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.

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

Transworld HAAS 2017

I had been excited for Transworld ( http://www.haashow.com ) since we wrapped our Halloween season at the Devil's Attic. ( http://thedevilsattic.com ). For those of you that don't know Transworld HAAS is the largest Halloween and haunted house convention in America and it is located in Saint Louis. You see some amazingly creative macabre things. There is tons of stuff to buy from vendors from all across the country for your haunted attraction in one place.  If you just look around and use your imagination there is a lot of things to just be inspired by. I was talking with Michael Book who owns Louisville Halloween (  http://www.louisvillehalloween.com ) and Danger Run ( http://www.dangerrun.com ) about going to the trade show. Knowing how much I love European Body Art he suggested I ask them if they would want me to do a demo for them.

I kind of laughed it off because I know the caliber of artists they generally have at these types of things. Last year they had Nix Herrera and RJ Haddy. If you aren't familiar with them do yourself a favor and look them up. Both of them are amazing artists and competed on Face Off. I have followed them both and lets just say I am a fan. The more I sat on it the more I thought "All they can do is say no". I reached out to the sales rep Alden I work with at EBA expecting him to tell me that they have it covered.

Alden messaged me back telling me that the only artist they had this year was Nix and that he could probably use me for me for a demo. I was blown away, Not only would I get to do a demo, but I would be one of only two artists doing demos for them, the other being Nix Herrera.

Excitement changed to fear very quickly. I have never backed down from a challenge though, especially when I put myself in the situation in the first place. When opportunity knocks you answer and hopefully you can rise to the occasion. the first thing I did when I arrived in Saint Louis before I even unpacked my gear was head over to the convention center. I wanted to get a feel for the show because I still didn't know what I was going to do. I thought stopping by and seeing what Nix was up to would be a good idea.

Nix Herrera and I

Nix Herrera and I

Nix was doing some amazing stuff as I knew he would. I introduced myself to him and he was so gracious. He had just done an amazing zombie makeup. I kinda laughed and said "Well I guess I can't do a zombie now".  That's when he put me at ease. I can't remember his exact wording but he basically told me to do a zombie if I wanted. that of course our zombies would look different but that wasn't because he was better, but just that we were different artists. For some reason that calmed me down.

I talked to the model/actor I would be working on named Lucas Turner to get a feel for what we could do. Lucas is an actor at a Haunt called Phobius ( http://phobiushaunt.com ) about forty minutes outside of Saint Louis. He was a super nice guy and through talking with him I learned he loved the Joker and zombies. When I suggested I could maybe do a zombie Joker I could tell he was into it and with that said I now had a plan.

 

Me working on Lucas. Photo by Justin Sinkler.

Me working on Lucas. Photo by Justin Sinkler.

So there I was early Sunday morning on the last day of the convention. I had coffee coursing through me as I worked out of Nix's kit with my wonderband strapped on my arm loaded up with brushes from Crew 13 Productions. Once I got started I settled into my zone. I knew I was there to do a makeup. Alden had seen my work and knew what I was capable of. It was at that point I started to have fun with it. 

Me working on Lucas. Photo by Justin Sinkler.

Me working on Lucas. Photo by Justin Sinkler.

It also didn't hurt that talking to Lucas was like talking to an old friend. People were stopping by, buying product and taking photos of me working. it was such a cool experience. to say I love European Body Art is an understatement. it is the only product we use in the Devil's Attic makeup room. Even in the hot days of September our sweatiest actors can't sweat it off. It is just an amazing product and I am so proud I got to do a demo for them.

Of course Harley has to mark her territory.

Of course Harley has to mark her territory.

With Lucas being bald I thought that painted on hair would be something that a bald Joker would do as part of his makeup routine.

With Lucas being bald I thought that painted on hair would be something that a bald Joker would do as part of his makeup routine.

Needless to say Transworld was a great success! I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I was able to meet a ton of makeup artists that I admire. I could list them off but it would sound like name dropping. my final note would be to never count yourself out, never think you aren't good enough. You will never know if you don't ask and if they say yes it is your job to surpass expectations.

 

https://www.europeanbodyart.com/

https://www.wonderbandsystems.com/

https://www.crew13productions.com/