As always I’m thrilled to be able to bring you yet another new interview with a tantalizing and interesting alternative talent. On this occasion, it’s with extra pleasure that I bring you all something a little different. Different indeed, as the subject matter of the following discussion involves a topic of great interest to me, but is rarely featured on my blog. However, the one constant of the altgirlbotherer blog is that my interviews are always with the most innovative and imaginative individuals around. People who are truly inspiring, with an infectious passion that needs to be thrust into the limelight. Today’s interviewee is the phenomenal Alice Bizarre, a lady whose considerable talents in the field of special effects make-up demanded an interview. She’s also an incredibly beautiful woman, with a view on life work and style that is utterly incorrigible! Alice is someone who believes there’s no point in doing something you don’t love, and when that “thing” is as creative as SFX make-up, it’s a pretty good bet you’re dealing with a fascinatingly flamboyant talent. I think you’ll agree once you check out what she’s had to say…
Q: Hello there Alice, how are you doing today? Welcome to the interview, and I must say it’s one I’ve been looking forward to a whole lot! Do you find people are fascinated when they discover what it is you do for a living? Do you have to explain and repeat yourself often?
Alice: I’m very good but very tired!! Yeah, my job is a lot of fun, but people see it as very glamorous, and that’s not the case, which is probably what I explain most to people.
Q: Why SFX make-up artist then? It seems like one of those fantastic jobs we all want to do as kids but we never follow through with. How did you get started, and was it always a passion?
Alice: Well, I’ve loved horror ever since I can remember, and when I found out you could do SFX make up as a career I wanted in! And to me, if you don’t want or enjoy what you are doing, if you are not experiencing a variety of things then what is the point? I don’t want to waste my life doing something I don’t want to do.
Q: Was it only SFX make-up that drew you to the profession, or was there an interest in the more traditional/beauty sides of the discipline also?
Alice: Well it was actually at GCSE during art classes that I researched body painting and had a little go at it, which prompted my initial research into the SFX ways to change appearance of the face, the application and technique rather than the beauty therapist label that is so commonly associated with make up.
Q: I’ve always wondered, when studying the entire gambit of theatrical and media make-up, can the beauty/everyday make-up portions be tailored to your own particular tastes, or are there definitive ideas of what “beauty” make-up should be?
A: Beauty and everyday make up to me is doing the best with what you have. I could do beauty make up that suits my tastes on someone else, but that may not bring out their own beauty. Finding that can make the plainest person look incredible.
Q: Where did you study, and what’s it like amongst a bunch of drunken make-up students?
Were there any severed heads or other horror prop based pranks pulled?
A: I did a year of theatrical make up at City of Bristol College, so sadly no! Unless you count people with bald caps and half prosthetic noses hanging off waiting outside during a fire alarm…
Q: I guess you have to be a film fan doing what you do. What movies inspired/influenced you growing up? Maybe a tough question, but who is your favourite classic movie monster of all time?
A: Ahhh that’s so hard! I accidentally saw The Thing when I was little so that was the pin point change for me! Dracula will always have a place in my heart, but I love most classic monsters… I own far too many old horror DVDs.
Q: On that theme, do you have any favourite movie moments that have stuck with you when it comes to fantastic feats of FX? For instance people regularly mention American Werewolf in Paris and The Fly. What are your own watershed moments from watching specific examples of SFX magic?
A: Oooo that’s hard!!! I saw The Thing when I was 8 and that’s stuck with me! The different personas Gary Oldman had in Dracula I’ve always found fascinating!!
Q: As I’ve already mentioned, yours seems to be a very sought after profession. What are some of the good points about working in make-up, but also, what are the downsides that people don’t appreciate about it.
