Tag Archives: imats

Everything but the kitchen sink (2014)

2014 was good to me, in ways that were both unexpected and long striven for. Of course, I wish I had done more, written more, read more…but that’s the way it is every year.  Instead of regret, I have so many things that I’ve been a part of, or learned, or people who I’ve met who have made this year a great one. So, here is my post that attempts to wrap it all up, and look towards even greater things in 2015!

The fun stuff: CONTAINERS!

If you know me, then you know I have an affinity for containers, large and small. I am always searching dollar stores, craft stores, art stores, home stores, for the latest and greatest magical container that can be used for makeup purposes. Check out the picture for some of my favorites from this year. Palette paper, by Royal and Langnickel. These were at Joann Fabrics for $1, perfect 5×7 size for a quick, disposable palette, and you can even leave some product on them and fold them up for touchups later. I keep a pad in my set bag. Semi-clear zipper bags from Blick. The ladies of Cirque FX introduced these to me, and they’ve become a staple in my kit for quick organizing. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and of course, are more affordable than most similar “makeup” bags. Pill boxes for creams. In an effort to condense my day-checker set kit even more, I made teeny-tiny cream palettes out of pill boxes. Sun – Sat, they were 7 for $1 at Dollar Tree. Lightweight, tiny, and just enough product to cover a variety of sins, in a pinch. Slider pencil boxes – for keeping brushes, pencils, tools, etc. Great for keeping brushes CLEAN, and separated for different actors. Blocks of asian market kitchen sponges! These look just like blonde stipple sponges, and guess what? I cut them into different shapes and used them for some fx, they worked just as well as the tried and true version. Two of the best containers and gifts I’ve received this year. I have to brag a little, my friend Chris is the Special Makeup Effects head on Chicago Fire, and he custom made these two-well brush / cup holders for us. I love it! The other ceramic piece is a beautiful handmade pottery bowl that I use for brushes, a gift from my boss on Chicago Fire.

Irresistible container fun

Irresistible container fun

Pillboxes

Teeny Tiny makeup boxes

The artsy stuff: Inspiration.

Japan. I have a somewhat new love of Japanese things. Maybe it started with makeup – Hakuhodo brushes are the most luxurious I’ve ever touched, and Koh Gen Do makes the most perfect foundation I’ve ever applied. But this year it became more of a “thing”. I’d go to an antique store and leave with a beautiful, campy, 1960’s paint-by-number Geisha. Then I found a small vintage decorative lamp, a little tableau of a woman standing on a bridge. It didn’t help that some friends in Las Vegas opened a perfect, Japanese styled, members only cocktail bar, a refuge overlooking Fremont East. That just fueled the fire, and now it’s becoming an obsession, maybe. I’ve started daydreaming about going to Japan someday, and looking up images of Buddhist temples in Kyoto, and Tokyo alleyways. And finally, sake. Delectable, cloudy, unfiltered Nigori sake.  Just because it’s delicious.

Like a dream

Like a dream

Tokyo alley

Colorful inspiration

Museums. I’ve always loved museums, but this year in particular I’ve been thinking a lot about the texture of paint, light and dark, chiaroscuro. My favorite painting resides at the Art Institute here in Chicago (lucky me!), it is called “Resting”, by Antonio Mancini. When I talk about makeup, I find myself going back to the idea of light and shadow. So much of what we do as makeup artists is about light, and how it plays on the face. Understanding the art of lighting is something I’ve been working on, and hopefully learning from the talented professionals that I work with. This painting is so inspiring to me because it is a perfect example of how a blob of white paint means light, and the most subtle brushstroke reads as the plane of a woman’s face. I love how it demonstrates using paint in just the right way to convey light and shadow.

Resting, Antonio Mancini

Resting, Antonio Mancini

Italy. Cheating a little, these images are from 2012, but I absolutely fell in love with this series by Giampaolo Sgura of “Italian family” life, for Dolce & Gabbana. I have very little interest in fashion, but occasionally I’ll find certain images so arresting, intriguing, fantastic, etc. that they grab my attention and hold it. I love this campaign because of the over-the-top, character or caricature? aesthetic, and pure, old school Italian glamour. I also think Monica Belluci is the most beautiful woman alive.

Viva Italia!

Viva Italia!

The deep stuff: What the hell did I learn?!?

Professionally, I’ve experienced highs and lows this year. From this I’ve learned that neither one should define me, and that empty praise can be just as damaging as negative feedback. Having a true sense of artistic purpose is the only way I’ve found to combat the over inflated pride or the unnecessary devastation that sometimes comes with other people’s opinions. Also worth noting, you will probably never catch me posting “#alwayslearning” or similar popular sentiments. Why? Because the negative things I went through at work this year broke me down, but changed me in some good ways too, and to say something like that feels trite. F*@$ yeah, I’m always learning. Is it hard? Sometimes heartbreakingly so. But it’s a given that as an artist, I’m a lifelong student, and I refuse to turn it into a dull hashtag.  On the flip side, I’ve never felt more connected to some of my fellow artists, and after years of knowing them I can say that I trust and respect them deeply, and that is an incredible feeling. I’ve also learned that “be yourself” is not just a mantra for the first day of school, it’s truly the only way to find yourself working where you are happy and fulfilled, with like minded artists.

