Battle of the Brushes: Toronto

Battle of the BrushesToronto

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MUD: Which category are you competing in and why did you choose to enter that category?

Korbyn Rachel:  SFX Character

Rose Ripley: I am competing in the character/prosthetic category. I really love creating characters and doing creature design, so this category, to me, is a lot of fun. I also just love Guardians of the Galaxy, so it is really cool to be able to participate when that is the theme of Battle of the Brushes.

Samantha Martino: I am competing in the Character/Prosthetic FX category. I was drawn to it because I loved how much you could do with it. One night my friend let me do 2 completely different looks on him back to back (which is a lot!) and both times he just looked like a completely different being.

Ashley Soper: I am competing in Beauty/Fantasy. During 301 I was able to build my portfolio and I felt really good about my photos. I loved the models I got to work with and was very happy about how my photoshoots came out.

Melissa Ginzel: I am competing in the character/ prosthetic category in Toronto. When I originally enrolled at MUD I definitely thought I’d be more on the track of doing beauty makeup in the industry. While in school however, I loved seeing the intense transformation that could occur using different appliances and painting techniques. Sean Conklin and Ray Schaffer definitely worked with me to cultivate that passion and my final project was so successful, I was hooked!

Caliann Feimer:  I am competing in the FX portion of the Battle of the Brushes competition. I chose this category because FX is what I love to do. I’ve been an FX artist at Six Flags Great Adventure coming up on four seasons and I couldn’t think of anything I enjoy more than bringing a character to life.

Faith Grady:  I was accepted for the Beauty/Fantasy competition! I chose this category because I love the creative side of avant-garde makeup, and really wanted to challenge myself to create something outside of the box.

Skyla Mangine: I will be competing in the prosthetic/character design portion of the competition. I chose to do the SFX competition because for me it’s where I can really show my skills and creativity. I love having the opportunity to completely design a new character and turn someone into an otherworldly creature.

MUD: What’s the best/most encouraging advice that you’ve received so far?

Rachel:  The best advice I’ve been given has been to always be true to myself. I am one to think outside the box and I think being told to embrace that really helps me expand more artistically.

Ripley: “Do or do not. There is not try” -Yoda.

Martino: The best advice I’ve received was to just move on. When something isn’t working out the way you planned or isn’t looking the way you want it to, just move on. I am one for always dwelling on something that isn’t necessarily going my way, but when I remember to just move on and work on something else, sometimes something better than what I planned can come out of that. Happy accidents!

Soper: Asides from the family, the first email I made was to Gil and Paul. Gil was one of my teachers for special fx 201. I brought in what I felt were my best photos, he helped me and gave me advice on which ones I should submit. I shared my inspiration photos with them and received amazing advice. I then texted Caitlin Nash, a girl from my class, after she offered to brainstorm with me, she then said “You are going to do so F*ing good. Like you know what you’re doing. You got this”. I also reached out to Lacey who took first place at IMATS New York and picked her brain about the competition.

Ginzel: To not be so hard on myself and to not let fear win out – take everything that comes to you and be confident in your decisions.

Feimer:  It’s honestly absolutely an honor to be chosen for this competition. The overwhelming support I have from previous employers, coworkers, and friends is extremely encouraging. Make-up Designory has also helped keep me in contact with a lot of previous competitors who offer the best advice given that they’ve been in these shoes.

Grady: Ever since I was a little girl, my mom has been telling me, “You’ll never know if you don’t try.” As I have gotten older and made big decisions, such as applying for Battle of the Brushes, I have listened to that advice. It’s nice to know that the worst thing that can happen is them saying no, and by trying I avoid that annoying “what if” that can linger in the back of your mind.

Mangine: So far the best advice I have gotten would be to follow your gut feelings and don’t get caught up in your own head.

MUD: What do you hope to get out of this experience?

Rachel:  I hope to connect with other artists and people in the industry to further advance in my career!

Ripley: I hope to gain exposure and experience. Hopefully, the competition will get my name out there and help me with networking opportunities. It will also help give me experience in a “high stress” environment because it is timed. In addition, it allows me the chance to deal with problems that happen on the fly, which is also something that happens on set.

Martino: I hope to be able to really discover and hone in on my adaptability skills. Being able to come up with a look and adapt it to whatever prosthetic pieces I may get is definitely freaking me out a little bit, but I can’t wait to learn how I will handle that situation when I’m in the thick of it.

Soper: Just that, experience. This is very outside of my norm. I haven’t done anything like this before. I have experience in Bridal and Print makeup, not avant guard or fantasy makeup. This really challenges me, and I am up for the challenge. Just the fact I got accepted to compete is amazing!

