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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.