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Thursday 9 April 2015

Catching up with makeup artist, Tori Harris

At Southampton Solent University the creativity of our students has always been embraced and nurtured. Many talented students have studied across a range of creative courses throughout the years, but today’s success story belongs to alumna Tori Harris; an established freelance business woman and a talented hair and makeup artist.

What has been the biggest achievement in your career so far?

There have been many outstanding moments over the last four years. Working at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was definitely a highlight.  Creating a hair and makeup look for a national print magazine cover and seeing it on sale in the shops was also incredibly exciting.

I’m also proud of being a finalist in The Wedding Industry Awards – London and South East: Best Makeup Artist category – three years in a row – having my work recognised alongside the best in the industry.

I think one of the most exciting moments for me personally was becoming a limited company opposed to a sole trader as it felt like a defining moment of success and was illustrative of how far I have come.

Tori’s team members help her to keep up with demand

What would a normal day entail for you?

In the life of a freelancer there is no normal! Every day is different.  When I am working at a wedding I am often up at the crack of dawn to drive to the venue where I spend 4-5 hours perfecting the bride and bridesmaids’ hair and makeup.

I do some charitable work too, delivering Look Good, Feel Better make-up classes for women facing the challenge of cancer.  These are normally relaxed, sociable events and it’s highly rewarding to work with such motivational women.

Other days are spent at the computer working on my website. You have to be a master of many skills!

What is the most important advice/ knowledge you learnt at university that prepared you for the world of work?

Everything I did on my course prepared me to be a freelance hair and makeup artist – from make-up tips and techniques to the insights given into the working world of an artist. However, I think it is the whole experience of university that make the biggest difference.

It comes down to little things like balancing your budget and perhaps having a part time job, meeting university deadlines – being organised and prepared. As a freelancer I am constantly juggling various work demands.

How do you see your industry developing in the future?

The wedding industry is constantly growing and developing – there is greater focus on weddings now than ever before. It’s exciting to be involved in the inspirational shoots for bridal magazines and suppliers – as well as the real weddings of course.

The influence of social media and bloggers is becoming increasingly prominent within the industry and it will be really interesting to see how this develops.

What advice would you give to current students?

It’s as much about your attitude as it is your skill.  To make it in the industry you have to be a nice person, so definitely stay humble!

A lot of work comes through recommendations or because you know someone in the industry – so network as much as possible!

Assist other artists (learn how to make a mean cup of tea!), create a network of other makeup artists you can pass on jobs to when you are busy and vice versa – and be sure to listen to artists who are more experienced than yourself!

To see more of Tori’s work, visit

Why would you recommend your course and Solent to others?

Without Solent I wouldn’t be where I am today.  There are so many ways to train as a hair and make-up artist, however I would recommend the degree course at Solent not only for the degree – but also the first class education and three years of guidance and support.

With any vocational course time spent practicing and refining your skills, as well as discovering who you are as an artist, is so important. A three-year degree course really gives you the time to do this.

It also allows you to take your first steps into industry while you are still studying. Having your tutors and fellow students around you for support is a real advantage.

To find out more studying make-up and hair design here at Southampton Solent University, please visit our course pages or book on to an open day.