Ginzel: The whole thing seems to be very character-building– how to perform under pressure, how to develop a character or concept, how to adjust when curve balls are thrown at you. But ultimately I want to create something that leaves a lasting impression that I can be proud of.

Feimer:  I really hope to grow as an artist in this experience. The nature of the competition is stressful and exciting all at once. I hope to create an amazing character and create some connections with the other artists and people I encounter on this project.

Grady:  Best case scenario, I’ll be able to earn back the money I spent getting there, haha! Really though, I’m so excited to learn a few things while having fun and being inspired by the other competitors! I’m truly honored to be selected to compete in such a prestigious competition, and if one person likes the make-up I do, I’ll be happy.

Mangine:  I would like to get my work out to a bigger audience. I hope that I can show more people what I’m capable of and get a career boost.




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






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!

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! 

Graduate Spotlight: Claire Doyle



“Never stop researching and never stop networking.”
– Claire Doyle

MUD: Where were you born?
Claire: I was born in Los Angeles, California.

MUD: What was it like growing up for you?
Claire: I’m the youngest of three. My parents are immigrants from South Africa. My father is a physician and plastic surgeon. My mother is an artist.  I kind of felt make up was a funny combination of both of their careers together: reconstructing faces and dabbling with art.

MUD: What was your first experience with make-up in your life?
Claire: Probably when I was a teenager. In my grade school through teenage years, I was a ballerina and I was involved in theater.  I used to always do make-up for our shows and I remember people saying, “Oh I like how you did yours, can you do mine, too?”  So I carried that Caboodle around with all my make-up supplies and we did each other’s make-up.

 MUD: How did you choose MUD as a make up school?
Claire: I was in my 2nd year of college at Emmerson College in Boston. I took a make-up class for fun and really enjoyed it so during my summer break, I wanted to use the time to pursue the make-up education further.  I researched schools at the time and there were only three then: Joe Blasco, Make Up Designory and Westmore Academy.  Maurice Stein, the owner of Cinema Secrets, was a patient of my father’s and he said to him, “Oh my daughter’s interested in make-up, which school do you recommend?” So Maurice was the one who actually suggested looking into MUD. I was just drawn to the curriculum and I think it was also about how the schedule worked out during my summer vacation! So all the cards were in the right place and that’s why I ended up choosing MUD.

MUD: What was your first big break?
Claire: I don’t know because it feels like it keeps happening! I was just so excited to get my first job out of MUD and it was with another make-up artist. It was a three picture deal. She did the first picture and then she jumped ship to go do something else. I was left hanging with 2 low budget movies back-to-back and I just thought, “Wow what a great start!” I want to say my first big break in my make-up career was not actually doing make-up. It was being the production assistant on the first 3 Pirates of the Caribbean movies but that was about a year and half already into my career! Even more recently, I went to the Super Bowl and I did the first live commercial ever for the Super Bowl! Like I said, I feel like these keep happening.

MUD: What was the biggest challenge working on the live Super Bowl commercial?
Claire: I feel like I had the most challenging element because we were filming live and I couldn’t go in for touch ups! Of course, it was a very emotional commercial and the talent was bawling non-stop. One woman was crying for twenty minutes straight and I had no monitor to look at what they filming.  So that was a challenge of placing trust to ride it out for what it was. Afterwards, I got to run and give tissues when they called cut.

MUD: What has been the secret to having such a strong career?
Claire: I think it’s never giving up. There was a quote I was going to share with the students that I read recently in a book that has more to do with general business but it applies: “You aren’t finished when you are defeated. You are finished when you decide to quit.”  I was adaptable with the industry. I’m going into my 17th year of my career now. And if you think about it, when I started there was no Facebook, no Myspace, and no Instagram. I worked through 2 strikes — we had an actor’s strike and a writer’s strike, and I’m still doing what I’m doing. You know, with every challenge that comes with our industry, it really comes back to you. Just don’t give up. If it’s something you know you’re supposed to do and you love it, you’ll find a way to do it.

MUD: What is your advice for people starting out?
Claire: Get organized. Stay motivated any which way you can whether that’s being around good people or reading books. Also just enjoy your own life and avoid getting work burnout. This is supposed to just be a part of your life, not entirely who you are.

Any final thoughts?
Claire: Never stop researching and never stop networking.


Interview by Bob Mitsch

Dylan Smith Visit



MUD graduate, Dylan Smith (Multimedia 2016) came to speak with the MUD students yesterday.  Mr. Smith’s professionalism, charisma, and talent have made him a great addition to the makeup world.  He was able to share his experiences networking, building his own business, and working in a billion dollar industry. 

