This past Wednesday, I was extended an invitation to check out the brand-new New York City branch of the prestigious UK-based Academy of Freelance Makeup, or AOFM Pro. AOFM Pro is the first makeup academy to be started by a freelance makeup artist rather than by a brand, and this uniqueness carries through the entire philosophy and curriculum of the academy.
Jana Ririnui, the creator of AOFM Pro, and Jason Mallett, the director of AOFM Pro, aimed to create a makeup academy where the emphasis of the curriculum was on both educating its students on the most current makeup trends, techniques, and products, and - and this is probably the most important goal of AOFM Pro - giving its students a deep understanding and exposure to how the industry works so that when students graduate, they knew what to expect and how to market themselves so that they were immediately employable. In speaking with Jana and Jason (who are both quite dashing and hospitable!), they really emphasized how important this latter point was to the ethos of AOFM Pro; the Pro is not just part of the name, and AOFM Pro isn’t a school that just teaches students how to do makeup one specific way with one specific brand. AOFM Pro is about giving its students as full a range of experience and knowledge as possible.
How does AOFM Pro do this?: Like I said, the school is owned and operated by freelance makeup artists, so every day, a different makeup artist is brought in to teach his/her specialty for the day. The NYC branch of AOFM Pro has artists who are based in NYC and artists flown in from Paris and London. While I was there on Wednesday, the day’s teacher was a lovely woman named Colette (her portfolio, which she showed me, was STUNNING!) who was teaching editorial makeup: the students were using products from NARS and Make Up For Ever to create bright, colorful looks. The emphasis was on layering creams and powders, and all of the students had MUFE Flash Cases at their tables! Oh, and that brings me to another cool thing about AOFM Pro - they emphasize working with all sorts of different brands (and focusing on a couple of different brands each day). Jana showed me the students’ supplies table, which looked like my dream come true: brands from Sleek to YSL to MAC to OCC to Stila to NARS to MUFE covered table after table. There was drugstore stuff (Rimmel and Max Factor, for example) next to the highest of high-end products. Jana explained to me that one of his main goals was to get students familiar with as many products from as many brands as possible, since not all products behave the same. He told me that this way, students could pick and choose what they would want for their kits (rather than AOFM Pro creating a kit for the students), because they would be familiar with a whole range of products. Because AOFM Pro is sponsored by so many top brands (for example, they only use Dermalogica products), students have access to pro discounts on special shopping days; I was so jealous when I heard this!
AOFM Pro NYC is currently offering a two-week combined course program ($2995) - its first class of students started on May 16th, so I visited about halfway through their course. The course is 6 days a week (so 12 days altogether), and each day is eight hours long. Students are provided with a comprehensive syllabus every day, a gorgeous brush set which is theirs to keep, and at the end of the program they have an individual full photo shoot so that they can get a jump start on their portfolios (and also see what it’s like to work with a full team of models and stylists). The two week program (which seriously is quite comprehensive!) covers: bridal makeup, contouring/highlighting, brow shaping, photography basics, commercial/runway/editorial makeup, and so much more. Graduates of the course also get the chance to compete for a spot in London Fashion Week’s makeup team! The next two-week course will be offered in August. I am seriously debating registering for it!
I was really impressed by AOFM Pro, because I really loved the idea of a total immersion in technique and the exposure to so many products and professionals. The potential for learning and expanding one’s craft is boundless; plus, Jana and Jason were just so warm that the overall environment was one of friendliness and encouragement.
If you’re interested in AOFM Pro (besides an academy in NYC and the UK, there is also a Paris location), please check out their website here or call their NYC location at (212) 710-1334!
An unexpected and generous bonus: Jana and Jason gifted me with a copy of their “Makeup is Art” book, which is just stunning and I’ll include some shots of it here. The book is a composite work by Jana, Lan Nguyen (the creative director of the book), and other top artists who wanted to create a book that combined beautiful images with real industry knowledge. I was sincerely flattered by the gift - it’s so lovely!