The art of SFX: Makeup competition to showcase creative flair

'The community should know that this awesomeness exists'
An SFX look by Isabella Dupont, who will be competing in the student portion of the competition on Oct. 13.
An SFX look by Isabella Dupont, who will be competing in the student portion of the competition on Oct. 13.

Beauty, blood and more than a few special effects: That’s what the audience can expect on Saturday at the first SFX Makeup Competition at Proctors. It brings together students and adults from around the area to create fantastical and haunting looks. 

The competition is the brainchild of Jenn Dugan, owner of The Makeup Curio on State Street, where she blends “the beautiful and the unusual.” The Curio offers everything from facials to specialty makeup to theater makeup and, of course, special effects.  

Dugan can transform herself into an electric blue avatar or Miss Piggy or a witch straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Before opening The Makeup Curio, she worked in theaters as a costume designer and with hair and makeup design, too. Over the years, the cosmetic portion of her job became more of a passion and she taught herself how to do much of the special effects tricks she does today.

It’s a passion she’s noticed others around the Capital Region share, so when a customer asked her about doing a makeup competition earlier this year, the idea stuck with Dugan.

As shows such as Syfy’s “Face Off” bring attention to special effects makeup, the world is beginning to view it as an art form, said Dugan. 

“There’s also a growing cosplay community,” Dugan added. In the Capital Region alone, there seem to be more cosplay conventions than ever: Saratoga Comic-Con, Empire State Comic-Con, the Electric City Comic-Con, etc. Half of the students and adults who entered the competition are from that community and the other half are makeup enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really another platform for them to showcase their talents — at least there hasn’t been before now, said Dugan. 

Erin Stickney, a Capital Region resident who will be competing in the student competition on Saturday, loves experimenting with special effects and hopes to make a career of it.

“ . . . Unfortunately the opportunities around my area are slim,” Stickney said in her artist statement. Stickney can transform herself into an elvish creature, a possessed nun and a host of other fantastical beings. 

“The community should know that this awesomeness exists,” Dugan said. 

Makeup artists like Michelle Margiotta, who will be competing on Saturday, design special effects looks that range from haunting to whimsical. In her artist statement, Margiotta said “From horrifying creatures and fake wounds to beautiful mermaids and celestial beings, all of it is art. FX makeup has been a way for her to flex her creative muscles as well as a way to escape everyday life.”

The competition will be a test of those creative muscles, as well as technique. 

Contestants will be given the theme a day or so before the competition begins, which they can play off of in their designs. They will also be given an item that they have to incorporate into the design. 

“That levels the playing field,” Dugan said. The contestants are bringing their own makeup, which, especially when working with special effects, can vary in quality. Having to incorporate an item into their design tests more than just the quality of the makeup contestants bring: it tests their creativity and ability to adapt. 

Starting at 10 a.m., the students will have an hour and a half to apply their designs on themselves. Then, they’ll be judged by a panel of five judges, including Michael Gatzendorfer of School of the Performing Arts at Proctors and BARC Youth Theatre Company, Jeffrey P. Hocking of Schenectady Light Opera Company, Jared Balog of Jared Balog Special Makeup FX, Lisa Wood of About/FACE and Amy Freinberg-Trufas, an actress, model and spokesperson.

“I’m glad I’m not a judge,” Dugan said, adding that a lot of talented students will be competing. 
There’s Isabella Dupont, who creates anything from floral-inspired looks to gorier designs. Then there’s Emma Folmsbee who is inspired by horror cosplays to create looks right out of “Doki Doki Literature Club” and others. 

The adult competition starts at 2 p.m. and the seven contestants will have two hours to apply their looks on models. They are given a bit more time because they’ll have prosthetics to work with, which typically take longer to apply and set. 

Dugan hopes that through the competition, people realize the talent that’s in the area and what it takes to create these special effects that are on screen and on stage. 

“I think this will show the community that this is a viable profession,” Dugan said. 

Half of the $10 ticket price goes to Electric City Barn. Attendees can feel free to come and go as they please throughout the day as well. 

SFX Makeup Competition

WHEN: Saturday — student competition, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; adult competition, 2 to 5 p.m.

WHERE: Proctors Theatre Underground



Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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