It was such a pleasure having Mr. Smith as a graduate guest speaker.  All of the students and I gained a wealth of knowledge in branding and business etiquette.  We would love to have him back again in the next month or so when more students will be available to hear him speak.

Not only did he share some great tips and inspiring words of advice, but he also offered interested students an opportunity to be considered to work with him on an upcoming wedding!” 

— Sheriece Isaac, Career Services @ MUD LA

Battle of the Brushes Competitors

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BOTB_collage.jpgBattle of the Brushes brings makeup artists together who share the same passion. What inspires me the most about past competitions is the amount of talent that participants display as well as the amazing judges participating in the event.”
— MUD graduate, Jerry Noriega

Battle of the Brushes is upon us once again! In a few short days, MUD graduates from Los Angeles and New York will be heading to IMATS New York to compete in this exciting event! Students who have graduated within a year of the competition date are encourage to apply. The competition is broken down into two categories — one portion is character/prosthetics and the other is beauty/fantasy. A different theme is selected for both categories each year. 2017’s themes will be Guardians of the Galaxy for character/prosthetics and International Beauty for beauty/fantasy.

We’re so proud of our MUD grads who will be competing! A total of eight MUD grads will be competing this year and we wanted to see what was on their minds as they prepare for battle…of the brushes.

What made you decide to enter Battle of the Brushes?

Korbyn Rachel: I decided to enter Battle of the Brushes because I thought to myself, “what do I have to lose?” I entered the competition with the mindset of “everything happens for a reason,” so whether I got in or not, I would be proud of myself for entering.

Jerry Noriega: The one thing that made me decide to enter Battle of the Brushes was the love I have for this industry and for what I create, along with the support of my friends, family and mentors throughout my career. I think the challenge and having this new experience out of my comfort zone drove me to enter in this competition.

Lacey Buccina:  I entered Battle of the Brushes mainly for the experience. My Beauty 101 teacher, Lisa Leveridge, always pushed for us to compete. I applied for the first time to the NY location and got in and I am so honored!

Crystal Gomez:  I wanted to enter Battle of the Brushes to push myself into creating and designing more make-ups on my own. I also saw it as a way to have my makeup viewed by amazing artists and the people I’ve looked up to for years!

Shideh Kafei: Battle of the Brushes has always been a dream of mine. I attended MUD where my amazing professors encouraged students to enter. My mind was set when Michael Key came in to speak to the us. Now, not only am I super pumped about attending IMATS for the first time, but also to say that I will compete for the Battle of the Brushes!

Chelsea Nowak: I was entering my last leg at MUD, focused on graduating with some awesome final projects and an invaluable wealth of knowledge, when some former students started coming into MUD to practice for Battle of the Brushes LA. They were producing some pretty cool work and I didn’t really consider that I could be ready to do the same thing in just a couple short months. Once the buzz started around MUD about the NY competition, I couldn’t come up with a good reason not to apply. I realized that if I didn’t dive in right then, I would never get the same opportunity again, and I knew I needed to put myself to the test.

BrittanyRose LaFemina: I knew that I was going to apply for Battle of the Brushes the second I learned about it and IMATS. I found out about it when Michael Key came to MUD to talk to us about IMATS and the industry; I was immediately inspired. I had multiple friends that had been in BOTB (and won!) and I had helped them through their preparations, so when it came time for me to apply, they were super supportive and helpful. They still inspire me while I prepare for my own makeup; I always go back to their make-ups for inspiration because if they can do it, I know that I can do it, too.

What was the process of entering like?

Rachel: The actual process of entering was super simple and easy. The prep to enter though, was stressful (yet exciting and fun, of course), but totally worth it. I stayed after class many times during the week to plan out and apply make-ups, and went to the Saturday photoshoots as well.

Buccina: You have to submit 8-10 photos of what you think is your best work. This doesn’t need to be anything like what you will be executing for the competition. I submitted mainly beauty pictures from by Beauty 301 class and one avant garde photo.

Gomez:  It started with me making the initial decision of entering then, brainstorming ideas for make-ups that would showcase my makeup the best. I’m on a very tight budget so I knew it meant that my make-up should stand out and I had to keep wardrobe simple.

Kafei: When thinking about submitting for the Battle of the Brushes, I knew I had it in me, but that I wouldn’t make it with the portfolio I currently had. So when I graduated MUD in November, I put myself to work. I tested with as many photographers as I could, but knew I needed to do projects on my own where I could have creative freedom. I put together shoots with various models, stylists, and an incredible photographer. I did looks that I thought would stand out. I printed out more than I need to submit and only sent in my favorites. And then the hardest part…the waiting game until I found out I had made it!

