It has taken ages for me to post this up because I have been so time poor and with study, work and other life things - but here it is. A short review on my entry into the 2014 Battle of the Brushes competition at IMATS Sydney.
I wanted to blog about this because when I was searching on the net I could hardly find anything to set my nerves at ease! Hardly any other stories told by other competitors, IMATS, or anyone else! So hopefully this will help other aspiring MUA's during their Google searches in the future.
So here is my brief tale.
In February 2014 I went with a pipe dream and decided to submit my entry for the comp. I chose the Beauty/Fantasy theme which was "Art Through the Ages" (broad subject brief or what hey?). This required 8 - 10 different looks, on different face shapes and skin tones, not necessarily representing the theme, but showing versatility. I looked into my pictures... Hmmmm I had about one cool look I'd done on myself, a couple of other decent ideas (also done on myself), and about 10,000,000,000,000 selfies of utter CRAP. I was shit outta luck for pre-existing material to send to Makeup Artist Magazine.
Thankfully I had just enrolled in a Diploma of Specialist Make-up Services at CMA Training Group in the ACT. I thought this would be the chance for me to network, learn, branch out and work on different face shapes and skin types and create some really original and awesome stuff for my entry. I was correct in my assumption. Throughout the first half of 2014 I busted my ass studying, working and networking with the creative scene in Canberra, and with the help of some amazing models, photographers and hairstylists I created some stuff that I am now, and will always be really proud of.
These were a few of the final entries I had printed and posted off to Makeup Artist Magazine as my entry for the competition.
There were plenty of freak out moments leading up to the entry deadline. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to have more than one image of a look, what size the images had to be (all print and snail mail mind you, not allowed to submit digitally!) and many other factors. I'm not sure if every entrant to this competition goes through such distress, but I am cursed with perfectionism and the occasional obsessive attack!
Once the entry was done and dusted I knew I needed to start refining my ideas just in case I was selected to compete. we were notified on the second week in August, which gave us pretty much 5 weeks to nail the design and have everything ready to apply in just 2 hours on the day.
When I found out via email that I had been chosen as one of 8 out of about 40 applications I was pretty amazed. Couldn't believe it! I'd searched and searched for how applicants are notified and if there were any hints but nope! It's all secret squirrel until they email the contestants!
My design was based pretty much solely on one piece of art. An illustration by artist Norman Duenas.
You can see my original mood-board on Pinterest, here.
There were a few other inspirations - deconstructed fashion and art was a big one, and also watercolour.
My main concept was to demonstrate a picture of two outcomes of a timeline. In one the subject is rich, beautiful and flourishing with life, and in the other she is decayed, dying and finished.
I used the concept of deconstructed art and the idea from Chaos Theory of The Butterfly Effect - where the tiniest change could alter the greatest events in history. The clothing was inspired by Atelier Versace (but omg - nowhere even relatively NEAR as amazing). The hair was designed on the fly, but was loosely based on a royal appearance.
The arm and leg on the dying side were airbrushed to appear as if they were decayed/fading away, and the makeup was displaying a beautiful butterfly on the living side, and a melting one on the dying side.
Here are some trial images of the makeup:
Creating the outfit was very challenging for me. I came up with the idea of hooking tulle onto thick elastic to create a huge, full tulle skirt - which I think worked for the most part, although it was hard to control the thinly cut strips of tulle on the day, which appeared to have a mind of their own and wanted to stray over to places they didn't belong. I was constantly adjusting the outfit on the day. The mini-petti was made by my Mum, and was amazing - this was just for volume. The opaque skirt was made by me and my Mum, and generally served its purpose (to make the skirt opaque!).
The most challenging thing was the glitter tulle over skirt, with which I wanted to give the appearance of decay and damage fading into the dead half - but I feel like I failed terribly there. This all leads back to my inexperience with fabric selection, construction and sewing. All the more to learn in the future.
I used scrapbooking embellishments to attach the butterflies to the skirt - which was a much better idea than the original of sewing them on one at a time.
Here are some of my design sketches (including makeup):
And a gallery of images from the construction process of the dress:
The wig was a tricky thing. I purchased an enormous anime wig from China, which turned out to be amazing quality. It was pre-waved and was very full - perfect. After some much appreciated advice from Jeanice from Guerilla Hair, I braided out the fringe, and sewed it in, securing a butterfly to hide the end of the braid.
The fullness in the hair was created with a hell of a lot of backcombing (being careful not to create a fizzy mess with no texture) and about 5 pieces of padding - secured with white bobby pins. I used a hair chain from Lovisa to accentuate the bouffant at the back, and managed to shape the hair around the headpiece.
The headpiece was crazy hard to make. I used two cheapo headbands from the local variety store, and secured them with wire ties. I then used a strange bike/clock thing I got from Homeart - angle ground by my brother into the shape I wanted to create the clock.
I used Plastimake to create the dripping effect, and a bushy thing from Homeart for the grassy stuff - which I weaved around the clock until it was set in place..
Here are the images I remembered to take of the wig construction:
The fingernails were also custom made prior. I painted these and sponged over the colour transition. Added glitter and white dots to marry up with the detail on the makeup.