A: The amount of people you meet, the outcome of the make up and overall collaboration can be amazing. I love travelling around and that it gives you opportunities to do things you would never traditionally associate with make up. Downside is the very low amount of money; I can’t live off what I do. The travelling is always very tedious, which also means early starts, late finishes and very long days which can be very tiring after a while! Not to mention the heavy kit you have to carry everywhere…
Q: Being freelance must have its own set of pressures. Is there a lot of networking involved in you day to day life? What’s a typical day in the office like for Alice Bizarre? If such a thing as a typical day exists for you that is.
A: Alice Bizarre’s office? Hahaha Yeah, when I’m not shooting, I spend a minimum of 2 hours networking. People don’t realise how much emailing around you have to do and the amount of rejection there is, one night I sent my CV to 40 different places and got 2 replies, both saying no!
Q: I’ve noticed in some examples of the work that you’ve shared, you exhibit a few instances of “two-faces”. Is this a conscious thing to juxtapose the normality of a person’s face with what you’ve created, a stylistic choice (as it looks very cool!), or am I reading too much into things and spending too much time on your blog?
A: I’ve been in love with half-half things for a long time, my clothes are half-half, my hair used to be half-half… I’m a tad biased towards it and I guess that shows in my work! I feel everyone has juxtaposing aspects of themselves which may not always be as obvious as a two faced character.
Q: The prosthetics side of the work you do also fascinates me. You sculpt your own pieces, but how? Does it start with a sketch, something you’ve seen, or some other inspiration? Also, how do you get the idea out of your head and make it tangible/useable?
A: I start off with a load of inspiring images collected together, or a design of my own, combine ideas and aspects together, work out how it would work on the body and start sculpting away!
Q: We share a fascination with masks. I’ve always loved the bad guys in movies and TV because they wore the best helmets etc. For me it’s something about covering up the all too familiar human features with something… cooler (for want of a better word). What is it about masks that appeals to you?
A: Too much! I have a near obsession with masks. Everything about them, the mystery is so sexy! I think it’s a lot to do with detachment for me. Wearing a mask you are taking away the “looks” and first impression judgments, relying (in a social sense) on personality alone.
Q: You’re surrounded with many different materials, products, lotions and potions on a regular basis, but what would you say are the essentials in your make-up kit for doing the work you do?
A: Essentials? I’m not sure if I’m honest! Obviously a range of foundation tones and eye shadow colours. But things I use all the time that I would cry if I lost are my brush belt, my square grease paint palette and setting powder.
Q: If I may ask a little more about you now Alice. Has your education and experience in the field influenced your own stylistic choices at all?
A: Not really, my style is influenced by many different aspects of my interests, not directly from the make up industry. I’m hugely interested in alternative music and the circus, and yes, I work in those fields sometimes, but I have also worked in children’s TV, but that doesn’t mean it’ll influence my style ;-)
Q: Do you have any individuals that have inspired your personal “look” over the years? Or is it all about what you like, and what feels good?
A: Yeah, if I like the way it looks on me and it’s a little obscure I’ll have it! Hmmm, people in particular would probably be Orlan, a French artist who prompted the whole half-half thing in my style, and Amanda Palmer who has a very dark cabaret feel to her style which I adore.
Q: Your hair is regularly talked about in your blog “asks”. I love the chameleon-esque aspect of what you do with it. Is your hair yet another extension of your creativity, and do you understand the fascination with it?
A: I always say if you never try you’ll never know, and my hair is the living proof of that. I don’t understand the fascination with it but I like to be able to change it and play with it. Which is one of the reasons I like wigs so much! although after a plaster accident on shoot, most of it is gone!
Q: You have some tattoos about your person. Would you mind telling us a little about them, what inspired them, and where did you get them done?
A: I have some home done tiny hearts from my older sister. They look like red biro, they are faded and crap but I love the sentimental aspect! My main ones are both to do with hard times in my life. The band logo is from Devin Townsend, whose music helped me through a bad time and the ‘Life is Beautiful’ thigh tattoo was a constant reminder of no matter how shit things are, there’s always something good out there.