So what do I want from this year? The same things I always want; to read more, write more, and make art. To spend time with the best people I know, eat great food, drink tasty drinks, travel to new places, and hopefully discover some fancy new containers along the way.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

IMATS Los Angeles 2014

One week ago I headed out west to the International Make-up Artist Trade Show (IMATS) in LA. This was my second year attending the show, and I took my notes from last year in order to be better prepared for this year’s madness. My notes, in short, read like this: “Shop first, shop fast, take as many classes as possible”. For those of you who have attended trade shows, especially ones in which there is a great deal of shopping direct from vendors, you know that it SUCKS. Maybe some people love it, but if you’re a bizarre, introverted type A like myself, the shopping part is sort of hell on earth.

Crowds and lines and elbows and huge shopping bags

Crowds and lines and elbows and huge shopping bags

See? Hellish, right?!? Opening night was pro-only, so my MUA friends (Crystal and Bek from Cirque FX, beauty artist Jen Brown) and I jumped right in with our shopping lists and cold hard cash. I stocked up on some long time favorites (Embryolisse products, a favorite mattifier, Crown brushes, Nurturing Force primer) and had a chance to see and handle some things I’ve been curious about (Linear Standby Belts, Vueset palettes, Viseart’s much beloved neutral eyeshadow palette). I squeezed my way in to say hello to my friends at the ever-swamped Frends booth, and elbowed my way in to say hi to my wonderful artist / educator friend Autumn, at the Crown Brush booth. Full disclosure, my travel companion Jen and I had a margarita before we hit the show. That is definitely going into my notes for next year, as a must do.

Martina & Jen wisely have a margarita before shopping

Martina & Jen wisely have a margarita before shopping

Vamping for Frends Beauty

Vamping for Frends Beauty

Day one of the IMATS began like this; strong coffee and long lines. Once we made it into the show, I headed straight to the education wing of the convention center, the place where you could visit the Makeup Museum, watch the “Battle of the Brushes” student competition, and take numerous classes from industry pros. The class I intended to sit for seemed to have been cancelled, and I found myself listening to Robin Mathews, the Dept. Head of Dallas Buyers Club. I was riveted. I sat down and started taking notes. Listening to her answer questions and talk about DBC with interviewer Joe Nazarro is truly worth a whole blog of its own, but I’ll do my best to sum it up.

Dallas Buyers Club cover of Make-Up Artist Magazine

Dallas Buyers Club cover of Make-Up Artist Magazine

Also worth a blog of its own is my obsession with character, and why that has led me to be passionate about film and tv makeup. For right now, I’ll try to focus. Dallas Buyers Club is an incredible feat of character makeup. Most people know that Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto lost weight to play their roles in the film, but most people do not know that it was shot in 28 days, on a relatively modest budget, with a handheld camera using ambient lighting. What does this mean to a makeup artist? It means camera was ready in 5 minutes, but makeup changes still take the same amount of time. Since the film was shot out of sequence (as most are) this also meant that during one shooting day the characters might have up to 5 different complete changes, and when you’re talking about people whose health deteriorates drastically, these are important and very particular looks. Because of the severe time constraints, Mathews and her team used old school, tried and true methods to add and take away weight. Plumping the face with reverse highlight and contour to add pounds, and using in depth knowledge of human facial anatomy to take away pounds in the areas that recede with illness; temples, under cheekbones, along the jawline.

Jared Leto as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club

Jared Leto as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club

Technical challenges aside, DBC also presented a number of exciting opportunities for the makeup dept. The film is set in Dallas in the mid-’80s, so it was a period piece as well as needing to have region specific makeup. Texas, you guys! In the 80’s! McConaughey and Leto’s characters battle illness throughout the film, and Leto’s character is a trasngendered drug addict, so there were endless layers to the character looks. During her talk, Robin Mathews said that for a project like this, you really need to “relish the research”. Some of her inspiration for Leto’s character were 60’s starlets, Bridgette Bardot, Twiggy, and Dolly Parton.

Some of the payoff for dealing with insane crowd congestion at IMATS

Some of the payoff for dealing with insane crowd congestion at IMATS

The next class I took was, “Pretty as a Drag Queen” with Courtney Tichman from OCC. I’m a big fan of OCC (not least of all because they were very generous and sent some amazing product to use on a film I did last year) and this sounded like a blast. Right from the start, Courtney said that the takeaway from this class would be, “Put more on. If you want to be more glamorous, put more on!” I’d have to agree. The class was fun, a good refresher in highlight and contour and sculpting the face.

"Put more on", drag queen / glamour makeup advice

“Put more on”, drag queen / glamour makeup advice

Day One of the IMATS, I got to have lunch with my beautiful and talented friend Karina, who I met on an indie feature last fall. We talked about working on this film together, and how it affected us. She reinforced the feeling that I am so fortunate to have worked on this, because of the cast and crew. Even though I had to keep pushing myself through all of the difficulties, in the end, I am so damn proud of what we did on that movie. I gushed to her about the DBC talk, and we sat in the sunshine and caught up on all the other things in life. I adore her, and the fact that she made time to see me (in Pasadena!) while I was in town just made me that much happier to be in the business that I’m in. She is a gem.

