Battle of the Brushes: Sydney

Battle of the Brushes

With IMATS Sydney soon approaching, that magical time when graduates who have completed school within 12 months  of the competition date, are able to compete in the Battle of the Brushes.

In a few short weeks, MUD graduates from our New York campus will be heading to IMATS Sydney to compete in this exciting event!

This time around we have 4 talented grads who will be competing in the Character/Prosthetic competition,  with the theme being Guardians of the Galaxy.

Above all we are so proud of our grads who are competing, and we wish them the best of luck! Let’s get to know them a little more before they ship off to battle… Battle of the Brushes!

What brought you to MUD?

Christie Moller: I decided to go to MUD after a few years of searching for a makeup school. Originally, I only wanted to go to school for beauty and then some things came up where I couldn’t attend any schools. Then by the time I found MUD, I was getting really into sfx makeup and once I looked into the Masters Program I knew that’s where I wanted to attend.

Rose Ripley: When I graduated high school, I went to college in Florida but very quickly found I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. After a semester in college, I came back home and I did what I always did when I was sad: I watched a ton of my favorite movies. I’ve loved movies since I was a kid and I was always fascinated by creature design. When I was around 6 years old my dad showed me the film Alien and even though it was a horror film, I wasn’t scared at all. Instead I was excited every time the Alien showed up on screen because I got to get a closer look at it. Watching my favorite movies helped make it click in my head that I wanted to be a part of making movies like that. I’ve also always found myself much happier when I could apply my creativity. I watched behind the scenes vlogs from the set of the Hobbit movies and saw the special effects make-up and what went into it and I thought it was so cool. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that’s exactly what I wanted to do. It was my mom that told me about MUD. She is a teacher and was working with some teachers from a performing arts school who were talking about MUD. After some research I decided to apply for the master’s program and the rest is history.

Stella Bouzakis: When I decided I wanted to get into TV/film, I was looking for a school that taught Special Fx. When I came across MUD and saw that not only did they teach application but sculpting as well, I was sold! Not to mention all of the amazing alumni that have come out of MUD and the fact that the school is highly recognized in the film industry. 

Taylor Schulte: I had been dreaming of going to MUD since I was 19 and in cosmetology school.  I finally had the means and support to make that dream a reality.  I moved to NYC last May to attend the Master Artistry Program.

Make-ups by Christie Moller

What are you doing currently? 

Moller: Unfortunately, I haven’t put too much of a dent in my career yet, but I’m working on changing that. I worked as a makeup/hair stylist at a photo studio and right now I’m working on finding more freelance work in my area until I can build up a stronger portfolio.

Ripley: I’ve been working on some short films and I’ve also been building my portfolio.

Bouzakis: I’m freelance right now, trying to get into the union eventually. I’ve been working on a lot of short films and it’s so much fun!

Schulte: Upon graduating in December I moved across the country to Los Angeles.  I currently work at Fractured FX Inc. where I am working on a major motion picture!

Make-ups by Rose Ripley

What made you decide to enter Battle of the Brushes?

Moller: I’ve always entertained the idea of entering, but I didn’t really think I’d get in so I wasn’t going to try. Then my instructor for SFX 201, Liz (Pisano), talked me into entering and I went for it, so I definitely have her to thank for getting me to this point.

Ripley: Michael Key came in one day to talk to the classes about Battle Of The Brushes and it sounded pretty amazing. I knew it was a really good opportunity. I love creating characters, so the idea of a challenge where I am given prosthetics and told to make a character really appealed to me. My teacher at the time also had competed in the past and won, so I also got that perspective on it. Then, when I found out the theme for the prosthetic competition was Guardians Of The Galaxy, I was sold. I absolutely adore Marvel movies, especially Guardians.  

Bouzakis: Honestly, when Michael Key of Makeup Artist Magazine and creator of IMATS/BOTB came to MUD it made me consider it and my teachers, Liz Pisano and Rich Krusell, pushed me to go. Thanks guys!

Schulte: I think Battle of the Brushes is an incredible opportunity for recent graduates and new professionals in the makeup industry. The exposure one can get from being apart of this competition can very much boost your career early on. I am so incredibly excited for this competition and so ready for the challenge!

Make-ups by Stella Bouzakis

What was the process of entering like?  

Moller: It was really simple. I sent in about 8 photos (Most were ones from what I did at MUD). Then I checked off three of the IMATS locations I wanted to enter, which I’m glad I did because I was originally only going to apply for NYC. After I got the email saying I wasn’t accepted into the NYC one, I figured that was it and moved on. So I was very surprised when I got the email saying I was a finalist for Sydney.

Ripley: It was a lot of Saturday photo shoots and convincingfriends and family to let me glue things to their faces. I tried to do as many SFX makeups as I could to build an impressive portfolio and sometimes that would mean turning my dad into a cat man in the kitchen and then running around the pine barrens of NewJersey trying to get nice pictures. That was the fun part .The rest was printing pictures at Walmart and sending them in.

Bouzakis: Luckily, MUD has amazing resources so it was pretty seamless. I made sure I did as many Saturday shoots as possible, which I think was key. I think it was important to submit quality photos to highlight my work.

Schulte: It consisted of creating a portfolio of sorts that contained pictures of my Prosthetic/Character Makeups.  I submitted 8 photos of my work over the last couple months.  Including some of which I received while participating in the Photoshoots at MUD.

