Special effects makeup artists may just have the best job in Hollywood. The field of special makeup effects combines art disciplines like sculpture and painting with construction and design skills that might be as well suited to an architectural or interior design firm. Except this is way more fun.
The most obvious places to find special effects makeup artists are on the sets of horror and sci-fi films and tv shows like "Star Trek" or "Battlestar Galactica.," and sure, horror and sci-fi provide fantastic opportunities to change humans into otherworldly creatures, but special effects makeup also creates the scars and wounds in action films, the age makeup for a character in an epic saga, and the new facial structure that turns a well-known face into a distinctly new character, or an actor into a well-known face from history.
Off the set, there are plenty of opportunities to work with performance groups designing makeup and costumes for festivals and theater performances. Vaudeville troupes and street-theater performers take advantage of special effects makeup skills to design outlandish and memorable set pieces.
Special effects makeup is one of the oldest tricks in show business: as old as the theater and probably as old as the religious rituals that came before theater. The amazing thing is, even with computer generated special effects and superior video editing technologies, the art of physical transformation is just as important and effective as it has ever been. If you want to go into film and video production on your own, it's a huge benefit to know something about effects makeup. It's still the simplest way to create a big visual impression for a small amount of money.