IMATS – The International Make-up Artist Trade Show

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Every year there’s a little trade show called IMATS that makes its way to Toronto. And it is make-up Christmas for me! Not only do I get to shop some of my favourite brands (most not readily available here) but there are great deals plus a ton of seminars that get me inspired and teach me a thing or two. This annual show is held at The Metro Convention center in Toronto, but different from last year everything was relocated to a smaller space in the SOUTH building. Though I do prefer the more airy, open sunny vide of last year, the cozy atmosphere this year was great as well. All in all, it was a great show.

IMATS, which stands for The International Make-up Artist Trade Show, is the world’s largest celebration of make-up artistry. Make-up pros from the fashion and film industry (including Oscar, BAFTA, and Saturn award winners) provide education and demonstrations at IMATS. This amazing show also features a make-up museum and the Battle of the Brushes, student make-up competitions, where international make-up students race to create winning looks. Each year thousands of make-up artists, exhibitors and enthusiasts discuss, display and collect the best the industry has to offer.

IMATS was founded by Emmy Award-winning make-up artist and Make-Up Artist magazine publisher Michael Key. He debuted the first IMATS in August 1997 in Los Angeles. It allowed artists to customize what they wanted to see and it offered a diverse mix of products, demonstrations, and education from industry leaders. From then on IMATS quickly expanded to Europe in 2002, where it debuted its London show. Make-Up Artist Magazine then acquired the Canadian show in 2009 and IMATS Toronto was launched. That same year IMATS Sydney launched, and in 2010, IMATS Vancouver, British Columbia debuted. The show is held six times annually – in Los Angeles; New York; London; Vancouver, B.C.; Sydney; and Toronto. In 2011, Make-Up Artist magazine established the Make-Up Artist Pro Card to recognize the hard work and achievements of professional make-up artists. Artists can enjoy privileges and perks such as discounted subscriptions to Make-Up Artist magazine, discounted IMATS tickets, expedited IMATS entry and access to pro-only hours and events.

Though the products and discounts are amazing I didn’t just go for that, I wanted to see the prosthetics and body art that also occurs at this show, and I wasn’t let down. The artist’s that were working on people at the show are truly amazing and inspiring. It was also such a fun experience to check out all the new products and get a sneak peek as to what new items will be available soon. If you have yet to attend IMATS or are thinking about it here’s some advice to make the day a bit easier for you. (You will be thanking me because it can be a bit overwhelming your first time.) Make a list of booths you want to visit as well as products you are interested in. Decide how much you are willing to pay (write down the retail price for comparison). Plan your trip according to importance, if you want Morphe, or Makeup Forever start there. Get there early, like 8 am early. Bring snacks! The lines can get quite long and the waiting from forty-five minutes to an hour long. I remember last year the line for Morphe was five hours long. Crazy!!  BRING CASH! I cannot stress this enough. If you use debit/credit, you will either be paying a bit more (tax) or a lot more (USD instead of CAD). IMATS is not just about deals and shopping. There are some amazing sessions for you to watch, each put on by some true make-up artist heroes. Typically, if you attended a class run by one of these artists, you would pay hundreds of dollars.


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