Billie Eilish: Team Demon Fabulous Makeup Challenge

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On my friend and team  member's birthday we went out for chips and margaritas. We were  talking about music and about the type of music I had been into lately. I had  been listing to things that were basically pretty dark in subject matter but  that if you didn't really pay attention to the lyrics sounded kind of innocuous.  She lit up and started telling me about Billie Eilish and about how her songs were often beautiful but the lyrical content could be a bit gothic in  nature. When we parted ways that evening I pulled Billie up on Spotify and gave  her a listen on my way home. I really liked the breathiness of her often times  haunting voice and lyrical content.

After listening for a couple days I got this idea.  Team Demon Fabulous, the makeup team from the Devil's Attic ( http://thedevilsattic.com/darknessfalls/ ) hadn't had a makeup  challenge in a while and I thought a Billie Eilish theme would be a good one. I  have always been inspired by music in my art and I wanted to see how the team  would interpret her music. Billie  herself has said she doesn't like to explain her songs too much because she  wants the listener to be able to make up their own narrative which was perfect  for us. The only rule I gave was a time limit and to just be inspired by Billy  Eilish. After issuing the challenge to the team I quickly realized I had no idea  what I was going to do.

The songs I had been listening to I loved but  they didn't speak to me visually. That said I had been listening to the same 5  songs on repeat. I opened up my playlist to all of her music and found my inspiration song  almost immediately. When "All Good Girls go to Hell" came on I knew that was the  inspiration for me. I saw a dark demonic figure plainly standing with a very  sweet and innocent looking girl in my head. I didn't really have more than that though,  but that was enough to get started. The next day scrolling through Instagram it  really all came together.

I saw a painting by an artist named Natalie  Shau titled "Wendigo". The painting was amazing and was a heightened version of  what I already had in my head. I posted the image to my Instagram story simply  saying "Vibes". I didn't want to give to much away as it was for a challenge.  The painting got me thinking about the story of if all, and the seduction of the  devil. The painting "Wendigo" was a good first step but the story needed more.  Days later completely unrelated I came across another image titled "Secret Date"  which played into the whole seduction idea but also the resistance. As it turns  out that painting was also done by Natalie Shau. The third painting I was using  for inspiration was "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. To me that image speaks to  them being equals and living long lives together and embracing the temptation. 

Inspiration image by Natalie Shau "Wendigo",  "Secret Date" and Grant Wood's "American Gothic"

Inspiration image by Natalie Shau "Wendigo",  "Secret Date" and Grant Wood's "American Gothic"

Now I had to build a team for this photo shoot to  create these images. The first person I asked was photographer Donovan Cole. He  shoots a lot of fashion and editorial type stuff and I knew that's how I wanted  these images handled. He is young but has been churning out a lot of amazing  work. Given the demon makeup I knew I'd be doing I didn't want it to look like a  monster photo shoot and a photographer without vision may have taken them in  that direction. I knew Donovan could keep the images on track. I kind of figured  I would be the model for the demon makeup especially since in past challenges  most of the team has been their own models so I figured it was time for me. For the "Good Girl" I needed a model that  could really pull of the sweet and innocent look as well as the demon's equal.  Working on Steve Squall's film "Mujō" I met actress Olivia Duff who plays the  lead Meta in the film. My job when meeting her was to paint tattoos on her that  are specific to the character. I knew she had the perfect look and as an actress  would be able to pull off the story in these photos.

Mujō promo photos by Steve Squall featuring Olivia Duff with Tattoos by me.

Mujō promo photos by Steve Squall featuring Olivia Duff with Tattoos by me.

With my team in place I was ready to get started,  or so I thought. As I was doing makeup for a fashion show designer Andie Kaye  came up to me saying she had seen the Instagram story where I had posted the  "Wendigo" painting and she wanted in on whatever I was doing. I never posted I  was up to anything but somehow Andie knew. When she referred to the image as  Persephone I knew I had to have her involved. In Greek mythology Persephone is  the wife of Hades and they ruled the underworld together. With that I knew Andie  got what we were doing and I brought her on as a stylist.

Before I get into our actual photo shoot lets  look at the amazing work of Team Demon Fabulous;

Being the go getter that she is Kelsey Eisenhut was the the first to turn in her look.  Here is what she had to say about her makeup,  "When Matt announced we would be having another challenge I was so excited. I always love the interpretation aspect of the challenges and I might be the tiniest bit competitive. However, I found myself thrown for a loop when the genre of the challenge was announced. I had no clue who Billie Eilish was, what her music sounded like, what her personal style was, or what she looked like. I have never gone into a challenge before so ill prepared so I found myself in a very uncomfortable position.

