Paul Thompson: The Artist and His Art
Paul Thompson, Director of Education, Make Up Designory (MUD), was recently on a training tour in India. Kanishka Ramchandani in conversation with the make-up maestro about his journey into the world of make-up, education, and much more.
How did your journey start?
I started in 1987 as a make-up artist and I was doing film and television work. I was always a fan of film, and growing up in Los Angeles I had a natural want or desire to work in film business. I didn’t really know what I was going to do. So, I went to college and took some classes in different areas like sound, design, lighting and make-up. And, I loved make-up! I started off as an assistant. The secret to my success early on was that I was a very good assistant. And I would work extremely hard for a make-up artist, and make sure that people got everything, completed on time and made sure I was ahead of the game.
What was the next step after you did films?
I started my own special effects company. I had a very successful career. I was making good money and I started doing workshops for cosmetic companies. At that time I did a lot of Mac Pro workshops and I did some seminars for Kryolan. Another big cosmetic company was looking for a teacher and I was approached by UCLA to teach a class on make-up. And it was a 10-week course and I loved it. I fell in love with teaching. Education is my calling.
I thought I was doing a good job as a teacher and my business partner T. Colin decided to start MUD. He said, “We have an opportunity to really make something meaningful and something better than anything someone’s ever done before.” That drew me in as an educator. We really care about the student getting out there and working and becoming a make-up artist.
What was the philosophy of MUD?
In the beginning it really was about putting the student first. It wasn’t about teaching students, it was about student learning. I realised that structure was missing from every other place I ever worked at. And that really inspired me. If there is a secret to MUD’s success, it is that fact that we care about the students. We care about them before they come to school, we care about them while they are here, we care once they get out.
It started off in the US – we had one campus and then we quickly grew to two. We started having this relationship with other cosmetology schools, primarily in the US that wanted teachers to teach make-up. We branded it as a MUD training. This meant we could be in other countries easily. So, we expanded out from our comfort zone, and our first outside the country location was in Europe. It really took off!
And why India?
Why not India? So, you know when we got into Europe, we grew very quickly. We are in Milan and Berlin, and in three locations in Belgium. We have expanded to three locations in Africa, too, as well as in the Middle East. When we looked for a new country, we wanted to find the right partner, and here in Mumbai we found that right partner. We have been in India for a while, with Blossom Kochhar.
Mumbai studio is just the first location. Our plans are to grow into other markets in India as well.
When a student passes out of a MUD academy, what is the USP that she carries with her?
We are certifying the students. The certification comes from us in the US. I sign every one of the certificates for all of our students. Secondly, what they get is the knowledge of what they’ve accomplished. The person leaving here is a well-rounded make-up artist. There is a process that the students have to go through, they need to practice, they need to build confidence. There is a way that they learn, we make sure that sinks in and it stays with them. The student that walks out of our school is a really thinking professional make-up artist.
Tell us about MUD products?
MUD doesn’t test on animals. I don’t believe in it, and I can’t support that. But that wasn’t my reason for starting a product line. The real reason was that the manufacturers couldn’t meet our demands. We started with one product category and went on to develop the whole range.
What would you like to say to an aspiring make-up artist?
When you are looking at make-up education, it’s important that you go somewhere, where they have real structure and a real dedication to your success. Where am I going to work, what am I going to do once I get out of school? Look for places that have the kind of sources that I am talking about that we try and provide.