In decided in the end to use Sugarpill eyeshadows for the alive side of the makeup, highlighting them with Beautifully Addictive pigments, and Skin Illustrator inks for the melting side. Many other products were also used. I'm not sure now that I made the right product choices, but it was all a learning experience.
I pushed and pushed it up to the last minute getting everything ready, and did one last full makeup on my model on Sydney the night before the event.
On the day it was a fairly calm environment which was nice. I didn't know what to expect, but everyone was really kind and supportive - including my competitors which was a nice surprise. We all had a good time and a laugh, and I think that after so many months of preparation - we were all just damn keen to into it, get that makeup done and be finished!
On the day we were required to present a document with our description of our makeup, and how it was relative to the brief. It was hard to condense...
If you'd like to see some more pictures from the application and from the day, head over to my Facebook page Mysdesign Hair and Makeup. Here are the finished pictures of my beautiful butterfly, Nolita. She was the best and most amazing model and friend I could've wished for on the day <3
I was not EVER happy with my design. I felt that it was flawed, and way too advanced for my level of skill in construction, sewing and makeup design. It seems that my assumptions were not too off the mark - according to some of the judges scores. I wish they had left me some written feedback - but honestly I feel like I agree with their opinions.
In summary, I feel so privileged to have been given the chance to participate in such a prestigious event in my industry, and to show people what I can do. Even with my limited and still-developing skill-set.
I feel like I learnt so much about design, even though it didn't feel like it at the time, and that over-thinking things is one of my greatest downfalls. It will take a lot of effort to overcome that hurdle - but at least I am now aware of it.
I feel like the most important lessons I should take out of the whole experience are:
In short - if you are a makeup student and you're wondering if you have the chops to go for this competition, stop wondering and GO FOR IT! I'm so glad I did!
Thanks for reading my IMATS story, I hope you enjoyed it! Mysdesign signing off for now xxoo
Om nom nom new lippy!
So I have little to no experience reviewing products, or blogging about products, or talking about products on my Facebook page so far. However at this time I feel compelled to promote a small business and tell other people how much I love their stuff!
I was first drawn toward TheBodyNeeds after seeing a tutorial done by the amazing Angie Y (which I currently cannot find) using the blackened pigments available. These pigments are amazing, and come in many shades (Blackened Turquoise, Blackened Violet etc). So I went to the site and ordered the whole range. I use them almost every day on myself and in my kit! TheBodyNeeds sent me a sample of their Lip Luster, and I now carry that (almost empty) little sample in my handbag. It's called "Forget Him.." and is the nicest pink :-)
TheBodyNeeds are a mineral makeup supplier, cruelty free, and located in Minnesota, USA - but don't let the location throw you, they post quickly and at reasonable prices. They started out selling MAC samples, but have grown and sell their own sample size products (perfect for a makeup kit).
I decided to go on a Lip Luster buying spree - (well, 9 colours is hardly a spree, but I'm not a big lippy buyer, I tend to only have the necessities) and I've decided to share my swatches with you.
These are all applied onto my bare lip, with no pencil or primer base - so you can see that they can be used for a sheer glossy coverage, or a more opaque coverage with the appropriate base. Some of these shades are quite metallic. They are super smooth and comfortable to wear, and they smell delicious! They also come in these nifty lippy sample wind-up containers!
I will mention that, including postage (and a few awesome samples), this cost me in total $28.48USD (purchased on a 30% off entire site sale - but still damn good.
Check them out on Facebook and on their website!
It's amazing what can spawn an idea, or the thought of an idea. Sometimes a simple picture, or a piece or art... something you see on the street, or something someone says to you.
I love it when this happens to me.
I'm still learning to finely tune the connections to the creative part of my brain, and learn how to guide them in the right directions to help me pull out great ideas. Sometimes, you just get it right. When I saw this image one day on a blog somewhere, I can't even remember where - Anubis was born in my imagination, and it all spawned like an awesome explosion of ideas from there. It would eventually all come together to make something so awesome, I almost cried when I saw him finished for the first time.
In this (lengthy) post, I want to create a documentation of the journey in creating this character, as it was the first of it's kind (hopefully the first of many..). I hope you enjoy the story, and please ask questions if you like.
Also - do check out the amazing and awesome Luke Middlebrook, the one and only Anubis, and Travis Longmore, an unbelievably talented photographer, both who I continue to have the pleasure of working with.
Creating the Jackal head
At first I was totally stumped on how to achieve this. I tried wire frame and paper mache, but I couldn't get the malleability I wanted from the metals. My brother suggested we layer aluminium foil and try to mould it on his Doberman's head (lol). Believe it or not, with the assistance of a pooch and a bike seat, it worked. I used hard foam shapes held together with wire to support the shape during the next stage.
Florists wire was a great tool to stick into the foam shapes and create more sturdy terrain to shape the facial contours.
Once the shape of the Jackal head was complete, the mould was secured to the board and two layers of 'cloth mache' were added. This was thin strips of cut up bed sheet, coated in white PVA glue, letting each layer dry completely before applying the next.