My first step was to take a deep dive into the music, videos, and interviews of Billie. As I was researching the other team members were quickly reserving the songs that they were going to base their looks around. Although it is not a rule that two artists cannot use the same inspiration, I like to keep myself away from the pack. All the big hits got scooped up quickly so I found myself going further and further down the rabbit hole until I hit the song “Hostage”.

From the opening scene of the video and the first few beats I knew I had found my inspiration. I listened to the song and watched the video around 40 times over the next two days letting the words, music, and feelings sink in. The song has some obvious visual characteristics called out that I knew I wanted to use, gold leaf and gold fingers, but I also wanted to make it mine. About the 35th time I listened to the song and idea started to form.

The thing I found most striking about the song and video was the internal struggle, a struggle I myself have felt. She describes the struggle to want to love and be loved but in the process being self-destructive by being mean and pushing her lover away. I wanted to create something that at first glance was beautiful but upon further inspection showed signs of a fight. At first look you see the gold and the beauty but if you take a closer look you see the busted lip and the bruised eye.

Although I had no idea who Billie Eilish was coming in to this challenge I dug in deep and found something I could truly feel to create this look. Plus I came out with some great new songs on my Spotify playlist!"

Photo: Gingerkat Photography   Model: Jacy Inskeep  Makep: Kelsey Eisenhut      Lauren Bradley didn't pick a specific song,  well... I'll let her explain, "I was inspired by Billie as a whole for this shoot. these are a few of the photos that turned out. it was done with film so we don’t know what happened to the black and white pics of pancake (the tarantula) on my face. if those didn’t turn out i’m gonna do a different shoot with her bc she deserves to be a star. Danny used expired film for a moody creepy effect and that’s what i was looking for."

Photo: Gingerkat Photography 

Model: Jacy Inskeep

Makep: Kelsey Eisenhut  

Lauren Bradley didn't pick a specific song,  well... I'll let her explain, "I was inspired by Billie as a whole for this shoot. these are a few of the photos that turned out. it was done with film so we don’t know what happened to the black and white pics of pancake (the tarantula) on my face. if those didn’t turn out i’m gonna do a different shoot with her bc she deserves to be a star. Danny used expired film for a moody creepy effect and that’s what i was looking for."

photos by Danny Bloom  Model and Makeup Lauren Bradley  

photos by Danny Bloom

Model and Makeup Lauren Bradley  

 With having a 4 person team of all very busy  individuals it was hard o find a date we were all available. There was literally  one day that we could do the photos on so we got it all pulled together pretty  quickly. We debated on having a floral backdrop for extreme juxtaposition but  decided against it due to it being a bit distracting. Billie uses a lot of flat  color back drops in her music videos so we opted to barrow a nice pink back drop  from my good buddy Danny Alexander. Given the subject matter pink was the  perfect color which also made the blues in the makeup and Olivia's blue eyes  really pop. Andie pulled a few things from her wardrobe for Olivia to wear  including her own prom dress.

Sketchy Tank design 

Sketchy Tank design 

As far as the makeups there is nothing wrong with red devils or demons I just didn't want to do what was expected. I wanted something dark, very dark. The original idea was just to paint myself all black with black contacts, black horns and a black hood. After some thought I just felt that was too much and a lot of the details would be lost. First I scrapped the black hood for a black suit playing off of the phrase "Trust no Suits", based on a Sketchy Tank design meaning to not trust corporations or really anyone in power. I started off applying some Woochie ( https://www.woochie.com/ ) latex horns to my forehead. I still painted my face all black using Woochie water activated makeup as a base. I then airbrushed EBA Performance ( https://performancemakeup.com/ ) makeup starting in purple and then building to the lightest blue before white to give it a glowing effect. I used a chip brush to flick on some EBA alcohol activated makeup from their encore chrome pallet to break up the color and also give it some glints of shine. I used the Anastasia Beverly Hills Aurora high light pallet on the super light points and my horns. I pre-painted my nails the night before using EBA's Autopsy pallet. I applied the nails after my face and neck makeup were completed. I then added wax around the cuticles to give them a more monstrous look.

