No Evil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See

Photo: Chelsea Marrin

Model: Katye Estes

Makeup: Myself

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

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

Hear

Photo: Chelsea Marrin

Model: Alex Hepfinger

Makeup: Myself

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

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

Speak

Photo: Chelsea Marrin

Model: Portia Greene

Makeup: Myself

Photographed: 12.30.17
Written 1.8.18

https://www.chelseamarrin.com/

The Crown Vox Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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/

Contentment in Captivity

During Antonio's first photography workshop it was already a thought that we may do them quarterly. After the success of that class it cemented that idea. The first class was a "not so basic" lighting and editing class. We wanted to do something different for the next class, something with a little bit of a "wow" factor.

The idea was to do the hair and makeup, shoot the images, pick the images and then edit them together. That's right, edit them together because the next class would be how to create a composite image. Quite a large scale project to do in a class only three hours in length. We knew we had two models and a mannequin dress form. Antonio knew he wanted one of the models head's on the dress form.

Knowing that it would be silly to just throw a head on the mannequin with no story, we decided to meet over tacos and brainstorm.  The first idea was more for an 80's look. I was excited about doing that makeup and thought it could look really cool. However, the more we talked about it the more it didn't make sense with two models and the composite. In a moment of grasping at straws, I, having worked at a haunted house, blurted out "We could just have one model sewing the other model's head on to the mannequin's torso."

With that, Antonio's eyes lit up. HIs mind is just as twisted as mine and he suggested adding a pigs heart attached with wires to a car battery and the macabre list went on. Needles to say, we scaled back a bit. This completely changed the makeup look that would be needed for the workshop. Joey piped in to say "And Matt can do the severed head makeup." When I rattled off the idea that wasn't something that even crossed my mind. Now I would be doing not one, but two, beauty makeups and a severed head. Oh, and to prove that I am a glutton for punishment, I then suggested adding an eye patch and scar on the model that would be doing the sewing. Managing the makeup and spfx staff for the Devil's Attic haunted house for two years definitely helped in my ability for that amount of makeup application to be completed in such a short amount of time. 

We could have stuck with the 80's makeup but we took a different a route that just seemed to make more sense. We wanted it to have a Frankenstein/Addams Family/Nightmare Before Christmas kinda of feel. Our hair stylist, Michelle, said she was going to make a bride of Frankenstein inspired wig for Katya (our head model). We then brought in Francis Lewis to make a dress for our other model, Alexis, in the style of Wednesday Addams. Knowing we couldn't go with a stock eye patch, I embellished one with hot glue, cut up plastic plates, a plastic skull and black spray paint.

The class went off without a hitch. We had such an amazing team from top to bottom. it was amazing to see it all come together and to work seamlessly in such a short amount of time. Three hours is not a lot of time to accomplish something of this scale. Normally that's how long the hair and makeup alone would have taken for something of this caliber I am super proud of what we accomplished and created, I can't wait for the next one!

Photo: Antonio PantojaAntonio Pantoja - Photography and Cinematography
Makeup/SFX: Matt GoodlettMatt Goodlett, MUA
Hair: Michelle Villareal
Stylist: Frances Lewis
Model: Katya Estes
Model: Alexis Gibson
Hand model: Rachel White
Lighting: Joey Goldsmith
Behind The Scenes: Gary BarraganGary Barragan Photography
Behind The Scenes: Misha Kidwell
Assistant: Justin Sinkler

Special thank you to my sponsors:

Tyler green with Wonderband Systems https://www.wonderbandsystems.com/ - The Wonderband made makeup application so much more efficient. Plus it just looks cool.

Crown Brush https://www.crownbrush.com/ - I can't say enough about this amazing company. They are awesome and their brushes are all I will use now.

European Body Art http://www.europeanbodyart.com/ - By far my favorite makeup for body paint and special effects. Such an amazing product.

Moo. https://www.moo.com/us/ -The only business cards I will carry. The quality is amazing as is the customer service.