Sunny lunch break with this beautiful firecracker!

Sunny lunch break with this beautiful firecracker!

Next up was the Thomas Suprenant, Out of the Kit Character Makeup class. I really loved this one, he had two models onstage and brought only the ubiquitous large, clear set bag that I myself use. He unpacked it for the audience, and explained each product and why you might carry it. I loved seeing so many of the items that I carry and use, as well as some neat new tricks that I can’t wait to try. He talked about the challenges of starting your day doing a full makeup in a trailer, then going to set with everything you MIGHT need on hand, at a moments notice. The ever changing “perfect” set bag!

In between classes, I wandered around the makeup museum and watched makeup demos

In between classes, I wandered around the makeup museum and found this cool cat

Day One ended with Steve Prouty discussing the transformative makeup for Johnny Knoxville in Bad Grandpa, and the nature of making a film in which the public cannot know they’re on film or that Johnny Knoxville is the man they’re interacting with. Fun fact, Prouty notes that, “In North Carolina you can get people to help you bury a body”. The makeup and prosthetics had to be “bulletproof” due to the amount of expression that Knoxville uses with his face, hands, and whole body. There were stunts involved too, so that adds another element of challenge. And a makeup artist’s favorite — stunts followed by a CLOSE UP (note: not actually a makeup artist’s favorite). He talked about working under time constraints, and the need for the makeup dept to become a well-oiled machine and execute the look with perfect precision each time, in under 3 hours. Say what you will, but Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa has an Academy Award nomination.

Steve Prouty talks about the unique challenges of Bad Grandpa

Steve Prouty talks about the unique challenges of Bad Grandpa

Day Two of the IMATS began with a class on Color Fundamentals, with my friend Autumn Scruggs. Autumn has an unusual and fantastic background in that she started in makeup effects and animatronics, and then discovered that she loves beauty makeup. Her philosophy is exactly what I love about beauty makeup; clean and fresh, with healthy skin that actually looks like skin, not plastic. Her color theory is spot on, and it is apparent that she loves teaching. She knows her stuff when it comes to product, and is happy to share, however she does emphasize that being an artist is about experimentation and thinking on your feet. Use whatever works best for you when it comes to brushes, makeup, and technique. I’m lucky to call her a friend, and I get to pick her brain about makeup whenever she’s in Chicago!

Softest brush ever made?!? From Crown, the Ve's Favorite collection

Softest brush ever made?!? From Crown Brush, Ve’s Favorite collection

The Bill Corso keynote was exactly what you’d expect, a retrospective of his brilliant career with some truly mind-blowing makeups. I’m sure the reel didn’t even scratch the surface of the work he’s done. A truly fun part of the talk was dedicated to an old age makeup he did for Heidi Klum last Halloween. Klum is known for elaborate Halloween makeups, and she contacted Corso with her request months in advance. It was a full body makeup, complete with custom prosthetics and painstakingly applied vericose veins. Show director Michael Key noted that if this makeup had been in a movie, it would likely be nominated for an Oscar.

The process...

The process…aging a supermodel

The last talk of the day, Joe Nazarro interviewing Dexter Dept Head Keith Hall, was a great way to wrap up the show. In a recurring theme for me, I was fascinated by the variety and the task creating “normal” characters (cops, regular citizens), regional makeup (Miami tans), and ultimate gore. Hall was humble and softspoken about his work, but when the Q&A began, his excitement about his job was clear. The intense schedule of working on a episodic (especially one with so much BLOOD) and breaking down a script one week in advance is something I have yet to do, and I hope I get a chance to work on someday. During their respective talks, both Hall and Mathews spoke about the actors involvement in their character’s looks, and I love that collaborative part of the job.

The ladies of Cirque FX and I SURVIVED the IMATS! Now, let's get a cocktail and look at all of our loot...

The ladies of Cirque FX and I SURVIVED the IMATS! Now, let’s get a cocktail and look at all of our loot…

I enjoyed the whole weekend, but truly, the winner for me was listening to Robin Mathews talk about DBC. For me, it was everything I love. It was the perfect mix of behind-the-scenes stories, character design and collaboration with actors, clever product usage (grits and cornmeal borrowed from Mathews’ Mom!), and the entirely relatable less-than-perfect conditions of filmmaking that end up leaving an artist with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. After the show, I spent three more days in LA with my husband; eating, drinking, sightseeing, and hanging out at some of the coolest dive (and non dive) bars I’ve ever been to. I caught up with friends that moved out there years ago, and now that I’m in the same business, we had a ton of catching up to do. I admitted to a DP friend that I kind of want to live, eat, and breathe my work right now. I would definitely not hate it, if work in LA became a part of my future. It’s all about the company you keep, and I’ve got some awesome friends out there.

Our last night in Silver Lake, for now...

Our last night in Silver Lake, for now…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized