New Branding

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As an artist, knowing who you are is important. it helps you hone in on your vision and create things in your voice. Finding that voice takes a while sometimes but once you do people will start to see your vision and it will become your brand. Branding isn't always about your logo but a good logo can go a long way.

 

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When I first started makeup 5 years ago let's be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I really wanted to push the idea that my focus was special effects and pay homage to the old school. Jeremy Richie ( https://dribbble.com/jeremyrichie ) designed me an amazing logo. I told him I wanted it  to look like a silent film card.  They would use these cards to give titles and dialogues between scenes. It made me think of Lon Chaney who was an actor that always did his own monster makeups during the silent film era in movies like "Phantom of the Opera", "Hunchback of Notre Dame", "London After Midnight", etc. The amazing logo Jeremy came up with mirrored that perfectly and served me well but as I grew into other styles of makeup it started to not make sense for what I was doing and the direction I wanted to move.

 

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I downloaded some applications on my phone and worked up a logo that I thought would work as an umbrella for all the different types of makeup I wanted to do. I wanted something that when you saw it you knew from it's configuration it was mine. I remember hearing Stan Lee say that a good comic book character was recognizable even in just a silhouette which I thought worked for logo’s text as well, like Metallica, Marvel, and Vans to name a few. Basically something that you could plug different letters into and parody but it still looks the same and recognizable. I finally got it close to where I wanted it but having made it on my phone it looked a bit rough. My good buddy Antonio Pantoja ( https://www.antoniopantoja.com/ ) offered to help me clean it up. He suggested a few changes in the font of the word "Makeup" which was originally cursive and we dropped the word artist. It was clean and concise and worked for really any type makeup I was doing and I can’t thank Antonio enough for helping me fix it up.

Photo By Danny Alexander

Photo By Danny Alexander

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After spending 3 years with that logo as awesome as I still think it is it didn't really speak to who I was. This was no one’s fault but my own. I had wanted a brand that was palatable to all and didn't really think about it saying anything about me as an artist. Antonio had done an amazing job helping me sharpen it all up and refining the branding. At the time we made it I just wanted a catch-all logo that covered all the bases. I had no idea how to make a logo or branding that spoke to who I was. Starting from scratch the elements I wanted added were all over the place. They were everywhere from ravens, to David Bowing. I also knew I wanted something that would work independently of my name like a symbol similar to Nike's Swoosh or the McDonald's Arches.

Photo by Donovan Cole  Models, Myself and Olivia Duff  Styled by Andie Kaye

Photo by Donovan Cole

Models, Myself and Olivia Duff

Styled by Andie Kaye

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No, I am not comparing myself to huge companies like that but I just feel like my name can be a bit clunky and wanted something that could maybe stand alone from my name. I knew I was asking a lot of my Friend Matt Niehoff of ThoughtFly ( https://www.thoughtflystudios.com/ ) who agreed to help me. He would send me some designs and I would send some notes back. I felt like I was being way to picky because everything he sent me was great. He invited me into his studio where we could work on it together. When I walked in there it was, up on his monitor. Not exactly what we ended up with but pretty close. We tweaked the Bowie inspired lightning bolt and he gave it some feathery brush strokes on one side which not only brought in the raven in a way but my style of painting. Hard lined and graphic makeup on one side mixed with loose brush strokes, It was perfect.

Photo by Danny Alexander  Models Mallory and Avery Grant

Photo by Danny Alexander

Models Mallory and Avery Grant

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There are so many Matt's (2 in this blog alone) so we also decided to drop off my first name. I am so happy with how this new logo looks and have the different ways in which it can be displayed. I am stoked to have a clean concise logo that I can look at that I can use across SFX, beauty, fashion, runway, body paint, etc. and still see elements of myself within the logo. I can’t thank Matt Niehoff enough for putting up with my insane artist mind and helping me create a brand identity.

Photo by Donovan Cole  Model Moriyah McShane

Photo by Donovan Cole

Model Moriyah McShane

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Spider-Gwen

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Sometimes things do not go as planned and you have to play the hand that you are dealt. Months ago I took a meeting with a promoter of sorts. They wanted me to do a makeup exhibition showcasing makeup and body paints by me as part of a bigger convention. I was excited about the venue and the idea but scared at the same time. I was expecting them to want me to curate a show of like-minded artists which I suggested but they only wanted me. The fear was if it wasn’t good it would all be on me, but that was also kind of the fun part. I was going to have to fill a 30 minute runway show with only makeups and body paints by me. It was going to be a lot of work but I thought with the abstract style I sometimes like to work in I could make it work. I was going to call it the “Corvin Arts” which is a surname based on the Latin word Corvus meaning Raven if that gives you an idea of the feel I was going for.