Make-ups by Taylor Schulte


How do you think winning Battle of the Brushes will help you as a make-up artist in the long run? 

Moller: Firstly, winning would be amazing all in itself. Besides getting my name out to those in the industry, I think it would definitely help to give me more confidence as an artist. Even just being picked as a finalist is going to help me out in that area. 

Ripley: I think winning Battle of the Brushes will help to give me some exposure in the industry. It will show my ability to take a concept and bring it to life successfully and quickly and I believe the skills that are tested in Battle of the Brushes are important when working on set. Winning will help me to prove that I can work under pressure without losing the quality in my work.

Bouzakis: Amongst professionals in the industry, everyone knows IMATS and Makeup Artist Magazine. If you win, you and your work is featured, so it can possibly give some notoriety. But I think just to say you’ve competed sets you apart from others and lets people know the kind of work you can produce.

Schulte: I think the exposure of competing, win or lose, can boost one’s career tremendously.  The opportunity to meet and be judged/critiqued by some of the best in the industry is invaluable.  I think Battle of the Brushes has the possibility to open doors I may not of had otherwise.

Do you have a plan to keep all of the distractions from getting to you during the competition? 

Moller: I think I might actually benefit from distractions. I’m not the kind of person who can concentrate unless there’s other stuff going on around me. Plus it also adds a little bit of pressure to the situation, and I work better under pressure.

Ripley: I’m going to purge myself of all emotion like Spock from Star Trek and not look at anything but the makeup I’m doing.

Bouzakis: Honestly, I was lucky enough to have some great teachers at MUD. They made sure to prepare us for high pressure situations and how to think creatively. So I’m ready for the competition! Thanks MUD! 

Schulte: Remaining cool, calm, and collected. Remember that I was 1 of 8 Finalists selected to compete and that is an accomplishment in itself.  Also remembering people that are “distractions” at IMATS are just fellow makeup lovers interested in my creation.

We wish you all the best of luck!

If you’d like to help our talented grads raise some money to get them to Sydney please click the links below!

Christie Moller

Rose Ripley

Stella Bouzakis

Taylor Schulte






In remembrance of our dear friend and colleague, David Langford

David blog plaque

Langford 02
David Langford 

David Langford, inspirational instructor at Make-up Designory’s LA campus, passed away June 25, 2017. We continue to find ourselves full of sorrow.

David’s passion for life, teaching, and make-up will not be forgotten. The entire Burbank campus carries memories of David saying “Heeeyyy!” in the most infectious and jovial way that made the greeting so special and put a smile on everyones’ face immediately. Part of our faculty since 2010, but a member of the MUD extended family for much longer.

David’s accomplishments in his long career as a Make-up artist and teacher include helping bring the iconic Elvira: Mistress of the Dark character to life, being a Department Head at Paramount, as well as, Disney, and a member of I.A.S.T.E Local 706, the Make-up and Hairstylists Guild. In spite of a long and expansive freelance career, he always returned to teaching.  He touched the careers of numerous make-up artists in the industry and we are certain his memory will live on through them and their work.

We have received an abudnance of amazing messages and stories honoring David’s memory and would love to share the joy he infected us of all with.

“David and I not only shared a love of make-up and teaching that goes back to the late eighties, but we also shared a birthday. He had an enthusiasm and a love of life that was so contagious and I could not help but smile whenever I was around him. He truly cared abouthis students and whether they succeeded, he and I would often talk about what graduates are doing and how proud he was. He was a teacher, a mentor and a friend that touched so many people in such a positive way that I feel honored to have worked with him and even luckier to call him a friend.”

-Paul Thompson, Director of Education

“David Langford knew the key to life… and he lived it up.

I never saw David in a bad mood. He found joy in everything. He had this way of making things fun. It was a gift, a gift he shared with everyone – Instructors, Students, Executives, Administration, etc…everyone loved David. He had a seemingly endless supply of energy, patience, kindness, and creative ideas.

Never jaded, the ever enthusiastic David would proudly parade his student’s creative works through my classroom every six weeks. In turn my students would be greeted in his classroom with applause and cheers that only a sincere joy for teaching built into his DNA could produce.

I will miss our trips to Hobby Lobby and Goodwill digging for treasures to use for our open house tag team make-up demonstrations. I will miss grooming his eyebrows “just this side of drag queen” as David liked to say. I will even miss his car clutter, his mustache, and his infamous ancient flip phone. Mostly, I will miss the kind of man who took an hour out of his day to show my four year old the joys of making goo out of water and corn starch.

I always felt proud when David referred to me as the east coast version of him, and I hope to live up to that.

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful: it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” – David Steindl-Rast

Thank you David for all the joy!”

-Lisa Leveridge, MUD Instructor


“In memory of David Langford-

When I think about David the first thing that comes to mind is his laugh. He would do just about anything for the joke, mostly at his own expense. Laughing so hard tears would run down his cheeks, harder still when you joined in.

We would talk endlessly about movies we loved and those we would watch again and again. Quoting lines from our favorites, laughing out-loud at the silliness of it all. Good times. Of course that’s not all we talked about, topics were vast from sharing recipes to naming show-tunes. You always knew when David was walking down the halls at MUD, you could  hear him whistling some old tune from South Pacific or just about any other Broadway song, past or present.

