“Battle 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.
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