Disney Villains: TDF Challenge

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Once you are on the Team Demon Fabulous makeup team I will always consider you as a member of the team as long as you leave on good terms. My second year as the makeup manager at The Devil’s Attic ( http://thedevilsattic.com ) was when I felt I started to slip into my groove. It was also when I came up with the name Team Demon Fabulous (TDF) for our makeup team. That same year Lauren Bradley joined our team. She came in as more of a beauty makeup artist but I had seen her do some more avant-garde looks which I loved and I knew she would do well. She far exceeded my expectations. She was only with us the 2016 season and we were sad to see her go.

Lauren came to the team with a makeup challenge. The challenge she laid out was that we would all do Disney Villains. There were really no rules other than that. You could do it straight up like the character or let the character inspire you in any way you wanted. This was a challenge issued to all TDF members, old and current. Unfortunately due to busy summer schedules two of our current member could not participate. That said everyone else was in. Portia Greene even came back for this challenge. Portia was hired early spring of 2017. She did makeup for a few events with us and even when we opened up for one night in June for the Mid-West Haunters bus tour. Unfortunately for us she got another full time job and had to leave before our season started. That all said she is still TDF.

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With all the players in place people started to pick their characters so we didn’t have any overlap. Some were picking more obscure characters I had to look up. That said, no one had picked Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. I have always wanted to do a Maleficent makeup so this was the perfect opportunity.  She kind of embodies the aesthetic I like. I love things that are dark and beautiful and a bit macabre which fit Mal’s look perfectly. Team Demon Fabulous consists of fairly attractive women and then there is me. I figured they were going to be doing makeup on themselves but I knew I could not pull off a Maleficent look, nor did I want to. The first thing I needed was a model. Alex Hepfinger is a model I have used in the past and I knew her face had all the features I needed. Plus she is great to work with and is usually game for my strange ideas.  

The only camera I own is the one on my phone which is a good camera but not for this. Misha Kidwell was awesome enough to offer up his skill and studio to help this Maleficent come to life. Having a great model and photographer I decided it would be good to have an equally awesome hair stylist come in and help. I hadn’t worked with Caleb Yeske in a while but he agreed to come on and do hair. Now with a great team in place I really had to deliver on my end of the deal.

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First up we have Lauren’s look which is only fair since this is her challenge. I am so happy that Lauren wanted to include her haunt family in this challenge. When she first came to the team in 2016 I was worried she wouldn’t get into it. After a really bad injury earlier in the season I was afraid we were going to lose her. Lauren is a perfect example of not judging a book by its cover. She may not look like it but she is a tough badass. That season we had "big bad" male actors dropping like flies for far less injuries yet Lauren never missed a beat. I have never seen the Emperor’s New Groove so I had never heard of Yzma. She ended up doing an Yzma/Kris Jenner hybrid which I thought was hilarious. I had asked everyone to write something about their makeups for this blog and in true Lauren fashion this is what I got, “Hahaha you know I'm not one for sentiment or even offering an explanation for why I do the things I do. It's the element of mystery, confusion, and wtf. Pull the lever, sweetie.”

 

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Kelsey Eisenhut was one of the first members of Team Demon Fabulous and the only member of the team that was on my team for my first year as manager when we were just “The Monster Squad”. She is also one of my best friends. Kelsey unfortunately moved away to Indianapolis the summer of 2017. With the 2 hour commute we unfortunately lost her to distance. She also happened to pick one of the villains I was not familiar with. Madam Medusa from the Rescuers was perfect for her. I will let Kelsey explain her process in her own words, “When we were issued the Disney Challenge I was excited and nervous all at the same time. On the one hand I love Disney and especially Disney Villains as is evidenced by my full leg sleeve. On the other hand I knew I would be performing this makeup on myself and that made me nervous. All issues of vanity that any person deals with aside, a fact I never talk about as a makeup artist is my terrible peripheral vision. I have a very hard time doing a full face on myself due to my inability to fully see out of the corners of my eyes. I have lived with this face for 29 years now and so I do know my face fairly well but it is still an issue for me. With this fact in mind I try to focus on looks focused more in the middle of my face and less on the sides. I have always loved Madame Medusa from The Rescuers and because I am into the obscure thought it was the perfect choice. Knowing my subject and the issues at hand I chose to do a "young" version of Madame Medusa. This would keep me from having to change the shape of my face with excessive contouring which is one of the things I find hard to see with my limited peripheral vision. I knew by going this route I could focus on her iconic makeup, hair, and jewelry keeping the character recognizable while also working around my downfalls.”

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I have always liked the way Portia Greene’s mind works when it comes to her creative makeups. I sought her out for our makeup team nearly a half year in advance before the season even started when I found out Lauren was leaving us. She has a way of adding beauty and horror together which is the aesthetic I like in our haunt makeups. When she picked the Queen of Hearts from Alice In Wonderland I was very curious to see what direction she would go given that she looks nothing like the character. Here Portia explains the inspiration she took, “I took a lot of liberties with my look. I wanted to create a queen turned war general who gives “No Fucks” now.  I used Latin across her face as a war paint saying Cor Comedenti which means Heart Eater. Since Latin is considered a romantic language I thought it was fitting.”

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Last but not least we have Mary Proctor. I love Mary and I am so glad she is on my team. She wasn’t a makeup artist before asked her for the 2016 season. She had such outside the box way of thinking when it came to her weekend burlesque looks I wanted to see what she could do in the makeup room. She is now my second in command and is constantly surprising me with her talent. Mary picked Cruella Deville from 101 Dalmatians. If you know Mary you know this makes sense. If Mary’s not wearing black,  she’s wearing some kind of animal print. I will let Mary explain her look, “I based my look off of 6ix9ine, Post Malone and just sound cloud rappers in general. I believe that humor plays a very important role in art and I try to represent that what I do when I can. I love taking an idea and turning it on it's ear In a funny way.  I learned a lot through this challenge and had a lot of fun too. Can't wait for more so I can keep learning and having fun with my friends” 

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Back to my makeup look, I knew I had to keep the essence of Maleficent but still make her mine. I didn’t want to do a straight up interpretation. First thing to go was the red lips. I just felt while the red lips are iconic they brought to much life to her face. I wanted to focus more on her extreme cheekbones. I also didn’t want to use stock horns because I didn’t want it to look like the movie. I thought I could just make my own horns. Unfortunately that didn’t work out. I had never made papier-mâché horns or anything for that matter and I really underestimated the difficulty level. It took forever to get them the shape I wanted them but I thought they would work.  Leaving them out to dry the night before the makeup I thought I could just paint them in the morning. With the heavy rains that night I guess there was so much moisture in the air that they just fell like a soufflé. With a whole photo-shoot team in place I didn’t have time to try it again. I ran to a local costume shop. I was hoping they would have ram horns or something so it wouldn’t look so “officially licensed” but they were sold out. The next closest thing they had were gazelle horns but they were too small and had no presence. I ended up having to pick up actual Maleficent horns. To make the officially movie licensed horns more custom I tipped them in gold and dusted the rest of the horns with the same paint outside the studio before we shot. With the paint still drying the store bought horns were then placed on Alex's head backwards. This gave it a more evil aggressive look as oppose the horns being swept back. They may not have been our horns but we made them ours.

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Maleficent also has the glowing yellow eyes in the animated movie. Alex has beautiful blue eyes which not only wouldn’t match the character but would get lost in the purplish, bluish undertones of the grey paint I had mixed from EBA Performance Makeup ( http://www.europeanbodyart.com/ ). I decided to use these awesome amber toned contacts from Primal ( https://us.primalcontactlenses.com/ ) which were called the Piranha II – 920’s. After looking them up they actually do look like Piranha eyes which are strangely beautiful for such an ugly fish. I then cut a cheek stencil so I could give her that super over exaggerated contour. I may have gone a bit overboard with it but so are Maleficent’s cheek bones. While showering the morning of the makeup I got the idea to do this super glittery black skin from the neck down. I thought it would look beautiful and Maleficent is a fairy after all. 

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I really love not only how my makeup turned out but how everyone’s looks came together. I really wish during haunt season I could have 7 makeup stations and have us all just churning out hyper detailed haunt makeups. Don’t get me wrong, we do pretty amazing with a four person team and I am always happy with our haunt looks. A boy can dream though can’t he? We won’t have another challenge until probably after haunt season but I am looking forward to the next one and seeing what everyone creates. I am so lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful creative artists and getting to call them team mates.

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Switch

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I am lucky enough to have partnered with Primal Coloured Contact lenses (https://us.primalcontactlenses.com) as one of their makeup artists. They are an amazing company that makes even more amazing contact lenses. Being in the haunt industry I have worked with and seen a lot of lenses and most of the companies designs tend to overlap. Primal has a lot of really cool original designs and they have sent me a very nice selection of lense. As a makeup artist it is very inspiring to come up with looks for all the different lenses. The possibilities of the looks I can create with them are really endless. Luckily I have a good friend (Danny Alexander https://dannyalexanderphoto.com ) who is also an amazing photographer who is willing to shoot my ideas.

A while back I got a message from Avery Grant wanting to know if I had anything coming up I could use her for. Avery happens to be a twin and Danny and I had worked with her and her sister before. The photo of them Danny captured in my makeup about a year ago is still one of my favorite images I have ever worked on. Avery’s face is beautifully androgynous and unique. I had an idea for something I wanted to do but it would require me shaving her head. Avery already had short hair and when I mentioned it, she was game.

 Mallory and Avery Grant

Mallory and Avery Grant

Since Danny has been coming over to my home studio to shoot I thought it might be nice to bring in another model for a second look. That being said I wanted to do something completely different than what I had planned for Avery to give Primal some range and to keep things interesting for myself. I messaged my friend Alicia Carper to see if she would be interested. Having been a haunt actor at the Devil’s Attic ( http://thedevilsattic.com ) where I manage the makeup team I knew she would be no stranger to putting in contacts. Plus her face was perfect for what I had in mind.

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After getting a little lost Alicia showed up to my place first. For her I had picked the Contagion I -924 lenses. They are supposed to represent some kind of a disease I am guessing, given the name but I had other plans. Alicia popped in the lenses and they made her big eyes look even bigger. Having worn costume contacts before I wanted to know how the Primal lenses felt in comparison. According to Alicia the Primal lenses were more comfortable and breathed better than what she had worn in the past. Moving on to the makeup I wanted to make her an angel, but my kind of angel. My concept was that demons and angels are cut from the same cloth but fighting for different things. That said the idea was that they would look alike and the way we envision them is only based on what we have been told. Angels being these pure, glowing porcelain skinned beings. Then on the other hand we see demons as these dark twisted monsters. I wanted to show that everything is about perception so I kept it pretty but added in elements to make it a little unsettling. Alicia made this awesome halo crown that helped solidify the idea. The way the contacts brought the look together could not have made me happier.

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When Avery arrived Danny was already getting some amazing shots of Alicia. The lenses I had picked for Avery were the Walking Dead II-935 lenses. They have a very spotty kind of bloody clot look to them, almost coppery in spots. Again I was going against what the contacts were probably designed for. The forms and shapes in the lenses were very organic so I wanted the makeup look to be very hard lined and avant-garde. The night before the shoot I used my girlfriend Heather Day’s face to do a layout. I had bought a bunch of this glittery poster board and I wanted to cut it into strips to attach to her face and head symmetrically. Heather was nice enough to indulge me by letting me put stencil plastic on her face to sketch out a rough design. That way I could cut the shapes the night before and be ready.

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With the shapes precut, the design in my head, and the contacts ready to go it was time to shave Avery’s head.  It’s not every day a model lets you shave their head so it was a bit nerve racking. With a pile of freshly shorn hair on the floor luckily Avery had a nice shaped head. With that it was time to start makeup. With the reds and ambers in the contacts I went with copper and gold accents to really bring it together. I did a dark blue lip to play against the eyes so that both the lips and the eyes would stand out in different ways. All in all it turned out to be a very cool look.

