IMATS Battle of the Brushes

Are you serious about becoming a professional make-up artist? Competing in the IMATS Battle of the Brushes can give your career a huge boost. Competitors’ work is seen not only by industry leaders attending the shows, but also by thousands of people around the world.  Finalists also get a chance for international exposure by having their art featured in IMATS ad campaigns and show graphics. Additionally, the shows give contestants the chance to network in person with top pros and decision makers. And the cash and prizes from participating exhibitors certainly don’t hurt!

The competition is open to students of recognized make-up schools and to those who have graduated 12 months prior to the competition date.

After a blind judging of applicants, the Make-Up Artist magazine staff selects eight finalists in the beauty/fantasy category and eight in the character/prosthetic category, plus a runner-up for each. Finalists and their models receive free passes for both days of IMATS. The staff chooses a theme for each category every year.


Theme: Victorian Ghosts. We’re looking for savvy paint jobs on subtle appliances, accentuating bone structure without looking like goggles. Injuries and decay are okay, but we don’t want them to be the main thing. Each makeup must include hand laid facial hair. No premade facial hair pieces will be allowed. Foam latex prosthetics will be provided at the show by our silver sponsor, DYAD Make-Up & FX Studio. You can view their offerings at DYAD is currently creating some new designs just for BOTB. You are welcome to integrate costume pieces, gadgets and other accessories to bring your character to life. Use your imagination, and go for it!


Theme: Futurist Roaring 20’s

1920’s flappers reflected  the influence of art deco upon fashion. This iconic style was a drastic departure from the conservative sensibilities of the preceding Edwardian era. Makeup artist legend, Pat McGrath created stunning 1920s-inspired looks but with an ultramodern twist for John Galliano’s Paris runway show. Contestants are to create an original look inspired by McGrath’s work.


Contestants in the three-hour character/prosthetic category are given prosthetics on the morning of the competition, which they must incorporate into their designs. Only prosthetics provided by IMATS are allowed.  Beauty finalists have two hours to complete their looks.

In both categories, finalists may bring a sheet of paper with photos and a two-sentence description of their artistic inspirations to present to the judges. Character contestants should also bring a “before” photo of their models. On the day of competition, finalists who do not arrive at the venue in time to rehearse for the awards presentation may be replaced by a runner-up.

To qualify, you must fill out the entry form and upload 8-10 photos of different looks you have done. Photos don’t have to represent the make-up you plan to enter in the competition. All entries, photos and artwork become the non-returnable property of IMATS.

Entries must be submitted by December 1, 2023. Finalist results will be announced the week of December 4th, 2023.

Entry Form


All eight competitors (in each category) will receive IMATS tote bags with products donated from our exhibitors and sponsors.

First, second- and third-place winners will be announced on stage and will be featured in IMATS social media channels, plus lots of networking opportunities!

The first-place winner (in each category) will also receive a check in USD.

Need Inspiration?