Nowak: Another competitor and I actually spent a few busy weeks in January working through the entry process together, which definitely made for an exciting start to this journey. We put in some late nights brainstorming, sculpting, pre-painting, and applying make-ups in order to produce creatures and characters we were proud to submit. MUD has been very supportive of us both from the beginning, providing us with the means and guidance to do so to the best of our abilities. For me, it was a gratifying achievement simply to meet the challenge of applying, and being invited to compete was one of the proudest moments of my life.

What is your strategy going into the competition?

Rachel: While preparing for the competition, I will be studying the background of Guardians of the Galaxy. I really want to understand the environment the characters live in, and why they are the way they are. Practice makes perfect, so I plan on practicing many many times up until the competition to get everything in line — so I am mentally and physically prepared.

Noriega: My strategy going into the competition is to micromanage every step, and prepare ahead of time with exactly what I need to complete my character, paying attention to all of the categories that are going to be judged. Practicing a full run of my character and finishing in the amount of time given in the competition would be the best strategy.

Buccina: I have been speaking a lot with the LA IMATS winner, Kyrsta Morehouse. She gave me a lot of pointers on what I should do while I’m there. My strategy will be practicing as often as possible and just trying to keep calm. I am truly just honored to even be one of the 8 selected for the beauty/fantasy portion of this competition and I cannot wait for the experience.

Gomez: My strategy going in is to go to IMATS Battle of the Brushes, not with the idea that I MUST win, but to think of what an amazing opportunity it is to meet people I admire and to show them what I can do in the time allowed. I don’t want my time in NY to be clouded by anxiety and too much stress. I’m preparing myself as much as I can now with practice and design plans and hopefully everything will go well!

Kafei: My main strategy is to have a plan and be prepared. This competition has been on my mind since I submitted in January and even before that. I have made mood boards, have had mock trials, and have changed my mind on the look many times. I want the final look to be something I am totally confident in and passionate about. I think you need to be 100% into something for you to do the best at it. I also want to stay away for doing things that have been done in the past or that is expected from the winner. I want it to be different and unique.

LaFemina: As I prepare for BOTB, I have been doing a ton of research on my subject as well as styles of make-up from all over the world. I began with a fun/stressful trip to The Met to decide what part of the world I would be concentrating on for my makeup. There were so many wonderful pieces that I was flooded with amazing ideas. I was a little torn at first as to what part of the world I would be concentrating on, until I saw something in a store window that I took as a sign. It was perfect! Like a sign from the Universe that this was what I am meant to do.

How do you think winning Battle of the Brushes helps make-up artists in the long run?

Rachel: Battle of the Brushes is a great way for new artists to get out there. The competition helps in the long run by opening up opportunities for the artists that otherwise would take years to build up to.

Noriega: Winning in Battle of the Brushes helps in the long run and not just because you are exposing your work in the industry to makeup artists who can get in connect you to bigger job opportunities, but it challenges you to push yourself , grow and be better at what you do, and inspires people. When I watched past competitions, I see people who are just like me.

Buccina: I think winning Battle of the Brushes would help me to work better under pressure, with time management skills, concept development and hopefully it will gain me recognition from potential employers as well as role models.

Kafei: I would be so honored to win! It would be something I will remember forever and a great stepping stone for me. I will hopefully make a few connections that will open doors to bigger and better things in the future.

Nowak: Winning Battle of the Brushes is such an incredible prospect because of the experience and exposure it entails above all else. Competing alone is an opportunity to break out the big guns and show professionals, amateurs, and ourselves who we are as artists and what we can accomplish under pressure. Winning is essentially an endorsement from the people we admire, a stamp of affirmation that we know what we’re doing and we do it well. Success in this industry is all about networking, and earning first place in Battle of the Brushes is a great way to make valuable connections that will inform the trajectory of the future.

LaFemina: I’m so excited for IMATS knowing that it will be great exposure for my work. People in the industry that I might never have had the chance to meet otherwise, are going to be seeing my work which is the most exciting part about competing. It’s going to be a great experience.

Everyone at MUD wishes all of our grads the best of luck in the competition.

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May the best brush win!


Below is a full list of competitors, their campus, their category and their Instagram: 

Brittany Rose LaFemina, MUD Studio NY, Beauty/Fantasy

Shideh Kafei, MUD Studio NY, Beauty/Fantasy

Lacey Buccina, MUD Studio LA, Beauty/Fantasy

Kunduz Duishenbaeua, MUD Studio NY, Character/Prosthetic

Korbyn Rachel, MUD Studio NY, Character/Prosthetic

Chelsea Nowak, MUD Studio NY, Character/Prosthetic

Crystal Gomez, MUD Studio LA, Character/Prosthetic

Jerry Noriega, MUD Studio LA, Character/Prosthetic