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As an “artist” I never want to be stuck doing one type of makeup and or limit my inspiration. Just like with anything else everything can be repurposed. Just because a makeup brush says it’s for eyeliner doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a detail brush. Just because and airbrush is used to run makeup through doesn’t mean you can’t just run air through it to push paint around like a water color. Rethink your tools and work outside the box. I am sure the designers of the contacts I used did not have what I intended in mind and that’s ok. Primal has a ton of lenses to draw inspiration from and I can’t wait to do more.

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Venomiss

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As a kid I was always a big Spider-Man fan. When Spider-Man switched to the black suit I didn’t know why because I hadn’t read Secret Wars. I liked comic books but I never really read them in order. I just knew I thought it looked cool and I was not happy when he had to get rid of it. As it turned out the black suit was an alien symbiote that would take over its host. That being said it gave birth to a whole new character. Venom was pretty much a huge hulking evil Spider-Man whose Alter Ego Eddie Brock hated Peter Parker and Spider-Man. The stories where they were fighting with each other were some of my favorites. I really enjoyed when they teamed up together to fight Carnage which was an even more evil version of Venom.

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Marvel Comics

My friend Rebecca and I went to see Infinity War together for my second time and we were excited to see a Venom trailer. Having body painted Rebecca before she commented that Venom would be cool to paint. She was right but I had seen it done so many times before. I feel like it’s almost a rite of passage as a body painter having admired the body paints years before I even thought about body painting. I have seen some really good Venom body paints and some really bad ones. I think my main concern with doing the body paint was landing in the second category. I never shy away from a challenge so I started planning.

Rebecca said, “I have always loved spider-man. From a very young age I thought Toby Maguire was the end all be all and wished I could be in Mary Jane’s shoes. However, Venom has always been one of my favorite Marvel villains. The visual of the symbiote covering Eddie Brock’s body is harrowing and terrifying but it was so cool I couldn’t not watch it every time I saw it. So when Matt and I went to see Infinity War and we saw the preview for the new Venom movie it was like a part of my childhood was coming to the forefront again. I turned to Matt and said “I wanna do that. Lets body paint Venom.” He agreed and I was pumped.” 

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Marvel Comics

First thing I did was ask Danny Alexander if he would be willing to photograph it. Lucky for me he is a nerd too and I think was excited to shoot a Venom body paint. With the team in place I started planning in my head. Venom is a pretty well-known character so I wanted to stay true to the original design. I knew with all of Rebecca’s thick hair I didn’t want to mess with a bald cap. I thought we could go for a concept where the Venom symbiote was taking over. Doing this I could leave areas of open skin and add more detailing and interest as the black paint appeared to stretched across bare skin.


Rebecca showed up early the morning of the photo-shoot so that we could get started. I had gotten some Monster Pasties for her to wear to give the black a really smooth super suit look. Monster Pasties are great because not only are they made for body paint but they go on very easy. Rebecca was in the bathroom for way longer than it takes to apply the pasties. When I went to check on her I could see the panic in her face. The way you apply the Monster Pasties is kind of like a temporary tattoo. You peel off the plastic, place the center of the pasty over the nipple while pressing firmly making sure all of the edges are down while dabbing a damp wash cloth to release the pasty from the paper. Just like a temporary tattoo if you try to apply it without removing the plastic, you ruin it. Unfortunately this is what Rebecca had done. Knowing we didn’t have a backup pair we just sat there saying curse words under our breath until she just said we would have to go without. Knowing that Danny was coming and the only other option was to cancel we decided to move forward and start painting.

Rebecca said, The day finally came and I pulled myself out of bed at 8:30 on a Sunday morning in order to get painting in time for some events both Matt and I had later on in the day. Once I got to Matt’s place I got ready and prepped for the paint and one of the main steps in prepping for body paint is putting on the pasties. However, me not being fully awake yet I managed to royally screw up one of the pasties. I felt awful and I knew there was no way I could postpone the makeup and shoot because all of us were just too excited. So I got over myself and went fully topless.” 

 Behind the Scenes Selfie

Behind the Scenes Selfie

I knew I just had to position everything so that black paint ended up over her nipples which would make them easier for Danny to edit out in post. The first thing I started painting was the gapping mouth Venom is known for. Not only did I know that would be the most difficult part but I knew it would be the center piece as it goes from just under her nose down to her chest with the tongue snaking around her shoulder. Once the mouth was done sans the black I started making out where the open skin sections would be which would let me know how much of the white spider on the chest was needed. I then airbrushed in a brown drop shadow where the black paint/symbiote would meet the skin. Positioning the legs of the spider was easier than expected. It made sense to keep them on the breast for fear of losing the proper shape and flow if I went below the breast. I placed Venom’s eye around Rebecca’s eye instead of over it. No matter how much paint I used Rebecca’s dark eyelash would have still be been visible in Venom’s solid white eye, while painting black over her eye would make it pretty much disappear.

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Once I got all the white painted on the black was smooth sailing. After doing a couple layers of black for a good overall coverage I started to streak the black over the bare skin to make it look like the symbiote was trying to close the holes over the bare skin. Except for the drop shadow I had hand painted everything up until this point. I broke out my airbrush to do some highlights and low lights. I wanted to add some stretching over the bare skin parts and detailed the edges. Using grey, white, and light blue airbrush paint I went in and highlighted and detailed to give the solid black areas a little more depth. I also airbrushed some black to get rid of the harsh line where the tongue disappeared into the throat.

Rebecca said, “3 hours later I was painted and Danny arrived and we started shooting. The paint looked so amazing and I felt like such a bad-ass all thanks to Matt and Danny”

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The way Danny lit the photos really brought everything to life. Danny also brought an apple box. I didn’t know what he had in mind for it but I was still painting when he showed up so I didn’t question it. When he felt we had a good static shot of the body paint we moved to the apple box. He had Rebecca crouch on the box so he could shoot from slightly below her. Posing for body paint is vulnerable enough so I give props to Rebecca because without hesitation she was able to nail the pose which I knew couldn’t have been comfortable in only a thong. Danny wanted an image he could composite to make it look like she was perched on a rooftop. When I saw the image for the first time it looked like to was ripped from the pages of the comic book

 Rebecca and I with Poe the Kitten

Rebecca and I with Poe the Kitten

Rebecca said, I don’t consider myself a model but this has got to be my favorite shoot I’ve ever done. I truly appreciate Matt and all his hard work and I thank Danny Alexander so much for helping us create such a cool concept. He also did wonders with helping me to pose and show off the paint in the best way possible. I’m extremely grateful to be a part of this team and I can’t wait to do more body paint modeling in the future.” 

 

Like I said before, I have seen Venom body paints done so many times before. I am not going to say the one I did is one of the best, not by a long shot. That said I am very happy with the paint I was able to do. Danny and Rebecca really made me look like I knew what I was doing. When it comes to body paints I definitely like creating my own thing and doing something that no one has seen before. That said this is my third comic book character body paint and I really love bringing these heroes and villains to life.

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Refraction

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Before my good friend and photographer Chelsea Marrin moved back to Chicago this past February she asked me if I wanted to do one more photo-shoot. During Chelsea’s short time living in Louisville we became very close. We worked on a lot of fun and some very emotionally charged projects together. It was always interesting seeing the crazy setups she would do. She helped me create art to help me through a tough time and I hope I was able to do the same for her. That all said I couldn’t pass up a final opportunity to work with someone I had become so close to. The only time she had available was a Saturday evening. Turns out that Saturday I already had 2 other makeups to do. The first of which was a beauty shoot. Then from there I had a 30-40 minute drive to my next makeup which was the Hindu Goddess, Kali which was character body paint. Knowing that both of my other photo shoots were all so far out and even sprawling from each other I knew I couldn’t pass up working with my friend one last time. I did makeup on her first photo-shoot in Louisville and I wanted to book end it by working on her last.

Wheels were set in motion so we got to planning. The first model we cast was Abbie Purdie who I had worked with a lot recently and she always does a killer job. Chelsea and I knew we wanted to do something wild. The inspiration photos that Chelsea sent me had these crazy shadows and bugs incorporated into the makeup. She thought it would work best with two models. With Abbie being a Tall blonde I though Leah Goforth who is the same height and brunette would be great and the two would complement each other well.

For the bug element we decided to go with bees. We were short on time so I looked around a few place locally to find realistic looking fake bees. Nothing I could find really matched what we were going for. As it turns out finding dead bees intact in the middle of winter was not easy either. I called around to a few places that had hives to see if they had any that had died of natural causes. They did but they were not in good condition. With legs or wings missing they wouldn’t work for the looks we wanted. We needed them to be pristine. I am sure the models were happy I couldn’t find any dead bugs to work into the makeups but that meant we had to rethink our concept.

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Up until we showed up at the studio we didn’t really know what we were doing. I knew we had a great team with great models and Caleb Yeske doing hair. I like going in with a plan but I knew somehow we would be ok. Chelsea had an idea to use this crazy lens for her camera that can warp images and distort light called a Lens-Baby. Chelsea was also shooting through a separate piece of glass to catch the lights reflecting. It’s a really cool effect but I knew with that on top of the gels she was going to be using the makeup would get lost if I didn’t do something drastic.

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I decided to do the makeups almost as if the models were already in gelled lighting. In regular lighting the makeups looked pretty out there, almost like something you would have seen on Star Trek in the 60’s. I gave Leah a purple tone and Abbie a blue tone. I used all cream based makeups because airbrush would have been a little bit to clean of a transition. I thought they were very pretty but also other worldly. It’s important as a makeup artist to take the lights on a photo shoot into consideration. The makeups were extremely pale and blended down the neck to the chest. I used a really heavy copper to contour and then covered them both to finish the makeups off I used a frosted gold shimmer powder. With all of the lights I knew the shimmer would catch the lights and create a really nice effect. Luckily I have worked with Chelsea enough that she trusted that I had an idea of what I was doing.

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We were all looking at the images as they were being taken and they were looking phenomenal.  With the hair, the lighting setup, the crazy lens, makeup and the amazing models we got some really amazing images. I actually like how in the images you can see where the makeup stops and the skin starts. I think it shows how the lights really effected the overall look of the makeups. After the shoot a few of us went out for drinks. We went to a bar that has some dancing and a lot of neon lights. Abbie didn’t take off her makeup and when we got there I think she was afraid people would think she was nuts. The funny thing is with all of the neon lights in the bar she pretty much looked like how the final images turned out.

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Derby Daze

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I could really break this up into two blogs but with it being all Kentucky Derby related I have decided to keep it all in one. Derby for me always starts months prior to the actual event. There is planning to be done and schedules to be made and this year was no different. The Haunted House where I work and I had an event to run and do media for and I had two parties I was scheduled to do makeup/body art for. Now that I think about it I was only scheduled for one party but I will get to that.

The haunted house where I manage makeup, the Devil’s Attic (www.thedevilsattic.com) also runs the Louisville Zombie Walk which is the biggest Zombie Walk of its kind with over 45,000 participants last year. This past fall our Haunt owner Jason told me about an opportunity that had been offered to us by one of the biggest festival’s in Kentucky. The Kentucky Derby is cool and all but it’s really all about the Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) which goes on for about two weeks leading up to the horse race itself. The KDF wanted us to bring what we do for the Louisville Zombie Walk to their festival. What we came up with was the Derby of the Dead.

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For Derby of the Dead I would be making 4 zombies. Two zombies would be for a local news stations, and the other 2 zombies would be for the day of the event. One of those zombies would be to work the crowd and the other one for a live demo. My team (Team Demon Fabulous) would also be making crowd walking zombies. Lucky for me EBA Performance Makeup (  https://www.europeanbodyart.com ) and Woochie FX ( https://www.woochie.com/ ) supplied me with makeup and prosthetics to make these zombies real show stoppers. I love EBA’s makeup but I had never actually applied a prosthetic before and the first time I would be doing it would be for a live news broadcast.