An exceptional artist, he loved his craft. I truly believe he loved teaching even more. Sharing his experiences and knowledge, students loved him.

His room is directly across the hall from mine. I will miss him coming into my room asking if I have a sec so he can show me something he has just discovered or, re-discovered. I will miss our conversations, his excitement over what a student has just created or, when he just wanted to borrow a bobby pin. I will miss my friend.

To quote a line from one of our favorite movies, David,

“Ya know I love ya more than my luggage’

Rest in Peace dear David”

-Yvonne Hawker, MUD Instructor

David Langford demo at Open House

“If there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that there is no other human in this universe like David. He was a magical man who made me laugh until my cheeks hurt, who made the classroom a warm (literally) and welcoming environment, and who made my passion for artistry grow that much more. I feel honored to have known him and to have been taught by him. He was such a special man who will forever remain in my heart.”

-Cait Nash, MUD Grad, Makeup Artist



“I can’t even begin to explain David because he was just so magical. There is nobody else like him & I am so grateful to have known him, even though it was only for a short while. David used to keep these little penny coins that him and his kids made at Disneyland years ago, and whenever he was having a rough day, or someone was upset with him he would rub those coins to remind him to stay calm and to think about his kids. A week or so ago, I was having a particularly rough day in class, I was very frustrated. David could clearly see I was stressed and he took the coins out of his pocket and handed them to me. It was such a special moment for me because that meant he felt comfortable enough with me to lend me a little calmness. David was one of the best and truly most talented, I’m so glad I had an opportunity to get to know him.”

-Cicely Raposa, current student at MUD LA


Thank you, David, for all of the joy and light you brought to all of us each and everyday.

MUD Talks: Denika Bedrossian

MUD Talks Denika BedrossianDenika-Bedrossian-01

Photo by Deverill Weeks

Last fall, we were lucky enough to have the very talented and incredibly gracious, Denika Bedrossian come to our LA campus in Burbank. She spoke with us about her career so far, from the ups and downs, to working with Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kelly Osbourne, and many more.

MUD: How did you get into makeup?

I used to paint when I was a kid. It just kind of felt natural, with brushes, paint, colors, blending and stuff. When I was old enough to do my own make-up, I started playing around a lot. I used to watch my mom doing her own make-up, so it kind of made me a little more inspired to not do it on paper anymore. So, I started doing it (make-up) on my friend’s hair for dances at school and all that. Then, when I turned 16, I started working for Aveda, doing make-up demos for them at a salon near my house. When I turned 18, I went straight to MAC.


Make-up on Kelly Osbourne

MUD: Talk about your career and some of the highlights?

So, I had some amazing years at MAC. They were the greatest, and the best education I could have asked for. From there, I made a lot of great contacts and a lot of great friends. It kind of led me to understand which realm of make up I wanted to go into, because there are so many different departments for it. I ended up transferring to the MAC Pro store on Robertson, which, at the time was the big flagship store. I ended up meeting a lot of industry people there and kind of just got my name out. After 8 great years, I left, got an agent and started working in the freelance world and I’ve been doing it ever since.

MUD: What is your favorite project you ever worked on and why?

I have had a lot of amazing projects. I’m really proud of a lot of things I’ve done. I did one really great one, when I worked at MAC there was an event called Chinese Dress, where they brought different fabrics that were made in all different parts of Asia, and we duplicated on skin. They closed down Robertson Blvd, and put all these great models against these real painted backdrops of art. They just kind of blended in, and one of my girls that I got to work on was covered in lily pads and frogs. It was 16 hours we worked on her, and it was the most gratifying thing to see at the end. Later on in my career, I was working with Miley Cyrus where we got to do some amazing body art. I covered her in 12 different kinds of glitters with different sizes and colors from head to toe. It was probably the most ethereal thing I’ve ever photographed or seen with my own work. So it was really beautiful and dreamy.And then recently I worked with Lady Gaga so that was a great moment. I feel like every day a new project is great memory so I kind of just wait and see what comes next.


 Above mentioned glitter make-up on Miley Cyrus

MUD: What does an agent do for a makeup artist?

An agent is not only your support team and your number one fan. They book your work, they do all your deal memos, and they pitch you.  They introduce you and your work to different publicists, and artists.  They kind of run your life for you, keep it organized and make sure you get paid. So it’s a nice way to have someone take care of all the stuff you don’t have the time to deal with and get the work you might not be able to get on your own.

MUD: What qualities do you feel are important to have as a make-up artist?

I think that it’s really important that you hold your own, have your own style and our own ethics. For me personally, I was brought up with very strong morals and I don’t like to veer away from them. So I keep jobs very professional but fun and exciting. I always know where to draw the line plus I always bring (to my clients) something that makes them feel good whether it’s a story, a product or it’s just my smile.  I always find a way to be consistent with that and I think that’s what makes people want to see you again. It’s important to have your own thing going on so that people miss it and want it.


Make-up on Lydia Hearst for Mint magazine

MUD: What kind of things do you think a make-up artist needs to do to stay relevant in todays market?

