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The Telescope

Makeup artist creates characters

The Telescope’s featured artist for this issue is Palomar student Jessica O’Connor, who specializes in the art of transforming people and creating characters. Her medium? Makeup.

O’Connor, a theater arts major, prepared a makeup demonstration for The Telescope and spoke to us about her craft. The following is from an email interview with this up-and-coming artist.

Telescope: You’re a makeup artist, how did you get started in this craft? In other words, what got you interested in it and how did you begin experimenting with makeup as your art?

O’Connor: I’ve always been into art i.e., drawing, painting, etc., and I honestly think I began experimenting with makeup when I was in high school. It was around the time I started wearing makeup myself. I saw makeup as another medium and my face or other people’s faces were my canvases and I was having a lot of fun just playing around and trying new, dramatic styles.

It (wasn’t) until later, when I came across the makeup competition show Face Off, that I decided I could do make-up as a profession and create my own designs and be as crazy as I want with it. I then started attending Palomar and took the Stage Makeup Class that they offer here and I discovered that I really enjoy doing theatrical make-up and creating characters.

Telescope: What is your style?

O’Connor: I would say my style is loud and dramatic. I love to make characters, especially ones that are inspired from comic books and video games. I also enjoy designing fantasy and sci-fi characters.

Telescope: What inspires you when you begin a new project?

O’Connor: I get a lot of my inspirations from comic books and video games, but sometimes I’ll just be daydreaming and ideas will (develop) from that. Maybe (I will be having) a discussion with someone about aliens or mythical creatures and then the conversation will be in my mind all day and it isn’t until I’m reliving that discussion will I come across a design and want to test it out as soon as possible.

Telescope: What is your process or what does it take to create a look?

O’Connor: I’m not sure if I really have a process. I will sometimes stumble across an image and think, “Hey I want to turn that into a make-up,” but the actual makeup itself requires a lot of references. I will have an idea in my head and I will either draw it out, or I will (get) different kinds of references and just combine them all together.

Telescope: You have a Facebook page for your makeup work, where you describe yourself as an amateur makeup artist, but you have done work that has been part of some serious productions. What have those been?

O’Connor: I started getting involved with Palomar theater productions as a costumer, where I helped with costumes and quick-changed the actors backstage, but it wasn’t until “Rough Magic” that I started assisting with some makeup. I then got the chance to do the hair and makeup for the Palomar Theatre Ensemble Show “The Glass Menagerie.” I assisted with wigs and makeup for the Palomar show “Cabaret” a year ago, and then this last summer I got the chance to be a designer and designed the hair and makeup for the Palomar Theatre Ensemble show “Happy Birthday Wanda June.”

Telescope: Do you have any mentors or favorite makeup artists who have influenced your philosophy about your art or your work itself?

O’Connor: I would like to say my mentor is Shirley Pierson (she’s the teacher for costuming and stage makeup). She really pushed me in her class and made me the artist I am today. I would like to say it started with her. Now makeup artists that inspire me (would be) makeup artist VeNeil (she did makeup for the Pirate’s of the Caribbean films, the Hunger Games films and Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.)” Her style is very beautiful and I love her character designs. I also love Dick Smith, “The Godfather of Make-up.” I really enjoy learning about all of his techniques and how he creates his characters. Lastly, I know he isn’t a makeup artist, but I also enjoy Guillermo del Toro’s work, especially the characters he created in “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

Telescope: Are you working on any projects currently?

O’Connor: I am currently not working on any projects but I will be working on the (Theater Ensemble’s) summer show. I’m going to be working with costumes and hair.

Telescope: Where else might the public see your work?

O’Connor: Another place the public may be able to see my work is on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/jessipaigeeffx or you can find me on my YouTube channel, where I do makeup tutorials: www.youtube.com/user/jessipaigeeffx.

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Makeup artist creates characters