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Meet Nichola Mottram of Nichola Jane Makeup in Sherman Oaks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nichola Mottram.

Nichola, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
To take you way back to the beginning, we are going to go back to freshman year in high school. At this point, I had no interest in makeup, to be completely honest. I was an athlete and found that I never had any use for it since I was always playing soccer. It wasn’t until my good friend, Zoe, brought me on to help her out with a musical that my interest was sparked. They needed help getting the actors ready for the show, so they needed help with hair and makeup. The first show I did, I believe it was Aladdin (I think). So, we had to do hair and makeup for every character, including Iago and the Genie.

For Iago, we had to tease the girl’s whole head (and I mean every strand of hair, not one hair was left unteased). I felt so bad because she had to do it every night. She was a trooper! We also had to do the Genie’s makeup, which meant painting another girl completely blue, from head to toe. Zoe, who brought me on to help her, ignited my passion for hair and makeup that I didn’t have before. Ever since then, I became more and more interested in what makeup can do and all the different characters that I could create with it. It wasn’t until college that I realized that I could actually make this a profession. I was in freshman year of college as a psychology major when I came across a class for stage makeup. That’s where my passion for makeup truly grew.

The final makeup of that class, I did Two-Face from Batman. I was so proud of it and my professor absolutely loved it!! I look back on it now and think that it is no means my best makeup, but it is what allowed me to consider makeup as a profession and what showed other people that I could do it, too. After I took that class, I started working with my friends in theatre, helping them with little short films that they created. Once I graduated from college, I went to Aveda Institute Los Angeles where I studied to get my esthetician’s license. I believed that in order to understand makeup and what works for each skin type, I need to understand skin, itself. Six days after I completed my time at Aveda, I started a seven-month course at Cinema Makeup School, where I studied everything from beauty makeup and hair to avant-garde to monster creation and special effects. From there, I gained connections and started working with friends who were already in the industry.

One of the most important things to note about this career path is that your income and your success is based largely on your ability to network. Through my friends and the jobs they hired me for, I met and worked with more and more people on their own projects as they came. Obviously, in the beginning, jobs were far and few between. As a freelance makeup artist, there can be long gaps in between jobs, which meant that I had to take other jobs to fill those gaps. So, as a result, I started babysitting and freelance writing. Now, I work with Too Faced Cosmetics as a freelance makeup artist when I’m not on set in the makeup department. In my spare time, I’m working on my own business. It is still in the very early stages, getting a business plan in place, but I am excited for what is to come in the next few years!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has definitely not been smooth, by any means. A lot of the struggles in the beginning, and even now, are internal. My mind would always go to whether I was good enough to do this. I went to one of the most prestigious makeup schools in the country and worked alongside some of the most talented makeup artists I had ever seen. And, then there was me. I sat there thinking, “How could I ever compete with all of these talented people?” Even when other people would compliment my skills and talent, it took a lot for me to see myself the same way. I seriously considered giving up and trying something else, but I’m stubborn like my mother and once I start something, I always have to see it through.

So, after I completed my course at Cinema Makeup School, I committed to the freelance makeup career. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t have many jobs in the beginning, so I was lucky that my parents were so supportive and helped me out when I needed it. As well, part of the problem, in the beginning, was the budget of the films I was working on. I was either working for free or for less than $50 for a 12 hour day. Yes, I was getting the experience, but as a 22-year-old, I was broke. I needed money, so it forced me to take other jobs to compensate for the lack of money I was making. So, I would take other jobs and as luck would have it, another makeup job would come up on the exact same day at the exact same time as this other job I took (you have no idea how many times that happened… let’s just say it happened a lot).

I thought, “Could this be it? If I don’t take this job, will I miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime?” I would then have to make a judgment call and decide whether I chose makeup (and my passion) or money (and my survival). Most of the time, makeup won, but sometimes the money did. This life is stressful. I don’t have a steady paycheck, and I don’t get paid time off. Any time that I take for myself is time that I don’t get paid for. So, as most of my friends know, I don’t take much time for myself. Some might say that I need to take a break from all this work, but it isn’t considered work when you love what you do. Even though there have been a lot of struggles and there will continue to be struggles along my journey, I welcome them as each and everyone has made me who I am today. I have worked hard to be where I am, and I am proud to be a makeup artist.

Nichola Jane Makeup – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My business is Nichola Jane Makeup, which is a sole proprietorship, owned and operated by me. I am hoping to hire another artist once I can afford it. As the name suggests, I offer various makeup services, for anything. I can do it all, so whatever the makeup/hair need is, I can accommodate. My specialities are special effects/on set work and beauty makeup. I am known for the realistic bruises/wounds I create. As a business, I am very proud of the time and effort I put into making sure that I deliver the highest quality work. I don’t take what I do lightly.

People have to trust that I can actually do what I say I can do. So, I make sure to keep myself up to date in all of the latest makeup/hair trends and I practice those every chance I get. When I am not practicing on myself, I am using my friends as models, who are more than happy to let me work on them. As well as keeping up with the latest trends, I am always making sure I am using the best products. This is what sets me apart from the others, I care so much about what the client’s needs are. Like I mentioned before, I graduated college with a psychology degree. Even though I didn’t necessarily go into that field, I use what I learned every day while I am working. I am bringing my degree in psychology and my skill as a makeup artist together to bring the best work I can possibly deliver.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
The characteristic that is important to my success is communication. I have to be able to communicate with my clients and understand what they want. I also have to be able to talk and network with people to get myself out there.


  • Beauty Makeup Application – $75 + (add-ons: lashes, etc.)
  • On Set – $300/12hr + (kit fee)
  • Photoshoot – $150

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Marie Buck, Remo Fioroni, Juan Ramirez

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