 Some of the Prosthetics from Woochie

Some of the Prosthetics from Woochie

The first zombie I did for the news was on Morgan Dayton. Even though her segment was for Friday which was the day of the event it would be recorded the same day as or live segment which was the preceding Wednesday. On Morgan I didn’t use any prosthetics. I just did what I call a “Standard Paint Zombie” and played with some marbling techniques and layering. I was very happy with the way she turned out.

 Morgan Dayton in Zombie makeup by me

Morgan Dayton in Zombie makeup by me

Rebecca Rhodes was going to be my Zombie for the live broadcast so I had her show up a little bit before Morgan at 7:30am. Having never applied a prosthetic I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time. I laid on some pros-aide cream adhesive where the prosthetic would lay. While that set up I put some more of the adhesive on the back side of the prosthetic. This prosthetic was a half face, covering only the ocular sockets the cheeks, bridge of the nose and the forehead so it was pretty easy to place. Once it was in place I painted a layer of Pros-Aide on top of that to seal it before I powdered and painted it. Foam latex prosthetics are very sponge like and if you don’t seal them they just suck up all of your paint. Once you seal it with the pros-aide you have to powder it to keep it from being sticky. I base painted it with a mauve color to neutralize the yellows in the prosthetic before I painted it using the same color scheme I used on Morgan. For it being my first prosthetic application I was pretty pleased.

 Rebecca Rhodes in Zombie makeup by me

Rebecca Rhodes in Zombie makeup by me

This is the live broadcast from WHAS Great Day Live! https://www.whas11.com/mobile/video/features/great-day-live/derby-of-the-dead-on-great-day-live/417-8107460

The day of the event I had distressed a jockey costume for our actor Jeff Howell who would be my “hero” zombie walking around the crowd. I would be applying the full face stage 3 zombie prosthetic from Woochie. Jeff was excited as he always is to be a zombie but I was concerned. Having only applied one facial prosthetic before this would be no small task. I could already tell it was too big for his face. I placed the prosthetic and secured the nose in place first and then worked from the top down making sure all my edges were good and seamless. After smoothing the prosthetic top to bottom there was a lot of slack left under the chin and neck area. I tried folding it over to make it look like wrinkled hanging flesh but it wouldn’t hold. I ended up having to cut a dart/triangle out of the part that wouldn’t hold and pulled it together. I then made a bridge with latex and deli paper. Once it was bridged I added some latex and cotton to give it some texture and then sealed it all. Painting the Woochie prosthetic with the EBA Performance makeup was probably my favorite part. The sculpt was great but before it gets paint it just looks lifeless, pardon the pun. I loved breathing life into it and was very happy with it. I named the character Pat Day of the Dead after the famous jockey Pat Day.

 Photo of Jeff Howell as Pat Day of the Dead by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Jeff Howell as Pat Day of the Dead by Tate Chmielewski

From there we packed up all of our gear and headed to the event. I was lucky that Tabby Sharp of youtube fame (https://www.youtube.com/user/tabs24x7Official ) agreed to be my subject for my demo makeup. She is so much fun and great to work with. After the issue with Jeff’s prosthetic I was worried the one for Tabby wouldn’t fit either as she is very tiny standing at 4’10. I placed it on her face and it looked like it may overlap just a bit on the sides but not enough to be incredibly noticeable with her hair down. The demo was taking place outside at the waterfront (Ohio River). As you can imagine airbrushing in high wind on a raised stage is not ideal. I had to wait for the wind to die down at times to try and paint otherwise none of the airbrush makeup would make it to her face.

 In the process with Tabby Sharp and myself

In the process with Tabby Sharp and myself

I was also working against a time constraint. Due to scheduling conflicts I went from having an hour which was already pushing it down to 45 minutes. With Tabby’s bright pink hair and the colorful onsie she was wearing she looked like a piece of chewed up bubble gum when I based her in the pinkish mauve color. Once I was able to get my color scheme from EBA on her it all came together. With Tabby’s diminutive size it added an extra element of creepiness to the makeup.

 Photo of Tabby Sharp by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Tabby Sharp by Tate Chmielewski

 Photo of Jeff and Tabby by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Jeff and Tabby by Tate Chmielewski

 I have been lucky enough in years past to book gigs for derby parties. About 2 months before the Derby I met with Josh Meredith of the Original Makers Club (OMC). The OMC was going to throw a huge Derby Eve bash at 21c which is an amazing art gallery and boutique hotel. I have worked there in the past and it is an fantastic venue and I was excited to work with Josh for the first time. I had done a makeup on my friend Katye Estes with a lot of geometric shapes which caught Josh’s eye and prompted him to reach out to me.

 Sponsored by BMW and Woodford Reserve 

Sponsored by BMW and Woodford Reserve 

The inspiration for the party was based off the recent Gucci designs featuring a king snake and bright pink flowers. I knew straight away I was not going to paint a snake, at least not in any way that would be expected. I had looked up a bunch on snake body paints. I wasn’t looking for ways to do it but rather for what not to do especially since we wanted a more "Art Basel" feel. The body paints I found in my research went from more character based body paints to just painting on a full coiled up snake. What I came up with was using the king snake’s pattern as a sash. On the lower half of the snake sash I would do the pink flower’s emerging from underneath. On the upper half I would give Josh the geometric style which prompted him to call me in the first place. I liked the idea of the top being very structured and the bottom being more organic.

 Rough sketch of body paints

Rough sketch of body paints

Upon entering 21c to start the body paints for the party I realized I had forgotten my air compressor for my airbrush. Fellow makeup artist and good friend Rebecca Rhodes was going to be my date for the party so I called her up right away. Rebecca was also my zombie for the above news spot. I asked her if she could be there a couple hours early and bring her compressor so that I could do the finishing touches with airbrush. I got to use 2 of my favorite models again for another doubles body paint. I had painted Karoline Hix and Mallory Mims as jockeys last year  for a different party in the same venue which you can see on my body paint page. With this year’s body paint I started on the pink flowers first. As I was getting the flowers worked out Josh excitedly came in and wanted me to come take a look at how the party was coming together. When I was done with the flowers I popped out to check the event space. The main bar was covered in the King Snake pattern and there was a huge King Snake,… well,... snaking down the railing of the stairs. The décor had a very leathery almost snakeskin kind of feel to it. Luckily I had not started painting the snakes on the models because they had replaced the cream colored stripe of the king snake with gold.

 Photo by Morgan Worley

Photo by Morgan Worley

 Photo by Morgan Worley

Photo by Morgan Worley

Having seen the event space changed my color scheme. I of course changed the cream in the snake pattern to gold. The geometric shapes were originally supposed to be pink, red, and black. I changed out the pink for gold which gave the paint a more dynamic look. There were more than a few things that didn’t go my way on this paint and I was running out of time. I am a bit of a control freak and I never like to ask for help. I knew I didn’t want to sacrifice quality for speed. I was coming down to the wire and I am just glad I had a makeup artist there I could trust. I gave Rebecca the color scheme and asked if she would be able to knock out a few beauty looks and she stepped up in a big way.

 Mallory Mims and Karoline Hix, Photo by Morgan Worley

Mallory Mims and Karoline Hix, Photo by Morgan Worley

 Me with Mallory and Karoline, Photo by Morgan Worley

Me with Mallory and Karoline, Photo by Morgan Worley

Once the models walked into the party I got Rebecca and I some drinks. It’s always really cool to see people’s reactions to the body paints. They are always surprised that the models are only wearing a thong. That or they just don’t even realize they are nude and think it’s a skin suit. The geometric shapes I had painted revealed some bare skin which made it a little bit more apparent. The models and body paints seemed to be a hit at the party and Rebecca and I were able to relax and enjoy the festivities.

 Photo of Rebecca Rhodes and I by Jose Aponte of the Voice Tribune

Photo of Rebecca Rhodes and I by Jose Aponte of the Voice Tribune

Everything had been months in the planning stages. That said the Monday before Derby I got a call from my friend Mike Brady from King Sixteen. I have worked with Mike and King Sixteen in the past and have always enjoyed it. They were doing a Derby party at Rabbit Hole Distillery. Mike has amazing ideas and always wants to have a wow factor. I am lucky enough that he calls on me to be a part of that.

 Sponsored by Porche and Rabbit Hole

Sponsored by Porche and Rabbit Hole

I had sent Mike an image of a woman in a bathing suit made of reflective material that looked a bit like a stylized golden shattered mirror. When Mike asked if I could do something similar with 4 days until the event I quickly went out to try and find the materials I needed to accomplish the look. I knew I couldn’t get it exact because not only had the image I sent been edited heavily but the model didn’t need to move around in the material. She just had to pose for a photo, and could be reset in between shots. Ideally some sort of plastic formed to their bodies would have been perfect. It wasn't really in the budget and we definitely didn't have time for that. I needed something really reflective that was light weight that would flex with the body and wouldn’t crease too badly. I think the material I found was pretty close. Oddly the models that were cast already were Karoline and Mallory who I had worked with the night before with the addition of male model named Darren. I also added a dark smoky eye to all 3 models with some silver accents just to add a bit of sexiness.

 Photo of Darren, Karoline and Mallory by Danny Bloom

Photo of Darren, Karoline and Mallory by Danny Bloom

Hunter S. Thompson has been famously over quoted as saying that,  “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,” and he was not wrong. After all the Bourbon and late nights I was ready to give my body and liver a rest. That said, I am already looking forward to next year.


 Photo of Darren, Karoline, Mallory and myself by Danny Bloom

Photo of Darren, Karoline, Mallory and myself by Danny Bloom

Dark Heart Woods

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While at Transworld (which you can read about in my previous blog) I was able to speak with the talented Alana Rose Schiro. She was on season 3 of Face Off among other things. Alana is also the creator of Rotten Roses. She was one of my favorites on Face Off and is such an amazing artist. It was so nice to be able to talk to an artist whose work you admire and actually be able to converse with them. I was with my friend and fellow artist Rebecca Rhodes who was also my demo model for EBA Performance makeup at the convention. Alana had seen Rebecca the day before in a possession type makeup I had done on her and didn’t recognize her out of makeup. Alana seemed to take a liking to Rebecca’s look and suggested her and I could tag team a makeup sometime and Rebecca could be our model. Of course when hearing this Rebecca and I both perked up.

I was ecstatic at the idea to work with someone so talented but there was no time to try and do so at the convention. With Alana living in Los Angeles and me in Louisville,Ky. I couldn’t see how it would be possible any time soon. We talked a bit about it and came up with the idea that we would each do a body paint based on the same inspiration image. One of my many flaws which can also be a blessing is once I get my mind set on something I don’t let up until it’s done. I was sending Alana possible inspiration images and probably driving her insane. Understandably Alana was extremely busy and said she would have to wait until things calmed down before she could really dive into this project.

I had looked up so many possible inspiration photos but one really caught my attention. The image was of a gloomy forest with a path running down the middle. From the path was a column of light with a lone figure standing in the clearing.  The image had a very isolated and lonely feeling to it. Not to sound like a dark cloud but I have felt very much like that lately. The image of the lone figure standing alone in the path of trees spoke to me. I knew I had to do a body paint inspired by this picture. I was already considering using Rebecca as my model because of Alana but beyond that it just fit. With her jet black hair and strong yet elegant features I knew she would be perfect. That said I also knew that Rebecca had never done body paint modeling before. Modeling for body paint is a lot to ask of someone. They have to stand there for hours in most cases nude. It can be very vulnerable but also equally empowering. We had talked about body paints before but when it actually came time to ask I didn’t know what she would say. Luckily she trusted me and my vision and agreed.