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I don’t like to waste time on these things so I started planning immediately. I cast all of my models and even a stage manager. I wanted a very dark vibe so I was working with a DJ to put music together that would fit the feel I was going for. I even planned on doing a very quick, choreographed and abstract 10 minute body paint as part of the runway show. It was all coming together. I contacted the promoter about advertising for the show since there was a month to go before the event only to find out the date and venue were changing. Not only did the possible dates they were looking at not work for me but things were just to up in the air for me to stay the course. I wished them luck and I pulled out of doing the show. If things were going to go bad I didn’t want my name attached or string along the amazing team I had put together.

Needless to say I was bummed. I messaged my team and told them the show was off. Not only was I embarrassed but I was upset that this vision I had built up in my head may never see the light of day. Luckily they all understood. One of my body paint models, Melanie Smith messaged me outside of our group chat. She knew I was bummed out and had seen on Instagram that I had wanted to do some more super hero type body paints. Comic book character body paints couldn’t have been further from what I was planning for Corvin Arts but still something I wanted to do. The first time I worked with Mel was on a fashion photo-shoot about a year ago and she had mentioned wanting to do a Spider-Man body paint at that time. When I asked her this time what super hero she was thinking of she said “Spider-Gwen”. I honestly had no idea who that character was but upon looking it up I loved the color scheme. Spider-Gwen is the alter ego of Gwen Stacy in an alternate universe where she is bitten by the radioactive spider and not Peter Parker. I had actually done a “bubble gum Vampire/Ghoul” themed body paint on Mel before in close to the same color scheme and even used spider webs.

Photo by Dusty Dunaway

Photo by Dusty Dunaway

We decided to do it on the same date the Corvin Arts show was scheduled. I was excited and I started planning right away. I thought how cool would it be to if I had Alexandra Lee ( https://www.alexandraleestudios.com/ ), the best cosplay photographer around to photograph this body paint. I had wanted to work with Alex for a while so when she said yes I knew we had to make this big. Even though my show was canceled I thought we could make this an event of its own. I decided to stop into the Destination Comics ( http://www.destinationcomics.com/ ). They have a really nice sized room in the back that they use for gaming that I thought would be perfect for painting. When I mentioned the idea to the owner Brian he jumped all over it having seen my Venom body paint with Rebecca Rhodes as the model and Danny Alexander as the photographer ( http://mattgoodlettmakeup.com/blog/2018/5/25/venomiss ). Going from painting such at dark “Spider-Verse” character such as venom to some something as bright as Spider-Gwen was exciting.

Photo by Danny Alexander

Photo by Danny Alexander

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Mel has short brown hair and I knew we would need a wig. I contacted my hair stylist friend and the best wig guy I know Matthew Tyldsley to see if he had something that would work. Mel and Gwen both have blue eyes but I wanted it to be over the top blue like in the comics. Primal ( https://us.primalcontactlenses.com/ ) makes these great blue lenses called “Captain Superhero” that I knew would be perfect which they agreed to send me. While I was at it I thought I’d push my luck  and see if my friends at EBA Performance Makeup ( http://www.europeanbodyart.com/professional-makeup/ ) would be interested in being part of this. They offered to send me some paints and with that I was set.

I started looking around and I was finding different suit designs. They all had spider webbing but none had a spider on them which was kind of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, there is no spider on her suit in the comics but it just looked a little simple for a body paint. I was lucky enough to come across a design that was drawn by an artist that never appeared in the comics. Miguel Mercado ( IG: @merkymerx ) had done this awesome suit design that included a spider spanning the whole chest and back. Miguel does a lot of really cool alternate superhero designs that add a different element but still stay true to the character. His Spider-Gwen design was way more dynamic looking than any of the designs I had seen. I understood it wasn’t cannon but it looked cool. In his drawing you could tell by the face he had designed this look for Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy character from the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movie. Matthew Tyldley even cut and styled the wig in accordance with Miguel’s sketch.