Well nowadays social media is the number one thing. I know when I was growing up and getting in the business, social media wasn’t even a thought.   We had big leather books we had to mail out to people to get jobs. I think today it’s about incorporating your personal life into your work life and showing a side of you (but not too much of you) in posting your work as well as tagging companies consistently. This includes maintaining relationships with different people and reaching out to photographers. Using the social media platform to get your own work is so important. That’s how work is booked these days.

MUD: What is the best advice you could give to brand new makeup artist?

To always learn, learn, learn and never be done learning.  Stay on top of your knowledge, not only in make-up and beauty, but in fashion, music and film because everything ties together. You never know where a job’s going to bring you, so it’s important that you kind of stay on top of every department there is in this business. Stay true to you and always, always, always be all over everything you see.


Make-up on Ivy Levan

MUD: Are there any last thoughts that you’d like to leave us with?

I would say being a make up artist is one of the greatest gifts in the world. I wouldn’t change it for anything ever. I am truly blessed to have this job and met every person I’ve worked with. Never give up, because you might have those days where you feel like it’s not going anywhere or maybe didn’t make the right choice for your future, but at the end of the day, if it’s what you love, its going to happen and it’s going to get better.

Photo Credit : Denika Bedrossian’s Agency Portfolio



Grad Spotlight: Lora Arellano


Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 11.49.40 AM“Say yes to everything!”
– Lora Arellano

MUD: Tell me a little bit about your background. Where are you from? What did you want to be when you grew up? What led you to MUD? 
Lora: I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Growing up, I was always very artistic. I took tons of art classes and spent most of my days in school doodling. I always knew I wanted a career in the fashion/beauty industry and I realized out of high school that I loved make-up and it was the only thing I had patience for. I decided to pursue a career in make-up when I came across The book, “Making Faces” by Kevyn Aucoin. I was absolutely obsessed with the way you could transform someone into a completely different character/person. After that, I started looking into make-up schools and MUD was referred to me by a friend in the industry. I checked It out and enrolled. It was a blast!

p (1).jpegRihanna at the Met Gala (Make-up by Lora)

MUD: What are you doing now? 
Lora: Now, I am signed to an amazing agency, Cloutier Remix. I’ve had the chance to travel the world with amazing clients. I’ve done makeup for tours, editorials, commercials, music videos, television, fashion shows and red carpet events. Every year surprises me! The possibilities are endless!

You can see some of my clients and work here.

I also own my own cosmetic company, Melt Cosmetics! I started it in 2013 with my friend Dana, whom I met while working at a make-up counter. It’s been a crazy road and it’s crazy balancing all of it, doing all this work, but it’s worth it. We currently have 22 lipsticks and 5 eyeshadow palettes. We are expanding into highlighters, which were just featured on! I still live in Los Angeles where I purchased my first home a couple of years ago. Tattooed girl living in the suburbs who would’ve thought?!

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 1.33.59 PMLora at the cosmetics lab

MUD: What did you do RIGHT after you left MUD? 
Lora: After I left MUD, I freelanced for about two years. Most of the jobs I did were NOT paid, but everyone has to pay their dues and put in their hours, so don’t give up! Every new job leads to more opportunities.

After those two years, I decided to work at a make-up counter. I worked there for 5  years, getting promoted to management, while at the same time balancing freelance work until I got my big break with an amazing client of mine. I left the counter after those 5 years and pursued freelancing and running Melt Cosmetics full time! Best decision ever!

p.jpegRihanna on the cover of Bazaar Magazine (Make-up by Lora)

MUD: What do you remember most vividly about your time at MUD?
Lora: The passion every student had. It was contagious!

MUD: Do you/will you stay in touch with the friends you made at MUD? Why do you think that is important in your line of work? 
Lora: I have stayed in touch with a couple friends I made at MUD, but by now, everyone has gone on totally different paths. I do think networking is extremely important and throughout your entire career, you’ll never stop networking!

p (3)Iggy Azalea for Elle Canada (Make-up by Lora)

MUD: Tell me about your best day at MUD! 
Lora: The best day was when we did blood tubing! I volunteered to be the model and it was extremely fun getting to have blood squirt out of a giant wound that they applied to my head! Hahahaha!

p (4)Serena Williams on the cover of Sports Illustrated (Make-up by Lora)

MUD: What are some lessons you learned at MUD that you think will be most beneficial in the “real world?” 
Lora: The color wheel! At the time it was completely new to me! Also, I loved the tips on color matching skin.

MUD: Would you have done anything differently? 
Lora: I would not have done anything differently because I felt prepared when I left the school and confidence in any job is key.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 1.37.06 PMLora’s Halloween make-up look

MUD: Do you have any words of encouragement for those considering applying to MUD?
Lora: It will be so fun! Go in excited and give it everything. It will pass by so fast!!!

MUD: Lastly, what advice to you have for today’s MUD students?
Lora: Say yes to everything! Any opportunity, paid or not, can open the door to a new one, so don’t turn anything down!

MUD Talks: Alex Noble


Alex Noble 2

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Alex Noble! He swung by our LA campus in Burbank to tell students about his career thus far. From “Desperate Housewives” to “Fear the Walking Dead,” Alex certainly had a lot of wisdom to share!