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I asked Rebecca if she could give some insight into her experience as a body paint model. This is what she had to say, “I don’t really consider myself to be a model. I have stepped in front of the lens a couple times, but I consider myself to be an amateur. However, I hold the art of modeling in high esteem and respect, and the work that it takes. In the past I have done shoots almost entirely focused on my face and the makeup, but this time was extremely different. Matt asked me to be a part of the process and while I was nervous, I was so excited. Matt and I have a great working and personal relationship and I consider him to be one of my best friends as well as my mentor when it comes to my own personal growth as a makeup artist. So, when he asked me to be a part of this body paint, I was honored. Having never even done an implied nudity shoot to straight body paint was a big leap and it took a lot of mental determination to keep my own personal doubt from getting in the way of my work as the model. The night before the shoot I’d unfortunately been sexually harassed while out celebrating for my birthday, so I was feeling a little guarded. This being said, I knew I had to let the walls fall even though I’d be cold, exposed, standing for at least a couple hours, and I knew I was going to be antsy by the end of the process. However, Matt took care of me and made sure that I was in a comfortable environment and helped to put me at ease. When it came to the painting it took about 2 and a half hours and Matt did his best to work diligently, and doing the live stream on Facebook while being painted was also really fun and it kept things light and interesting. All in all, I am in LOVE with the paint and the way it turned out and I would definitely volunteer myself to be a body paint model again.”

I definitely wanted to alter the imagery of the inspiration a bit. Because of how it inspired me I wanted to twist the limbs of the trees into a heart with the light source emanating from the dark thicket. I also knew I wanted a lone figure in the heart so I chose a bat. I wanted to keep the bat small though because didn’t want it to really be a focal point. I wanted the forms to really fit Rebecca’s body so instead of using a generic body chart I asked if she would allow me to attempt to sketch it out on her body to see how the forms would flow. I am glad she did because the way I envisioned the heart in my head was not as long as it turned out being given the length of her torso. In the sketch I used different colors for the trees to denote background, midrange the foreground trees. With the sketch being as rough as it was I fully expected Rebecca to question my ability to pull it off. It looked like a huge mess but I could read the lines. I knew what it all meant and weather she did or not she trusted me.

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With my inspiration and model ready to go I knew I wanted a good photographer to help document the work. Danny Bloom is new to the creativity community in Louisville and is a hell of a photographer. Lucky for me he was all over the idea when I asked if he would be interested. I also knew I wanted a head piece or crown to pull it all together. I contacted my friend at Velvet Rose Vintage and asked how I would go about building such a thing. She listened to what I wanted and looked at my inspiration and sketch and said that she would just go ahead and build it herself. When I saw the Head Dress it was perfect for the look and feel I was going for. Danny brought some great ideas to the shoot as well. With it being dark and gloomy feeling body paint my first instinct was of course to have a dark back drop. Danny made the right choice in going with white which made the body paint and amazing head dress from Velvet Rose Vintage really shine.

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When doing body paints I don’t usually like to use pasties. Women’s bodies are over sexualized in media. You can see a billboard of a shirtless man but for whatever reason we deem the same type image of a woman as dirty. Aside from body paint being an art it’s also a celebration of the human body. That being said I just feel like it sends the wrong message that there is something about the female form that should be shameful and covered. However we had decided to do this body paint on Facebook live as Rebecca mentioned above. I knew we would unfortunately have to cover her nipples.  We used what are called Monster Pasties and they are seamless. Most pasties take paint terribly but makeup and body paint is what Monster Pasties are designed for. Once you get paint on them they disappear. I used two different types of paint on this as well. I used all EBA Endura alcohol based makeup in my airbrush. They make the best airbrush make up and it is all I will use. For some of the blending and Speckling I used Mehron water activated Paradise paints.

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I am so excited with how the body paint turned out. I appreciate everyone who helped this vision come together. I still plan and hope to do a body paint challenge in the near future with Alana. It will be very interesting to see how we interpret as single image differently.  That said I would like to do more of this type thing with other artists who I respect. It is always good to challenge and push yourself.

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Transworld 2018

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Transworld is very much in a way like Christmas to haunters. I look forward to it every year and get very excited about it. Then in a weekend It’s over and similar to Christmas you're left kind of dulled by all of the excitement. For those that don’t know, Transworld Halloween and Attraction Show is the biggest haunted house convention in America. Given how Americans celebrate Halloween probably the biggest in the world. This year I had two out of three artists from my makeup team “Team Demon Fabulous” which is the makeup team for the Devil’s Attic haunted attraction in Louisville, Kentucky Mary Proctor and Rebecca Rhodes (www.thedevilsattic.com) going with me. Seeing as how I was the only makeup artist from our haunt that went last year having almost my full team with me was exciting. Hopefully next year Phoebe Conrad will join us and we'll have the whole team.

This year I was set to do a makeup demo for my favorite makeup brand European Body Art: Performance Makeup. They are such a cool company and everyone that works with them are awesome. I was originally  slated to do my demo sometime on Saturday. When I confirmed my demo time on Thursday the day before I would be leaving I found out I was instead doing my demo on Friday morning at 11am. This wouldn’t be an issue if I were riding alone but I was riding with three other people. We generally leave Louisville Kentucky around 9-10am which would be too late to get to Saint Louis in time. Luckily everyone was able to leave with me earlier. That said I didn’t anticipate how long it would take to get registered once we got there.

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My artsists and friends Mary and Rebecca  (who was also my model for the demo) could see how frustrated I was and kept me calm. Once I got in and set up I was a few minutes late. I hate being late for anything so to say I was flustered would have been an understatement. From the demo stage I asked Rebecca to grab my airbrushes out of my bag.  When she couldn’t find them I realized in all of the rush I had left them in the car. Not only was I late, I was unprepared. Luckily Alden Silvestre with European Body Art (EBA) had a spare which saved me the 20 minutes of running back to my car.

After looking like a slacker who showed up a few minutes late without his most important tool I was able to get started. We have a Reagan character from the Exorcist at our haunt. One night after doing her makeup the actress put on a bubblegum pink care bear pajama union suit to stay warm before we opened for business and she would be in a night gown the rest of the night. I loved the contrast of the pink against the greens, browns, and deeps reds of the makeup. I also loved the juxtaposition of the creepy makeup and the cute pink pajamas so that is the look I wanted to recreate on Rebecca. At the haunt we can’t afford to use prosthetics every night. What we do is build everything on the actors face in cotton and latex. While the latex is drying we work on other makeups. I knew I wouldn’t have time for latex to fully dry in that time frame so I used molding wax for the scars. While it is faster and looks better wax would not hold up to the abuse of an actor in a haunt. In a convention setting it would work perfectly though. Not as perfect as prosthetics but I had expected to be able to walk the floor before my demo and pick some up. All in all I was very happy with the way it turned out and being the actress she is Rebecca really sold the look with her go to line being "Have you seen mommy?" With all of the pictures people wanted with her I am sure her and the makeup are all over the internet.

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 Nix Herrera and Myself

Nix Herrera and Myself

The next day Mary was asked to act for Heather Henry’s company High Noon FX. She would be popping out of a very realistic silicone body all day in full body paint. I will post a video of her performance at the bottom of the blog. That left Rebecca and I to wander the convention  floor. We saw all kinds of cool and inspiring things. The best for me though was talking with people I have met in years past who’s work I respect and are just good people like Jessica Mellow, Stephanie Masco and Alana Rose Schiro to name a few. The more I walked around the more I wanted to do another demo. When we stopped by the EBA booth to pick up some makeup I mentioned to Alden I wanted to do another makeup if there was time. Come to find out Nix Herrera who I look up to was going to be doing makeup for them all day the next day. I couldn’t be upset, I got to do my one and I was happy for that opportunity. After we walked around a bit more we stopped back by because Rebecca “needed” to buy more makeup. Nix came up to me and said he had heard I wanted to do another makeup on Sunday and that he would split the stage with me and we could do demos at the same time. So not only would I get to do another makeup but I would be doing it with someone I look up to.

 Mary Proctor in makeup by Heather Henry of High Noon FX

Mary Proctor in makeup by Heather Henry of High Noon FX

 Myself and Nix Herrera sharing the EBA demo stage.

Myself and Nix Herrera sharing the EBA demo stage.

Rebecca Had brought this dress made by a company called Western Evil. It was a white collared black Wednesday Addams style dress. On the front of the dress is what at first glance looks like Disney’s Magic Kingdom logo, only it’s not. The spires are crosses on fire and where it would say “Magic Kingdom” it says “Tragic Kingdom”. I let this be my inspiration for my Sunday demo. I love adding social commentary into my makeups and the first thing that came to mind was Banksy’s Dismal Land. I framed Rebecca’s face in black and brought the forehead down into a peak like Mickey Mouse. I had Rebecca do her black hair up in space buns to resemble mouse ears. I gave her face a very dead and sickly look using washes of white, with fluorescent pink, deep reds and deep purples. I then dripped the black down her neck to bring in a street art feel. I topped it off with a crudely drawn dollar sign on her forehead and bruises on her knees. I won’t explain the piece totally so you can draw your own conclusions but I will say it was about big business and corporate greed. Over all I was very excited with the way the makeup turned out. It’s probably one of my favorite horror style makeups I’ve ever done and I am so thankful to Nix for letting me share his stage.

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All in all this was another amazing Transworld. It always energizes me for the haunt season among other things. Whether you are an actor, a makeup artist, a scene/prop builder, costumer whatever you will be inspired. If you can leave this convention and not be inspired you might be in the wrong industry. Now I am looking forward to haunt season and I am ready to dive in. Then on November 1st I will be looking forward to Transworld.

Building the Look

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I wanted to talk a bit about building a look. To me it reminds me a bit of the phrase “cleaning top to bottom”. The reason you clean top to bottom is so when you clean things higher up it knocks the dirt down to the floor. If you swept first and then dusted and or wiped down your counter more times than not you will end up having to sweep again. I know it’s a strange way to think about building a makeup look but in my head I guess it kind of works. When building you generally work your way up from clean and simple and ending on a more dramatic look. This way you don’t have to strip off a makeup to build another, pretty simple right? I guess I look at the complete reapplication of the makeup like going back and sweeping the floor a second time.

Photographer Ahmad Merhi just moved to Louisville Kentucky from Massachusetts. We talked a bit about working together and started brain storming ideas. One of the ideas Ahmad mentioned was a drippy foundation makeup. I have seen a ton of them being done on Instagram so I knew I wanted to go in a different direction. Not only that but I kind of already did one a couple years back with dripping the foundation color down a throat tattoo giving the illusion of her face melting. We talked about it a bit and I started getting the idea that he wasn’t hung up on dripping foundation but just dripping. Once that was settled I asked him if he had a model in mind.

Model Abbie Purdie and I had been doing a lot of shoots together and we work really well with each other. Ahmad had seen our work and when he met me the first time he also met Abbie. Ahmad asked me if I could get Abbie to be our model and without much hesitation she agreed. He and I had already talked a bit about a dramatic drippy makeup concept but Abbie wanted to know if we could do some more fashion type shots before we went crazy with the makeup. I was totally into it because I knew I could build the makeup and give use more bang for our buck.

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Looking at the inspiration that Abbie provided I knew a dramatic smoky eye and simple lip would be the way to go. Abbie has beautiful piercing blue eyes so I knew using gold for the drippy portion of the makeup would be perfect to make her eyes pop even more. I could then extend the black from her smoky eye using the same eye shadow. I wanted to give the gold something to stand out against so I used the same black eye shadow on other areas of her face as well as her neck and coloar bone. Then before I started applying the gold I added a bit of glitter on the black areas to give it a little extra pop. The Glitter had a bit of blue fleck in it to bring in the color of Abbie's eyes a little bit more.

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Ahmad changed up the background and the lighting to give it a darker and more dramatic feel. With the makeup built upon and the back drop and lighting changed it looked lik two completely different photo shoots. Ahmad did a killer job handling both concepts in such a short amount of time. I am so glad Abbie suggested to do the other look and that Ahmad was totallu game for it. The change over took no time at all and the results were vast. Building a look can also be something as simple as going from day to night makeup by just adding a little more drama to the eyes and a bolder lip.

