Why The Biggest Part of Being a Special Effects Artist Doesn’t Involve Any Makeup

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FX makeup takes a great deal of patience, creativity, and collaboration. Aside from the average Halloween tutorial you see on YouTube, more than one artist is typically involved when developing and actually building detailed characters. Beautylish member and one of our favorite FX artists Heather H. (also known as Sokolum79 on YouTube) is no stranger to collaboration, and paired up with friend and Face Off contestant Sarah Elizabeth. We caught up with the dynamic duo on their inspiration, favorite projects, and why working as a team is so important in this industry.

B: Did you always want to go into FX?

Sarah Elizabeth: I’ve been doing makeup since I was in high school, which was around 1997. I always enjoyed it and toyed with the idea of pursuing my interest, especially with creatures and FX. It never seemed a reality to me until the last five years. When I was working in Chicago, I was doing a lot of costumes and props, and finally realized this is where I want to be.

Heather: I actually wanted to be an accountant when I was younger, but after a few years of being in the industry, I found it very suffocating from a creative standpoint. At that point I was really into beauty makeup. I had my YouTube channel for over a year, and I just happened to live in a city with an amazing film makeup school.

B: What project are you two working on right now?

Sarah Elizabeth: Heather and I just created a Halloween character together. We discussed working together before without any set plans as to what we would create, but after throwing around some ideas we came up with this creature. I sculpted his face, but it was from our shared ideas that gave this character life.

Heather: It’s really fun because we’re applying the prosthetic on a former teacher of ours from the Vancouver Film School, who just happens to be a well-known and respected FX artist. We’re working on it for my YouTube channel Sokolum79 in time for Halloween.

Q: What is it like collaborating with other makeup artists on projects?

Sarah Elizabeth: Awesome! I prefer to work with people. I think it can vastly expand creativity. Although it can cause friction as more than one creative mind has to work together, the potential to jive off each other is so much greater. Each person brings their background, experience, perspective, and ideas to the table that the other person might not have.

Heather: I agree! Other artists inspire me so greatly, so it’s easier to develop and brainstorm ideas by working with multiple people.

B: Do you find that you are more creative working with other FX artists?

Sarah Elizabeth: I think it’s just a ‘different kind of creative.’ I really like bouncing ideas off of other FX artists and I think it makes the project stronger overall.

Heather: FX artists and beauty makeup artists are usually two different breeds of animal because they are different kinds of people. I think I’m on the cusp of each. I feel just as creative when I help design an avante-garde look as I do applying prosthetics.

B: How well do you two work with each other?

Sarah Elizabeth: Heather and I work together very well! We both have open minds to each other’s suggestions and most often one of us will toss out an idea and the other will build off of it. She’s very receptive and made it helpful when I was stuck because she gave me more ideas to run with.

Heather: We get along very well and have a similar sense of humor, which can be very important when collaborating. She is also very motivated and talented, which I find very inspiring.

B: If you could pick any movie to do FX makeup on, what would it be?

Sarah Elizabeth: Lord of the Rings movies are always up there for me, although one of my favorite movies is The Fall. I know there isn’t too much special effects work in it, but I love the locations and the film itself.

Heather: I would have loved to do work on Pan’s Labyrinth because it was so dark and eerie. I loved all the creatures and the overall feeling of the movie.

Although it can cause friction as more than one creative mind has to work together, the potential to jive off each other is so much greater.

Sarah Elizabeth

B: Any advice for FX artists working on a team?

Sarah Elizabeth: I think you’re always learning and making mistakes, then moving on from them. I’m still so new to the industry and work isn’t steady. It’s a competitive place but it’s a lot of fun. It’s long hours and lots of standing. You’ve got to be open, able to lead and follow at the same time, and willing to compromise.

Heather: I agree. It’s okay to be frustrated at times. just try not to overreact and blow things out of proportion. Being open to others ideas is key. Be respectful to differing opinions but don’t be afraid to add your own thoughts. I also think that enthusiasm can really motivate partners and yourself.