job well, they will always come back with more opportunities.
Any piece of advice to international students interested in studying here at CMU? Any words of advice for aspiring makeup artists in general?
It’s a field of passion, patience and creation. Someone can teach you all the techniques but creativity has to be one’s own. If you love to create then you are up for this game. It’s the most beautiful part of my life. When I am working on someone’s face I forget everything else around me. I am so involved in creating and delivering what my client wants that I can’t think beyond that. CMU is that institute of knowledge that helps me remember every day what I can do even better. CMU gave me a lot more than what I had in mind. CMU motivates me to climb the ladder a little higher every day.
What else do you hope to accomplish in the future? Any dream makeup gig?
There is a lot more to accomplish. No one knows it all and I am no different. There is always something new to learn. I tell my students all the time I may learn something from them. My goal is to grow in the field in a way that I learn more and so I can then impart more of what I learn to others. I would like to see the type of growth where my work and makeup services are always the first choice for my clients.
To check out more of Billy, make sure you check out her website and follow her on all her socials. Links below:
Billy’s Instagram: @billymanik81
Out of the Box Instagram: @otb_makeup