 Ahmad, Abbie and myself

Ahmad, Abbie and myself

Shape of Colour: Inspiration

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As artists I think we gather inspiration from so many places often times we aren’t even aware. I have helped create images before and looked back and realized where I got the inspiration from. A while back I did a photo where we had my hand all made up like a corpse hand reaching up around a beautiful models face. The photo was really popular and several people had used it for inspiration. Some copied more than were inspired but regardless they liked what we had done and it made them want to create something. That being said on that same image we created that inspired them we were also inspired by outside sources. The hand was inspired by the cover art for the movie House. There is no way around it. There are no original ideas, only new ways to interpret them and piece them together.

My good friend and model Katya Estes came to me a little while back with some inspiration photos. They were really cool but at first I didn’t know what to do with them. I usually like to find my own inspiration images because I generally already know what I am going to do with them to make them my own. For one I didn’t know how similar she wanted it or how different I could stray. I am never one to shy away from a challenge though. The trick was to change it enough to be mine but still hold on to a bit of the inspiration.

 These were our Inspiration Images. I do not know the teams that created them sadly.

These were our Inspiration Images. I do not know the teams that created them sadly.

Katya, luckily like me does not like glitter so that part of the inspiration was thrown out immediately. The main thing I was drawn to was the shapes and harsh lines. One of my favorite shirts when I was a kid had orange and turquoise panels sewn on in sharp shapes which I wanted to draw on for ideas. That being said I didn't go back and look at photos of the shirt because I didn't want it to influence me too heavily. Luckily I was able to talk the team into that color scheme. From there I wanted it to have a kind of Miami art deco kind of feel. My ideas were focused mainly on the face. Our amazing photographer Erik Branch suggested we do something on the neck as well because one of inspiration images had a painted neck.

 I took that opportunity to really put my stamp on the look. I taped off the shapes to give it the hard lines that I wanted which was something Katya is use to working with me as much as she does. I felt like that was what really made the makeup and the images unique. It also really brought in the influence of the panels on the shirt I had as a child as I remembered.  Then I added the finishing touches like the darker orange lip, the light blue in the water line of her non-blocked out eye and the flourish of orange on the eyebrow and I was done.

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Caleb Yeske was our hairstylist. While you can’t really see his hair work he was a huge part on the team. He was able to get all of Katya’s hair wrapped very tightly so that he could put the bandage on without any lumps. When it came time to add the silver string we left him in charge of that as well. I noticed something as I was helping him cut the string. If you weren’t careful the string would unravel and it couldn't be used. I took that opportunity to take some on the string and deconstruct it and use the strands as a kind of burst from the somewhat naked eye.

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I could not be happier with how these came out. I am very proud of the whole team and what we were able to do with the inspiration given. There are no new ideas under the sun so don’t be ashamed of your inspiration. It sometimes also helps to pull ideas from multiple places. Own it and add to it, make it yours. It reminds me of when I worked retail. I know it’s not the same thing but teenagers would come in all the time to our store. They would find something they liked but wouldn’t want to get it because someone else they knew had it. My advice was always, “It’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.” In short, make it your own.

 Team Left To Right:  Model: Katya Estes  Hair Stylist: Caleb Yeske  Photographer: Erik Branch  Makeup: Myself

Team Left To Right:

Model: Katya Estes

Hair Stylist: Caleb Yeske

Photographer: Erik Branch

Makeup: Myself

Matt Goodlett Makeup 2018

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I have been going through some personal life changes here recently and not seeing things as I once did. 2017 was a tough year and I am glad to move past it and work on the future. I was questioning a lot about myself as well as the people around me. I know the “New Year” is nothing more than a continuation of time and dates are just a man-made construct but it is hard not to look at it as some kind of marker. I figured it was as good a time as any to look at 2018 as a rebuilding year. It was time to look at myself and figure out what I wanted, why I haven’t achieved it and how to change things in my life to make it happen.

I wanted to do something to symbolically signal not only to myself but everyone else that this was a change. I know it is not a big deal to some but to me my hair has always been a big deal. “I put on a few pounds, at least I have good hair”, “I have a fever blister, at least I have good hair”, “Why did I wear this stupid shirt, at least I have good hair.”, These are the things I would tell myself. When I was in middle school I would carry a collapsible brush in my pocket. Even younger than that my mom would talk me into getting haircuts by telling me I was going to get a “Ponch haircut”. Ponch was my favorite TV character from CHiPs. So as far back as I remember my hair has been important to me.

I am by no means saying my hair is the best but I like it. I’m also not saying that it may be a huge deal from the outside looking in, it’s just hair and it will grow. Everything in life is relative and I understand that. I have buzzed my hair before but it was always for something specific, like charity, or even a Halloween costume and I could explain my reasoning. This time the only way I could explain shaving my head in the middle of winter was that I needed to do something drastic. I knew I would regret it once it was done but that was part of the growth I guess in a strange way.

I felt this called for a new headshot of sorts. My good friend and photographer Danny Alexander had posted an image of a new lighting setup he was working on. If you are a Star Wars fan the lighting may look familiar. It looked amazing and I thought it would be a great way to capture this look I had in my head. I asked if he would be interested in taking my new headshot. I was excited when he said he would because I knew it would make me looker cooler than I actually am. Being a makeup artist I knew I had to do some kind of a makeup on myself. I landed on this idea because to me it signified breaking free of the darkness and trying to let your true colors show.

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I don’t like change but change is the only certainty in life so you better get use it. Change is scary but it has to happen and whether you like it or not it’s going to. If things are stagnant sometimes you need to do something drastic in order to jump start your change. You have to be able to adapt and keep moving. Change is nothing more than growth.

No Evil

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I have struggled with the idea of writing this blog and how to deal with the subject matter. I'm a fairly private person and I don’t really like airing my dirty laundry. I think writing down where these images came from may be good for me and will help others to understand that these aren’t just “cool” images. I was going through a really hard time over the holidays when my friend Chelsea Marrin, who is also a photographer, messaged me wanting to work together when she got back from Chicago. When she asked, I was so depressed I didn’t want to get out of bed let alone plan a photo shoot. She asked if I had any ideas so I thought about it for a few days. I have always been one to work through heart ache, among other things, through art and in this case, makeup. There was one idea that kept popping up in my head and I couldn’t ignore the concept any longer.

I didn’t want to get too specific as to why I was feeling down but after reading a very vague rough draft of this blog Chelsea told me I needed to explain more of what happened so that people could connect with the material. It’s hard for me because it’s embarrassing, but I know that I’m not the only person this has happened to and I won’t be the last. I also didn’t want anyone to think I was writing this to make anyone look bad because I still care about this person, even though I’ve been told I shouldn’t. The last thing I want is for this blog to hurt anyone. However, In order for this to mean anything I have to be honest and I have to put myself out there. After all, this is all about telling the truth.

I was with someone I loved very much, who said she loved me too. She was someone that I have known for a while. We met before she went back to school the summer of 2016 and formed a friendship. Her and I became very close friends while she was away. I felt I could tell her anything, which I did, and I felt she did the same. After she came home from school and we reconnected, we started casually dating. Some may have thought things moved fast but given our friendship and history feelings progressed very quickly. Looking back I think she underestimated how much I, or anyone, could love and care for her.

People would tell me how great we were together, and how we fit so well. She made me feel safe, and she made me happy. When I was with her my stress went away. When she told me she loved me, I felt invincible. As with any relationship, there were a few things that didn’t seem perfect, but that’s to be expected. Anything that I thought seemed questionable she was able to quickly answer my concerns with a logical explanation. Even when things didn’t add up I chose to believe her because I had known her for so long, I couldn’t ever see her lying. Knowing that I have trust issues, at one point she said, “Don’t you trust me?” as if to say I didn’t.  Those words put me on my heels and made me drop my guard. I thought she was right. Maybe I was being unfair and needed to just trust her. This person I had become so close to wouldn’t lie to me or hurt me.

Unfortunately I was wrong. It turned out that the whole time we had been together she had been seeing someone else. Weaving in and out of convincing lies, to not so convincing lies. The things that she would say to me just weren’t things you would say to someone you were cheating on. We talked about things regarding "our" future together. We talked about marriage. Not about getting married right away, but someday. We talked about if I wanted kids someday because she did. I just couldn’t fathom that she would talk about the future with someone she was also being so dishonest with. The problem was that I was happy. Being happy doesn’t sound like it would be a problem, but in this case it was. It blinded me to what was going on because I was made to feel like the most important person in her life. When it was brought to my attention what was going on I questioned her about it and she confessed to everything.

I was left wondering who and what to believe and I had no idea what was real. “See  No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” (No Evil) was the idea I came up with. To me and what I was going through it had several meanings. I had shut things out and ignored red flags to see or hear what I wanted in order to stay happy. Was I only showed what was known I wanted to hear and see to keep me from asking any questions? Why did I not speak up? Was I being manipulated? I still refuse to believe it wasn’t partially real. I know for a fact, what I felt was real and that is at least my reality.

Chelsea liked the idea so we started planning. It would be pretty high concept so the images would work outside of the context of the theme. The idea being, I would black out the feature on the model that the phrase pertained to. The black makeup would be very hard lined and harsh but asymmetrical and would end by pointing at the heart. For example, for “Speak no Evil” the mouth would be blacked out, and so on. This would mean we would need models with strong features for the parts of the face that weren’t going to be blacked out. The meaning being that the truth is definite and sometimes hard to hear but it’s not always perfect. I wanted it to point at the heart because to represent intentions. Like I said, I would like to believe nothing was done maliciously. Believing anything else would make her a monster and I don't believe that to be true.

The first model that popped into my head was Katya Estes. She has always been such a great friend and I knew I would want her on set. Aside from being a great friend she has amazing lips that I knew would be perfect for “See no Evil” since her mouth would be featured. For “Speak no Evil” with the way I was going to be doing the black makeup I knew not only did I need great eyes but strong jawline. My friend and fellow makeup artist Portia Greene was an obvious choice given the criteria. With her pale piercing eyes and sharp jawline she was perfect. For “Hear no Evil” all that would be blacked out was the ears. With that said I just needed a pretty face. Alex Hepfinger would have been my first choice but I had just worked with her using a lot of heavy black makeup. As perfect as she would be I didn’t feel I could use her again so soon. After the model I did cast canceled last minute it only made sense to ask Alex. I was lucky that Alex agreed to come in last minute. Alex is another person that is just great to have in studio so with that we were set.

The morning of the photo-shoot I woke up to the pitch black darkness of my lower level apartment. I stepped out of bed onto my tile floor to an odd sensation. Being half asleep, still I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. After a few steps I slipped and fell landing on the right side of my body to a big splash. My neighbor’s pipes had frozen and burst, flooding my apartment. After the initial shock wore off and maintenance had been called, I noticed my hand was in extreme pain. All but my index finger and thumb felt like they had been jammed all the way back to my wrist. Not a good thing considering I had to do three very steady handed straight-lined makeups. By the time they pumped all the water out of my apartment, it was time to pack up and go to the studio.

Once we were in studio and started the process everything seemed to fall into place. The makeups were going well. Models were showing up on their staggered times and Chelsea was getting great shots and even some video. We wrapped up and Chelsea and I sat there, talking about doing something and going somewhere to hang out. We ended up just sitting there for at least an hour. Truth be told, I just didn’t want to go home. A few days later Chelsea messaged me, saying that because of a computer issue, she had lost all of the images. With the emotion that went into the makeups I knew I couldn’t and didn’t want to recreate them. I took it as 2017 getting in one last hit with this being my last makeups of the year. Needless to say losing the images was a punch in the gut. I sat down and poured some bourbon when Chelsea texted me. Luckily she was able to retrieve the images and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

 See  Photo: Chelsea Marrin  Model: Katye Estes  Makeup: Myself

See

Photo: Chelsea Marrin

Model: Katye Estes

Makeup: Myself

As a makeup artist I generally opt for images to be in color. With these, it made more sense for them to be in black and white. The color images also looked so good but after talking it out we decided black and white was the way to go. Not only did they look great but it fit the meaning of the photos. The truth is black and white but people are more complicated. Thematically, it was the way to go.

