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Imagination in Makeup Artistry Special Effects
28 Dec 2016

What Happened to the Imagination in Special Effects?

Over that past 10 years or so, we’ve seen a strong resurgence of practical effects makeup. This resurgence has brought along with it some truly remarkable levels of realism, as anyone having seen the Oscar-winning makeup in The Revenant can attest. The work in The Revenant, along with many others, is showing us that there really are no limits to how realistic we can now get with prosthetic makeup effects, and in my opinion, the excitement surrounding the new benchmarks in artistry have a massive downside.

It seems that as makeup artists continue to push themselves to create even more realistic effects, they are losing any sense of imagination. They are replacing the creativity in their work with more realistic reference material to copy to the letter. Now don’t get me wrong, there is immense skill required to replicate the near infinite detail of real life, but I didn’t get into effects to replicate real life.

It seems that as makeup artists continue to push themselves to create even more realistic effects, they are losing any sense of imagination.

At the turn of the century, CGI really began to showcase what it can do. Computers and the teams behind them quickly snatched the job of creating whatever we can imagine. The need for inventive special effects artists like Screaming Mad George (Bride of Re-Animator, Nightmare on Elm Street 3) and Rob Bottin (The Thing, Total Recall) seemed to go away overnight. These are the artists who had the extremely challenging job of replicating reality and figuring out how to push their materials and problem solving skills to the max in an effort to make things move, walk, pulsate and anything else required of the makeup in order to match the imagination of the director.

Fortunately for us, audiences have grown tired of CGI being the be-all-end-all of effects. This, along with advances in silicone and pros aide transfers, are a huge reason effects artists are again getting the importance of their work thrust into the spotlight. Who is stepping up in our industry to fill the creativity void? Where are the artists who are taking these advances in what can be done and applying them to what they’re told can’t be?

I imagine that there are many of you out there who fit this bill, but we’re just not seeing you. Part of the lack of creativity is coming not just from the current hyper focus on realism, but from the fact that Hollywood isn’t really taking many chances these days on imagination (If they are, then their marketing departments need to be fired as I’m your target market for crazy prosthetic effects driven films). So how do we let Hollywood know that there are artists out there who can integrate it’s current realism fetish into some really imaginative makeups? We compete.

Make the effort to enter makeup competitions and push your boundaries. Hollywood can’t know there is a new Screaming Mad George in the waiting until you get some photos out there. Can you think of a better way to push yourself than with a cash prize at stake? Look around and connect with us on social media as we will regularly post events and competitions that you can use to advance your skills and career.