Prepainted Nails

Prepainted Nails

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I had originally planned on using a pair of  lenses from Primal ( https://us.primalcontactlenses.com/ ) that were mainly black  with some blue accents. with the makeup already being so dark I changed my mind  last minute and went with Primal's White Walker Lenses. The lighter lenses  really popped surrounded by all of the darkness in the makeup. With the way the  makeup seemed to glow the contacts looked amazing and almost took on a glow  like the Night King in Game of Thrones. Ideally I should have done Olivia's  makeup first. Unfortunately Olivia couldn't get to the shoot until a bit later  so waiting to do her makeup first before I did mine would have put us getting  out much later. Due to the timing of everything I had to have all of my makeup  applied before Olivia got there which I'll admit caused a few  issues. Not Olivia's fault at all, this was just the only day we could all make work. Getting us all there around the same time was like threading a needle in a hurricane.

When Olivia arrived I had a bit of a problem  applying the makeup not just because of the nails but the wax around my cuticles. Because of where  my brushes would rest when I used them they kept sticking in the wax. I  couldn't paint the wax yet which would have cut down on the tack due to fear of  transfer of black paint on Olivia's face which was suppose to be a clean look. Looking back I probably should have powdered them. Once I found my grove working with the nails I was able to do a clean  understated makeup. The idea was to make her look very sweet and innocent. I  really wanted to play up the pink blush on her cheeks and even added a bit on  her nose for a bit of whimsy.

Doing Olivia's makeup in nails and wax cuticles.

Doing Olivia's makeup in nails and wax cuticles.

Wearing a white dress shirt the nails caused  another issue. I didn't want to wear the white dress shirt while I was painting  myself black. The problem was with the nails on I couldn't button my shirt or  tie my tie. Andie pretty much had to dress me which wasn't embarrassing at all.  This also made using the bathroom impossible which once everything was ready I  had to do and couldn't. Using the reference images we worked through the story that fit with  the idea and lyrics of the song. The first look was more her introduction to  Lucifer. Olivia was wearing Andie's vintage looking lace prom dress which was  perfect and soft for this uneasy introduction. From there we moved to more of  the forceful seduction. Not necessarily being seduced by the Devil but more the  idea of being bad and giving into temptation. Andie had Olivia wear the dress  off her shoulder to denote the idea of giving in. For the last look she has  given into the darkside but we still wanted her to look like "the Good Girl".  Andie had her in a darker dress which was still sweet looking and I darkened the  eye makeup slightly. Olivia posed as an equal to the demon, accepting her  darkside having given in.

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I showed Andie the unedited images and she pointed out from a story telling perspective it would make more since to flip the first to images.  She thought that Lucifer would start with a forceful seduction which would lead to their reluctant embrace. I respect Andie's opinion so I wanted to give it some thought. After thinking about it for a bit I started to see that she was right. I flipped them and I give you "The Persephone Switch".

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Donovan really knocked it out of the park with  these images, making everyone's hard work shine. I believe in getting people  involved for the jobs that they do. What I mean is to get people for what they do,  not what you want them to do. Everyone really did a great job on this and not  one of them could have been replaced. I am also very proud of Team Demon  Fabulous. It is so cool seeing different interpretations on the same subject matter. I am pretty sure this is why Billie and other artists like  her don't like to spell out exactly what their songs are about. Everyone  consumes art differently and it's not really up to the artist to tell you how  it's suppose to make you feel.

So Billie, what do you think?


 

Illustration by J. Lopez @jdotcreative

Illustration by J. Lopez @jdotcreative

Derby Daze

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

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

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

Some of the Prosthetics from Woochie

Some of the Prosthetics from Woochie

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

Morgan Dayton in Zombie makeup by me

Morgan Dayton in Zombie makeup by me

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

Rebecca Rhodes in Zombie makeup by me

Rebecca Rhodes in Zombie makeup by me

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

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

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

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

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

In the process with Tabby Sharp and myself

In the process with Tabby Sharp and myself

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

Photo of Tabby Sharp by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Tabby Sharp by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Jeff and Tabby by Tate Chmielewski

Photo of Jeff and Tabby by Tate Chmielewski

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

Sponsored by BMW and Woodford Reserve 

Sponsored by BMW and Woodford Reserve 

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

Rough sketch of body paints

Rough sketch of body paints

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

Photo by Morgan Worley

Photo by Morgan Worley

Photo by Morgan Worley

Photo by Morgan Worley

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

Mallory Mims and Karoline Hix, Photo by Morgan Worley

Mallory Mims and Karoline Hix, Photo by Morgan Worley

Me with Mallory and Karoline, Photo by Morgan Worley

Me with Mallory and Karoline, Photo by Morgan Worley

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

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

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

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

Sponsored by Porche and Rabbit Hole

Sponsored by Porche and Rabbit Hole

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

Photo of Darren, Karoline and Mallory by Danny Bloom

Photo of Darren, Karoline and Mallory by Danny Bloom

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


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

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