MUD: What was your first big break?
Alex: My first big break was coming out to Los Angeles. Because that was a hurdle that I had worked hard to overcome. I was in Cincinnati, Ohio at the time. Getting into the Union was also a really a big break for me.  Movie-wise though? That’s a tough one. There was a movie I worked on that has a $1.3 million budget. I got in on a recommendation from a friend of mine already working on it. They took a chance on me. I was co-department heading with another artist. It was called Forbidden Warrior. Yeah you’ll never see it.

MUD: What’s the best way for somebody to ask if they can assist you?
Alex: Erin Krueger Mekash had a fantastic one. Don’t ask if you can clean my brushes. If you want to assist me, I want to know how good of a make-up artist you are and not how good of a brush cleaner you are.

MUD: Talk about your work on “Desperate Housewives.”
Alex: I did a movie many years ago called “Without Men.” It starred Eva Longoria among others. I was department head so I did Eva’s make up. She looks at me one day and she says “Have you ever thought about coming on Desperate Housewives?” I said, “I’d love to, but I don’t think they would touch me.” She’s like “Why not?”  I replied, “Because no one knows I do beauty make-up.”  Keep in mind, at this time I was doing “Terminator” make-up.  I was doing a lot of effects-based make-up for independent movies like “I Am Number Four.” She looks at me and says, “Well you’ve been doing my make up for about 18 days and I think I’m a pretty good reference.” I loved her for that. I told her “I appreciate the opportunity, but I don’t want to replace anybody or make any ripples in the water at all. If you’re willing to do this then I want an opportunity to prove myself.” She said “Done!” Four months later, I was on the show and I didn’t replace anyone or ripple any waters. I became their regular addition for the next two seasons and I didn’t do a touch of effects make-up.

I can tell you right off the bat it scared the hell out of me. Here I am, new kid on the block and I’m working on the glamour show of the decade. I’m confident in my beauty make-up, but my confidence means nothing if the people that hired me aren’t confident.  So that was the big concern. I like to do natural look. I don’t like to do glamour or high fashion. It really pushed me personally and professionally to go outside my comfort zone and boundaries. While I never had to do high fashion make-up, I did have to do high-end make-ups.

MUD: How much pressure was there on “Desperate Housewives” to make sure everyone looked amazing?
Alex: There wasn’t that much pressure because all of the pressure on the make-up was being directed to the five girls. As long as they were flawless, everyone else was okay. (Not that I could slack off!) Yes, I was there for two seasons, but at no point in time did I ever think I was safe. Because of that, I continued to be on top of my game. I’d always think, “Okay this will keep me on the show or I’ll get fired.”  That was every day.

I never thought I would be on that show. It was the kindness of Eva and my abilities as a make-up artist that allowed that to happen. Every aspect of the show was magical.

MUD: Talk about working on “Fear the Walking Dead.”
Alex: Again, it’s magical to be a part of the Walking Dead family. It can be difficult, but it’s like I asked my dad, “Was it hard to get that good?” He said, “It took work, but it was it hard? No, because I love it.” Is it tedious? Yes!  You can be in the trailer for five hours doing make-ups with nothing but airbrush or prosthetics and airbrush.

MUD: Do you prefer to work in TV or film?
Alex: I prefer working on either film or television. I like film because you are able to establish a family, a bond and it’s almost like summer camp. Whereas TV, you still have families and bonds but it’s more like a school year. I’ve never department headed a TV show so I don’t know what that’s like. I know plenty that have and they enjoy it. It’s a steady paycheck and they love what they do.

MUD: What is your favorite make-up you’ve ever done?
Alex: There’s three favorite make-ups. What I’m working on now, which is “Fear the Walking Dead” because that’s a dream come true for me. My favorite project was “Desperate Housewives” because that’s an amazing experience with amazing people. It was an incredibly well-oiled machine. And lastly, “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles” because that fulfilled a bucket list in the sense that I always wanted to work on a Terminator Series.

MUD: What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Alex: My uncle had the best advice. “Don’t ever consider a long term relationship with someone you wouldn’t consider being a business partner with. If you trust them with your business, you can trust them with your heart.” If I can’t trust someone personally, then I can’t trust someone professionally. If I can’t trust them professionally, I sure don’t trust them personally. Nobody can accuse me of being a liar, cheater or thief. Honesty is so important to me because I want people to be honest with me. If I do something wrong, tell me. But if you don’t tell me, I don’t know how it’s gone wrong.

I do believe that you get what you deserve. Every decision you’ve ever made in your entire life has led you to be where you are right now. It’s decision making. That’s one of the truths that people don’t really like to hear especially when they fall on hard times. Look, I‘ve been on hard times, guess what? I caused it! Every decision I made.

There’s no point in looking back and saying “What if?” What you do now from this moment forward will affect the rest of your life. Every decision you make now affects every other decision. So make the right decision.

MUD: Where would you want the career to go next?
Alex: Oh god, to walk on stage at the Kodak Theater.  I would like to do a war epic. I’d like to something like “Saving Private Ryan” or the Iraq war. I like doing dirt and blood and bringing light to situations if it helps the troops. I may not support why we’re doing what we’re doing, but I sure support the people doing it.

MUD Talks: Ray Shaffer


Ray Shaffer 1

When you ask anyone about Ray Shaffer, industry professional or student alike, they will tell you that he is the kindest, most genuine, and hard-working man they know. He is the gentleman of this profession. His road to make-up wasn’t a direct course, but that’s what has made him an excellent artist and a phenomenal teacher.

