Fast facts on Ian the SPFX Guru: born in Santa Cruz, California, used to be a D.J., hates fashion, colors distract him, likes women with a clean all-natural looking face, never touched a tube of lipstick before moving to LA for makeup school! Read into Ian’s story about becoming a Special Effects Guru!
How did you know you wanted to become a Makeup Artist?
It started when I was in 7th or 8th grade. I was always an artistic kid. I didn’t know it, but my mom and my teachers noticed. All I knew was that the only thing I wanted to do was draw and play with clay. Around 6th grade I figured out that I wanted to be an artist. I knew that artists don’t usually make money until they’re dead. That didn’t do me any good, because I liked money just as much I liked art. I spent a couple of years trying to figure out how I could be an artist and still make money. In 8th grade I watched a show on the Discovery Channel called “Movie Magic.” A guy that worked on Star Trek was showing the process of making a foam latex appliance. He said, “you take the life cast of the guy, you sculpt on it, you take the negative of that, you pop it open and pull out the clay, inject foam and you have your appliance.” It all made perfect sense to me. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I had never done it, but it all worked out in my head. I am a visual person and think in pictures, most artists do. I thought the whole process was awesome and I wanted to do it. The only thing I saw that required artistic talent was the sculpting. Sculpting was my strong point, versus drawing. I started the appliance process. I collected latex, clay, plaster and started playing around. My mom did my first life cast on me. We took paper towels dipped in plaster and stuck them on my face. I trashed my mom’s carpet and just kept playing around with everything.
Do you have any you formal training in SPFX or makeup?
I did art and craft classes my last two years of high school. After high school, I tried college but I decided I was bored. The junior college I went to only had a theatre department, so classes were limited for me to take in the SPFX area. I met a lady named Cathy Houts, who was actually a college instructor for my mom. She saw my talent and took me under her wing for 2-3 years. She had me working in the shop making props and experimenting with various materials. She was able to get me the supplies I needed and I would create things for the theatre department or just for fun. This was a very valuable time because I got to use my problem solving skills. I also had useful materials besides plaster and mud to work with. One year after high school, I moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts. I went there mainly to get a grasp on beauty makeup. I knew learning all aspects of makeup would enable me to become a better SPFX artist. Eva was my instructor. And as I suspected, the beauty side of makeup was definitely what I needed. SPFX was an easy A.
How did you acquire your job at Make Up Mania?
Eva was my teacher at Westmore Academy. I guess like Cathy Houts, she must have seen my abilities and decided to hang onto me. I tried making rounds at the SPFX shops in town but the industry was drastically changing. Then Eva called me one day and had this idea to start a company called Rogue Planet. She said, “you start this company and sculpt these appliance pieces.” She is the marketing genius and the financial backing. A month later she came up with the idea of Make Up Mania and took off with that. I kept on with Rogue Planet. Rogue Planet is me; it’s personal and professional!
What is a day in the life of Ian like at Make Up Mania?
My days are always exactly the same. I wake up about 5 or 6am. I come into the shop early when no one else is here. Make Up Mania opens at 9am. I come in so I can get some good quiet time to work on Rogue Planet stuff. I work until noon, and then I go to work for Make Up Mania. I do the shipping, answer emails, and do custom orders and whatever else. I do that until 6pm or so and then everyone leaves. I stay and work till 8 or 9pm on Rogue Planet.
What does your shop look like?
My shop is in the back of Make Up Mania. There is a stereotype for most shops, and I kind of break away from that. Most people might expect pictures of heads and things. I definitely don’t have a display case with all my Oscars in it because I don’t have any. My shop resembles a mechanics shop. I have my tools hanging on the walls, I like things organized. I have to put things away when they’re not being used. I have a couple of completed projects sitting around like “Death” on top of the oven. I have a foam oven and molds. With this shop, I can do everything in-house. I am very lucky with what Eva has helped me to acquire.
What do you offer for sale on the page? How do you come up with your ideas?
The first things I launched last year at the Makeup Artist Magazine Trade Show were the Continuity FX pieces. Those are the most common things a makeup artist might need in their kit. Cuts, scars and burns. Then I added bulletholes, horns, dicknoses, and slit throats. I also have fun things like a Colombian necktie! I find inspiration by looking through Fangoria, or divine inspiration in my dreams.
What is your biggest seller?
The burns and cuts. These are more useable and common for makeup artists to have in their kits.
What is your favorite product on Make Up Mania’s site?
The Kama Sutra line.
Would you classify yourself as an all around artist?
I’m just somebody who has a skill, trying to survive. Makeup is my job right now. I think my goal is to be an artist up in a loft painting. I’m happier in the last few months than I’ve ever been. I have always thought I was lucky because I knew what I wanted to do since I was young. I don’t know exactly what I want to be doing but I know I’m close to whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing.
What are your personal career goals with Make Up Mania and Rogue Planet for the millennium?
My goals are:
- I would like to not have a day job. I would like for makeup to not just be a hobby. That’s been a goal for 8 or 9 years.
- For Rogue Planet to be self-supporting.
- To survive and not have to worry. This is the part that I tried to avoid by becoming a makeup artist – not a starving artist! But I still worry and I don’t want to do it anymore! That’s my goal for both Make Up Mania and Rogue Planet.
- Of course my ultimate goal is to conquer the world.