 Hear  Photo: Chelsea Marrin  Model: Alex Hepfinger  Makeup: Myself

Hear

Photo: Chelsea Marrin

Model: Alex Hepfinger

Makeup: Myself

Trust is not something that should be given out easily. I used to trust everyone until they gave me a reason not to. That has burned me more times than I can count. Trust your instincts. If something seems off, it probably is. I ignored the signs and had my trust issues that I have built up over time brought into question. It has left me wondering if I can trust anything or anyone. I really hope that feeling fades, because not being able to trust anyone seems like a very lonely existence. The situation is really hard because I greatly miss this amazing person that I thought I knew. With that said, I would rather a hard truth than a kind lie. As humans we can be pretty resilient and more times than not we can come out on the other side with a life lesson. What is important is how you let that life lesson shape you.

 Speak  Photo: Chelsea Marrin  Model: Portia Greene  Makeup: Myself

Speak

Photo: Chelsea Marrin

Model: Portia Greene

Makeup: Myself

Photographed: 12.30.17
Written 1.8.18

https://www.chelseamarrin.com/

Team Demon Fabulous

 Photo by Danny Alexander  Mary Proctor, Phoebe Conrad, Myself and Rebecca Rhodes

Photo by Danny Alexander

Mary Proctor, Phoebe Conrad, Myself and Rebecca Rhodes

This past winter into spring of 2017 I knew I had an uphill battle ahead of me with my makeup team for The Devil’s Attic http://thedevilsattic.com , “Team Demon Fabulous”. Our 2016 team was great but of a four person team only two of us were returning. We lost Lauren Bradley to a full time position at MAC and Kelsey Eisenhut moved away to Indianapolis. This meant only Mary Proctor and I would be returning. Being as picky as I am I knew finding one artist would be difficult let alone two.

 Photo By Danny Alexander  Makeup: Myself  Actress: Alyssa Hilger

Photo By Danny Alexander

Makeup: Myself

Actress: Alyssa Hilger

 Photo by Danny Alexander  Makeup: Myself  Actor: Taz Walston

Photo by Danny Alexander

Makeup: Myself

Actor: Taz Walston

Starting early in late winter I thought would give me time to find someone. I tend to like to hire artists that can do beauty makeup as well because I feel like it gives them the fundamentals of a clean makeup application. However finding a beauty makeup artist willing to come into a haunt environment is not the easiest task. A haunted house is a fun place to work but it is far from pretty and or comfortable. Given that time of year with the temperature change the climate is constantly changing. You are basically doing makeup in the trenches.

 Photo by Danny Alexander  Costuming and Makeup: Myself  Actress: J. Blake Vondran

Photo by Danny Alexander

Costuming and Makeup: Myself

Actress: J. Blake Vondran

I talked to several of my makeup artist friends asking for recommendations and what not. One of these friends was Rebecca Rhodes. She had gone away to school in DC the previous season. I mention her because we had talked about how cool it would have been if she could have been on the 2016 team before I had found Lauren Bradley.  With her makeup and theater background she would have been a perfect fit. With her away at school and most of the other artists not interested I had to keep looking. Edging towards late spring having not found anyone I started to get worried.

 Photo by Danny Alexander  Makeup: Myself  Actor: Aaron Wilson

Photo by Danny Alexander

Makeup: Myself

Actor: Aaron Wilson

It was looking like Mary Proctor and I would be doubling up on makeup. We joked about having to do that but as the time ticked by it was looking like more of a possibility. We were preparing ourselves but knew that makeups would suffer. Our previous season was so strong in the makeup room I did not want to take any steps back so I kept looking. Our goal every season is to hopefully improve on the last. Of course I always want to put out work I can be proud of. With only two artists our looks would severely suffer.

 Photo by Danny Alexander  Makeup: Myself  Actress: Victoria Green

Photo by Danny Alexander

Makeup: Myself

Actress: Victoria Green

I think I interviewed at least 10 artists. There were a lot of factors that had to fit though. First and foremost the time and scheduling commitment alone are enough to turn people away. Working in a haunt you pretty much give up all of your weekends in September and October. Not to mention the makeup team are the first people in and the last to leave. Then I had the team to think about. Would they fit the dynamic I had been building for the previous two years? Then clean application was a must. It didn’t really matter to me if they had haunt or special effects experience because I could train that. Lastly speed was a necessity. With limited time we get on average 15-20 minutes to complete a makeup and that is if all the trains run on time.

 Photo by Danny Alexander  Makeup and Actress: Mary Proctor

Photo by Danny Alexander

Makeup and Actress: Mary Proctor

Out of pretty much nowhere Rebecca had moved back to town and was going to school locally. We had only talked about her working at the haunt but never took it seriously because we knew she was away at school. Rebecca and I talked a bit about her coming on board. I knew she was a great beauty artist. I also knew with her determination she would be easy to train. She came in to audition and landed the spot immediately. With Rebecca on the team I had to fill one more spot.

 Photo by Danny Alexander  Makeup and Actress: Rebecca Rhodes  Costume: Myself

Photo by Danny Alexander

Makeup and Actress: Rebecca Rhodes

Costume: Myself

It was coming down to the wire with only a couple of weeks before opening night and I still had not filled my fourth chair. How I missed it up to that point I don’t know but I had an apprentice over the summer by the name of Phoebe Conrad. Phoebe showed a lot of promise and had a real passion for special effects makeup. She had also helped out a lot at the haunt on a volunteer basis. I knew she would be able to fill the final spot and I was happy that she accepted. With that I had a full team.

 Photo by Danny Alexander  Makeup and Actress Phoebe Conrad

Photo by Danny Alexander

Makeup and Actress Phoebe Conrad

I am very proud of our team and the work that we were able to accomplish over the season. I loved watching the new team members build confidence and their makeups improve. It was awesome to see Mary take more of a leadership role as well. With having to switch out actors throughout the season and makeups not always showing up on time I was impressed with how the team was able to adapt and pick up each other’s slack. I’ve always said if, with the time constraints we are under that if you can do haunt makeup and do it well you can go into any makeup environment and succeed. I am excited to see what these artists do over the off season and would love to have any and all of them back for the 2018 season.

 Photo by Danny Alexander  Makeup: Myself  Actress Laina Castle

Photo by Danny Alexander

Makeup: Myself

Actress Laina Castle

Also, thank you to Tyler Green for providing our team with his Wonderband Systems www.wonderbandsystems.com (that you can see us all wearing in the photo). They helped out tremendously with efficiency.

Deadlights

I’ll be honest I was never a huge fan of the original “IT”. The made for TV mini-series lacked the edginess I feel it need. I am sure people will disagree with me and that’s ok.  Yes, we can all agree Tim Curry was great but in my opinion he was all the mini-series really had going for it. With that said I know people really love the original so when I heard they were remaking the movie I thought fans would reject it immediately. When I first saw the images of Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise I got excited. Not only did it hit the right tone I felt with the imagery but to me the makeup was instantly iconic. I still didn’t know if fans of the original would embrace the new IT. Maybe a month before the premiere I went to a horror convention and there was IT 2017 stuff everywhere and people were eating it up. There was even a guy walking around in full costume. The fever appeared to have hit strong with the horror community.  

I follow a lot of makeup artists on Instagram and I started seeing a lot of different takes on the Pennywise makeup. They mostly leaned more in the clown, creature, and horror realm. I loved seeing everyone’s take on it and it made me want to do my own. I knew I couldn’t do a straight clown or horror take on it. As much as loved what I had been seeing from other artists I wanted to do something different.  I decided I would do three beauty type makeups with a Pennywise twist.  One would be a wedding theme, one dark and dramatic and the third just bright and colorful. I have a one track mind so once I had the Idea in mind I started building a team.

 Amanda Terry

Amanda Terry

The first person I contacted was photographer Danny Alexander. He is always down to photograph my crazy makeup and he is damn good at it. I pulled in Michelle Villareal for hair because I knew something like this would give her a chance to flex some artistic muscle. With it being Pennywise wardrobe could be an interesting subject. I contacted my good friend and designer Kristina Kubrick. She and I decided on poufy clown style collars to pull the looks together. Then I just needed the right models.

 Kenyatta Desha

Kenyatta Desha

With it being  inspired by the Pennywise makeup I knew there would be a lot of focus on the lips since that is what the look is centered.  Since I was doing more editorial beauty style looks, full lips were key to drive the look home. I know a lot of models with full lips so from that point I had to narrow it down to models I thought would be into this strange idea. I cast Amanda Terry, Katya Estes and Kenyatta Desha.  Amanda is a huge horror fan so I knew she would be into it. With all of her tattoos and dark hair I knew people would expect her to be in the dark edgier look which is why I made her the softer wedding look. Well as soft as a Pennywise inspired makeup could be. Katya is a great friend and even if she wasn’t into the idea (which she was) she’d be down. I have done darker looks with Katya before and I knew she would kill it. Kenyatta with her her big eyes I knew she’d be perfect for a bright colorful look.

 Katya Estes

Katya Estes

Wheels were set in motion and I was excited. A little more than a week before the shoot Danny posted a photo of himself where he did a light test mimicking the lighting they used in Blade Runner to denote the replicants.  It basically forces red eye and makes the eyes glow amber. I thought it could mimic the Deadlights which are prominent in IT. I asked Danny if he would be down to give it a shot on this and in Danny fashion he was more than happy to. Knowing that this would be an interesting shoot I asked my buddy Louis Bowman if he would come shoot behind the scenes footage. He is great at filming and editing and being into horror himself I thought he’d be perfect.

 Losers Club   

Losers Club

 

The morning of the shoot Louis and I got there first and started blowing up balloons for the back drop until the first model showed up. Amanda showed up first and I made a template for the curled up smile on her face. I knew symmetry would be key with this look and eyeballing it wasn’t going to be an option. Luckily the template turned out to be one size fits all. With the amazing hair that Michelle was doing and the kick ass collars that Kristina had made I knew I had to turn in some good work. Katya was the first model completed in hair and makeup. Danny photographed here while we worked on Amanda and Kenyatta. He came over to show us a few of the shots and I was blown away. The lighting trick in the eyes worked perfectly. Everyone did a kick ass job making this vision happen and I am humbled to have been a part of such a talented team. I am so excited and proud with this shoot. This was truly all about team work. I think Stephen King would be proud.

http://www.dannypa.com/

https://www.kilikacouture.com/

Days of the Dead SFX Makeup Challenge

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I like doing things that challenge me as an artist. I feel like every challenge is a lesson. Win or lose you should learn something. I cannot remember how I came across it but I saw Days of the Dead was doing a Special Effects makeup challenge. Days of the Dead (DOTD) is a horror convention. I had never been before but I was extremely interested. I contacted the promoter Chris Blair, of the SFX Makeup Challenge and it turned out there was no entry fee. With that said you had to submit a portfolio and they would pick the best four artists to compete. I submitted my portfolio and hoped for the best.

 Photo By Jeri Mize

Photo By Jeri Mize

Weeks later Chris Blair contacted me and let me know I was one of the four artists that made the cut. That’s when the anxiety kicked in. There is a good and bad thing about this competition and they are both the same thing. No matter how much money and equipment you have or don’t have doesn’t matter. The playing field is evened with one box. Every artist gets one box full of odds and ends you could find around your house and that’s it. The kicker is you have no idea what you have until you are on stage and the hour timer starts. Only then can you open your box which is the bad thing. Well not bad I guess, Just extremely challenging. I liked to go into a competition having a plan. Everyone gets the same items in their box that Chris lovingly calls his box of fuckery. The competition is described as Face Off meets the cooking show Chopped.

