Anna Formela’s talent as a professional make-up artist, face and body painter has seen her work on everything from children’s parties to music videos.
Her artistic flair has seen her create many spectacular colourful and vibrant designs on themes of animals, sci-fi, beauty and horror to more avant-garde and abstract imagery.
Anna, 38, who is from Poland, successfully completed a Hair and Media Make-up Level 2 Diploma at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) in July.
Prior to studying at the college, she had already established her own face-painting and make-up business but admitted it was not a career that she had considered while at school.
She gained a BA (Hons) Public Healthcare and later learnt English in Liverpool before taking part in exchange programmes to New York and Belgium either side of an MA Pedagogy in Poland
“I saw a face-painter at an children’s party in Brussels. She was working with all the colours and making everyone happy. I thought this is such an amazing job, I want to do this job,” said Anna.
Anna returned to the UK and took a one-day course with a face-painting and body art business based in Hackney to increase her product and health and safety knowledge.
“I volunteered to do some face-painting for school fairs. I began to get more and more bookings for kids’ parties, office parties – it just started rolling from there. I always had a job on the side, but there came a point when I thought this is what I want to do full time.”
Anna took a business class and began networking and promoting her work on social media. Through this and word of mouth she went on to gain work for corporate events, festivals, theatres, short films and music videos. She also began teaching her skills.
“When I paint something on someone’s face or body and they look in the mirror and they smile, it’s priceless. I’m getting paid for being creative and making people happy. I’m literally painting a smile on people faces. Even if you’ve turn them into a zombie, they still smile,” she said.
Anna explained it was her love of working with people that turned her attention to make-up rather than working as a lone artist in a studio.
“I think I’ve always liked to paint on something different to paper. I remember my mum being upset when I was a child because I liked to draw on walls and different surfaces,” she said.
“When you paint in a in an art studio, usually it’s just you. It’s the human aspect of what I do and having a living, breathing canvas that gives me the biggest satisfaction.
“I cannot teach creativity, but I can teach techniques. Like everything in life, if you practice enough you’re going to do much better,” said Anna.
Work dried up during the COVID pandemic, but Anna continued teaching online while gaining financial help from a government scheme to provide income support for the self-employed.
She decided to enrol at CONEL to further develop her own skills, particularly in classical make-up and hair, which she had no experience or a recognised qualification in.
“I found there was the potential for more bookings if I was able to do 60s and 20s hair and make-up, and I wanted to add that to my services. The class was very diverse, so we were able to learn from each other and practise on different ages and skin colours,” said Anna.
“My teacher had worked in the industry and was always giving us tips. For example, if you want to work in theatre, then you also need to know about wigs; or during demonstrations she might say, ‘That’s good eyeliner but the foundation is a little off.’”
Anna, who is neurodiverse, also praised her teachers and staff at CONEL for the extra help they gave her with written assignments during her studies.
While at college, Anna came first in the Student Character category of Warpaint Paintopia Makeup Competition 2022 at the United Makeup Artists Expo in Liverpool for her version of the Marvel comic character She-Hulk.
She said: “I went into the competition just wanting to add another piece to my portfolio, and was very surprised to win because I’m the kind of person who is never satisfied with my art.”
Anna’s achievements earned her an Excellence Award from Capital City College Group, which includes CONEL along with City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and Capital City College Training.
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Capital City College Training (CCCT) and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) have been highly commended in three Women into Construction awards.
Both education providers were named runners up in the Partners with Purpose Award, for their work running a five-week programme to help women find on and offsite jobs in the industry.
Jasmine Anthony, 39, from Islington, who undertook the Women into Construction programme with CCCT in August 2020 was also highly commended in the Women’s Champion of the Year Award.
Rutuba Zala, Delivery Manager for Adult Education, and Shiv Emmimath, Head of Employability and Trade Union Education, collected the awards on behalf of CCCT and CONEL respectively.
Rutuba said: “We always look to go the extra mile to help people realise their dreams regardless of their background, race or gender. Women into Construction is a perfect example of this, which has helped give many women the opportunity to enter the industry and start new careers.
“This programme enables women, who otherwise would not get the opportunity, to pursue and acquire skill that set them up for success in an industry where women are still under-represented.
“Women make up just 11 per cent of the construction workforce in the UK, but this number is only set to rise with more women gaining the skills they need to progress in the industry.
“CCCT is a very proud partner of Women into Construction, to help bring about this change.”
Shiv added: “We’re delighted to be highly commended by Women into Construction. At CONEL we’re committed to working with developers and contractors to support women from our communities to get the skills and support they need and help change the face of construction by getting more women into the sector.
“The programmes we’ve delivered for Women into Construction are a fantastic way to help improve women’s job prospects and for employers to find new workers with each programme, aligned to actual job vacancies.
“Women on these programmes are fully supported with skills training and given the opportunity to spend valuable work experience on sites with different employers with a range of vacancies.
“In this way, we have been able to shape our programmes to deliver a positive impact on women going into this sector. We’re very pleased to be recognised for the work we have done.”
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The Women into Construction programme includes 15 days’ work-focused training followed by two weeks’ work experience.
This includes five days’ construction-related training leading to a Level 1 Health and Safety Level 1 Diploma and a CSCS card test which they need to pass to work on site. The women also receive support with overcoming barriers to employment, writing CVs and interview skills.
Jasmine began working as an electrician for BW Electrical Contractors after impressing on her placement at a 1,000-home development in Bromley-by-Bow being built by Henry Construction.
At the time, she said: “Working as an electrician was always something I had a passion to do, but I never saw it through until now. I didn’t think I would be able to do it, but the programme gave me the confidence I needed. When I was told I’d got a job, I couldn’t stop smiling. I didn’t think it would happen so quicky.”
Jasmine added that she had been “treated with a lot of respect” by her male colleagues and urged women not to hold back and to join the programme.
The awards were presented at Women into Construction’s Celebration Event attended by 200 guests at Carpenters’ Hall in the City on 15 June.
Women into Construction has now supported more than 1,000 women into jobs.
Find out more about the Women into Construction here.