MUD: What was growing up like? And what led you to make-up?
Ray: I was born at the Submarine Base in Groton, CT. My Dad was in the Navy at the time and worked on nuclear submarines. Part of my childhood was very residential, and part of it was moving around a lot because I was part of a navy and a coast guard family.

I first got interested in make-up when I was very, very young. My mom was and still is a nurse. She’s been a trauma nurse for about 54 years, and she’s finally going to retire this spring. She used to work the 3-11pm shift at St. Vincent’s Hospital. She would get off work around midnight or so, and come home to get me out of bed to watch Mission Impossible reruns together. There were lots of disguises in the show and my head just smoked at the idea that people could be different people. My dad wasn’t into monster movies, but when I was 5 or 6 he would stay up with me to watch the Creature Feature at night. That was really cool because he’s a very down to earth guy and monsters really weren’t his thing.

MUD: What was your first introduction to make-up?
Ray: I remember when I was 12 or so, Dick Smith had a Monster Make-up Kit that you could buy at toy stores. I was saving up from my paper route to buy it, and I would go into KB Toy Store and look at it longingly. My birthday is in October and I was hoping to have it in time for Halloween, but I knew I was going to be a few bucks short. Well, on my birthday, my grandparents came over. My Grandpa drove a big green Chrysler and I was feeling bummed when he called me over to it. He pulled out a box and he had bought me the Dick Smith Make-up Kit!

Basically, the kit was vacuform molds and you made your own appliances out of gelatin (Dick called it flesh flags). He was looking for something easy to use and relatively non-toxic, which it was. The whole heating it up thing was a little weird. You probably couldn’t get away with that now. But the first make-ups or appliances I did were out of the Dick Smith Kit. Later on, I found “Stage Make-up” by Richard Corson in the library and that put me up on a different level.

I remember the first appliance make-up I ever tried to do on my own was a Rocky Balboa make-up. I was 14 or 15 trying to recreate the boxer damage makeup. I remember being very happy with it at the time. I lost the pictures, but I’m very glad because it was probably awful. It was a lot of fun. Later, I remember what a thrill it was to meet Mike Westmore when he came out to MUD to talk. He had been the make-up artist on the first few Rocky movies, and on First Blood and Raging Bull, and all these cool films, plus Star Trek. It was really cool!

MUD: How did you turn your interest in make-up into a career?
Ray: I started out wanting to act. I’d always loved make-up, but being from the east coast, I may as well have being talking about being a rocket scientist or being a ping pong player in China. I didn’t understand enough about the field to figure out how to make that happen. Because I wanted to act, I used make-up to augment my range as an actor. I’m a pretty unique looking guy, so unless I just wanted to wave a steak knife, or be the guy yelling, “die, grandma die!”, I needed a little help to make me believable as other characters.

In the course of working in theater in college, I was working on a type of play called a reconstruction. It’s where you take a classic text and rearrange it. It’s usually experimental theater. My college did Hamlet, and my roommate was playing Hamlet’s Father. Our director had the idea to make him a Viking Chieftain. And what do they do when a they die? They’re put in a funeral pyre. So we needed to have this crispy critter corpse kind of guy. A role like that is an awful lot for a 20 year old actor to wrap his head around. He tried different things, but wasn’t happy with what he was doing. So I built the mask for him.

I remember him putting it on and staring in the mirror and being very, very quiet about it. When you see your face burnt down to the skull, the whole idea of how much you’ve been violated hits you. That night at rehearsal, he was a whole different cat! I remember him walking off the stage and hugging me. I was so emotionally overwhelmed by that — it was probably at the point I jumped ship. I felt I was doing better work influencing other performers than I was enjoying acting myself.

MUD: How was your career starting to take shape at that point?
Ray: I sort of divide my career into East Coast and West Coast. My first prosthetic makeup job ever was in a theater in Massachusetts. I remember they thought I could age a whole cast for $50. And I did it! I ended up having to augment it with cotton and latex.

My first job on the west coast was for Rob Burman. It’s funny because it just got released! Andrew Getty, who was the grandson of John Paul Getty, was a sort of auteur. He wanted to be a film director. He had some very nightmarish visions and he tried to write a narrative around it. Basically, he picked away at this film for a long time. He would shoot it a little bit, then he would get upset and stop, then he’d start again with a different crew…and so on and so forth. He passed about 2 years ago or so and his estate had the work completed since he was in post-production, and just released it on DVD and Video on Demand. It’s called “The Evil Within.” There was some creepy stuff in there. There was a spider that was stitched together from human body parts. Lots of practical gags and lots of in-camera tricks, things with perspective. I’m not sure if there was any CG at all. But that was my first film. That was also my first job for Rob Burman.

MUD: When did the transition to teaching begin?
Ray: I came out to the west coast in the summer of 2000 and I worked intermittently then continually was a make-up artist, but primarily as a lab technician. That means I made molds, I did hair work, I did castings, sometimes when the sun shone in the right direction, I even sculpted. I did that for 10 years. In the late 2000s, a lot of things really depressed the film industry. SAG went on strike, and then the WGA went on strike. And then the banks crashed, and I navigated that as best I could but nobody was working.