Q: What have you been listening to and watching of late?
A: I’ve been watching a lot of old and new horror, such as the original Wolf Man, Frankenstein meets the Wolfman, House of Dracula, Zombieland, Zombie Strippers etc.
Q: The make-up artist is for me one of the most underrated individuals on a photo shoot or set. What is it like in that environment for you personally? Are you able to experiment with how you attain the required “look” for a particular job, or are you dictated to a lot?
A: I’m not often dictated to, only if I’m doing something paid, which in that case I don’t mind too much. I’m lucky to get a lot of opportunities to play around and try my own things. People usually appreciate me if I’m doing a lot, but you are bound to get the stuck up models that see you as something there just to cover their spots.
Q: What have been some of your favourite and most exciting jobs to date? Also, what would be a dream job to get, or project to be involved in?
A: Oooo that’s very hard! I have people I love working with constantly such as Andy Watson, but have had some great shoots and new friendships such as a Sugar Skull shoot with Scott Cole and sci-fi stuff with Danielle Tunstall! Dream would be to work with Rick Baker.
Q: Forgive my gushing, but you are a very attractive and exquisitely expressive, unique individual. You’ve done some modelling in the past, but is there any interest in doing more? Or is that side of the work more a necessity from project to project?
A: Hahaha thank you very much!! I am actually represented by dark arts modelling agency yet I’ve never seen myself as a model and I don’t think I ever could! It started off with models not showing up and me being too stubborn to cancel a shoot! I love to dress up and pretend but don’t think I would ever want to be a model professionally. I’d hate a job which relies so much on the way I look.
Q: You’ve made-up some talented and extremely vivacious individuals to date. Do you make a lot of friends in the industry when you’re working so closely with people, or does it depend on the mindset of the individuals?
A: I think as a breed, models and photographers have to be open and confident individuals, just for the networking side let alone the shoots! I spend a lot of time up close and personal with models so I talk like there’s no tomorrow! I defiantly find that I’ve made a lot of new friends since being a make up artist!
Q: What projects are you working on at the moment, and what are you hoping the rest of 2012 has in store for you?
A: Well I got accepted onto Cinema Make up School in LA and Hertfordshire University for Character Creation and Technical Effects. I Have some exciting fashion shows on the way, got my first wedding this year too and working Bloodstock again!
Q: Finally could we please finish with the questionnaire made famous by Bernard Pivot?
What is your favourite word? Bizarre
What is your least favourite word? Scrape
What turns you on? Masks and dominance
What turns you off? Rude people and arrogance
What sound or noise do you love? Rain
What sound or noise do you hate? Scraping of my teeth at the dentist!
What is your favourite curse word? Fuck, or bollocks (it’s so British!)
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Mask/Prop/puppet maker, Clown, Mime or Chocolatier!
What profession would you not like to do? Something in an office that’s uncreative, or telesales
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Hello I’m Vincent Price
It has been a real treat to work with Alice on this interview. She was wonderful enough to take the time out to chat with me, and with her extremely busy schedule I am eternally grateful for that. It’s a piece I was eager to get posted and share with my followers and beyond, not only due to Alice’s marvellous personality and vigour for what she does. Alice’s skills as a SFX make-up artist are in no question, but it’s been a real pleasure to shed a little light on the craft of make-up artistry in general. As I mentioned above, they are an often overlooked breed, and I think it’s important to remember everyone that contributes to the amazing visuals we see and take for granted every day. I can’t thank Alice enough, and I just hope that she enjoyed the process, and is happy with what we’ve produced.
I urge you all to go check out Alice’s bog, not only to sample her personality laden content, but to gaze at the incredible examples of her work. It’s all here:
All images used were provided by Alice. Photo credits:
1. Danielle Tunstall
2. Scott Cole Photography, Richard Kerr Hair and Nancy Harry
3. Matthew Craig
4. Marcus Jake