Miguel Mercado’s Design

Miguel Mercado’s Design

I started by doing a fairly simple beauty makeup on Mel. I put white in her waterline to not only to give it a more open look but it would complement the blue contacts and make them pop. Before I started the body paint I airbrushed a tan color in alcohol based makeup to cover her tattoos. I knew I would have a hard time covering her tattoos with just white paint, and the water based makeup wouldn’t be able to wipe away alcohol based paint. I had done a Venom body paint as seen above and the spider across the chest on Miguel’s design had some similar forms. That said there was an extra color to consider which doesn’t sound like a big deal but for my sleep deprived brain it turned out to be. I also wasn’t going to paint the hood which also changed a few things. Instead of their being white above the spider like in the drawing I would bring the purple on the neck down onto the chest to the top of the spider since the hood wasn’t there to break up the white to the neck. Black is always the last color I paint because it will cover anything. I wanted to start with the white so I was essentially painting the spider in reverse. For whatever reason painting the negative space spider in white while conforming it to her body and matching it up with the one on the back which was a different spider design altogether confused me more than it should have. Several times I had to wipe things away and re-sketch things. Once I got the white placed it was fairly smooth sailing, not to say it wasn’t time consuming. The purple got an overlay of fluoro pink airbrush paint with a hexagon stencil to give it that super suit texture. Then on top of that went the blue webbing. Each color got a different stencil overlay to create different fabric textures.

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With all of the little details it took longer than I expected but I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. In Mel’s words, “This body paint was an incredible experience to say the least! I was thrilled that Matt wanted to do Spider-Gwen, as I’m a huge Spider-Verse nerd. That and his superheroe work is incredible, so I knew the paint would turn out perfectly. The whole day was just a fun setting, chatting about comics and superheroes. The body paint was stunning and we had the best photographer for the images. I’m always sad to wash off the body paint after modeling them, but this one was especially hard. Matt captured Spider-Gwen perfectly and I think our rendition of her was spot on. It was a blast bringing her character off the pages of comic books and into real life.”

Photo By Alexandra Lee

Photo By Alexandra Lee

Alex again proved that she is the best cosplay photographer in the region. Mel was the perfect Spider-Gwen and Matthew Tyldley matched the wig perfectly. We could not have had a better team for this photo-shoot. I can’t thank the guys at Destination Comics enough for hosting our craziness. We are in talks about doing another comic book character body paint at their shop and I can’t wait! Until then I hope you all enjoy this body paint as much as we do.

Photo By Alexandra Lee

Photo By Alexandra Lee

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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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.

Marvel Comics

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.” 

Marvel Comics

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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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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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.

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

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/

Mandarin Duck Challenge

As a way to help bring our artistic community together fellow makeup artist Bethany Hood decided to have a challenge. There were no winners and no losers.  This was just be a great way for people to show off their talent and creativity.  Bethany had an outside source pick an image that we would all have to use as inspiration and design our looks around.

The image that was picked was of a Mandarin Duck. They look like you gave a coloring book of ducks and a 64 color box of crayons to a kid and said go to town. The colors are so vivid and beautiful and blocked off. I had no idea what I was going to do. All I could see was the duck. I didn’t want to do feathers or anything birdlike, that much I knew. I struggled with it for a few days. I went back to look at the image of the duck and squinted my eyes really hard to try and take the bird out of the equation.

That seemed to do the trick. I decided to do a very abstract piece using as many different brush strokes and colors as were on the duck. Since I have never liked makeup on myself and the only camera I own is my phone I enlisted the help of some friends. I messaged my friend and great photographer Danny Alexander who I knew would capture the makeup the way I wanted. I then messaged my friend and Model Kaylynn Nyree. I felt her face would be beautiful for this look. While doing the makeup I would step back from time to time to make sure the color balance was right. The main thing I took from the duck was the white around the eyes. I thought that would make for a cool aesthetic. Since it was a makeup challenge the only editing I wanted Danny to do was making the sclera of her eyes black.  I was incredibly happy with how it came out.

Seeing all the makeups from all of the other artists was so cool. Everyone did such an amazing job. It was very interesting to see everyone’s interpretation of the same image. I cannot thank Bethany enough for doing something like this. It was such a cool way to bring a community together while fostering creativity.