Once the glue had completely dried, I removed all of the foil possible from the set head shape and trimmed the edges. I didn't trim all the way to the edge of the design to ensure that I had some material to play with while creating the wig.
My kitties regularly assisted with construction. They sat around and gave moral support on the many moments that I nearly lost my mind...
There was a great deal of trial and error in constructing every part of this character. It was really rewarding every time something came together the way I wanted it to. I would just sit back and look at it thinking "Thank the fracking Gods for that.."..
The ears were constructed with aluminium foil and carefully moulded into the basic shape I wanted. I then wrapped them with 2" masking tape, being careful not to let it build up too much in any one place. This took a few attempts to get right, and perfectly symmetrical.
A few times I had to cut away from the shape and re-tape the ear to get the shape I was after.
Once this was achieved, I taped them onto the head to get the positioning correct, and then added more and more tape to set them in place. Once I was completely happy with the placing, I used 3 - 4 sticks of hot glue behind the ears to set them well. This also allowed me to shape and mould the ears as I went along. Once the glue set, they were surprisingly sturdy, as well as being adjustable.
The fingernails were pretty straight forward. I ordered them from a pro online nail supply store - stiletto nail tips with a thicker nail edge and just glued them on top of the entire nail. I painted the edges with a nude satin colour and blended in a black leading back down to the finger. I made sure to paint the under edge of the nail black.
The black on the fingers during the photoshoot was Mehron black greasepaint and watered down black acrylic paint for the wet look, and for RAW I used Kryolan gel/supracolour. For both occasions I used double sided nail adhesive.
Costuming was pretty basic. I went out to Spotlight and purchased a couple meters of black/gold trimmings I liked the look of, and settled on cheap as chips poppin for the skirt. I also purchased teddy bear fur for the Jackal head.
The salesman at Spotlight was awesome - I was lucky to go on a day when he was there. He offered some valuable advice to a noob like me, such as washing the poppin a few times before organising the shape and cutting, and also using a cotton fabric coated in lacquer to create a wet look for the Jackal's snout which worked like a charm. He also suggested to drybrush an awesome black/gold trim I had picked, saying it would dull it out a little and make it look older - that worked really well too!
The skirt was fabric glued together, as were the straps holding it on Luke. To age it, I shredded it with scissors, dragged it about the backyard under my shoes, washed it about 5 times, jumped on it, left it out in the sun and more... The belt was a simple wire edged gold ribbon, with the Lovisa necklace attached on the top.
What no one knows is that after the photoshoot, the costume was so covered in paint and chocolate sauce and SFX blood, that I turfed it - thinking that Anubis was never going to return. So, yes, the RAW outfit was ENTIRELY new. I was lucky to find all of the exact same materials I had the first time, including the last ever necklace of it's kind in Lovisa!
The wig was a Mysdesign custom, and because it was being used for a photoshoot I used a much lower quality wig than I normally would.
It was a $5 black bob party wig from the cheapo store at Marrickville Metro! I used some black recycled dreads from old kits in my collection and sewed them into the wig. I custom cut the fringe. The golden metallic wraps are from I Kick Shins online.
Custom wigs such as this can be ordered on my website!
Sewing the Jackal head to the wig was a challenge. We eventually used an electric drill and a small drillbit to create holes in the Jackal head which allowed me to hand sew it to the completed wig. I cut the rear of the head into thin strips to allow it to fit the wig and the models head shape snugly.
Following this, I cut the teddy bear fur from two patterns I created using a thin sheet. I made two parts that would fit in front and behind the ears. I then hot glued these pieces on to the head. I was careful to ensure that the head was completely covered, and the fur was following in the desired direction. I then randomly brushed the fur with lacquer to create texture. I cut the fur at the back to look like it was progressing down into the hair. Given more time here I might have included some loose human hair to blend the teddy bear fur into the dreads.
The snout was created with a black cotton material and soaked with three coats of lacquer to achieve the wet leathery look of a dog snout.
The ears were then painted with black acrylic paint. All of the gold you see on the headpiece is Graftobian cosmetic powdered metal. What a product this is. There's nothing it can't turn gold! I mixed it with Ben Nye liquiset and painted the gold detail on the ears and on the eyes/eyebrows.
After a quick fringe trim and clean up, the wig was complete.
Makeup design and trials were fairly brief for Anubis as I knew that there couldn't be too much facial detail. I didn't want to make things too busy - but also I didn't want them to be too sparse.
Trials were pretty basic. Testing how opaque the powder was and which product was best to use on top. I ended up going with Kryolan supra for the photoshoot, and gel for RAW. The blue and red on his neck detail are Ben Nye lumiere creme blushes. The muscle contour was done with a dark brown Ben Nye eyeshadow. Contouring was on the face, chest and abs, arms and back.
Finally the day had come, it took me 6 hours to bring Anubis to life, during which time Luke Middlebrook sat patiently, never falling asleep once... I swear.
Here's some BTS I snapped of Travis Longmore hard at work and my amazing fiance and assisstant on the day Mike.
And here are some production shots from Travis.
And finally, the full set of images from the photoshoot. If you've stayed around this long, thanks for reading - I hope this blog inspires and helps other people to create their dream characters!