Proud Waluwarra woman Ashlei Major is on the path to turning her creativity into a career, after completing the Diploma of Screen and Media (Specialist Make Up Services) (CUA51015) in Townsville.
The course, delivered by Huxley School of Makeup in partnership with TAFE Queensland, provides makeup lovers with the opportunity to learn the specialist skills they need to be able to work in the film and television industry.
For passionate realism artist Ashlei, the decision to apply her talent in a different context and enrol in the prestigious course is already paying off. The 22-year-old’s incredible skills have amassed a following on social media platform Tik Tok and attracted the attention of brands looking to collaborate.
“My biggest achievement yet is definitely working with brands and companies as a content creator,” Ashlei said.
“I was first contacted by MECCA to be on their PR list, which I’m still over the moon about, and I’m also currently working with Adore Beauty on creating content on Tik Tok (@itsashleimajor), IGTV (@ashlei_major) and YouTube (youtu.be/p0X5Rg8Dtss). I’ve also worked with Frank Body."
“I’m still on cloud nine about both of these amazing opportunities. During a time where there is so much hardship, I’ve found a career I believe I gel into so well.”
Art has been a part of Ashlei’s life for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was 19-years-old that she realised she could bring her art to life through the magic of makeup.
“I’ve always had that creativity before I found a passion in makeup, but it’s allowed me to see makeup as another art form,” Ashlei said.
“My best friend is actually a makeup artist and beauty advisor, and I would always be captivated by the process of the application — she’s the one who began this passion that I now have for makeup.”
Ashlei came across Huxley School of Makeup on Instagram and, keen to learn from the best, began planning to move to the Gold Coast in order to undertake the course. When Huxley announced they were going to start offering the course in Townsville via blended delivery, Ashlei couldn’t believe her luck.
Over the course of 28 weeks, Ashlei learned a broad range of skills in addition to designing, applying and removing makeup, including maintaining makeup and hair continuity, designing and applying special effects makeup and prosthetics, promoting products and planning social media engagement.
Throughout the course of her studies, Ashlei has shared some of her favourite makeup creations on social media, gaining 12,500 followers and over 360,000 views on her Tik Tok account. Her body art and avant-garde looks are particularly special to her — not just because of the more than 260,000 views they’ve received — but because they've provided her with the opportunity to share her culture and journey with others.
"Growing up, I didn’t really know much about my Aboriginal culture, but I’ve always been a proud Aboriginal woman, I still am and I always will be,” Ashlei said.
"At the beginning of this year, my nan had passed away, and during Sorry Time it became really clear that finding out who I am, culturally and spiritually, had to become a priority in my life. I need to continue our stories, our culture and our history."
"My pop had asked me to paint the cross for my Nan’s grave and I wanted to create something special for nan, because she was a very special woman. That’s when the artwork about my spiritual journey began," Ashlei continued.
"As I’ve never painted an Aboriginal painting before, I started to learn. I learnt about my family totem, my language and where my country is. So painting the cross for nan — it being my first Murri painting — it’s really special to me."
"While I was studying, we were asked to create body art based on how isolation has affected us, and I chose to reflect this journey I’d been through. The content that I created from this challenge is actually what opened up the work I’m now doing with these brands."
"I showcased this journey again for my avant garde photoshoot too — the whole look was designed to look like my model, who is a proud Gangula and Barunggam woman, was ‘walking through’ the painting, being one with the journey and being one with her ancestors."
Now fully qualified, Ashlei is excited about her future in makeup.
"It’s such a rewarding career — having the ability to transform people is special," Ashlei said.
TAFE Queensland Faculty Director for Creative and Digital (East Coast region) Angela Lisle said she was excited to work with Huxley School of Makeup to provide Townsville locals with such a fantastic opportunity.
"While TAFE Queensland offers courses in beauty at our Pimlico campus, the Diploma of Screen and Media (Specialist Make Up Services) (CUA51015) provides students with the chance to push the boundaries of their creativity by teaching them advanced fashion, cinema, and special effects makeup techniques," Angela said.
"Like TAFE Queensland, Huxley School of Makeup is dedicated to providing students with quality hands-on training that produces outstanding outcomes. Huxley School of Makeup has built an incredible reputation for the standard of work its students produce and the opportunities its students gain as a result of its industry collaborations. TAFE Queensland takes great pride in this partnership and cannot wait to see students of this course, like Ashlei, go on to achieve their dreams because of it."
Huxley School of Makeup Course Convener, Michael Huxley said he is impressed by the talent in Townsville and can’t wait to see what his next round of students produce.
"I’m incredibly proud of all Huxley students who completed this course — in particular Ashlei, who managed to cultivate an amazing profile through social media while exceeding the demands of the course," Michael said.