 Photo by Jeri Mize

Photo by Jeri Mize

Chris later told us we could bring one item, but just one. Airbrush was a no go because it’s technically three things; the airbrush, the hose and the compressor. With that said even if I could have brought it there would have been no makeup in the box to use with it more than likely. I also had thought of a Ben Nye color wheel but later found out that multiple colors weren’t allowed. Coming from doing beauty makeup and knowing I was going to bring model and fellow makeup artist Rebecca Rhodes as my subject I would be able to make an attractive monster. I decided to go with my dual sided domed foundation brush from Crown. I didn’t know if there would be any color makeup or anything in the box but if there was this tool would be invaluable. Fast forward through the weeks of trying to plan for something you can’t plan for and second guessing myself. I went back and forth on my one item. I thought of everything from skin adhesives, gel blood, or even just a black Mehron Paradise paint. I always went back to my first instinct with the dual sided brush.

 Photo By Jeri Mize

Photo By Jeri Mize

The morning of the competition came and my friend and fellow artist Kelsey and I grabbed some breakfast before we hit the convention. Since the competition wasn’t until 6pm we had plenty of time to look around. There were a ton of awesome vendors and some really cool celebrities ranging from Gary Busey, Bill Mosely, Lisa Marie, Eddie Hudson etc. There was one celebrity that really surprised me. As I was walking around I looked up and there was David Naughton from American Werewolf in London. I was taken aback a bit because before Kelsey and I met up I had watched American Werewolf in London that morning to get me in the mood for the challenge. It has a lot of really cool makeups and the best werewolf transformation scene ever. We talked with him a bit and I told him how I had just watched his movie and that him being here had to be a good sign.

 Photo By Jeri Mize

Photo By Jeri Mize

Just before the competition Mr. Blair in his storm trooper suit briefed us a bit. When I say storm trooper suit, I mean a suit with a with a storm trooper pattern not the armor. As he announced the artists they walked out on stage and the anticipation built. I was the last artist called to the stage and saw the box just sitting there on the table mocking me. As the timer started we all tore into our boxes. It was about 90% miscellaneous stuff and 10% makeup. There was everything from Vaseline, school glue, fake fur, glitter glue, tampons, latex, a cheap makeup kit you’d find in the Halloween section at your local grocery store, cherry jello, a prosthetic face, etc. I unpacked my box and it looked like a junk drawer had exploded.

 Photo By Jeri Mize

Photo By Jeri Mize

Looking at the given materials I had to make a decision fast. There were a few things that stuck out to me; The prosthetic face, the cheap makeup, the tampons and a few other odds and ends. I quickly decided I would do a Lost Boys and the Craft crossover.  I ripped off the top part of the prosthetic face to give her a furrowed brow. This was before I realized there was a pair of school scissors in the box. Not that I could have made the edge much cleaner had I cut it. I then shredded one of the tampons to use with the latex to blend the edges as best I could. Once that was on it was on to painting which is where my one tool came in handy. The makeup given was terrible but I was able to make it work basing her out in white and then contouring with reds, purples and black. I made sure to move from light to dark since the only way I had of cleaning color out of my brush was a dry paper towel. I also used a strange glitter gel that was in a ketchup type packet as highlighter.  Once makeup was where I wanted it I mixed some water with the cherry jello and dipped the remaining tampon in to make a kind of tampon lollipop. Since I had no fangs to use the idea was that she got sustenance from bloody tampons. I know it’s gross but it’s a horror convention after all. I stepped back and knew if I kept working on it I would just mess it up so I finished 5-10 minutes early.

 Photo By Jeri Mize

Photo By Jeri Mize

I came in second place behind SFX Artist Scott Thieman whose “V” inspired makeup took first place.  Kelsey Eisenhut and Tiffany Age also did impressive makeups given the time and materials. I am very happy with the makeup I did given what I had and I wouldn’t change it. If I am being honest I was upset that I didn’t take first place. That is not to say that Scott didn’t deserve first place because he did. I wasn’t really concerned with the prizes I just wanted to win. Looking back I had a great day at the convention and got to hang out and compete with one of my best friends. The lesson I learned was being happy with what I had done and just trying harder next time. All said and done seeing as how you had to be chosen to be a part of the competition in the first place we were all winners.

 Photo By Jeri Mize

Photo By Jeri Mize

Apotheosis

Apotheosis: noun, plural apotheoses [uh-poth-ee-oh-seez, ap-uh-thee-uh-seez] (Show IPA) 1. the elevation or exaltation of a person to the rank of a god.

You never know where the next great thing or opportunity will come from. Jennifer Hall Burris, aka: Crown Vox found me over a year ago on Facebook and I had no idea it would lead to us working together and more importantly a friendship. Not knowing right away who she was or what she did I looked through her photos and loved what I saw. The imagery was beautifully dark and in a strangely whimsical. She didn’t say right off but through talking with her I learned she was a musician. With as nice as she was, and such cool imagery I didn’t hold out much hope for her music. Looking back I don’t know why. I guess I just figured with everything I knew of her up to that point, her being so down to earth, all the cool imagery, messaging me out of the blue, that me liking her music would be too good to be true. I guess I felt that maybe it was an over compensation for her music not being that great.

I could not have been more wrong. Turns out she was the total package. I loved how the music matched up with the imagery I had seen. I was so impressed and so honored that she reached out to me. I knew I had to work with her but she lived in Memphis TN which is about a six hour drive away from where I live in Louisville KY. I figured it would be one of those things we would talk about but that it would never actually happen. Most of our conversations had me traveling to Memphis for a photo-shoot we just never got it off the ground.

After almost a year of talking about working together it seemed like it was actually finally going to happen and Jenn was going to come to Louisville with her husband Michael. I’m not kidding when I say that Jenn and Michael look like a couple you would use to sell picture frames.  With that said I had to get a team together. The first person I contacted was photographer Steve Squall. I knew with his style and creativity we would come up with something great. Steve went to the Crown Vox website and read the bio. In there he read “She’s (Crown Vox) an unlikely undead heroine: one-time royalty whose tragic existence ended when she was burned to death at the hands of a lover, chosen to spend eternity fighting against forces of injustice and inhumanity in the living realm. “She asks the Creator of All if she will need a weapon,” Burris explains. “And the Creator of All says, You may use your voice.’” This was the story of how Jenn’s stage persona came to be.

Steve wanted to have her rebirth story as our concept. We would start with her burned to a cinder and progress to that charred shell cracking away to reveal her as a golden goddess. Jenn loved the idea so we started talking about images and scheduling. Jenn looked through my Instagram and saw a makeup I had done for one of Frances Lewis’s runway pieces. She really wanted to use that piece for one of the shots. I contacted Frances and she still had it and said we could use it. Not only that,  but Frances made an amazing crown for the shoot. With a hair piece by Memphis stylist Faizah Husniyah our team was set, or so I thought. With everything we had going on I thought it would be really cool to have some behind the scenes documentation. I contacted good friend and photographer Hunter Zieske. I knew Hunter would do a great job plus he is awesome all around to just have on set.

I knew makeup wise that starting with our Golden Goddess look and building on top of that would just make more sense logistically. I could build the paint on top of the gold and build the look. If we started with image one, “the burnt cinder look” Jenn would have to shower between each look. We shot around a house in the middle of nowhere owned by probably the coolest couple I have ever met named Tom and Sheila. When we finished the shoot after working on it the whole day Tom and Sheila poured us a drink. That turned into our glasses not being empty for hours. We just hung out and talked about everything from Art to traveling the world. It was such a great rewarding day. Steve did not disappoint with the final product. When we got the images back we were all blown away with them. They hit the perfect tone of being beutifuly haunting. All in all this was a great experience; this is what making art is all about.

The Crown Vox Experience

A little over a year ago I got a friend request on Facebook. As I do with all friend requests to weed out spam accounts I messaged them and asked if we had ever met. They told me that they liked my work and that someday they would like to work together.  Her name is Jennifer Burris, also known as Crown Vox which is her stage persona.  I had been contacted by musicians and other performers before and it never really pans out so I didn’t really give it a second thought at first.

I looked through her promotional type photos and they really fit with the aesthetic I like. I then listened to her music and I was blown away. I can’t describe the music other than to say it has a dark ethereal quality to it and fit the imagery perfectly. I knew then I had to do her makeup. With her living so far away I didn’t think it would ever really happen. I maintained communication just in case she came through on tour we could set something up.

When we finally got a chance to work together nearly a year to the day after our first contact she told me about her up coming launch show The Crown Vox Experience. She described it as an all immersive experience with dancers, models, fashion, and artists. It sounded so cool and I really just wanted to see the spectacle. I jokingly asked if she had anyone to do makeup for the event. Not that I thought I would be able to do it anyhow considering the distance. She told me she already had someone which I kind of figured anyhow. We finished up the shoot and hung out and drank bourbon because when you’re in Kentucky that’s what you do.

About a month or so after the shoot, Jennifer asked if she could call me. I was afraid she wanted to talk about not liking the photos from our shoot. I told her I could call her that evening and I was anticipating the worst. Later that evening I called her and she asked if I wanted to come to do the makeup for her launch show; The Crown Vox Experience. I don’t know if I even let her get the full sentence out before I said yes.

I would not only be doing her makeup but the makeup for all six of the models plus a live body paint on a hoop dancer. That’s a lot of makeup to do in one day but I take all challenges. We talked about different looks. Some of the looks were super dramatic with different styles of Blade Runner (Pris) esque makeups. Knowing all of my makeup would have to be able to fit in a carry on luckily we went with a simplified look. We decided on a reddish smoky eye and a more muted lip with contour and gold highlight. I would add gold flake and a darker defined lip to Jennifer’s Crown Vox Look. Jennifer said she would leave the body paint up to me which I was excited about.

I Stripped out my smallest kit and rebuilt it for the show looks so it would fit as a carry on because I didn’t trust checking my makeup. After going through TSA and getting felt up pretty good I was on my way to Memphis, with a stop in Atlanta which is where I ran into an issue. I was flying standby and as it turns out it was the start of Elvis week in Memphis. Needless to say I got bumped. Jennifer’s husband Michael who arranged my travel was afraid if I waited to catch a flight in the morning and I got bumped again I wouldn’t make it in time and we couldn't risk that. There is a lot more to this part of the story but I got a rental car at 11pm and started my six hour drive to Memphis.

After a couple hours of sleep it was time to wake up and get my bearings before starting makeup at noon. I set up a makeup station to get myself ready for what I assumed would be a melee of makeup. People started trickling in to get there makeup done. Knowing I had a ton of work ahead of me Jennifer got an assistant for me for the day named Meredith Shaw. I can be a bit of a control freak and have rarely ever had an assistant. However I knew this would be too much for me to handle on my own and maintain quality work. I had Meredith start applying foundation to the models so I could focus on the eyes, lips, contour and highlight. Having Meredith there proved to be very valuable. She did a great job and I would work with her again.

After I finished up Jennifer’s makeup last I packed up my kit and headed over to the venue. The event was being held at the historic and amazing Clayborn Temple. It was a beautifully interesting place and perfect for the feel of this show. It was ornate but in disrepair in spots which made it that much cooler looking and fitting. I wanted the body paint to tie into Crown Vox and the space so I decided to do a half skull on her face like in the Crown Vox logo. I then wanted some refined gold geometric shaped surrounded by chaos.

Jennifer set me up right in the middle so I would be the first thing people saw when they walked in. The clock struck eight and the doors opened with the opening act Epps Music performing which was amazing and kind of reminded me of Coco Rosie. Ellen Phillips, the hoop dancer I was painting kind gave each other a look as if to say “here we go” as people poured in around us and I continued painting. I was very happy with the way she turned out and I felt it really fit the vibe of the show.