I had to look for another opportunity. Also around this time my mother started getting sick. Mom is a tank so I knew if something was wrong with mom, then I wanted to be there. So I went back to the east coast to try to be of use to my family. In the course of wanting to stay busy, I was going through Craigslist, and there was an ad that the MUD NY was looking for instructors. At the time I didn’t even know MUD had a campus in NY! So I contacted them.

I know that I’m a patient guy, and I hoped that I’d be descent at teaching. I was surprised by how much I loved it! There was an adjustment. It’s challenging to take 20 people who are all at different motivation levels, ability levels and artistic levels and to guide them as a unit through things they sometimes don’t believe they can do. So there is a learning curve. What started out as something I wanted to try, turned out to be something I love very, very much. I think of friends back home who are knocking rust off of boats and making t-shirts and working in fast food stores, and I’ve got the best job on planet earth.

MUD: With having a career sculpting, molding, applying, and painting, what part of the process is your favorite?
Ray: What do I love doing? I love sculpture and molding. What is it that I love about make-up? I just love the whole idea that we can make things that never existed before, that you can sit down with a motivated actor, and a little artistic vision and hard work, and combine it with a bag of cement and a block of wax clay and turn it into people, and species, and creatures that the world has never seen before. It’s so creative and only limited by your skill set and your imagination. And there’s not a lot of that left in the world anymore. Everything is prepackaged. For us to be able to make something that is so unique and individual in this world is something else.

MUD: What has changed about the industry from your perspective?
Ray: I think computers have become a bigger part of it, but even that is cyclic. Now, there’s a big push back. I think make-up and computers are both awesome tools, provided they are used appropriately for their strengths. If I use a hammer to hammer a nail, it’s a wonderful tool. If I use a hammer to saw a table in half, it’s sort of a mess.

When all of the changes started happening was when Avatar came out. That scared the begezus out of all of us. There had been fun CG characters for some time, but Avatar was the first instance where a director could look through the viewfinder on the camera and in front of him were people in motion capture suits. In real time, he was seeing blue kitty people in the jungle. Basically when everyone saw that it was a huge hit, it freaked everyone in the industry out. Everyone making films at the time stopped and went into turn around mode. They wanted to evaluate this new option, and there was only one studio in the world that was doing work that good, WETA. Other studios caught up, but it took a while and in the meantime, nobody was working.

There was a time when every action or adventure film you saw was just filled with lots of cartoons. Then, there was almost a backlash against it. People were tired of watching confused looking actors standing around monsters that clearly aren’t there. The Star Wars prequels are a great example. People standing around in a green room looking confused. I think people missed what make-up brought to performances, like the physical space that they fill on screen. There’s a real tangible quality to them. If you look at the cast of Phantom Menace, they are clearly great actors but you look at how they struggled in that movie. Then you look at a movie like Alien, you have Sigourney Weaver in a real space with a guy in costume in a smoky alley with drool dribbling on her — that affects your performance.

Great make-ups in your presence effect your performance. All of a sudden, you feel like you’re in the presence of an alien, or a senator from another planet. That effects actors in a way that someone standing and talking to a mark on the wall does not. They’re effective in a way that CG often is not. It’s nice to see it come back. I think everything runs in cycles. In some ways, opportunities have declined, and in other ways they have not. There are far more people making movies these days — whether it’s a YouTube movie, Netflix, a feature, or a low-budget thing. In some ways, there seems to be more work!

MUD: What does the future hold?
Ray: I would be happy teaching as long as MUD is happy having me. I would be happy sculpting and creating make-ups. I’m getting better and look forward to continue to get better all the time. There are things I think are good or bad, but there’s always improvement that can be made.

MUD: What advice for make-up artists do you want to share?
Ray: Work hard and don’t quit. I know that sounds like such a stereotype. A lot of these pieces of advice you hear so often tend to lose their meaning, but I’ve seen wonderfully talented people not succeed when they only need to try a little built harder and not quit. A lot of time common sense and a work ethic are super powers. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it.

If I have no other gift, I hope as teacher, I have a gift to help someone who’s straight out of high school, or wherever they are in life, believe that they can get through a sculpture. And then they can get through fiberglass. And if you keep on trying, doors will open. All luck is your preparation meeting the right opportunity. So, don’t quit, and believe you can do it. The whole idea of being able to make something from nothing is very empowering. Rob Burman used to say, “once you learn you can make stuff, you’re never the same again.”

Graduate Spotlight: Nicole Faulkner


Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 10.26.08 AM

“Be positive, be grateful, make art, and be nice to each other!”
Nicole Faulkner 

MUD: Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from? What did you want to be when you grew up? What led you to MUD? 
Nicole: I’m a Cali girl! I grew up in Corona, CA — about an hour and a half south of Los Angeles, actually. I always loved art growing up. I toyed with the idea of fashion school, tattoo artistry, architecture…but I never really considered make-up artistry a real career until probably my junior year. I had to do a project for my Career Choices class on a topic that interested me and that’s when I really dove into the world of make-up, learning about all the different career options and understanding what being a freelance artist meant. I started doing research on schools and fell in love with MUD! Everyone said it was the best so I thought to myself, “this is it, I HAVE to go here!

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.00.53 AMPentatonix at the 2017 Grammys by Nicole Faulkner

MUD: What are you doing now? 
Nicole: I graduated from MUD in early 2010, and since then I’ve been a freelance working artist here in LA! I live in the valley, near Sherman Oaks. I have a 2 bedroom so I could turn one room into a little studio for myself! I now work with some of the biggest directors, musicians, social media superstars, celebrities, actors, and make-up brands! I’ve worked with Def Leppard, T.I., 5 Seconds of Summer, French Montana, and toured the world all last year with 3 time Grammy award winners, Pentatonix. I work with TV stars like Leah Remini, Raven Simone, Eddie Griffin, Michelle Visage on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, VMAs, CMAs, Grammy’s…etc. I’ve done make-up on internet superstars like Tyler Oakley, Jeffree Star, Todrick Hall, Joey Graceffa, MannyMUA, Jaclyn Hill, Nicole Guerrero, TheGabbyShow, etc. I work with award winning director, Hannah Lux Davis who is so incredibly in demand — I’m lucky to be her go to girl for every music video she does! I also work closely with different makeup brands like Morphe Brushes, MAC cosmetics, Benefit Cosmetics, and Jeffree Star cosmetics for collaborative video content or campaign ads for new collections! 

4bee7a_26717dbd05d74cce9bc2284d953f918fJeffree Star by Nicole Faulkner

MUD: What did you do right after you left MUD?
Nicole: Right after I left MUD, I immediately started freelancing. I was actually freelancing while I was still in school at MUD! I started working with students from LA Film School and just networking a lot, taking every job I could even if there was little to no pay. I was also test shooting with different photographers, just trying to get my name out there and build a reputation and I knew that would take years so I wanted to start ASAP! But when I did graduate, I started booking more stuff — music videos with new upcoming artists, short films, and small feature films. I also got a job part-time at MAC Cosmetics.

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.09.03 AMTodrick Hall by Nicole Faulkner

MUD: What do you remember most vividly about your time at MUD?
Nicole: I remember how clean everything was, the white walls, white countertops, fresh scent. Everything felt clean and new every day, like each day was a fresh slate. I liked that a lot. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.13.52 AMBy Nicole Faulkner

MUD: Do you/will you stay in touch with the friends you made at MUD? Why do you think that is important in your line of work? 
Nicole: My whole class was really cool — we would all hang out after school and on weekends but after that, we all kind of lost touch. Some people moved back to their hometowns or went on to hair school, etc. I did make one life long friend Barbra. She lives in Utah but we talk often and I go visit her about twice a year and that’s cool to have MUD as our memory of where we met and reminisce on that experience with her!

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.15.58 AMBy Nicole Faulkner

MUD: Tell me about your best day at MUD!

Nicole: My best day at MUD was my last day at MUD because I remember reflecting on everything I just learned and that whole experience and just being so proud of myself and feeling READY for whatever, I have always been super ambitious and my MUD experience gave me that extra juice I needed to get out there and hustle.

Screen-Shot-2016-04-08-at-6.06.42-PMRuPaul’s Drag Race judges, Michelle Visage and Todrick Hall. 
Make-up by Nicole Faulkner

MUD: What are some lessons you learned at MUD that you think will be most beneficial in the “real world?” 
Nicole: Sanitation! Number one most important thing you can ever learn in this industry! But also that hands-on experience working on all of my classmates — some with perfect skin and some with not-so-perfect skin. There’s so much variety and each face is different. Everyone’s eye shape, skin texture and skin tone are so different, so it was nice to sort of face everything you’re afraid of in class so when your out there working, you never feel insecure or scared of not being able to manipulate your product to work for a particular client. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.23.08 AMJoseph Gordon Levitt with Nicole Faulkner on the set of “Hit Record.”

MUD: Would you have done anything differently? 
Nicole: I specialize in avant garde make-ups and “heavy glam” type of looks and in school I would always try and do too much! In beauty class for example, I wanted to bust out all my tricks and crazy colors and big lashes. I thought basic HD beauty make-ups were boring, but when you really get out there, A LOT of jobs require just simple clean beauty make-ups and I didn’t really understand that. Being 18, I just thought “Oh, glitter, cut crease, huge winged liner on everyone!” I would have really taken that section more seriously because I ended up having to really train myself in the art of holding back and just executing clean, camera-ready looks. Just because you can do stuff doesn’t mean you have to do them all the time! There’s plenty of time to do all that fun, wild stuff with crazy colors and flex all of your creative muscles, but it’s also important to really understand and perfect the basics too!

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.30.21 AM Nicki Minaj at the VMAs. Backup dancer make-up by Nicole Faulkner.

MUD: Do you have any words of encouragement for those considering applying to MUD?
Nicole: You get what you put into the experience. If you come, really come. Like, be there mentally, physically, emotionally, all of it! Soak up all the knowledge you can and then get ready to work your butt off!

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.32.52 AMNicole Faulkner and Frankie Grande

MUD: Lastly, what advice to you have for today’s MUD students? 
Nicole: Just enjoy the experience! Always come to school with a good attitude, never bring personal life problems or stresses into the classroom — treat it like you’re on a make-up job. Clients look to us for constant good energy, good vibes, and positive words of encouragement and it’s so important that you project that. At the end of the day, it’s make-up. MAKE-UP! How fun is that? I feel lucky and blessed to have been so successful in a career I love so much and I’m so passionate about! Be positive, be grateful, make art, and be nice to each other!