The models were stationed almost as guards around the venue in designs by the amazing Siss Viss and hair done by Laveau hair studio.  The clothing designs fit the feel of the venue and show perfectly and really transported you into another place. Jennifer aka Crown Vox started her performance in the balcony behind and above the audience. With her beautiful voice filling the temple she strolled along to the stage in a beautifully designed dress by Siss Viss with a crown by Louisville Designer Frances Lewis helping set the mood. As she sang the models stood in formation in balconies in eye sight looking over the audience. I haven’t seen a concert like this ever because the Crown Vox Experience was so much more than just a concert.

I am so happy I got to be a part of this. Watching my body paint perform and my makeups add to the overall feel of the experience was amazing and so fulfilling. I guess the main take away from this is just because something doesn’t happen right away doesn’t mean it won’t. If you are patient sometimes things pay off far better than you could have ever expected. I met so many cool people and I really hope to do this again sometime.

Twin Cheeks

A handful of makeup artists and me do these makeup challenges. There are no winners and no losers just creativity and art. We get an inspiration image and then we have just under a week to produce something cool inspired by it. We haven’t done a makeup challenge in a while so when I was told we were going to do a new one I was torn because I never back down from a challenge. With that said I was so busy this time around that I didn’t think I would have time. It has happened before where I said I was too busy but the inspiration image was just too cool I did it anyhow. I had no intentions in participating regardless of how cool I thought the inspiration image was.

 Last November I did makeup for a fashion show and two of the models walking were twins. I didn’t get a chance to talk to them at the time and couldn’t find them on social media so I kind of gave up. The same day I found out we were doing another challenge I just happened across one of the twins and was quickly able to find the other. Their names are Avery and Mallory Grant and they have such a strong look even as single standalone models. The fact there are two of them is just a bonus. As I was talking to the Grant twins the makeup challenge inspiration image was posted. This time around it was actually a picture of a face in abstract makeup. Usually the image isn’t even of a face, let alone distinct makeup. It struck me it would be really cool to do a similar look spanning two identical faces.

 Inspiration Image: Artist Unknown

Inspiration Image: Artist Unknown

With an idea in my head I asked the Grants if they would be interested. Using twins was the only way I was going to do it so if they declined I wasn’t going to participate. As I say that but I probably still would have. It wouldn’t be a makeup challenge without my good buddy Danny Alexander shooting it so I asked if would. Lucky for me he said yes and with that I had a great team of people and it was a go.

I did a pretty basic beauty makeup on Avery and Mallory. It was interesting to do the makeup and then turning around and doing the same makeup on the same contours and everything. My plan for a pose was them standing hip to hip with their faces looking somewhat towards each other at a 45 degree angle to get a three quarter look at opposing sides of their faces. I had them stand together so I could get the composition of the abstract portion to plow from one face to another.

 Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Getting them in front of the camera in the pose was a different story. In that pose there was just too much space between the faces. We had the sisters get uncomfortably close but the gap still took you out of it. To Danny’s credit he suggested a pose where Mallory would be in profile and Avery would be behind her looking straight on as her sister’s face intersected her. I had the models stand in position and tweaked the abstract portion a bit to maintain the flow. Then when they got in front of the camera it just clicked, pardon the pun.

I love all of the makeup challenged we have done together but this may be my favorite. I almost counted myself out of this one and I am so glad I didn’t. Just because you are busy doesn’t mean you can’t carve out time for the things you love.

 Me with Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Me with Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Ghouble Gum

In this industry making good connections is so important and more often than not leads to other opportunities. I did makeup on a fashion photo shoot with an amazing team a while back in Louisville, ky. Like me, our model Melanie Smith is a makeup artist in a haunted attraction. Her makeup manager at her haunt is none other than Aryn Fox from Skin Wars. I was happy to just be doing beauty makeup on Melanie because I don’t feel my body paint is anywhere near as good as Aryn’s work. Granted her style of body paint is just a different style than mine. She is definitely an artist I look up to though.

Towards the end of the shoot Melanie told me about this Gallery Hop that was happening in Lexington, Ky. Three O Studio was doing a nude photography exhibit and wanted to do something a little different to bring people in. They thought a live body painting would go well with the photos they were displaying. Melanie asked if I would be interested in doing the body paint. I don’t know if she waited until meeting me and working with me to ask and see if we got along first or it had just slipped her mind up to that point. I wouldn’t blame her for either. Her having worked with an amazing talent like Aryn Fox was definitely intimidating. With that said painting for a live audience was intriguing.

“I’ve been a body paint model numerous times, and most of them have been live paints. So walking into the studio, knowing that people would be stairing at me during the entire process, was just like another day at work for me. I had also worked with Matt before so I knew we would have a blast.” -Melanie Smith

 Photo By Jim Calabrese

Photo By Jim Calabrese

After talking to Bill Cole the organizer I accepted the job. Other than doing the body paint live there was a huge catch. We wanted photographers in attendance to be able to have some time to shoot the final piece. In doing so I would only have about two and a half hours to complete the body paint live all the while people talking to me and asking me questions. I like a good challenge but I felt I had bit off a bit more than I could chew. I have felt that way before though and I have yet to not have it turn out well.

I was given free reign to paint whatever subject matter I pleased. Being given creative freedom was another reason I was interested in this job. I decided I would go with something abstract. It would be simple yet dynamic. With it being abstract no one would be able to see if anything was wrong because there would be no frame of reference.  Not to mention if I screwed up at all I could work it into the finished work. Plus I love doing more abstract type work so I saw it as a win win.

Two days before the event I was sitting on my couch and I just started flipping through a coffee table book I have “Goth-Icky”. It’s a picture book filled with retro pop art Halloween designs by Charles S. Anderson Design Company. If you are a fan of Halloween I highly recommend it. Looking through the art work in the book it struck me. My model Melanie and I both love Halloween and doing something in that theme would be really cool. When I was painting more canvas I did a lot of cell shaded type pop art zombies and monsters so I was excited.

Since it was so late when the pop Halloween idea struck me I slept on it. The next day I starting sketching it out with a yellow high lighter and then refined the sketches with black marker. I would then run the sketches through a copy machine which would not copy the highlighter and leave me with just the black. I just kept doing that process until I got it right. Given the subject matter I knew people would expect more Halloween horror type colors like oranges, reds, purples, blacks and greys. I love all those colors and they were all my first instinct as well so that is exactly why I didn’t want to do it. I chose a kind of bubble gum and cotton candy color scheme using pinks and blues.

Pinks and blues aren’t typically a pallet I work with so I was hoping it would look cool because I had not sketched it out in full color. I talked it over with Melanie when she showed up to the event and she was totally game.

“I loved the concept Matt had come up with. We both work at different haunted houses and have a general love for all things creepy and Halloween. So when he explained we would be doing a vampire-esque paint I was all for it.” –Melanie Smith

 Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Melanie is so easy going I think I could have told her I was going to paint her like a farm animal and she would have been game. I didn't want to use a stencil so I took my drawing of the head which was the right size for her body and I poked some holes in it. I poked the holes in the eyes, the teeth and the windows of the castle.  I then placed it on her where I wanted it and painted through the holes on to her giving myself guidelines. Starting with the white and working my way to using the black last was strange in front of a live audience. I knew that the black paint at the end is what was going to pull it all together but the on lookers didn’t know that. It did bother me a little bit when people would show up and leave only seeing the white, blue and pink blobbed on before it really looked like anything. I was very happy with the finished piece and wish the people that left early would have stayed to see it.

 

 Photo By Jim Calabrese

Photo By Jim Calabrese

“I love modeling paint because I am able to bring life to someone’s work. These artists spend hours on each paint, so I want to be sure to represent that character or theme to the best of my ability. But what was so cool about this paint was that it was already me. This piece had “me” written all over it: from the colors, to the design, to the crazy wild hair. It was so much fun to bring out that side of myself!” –Melanie Smith

 Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

 Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

 I felt it very much fit my personality andMelanie’s as well. She seemed to really like the final look which is what I was going for. I knew if she was happy with it having worked with great artists before me I knew I had done a good job.

Every opportunity no matter how big or small can lead to your next great thing. Weather that opportunity be creative freedom, money, fulfillment or whatever just keep pushing forward. I’m not saying do things you have no interest in but do things out of your comfort zone that challenge and scare you. If you don’t learn or take something away from every gig you do you’re not paying attention.

 Photo By Jim Calabrese

Photo By Jim Calabrese

Coming Clean

This is the third of the makeup challenges that Bethany Hood has given her fellow makeup artist friends. The image this time was picked by designer Gunnar Detherage. Knowing what I know of his style I didn’t expect so many bright, almost neon colors. I have enjoyed these challenges so far so I thought I would give this one a shot. I contacted a model for the shoot and my good friend and photographer Danny Alexander and wheels were set in motion. Now I just needed to settle on an idea. With all of the colors and textures I had a few concepts rolling around in my head.

An hour or so before the makeup application and shoot the model messaged me and after some texts back and forth we determined that she would not be able to make the shoot. The image had to be done by the next day so there was no time to reschedule. There was also no time to find a replacement model. I was scrambling trying to think of what to do. Instead of canceling and I decided to shave my face and chest and do the makeup on myself. I’m no model but that's why it's called a challenge.

I know it is strange for a makeup artist but not only do I not wear makeup but I hate wearing it. I think it goes back to when I was a kid. I had really bad acne and was embarrassed by it. One day I decided to hide it and use some of my mom’s makeup. I covered up all the redness with some of her Covergirl concealer and a powder compact. I didn’t like the way it felt on my skin but I thought it looked better than all of my blemishes. It was like I had discovered a magic trick. This went on for several weeks at least if not much longer. It was over the summer when I started so I didn’t have to worry about the other kids at school.  I thought it was working and no one was noticing.

 I don’t know why I didn’t think the other kids wouldn’t notice when school started because they most definitely did. I denied it until I was blue in the face but after another kid snatched off my baseball hat the makeup ring in the inner band was a dead giveaway. I never fessed up and they knew I was lying. I knew they knew I was lying but I couldn’t come clean. I gradually stepped it down because I didn’t want to be obvious. Eventually I stopped wearing it and soon the kids moved on to something else. I should have come clean and owned it. With that said, kids that age will make up reasons to pick on each other and I didn’t want to give them any more ammunition. I walked on eggshells and probably joined in on picking on others to deflect attention from myself which just made me feel worse.

Three schools, two states and several years later doing a play in high school we had to wear makeup. I was the only guy in the production that had any knowledge of how to apply foundation. I ended up helping all of the other guys in the play and was appreciated for it. When asked how I kind of knew what I was doing I chalked it up to the fact that I took art and painted as well. Part of me knew it was because I wore my mom’s makeup when I was 11 or 12. To a bunch of drama kids me wearing makeup when I was in middle school would have just been another story about how we were all “outsiders” and it would have been expected and embraced. It would have been the perfect opportunity to come clean and bond with my fellow actors but I didn’t. Even as an adult doing makeup I’ve still never shared this story with anyone. This is the first time I have really come clean about it so if you are reading this blog, now you know.

Back to the subject at hand; I explained to Danny how we no longer had a model and I would be doing my own makeup. Danny wasn't phased by the change and didn’t miss a beat. I changed a few things to make it fit my face a bit better. I decided to throw in some contacts and the makeup went from pretty to creepy really quick. I still don’t like wearing makeup but I am happy with the way this one worked out. The most important thing I hope you take away from reading this is just be you. Don’t care what others think and own who you are. Chances are someone is going through something similar and can relate. I know that’s easy for me to say now but had I listened to this advice as a kid maybe I would be a lot further along than I am in a career in makeup. Support your passions and surround yourself with others that support them as well.

Danny Alexander: http://www.dannypa.com/

https://www.crownbrush.com/

https://www.wonderbandsystems.com/