Q & A with Bella Circo makeup artist Jessica deBen
Jessica deBen has been doing makeup for over 10 years in the US (Los Angeles and New Orleans) and abroad (Vietnam and the Philippines). Jessica’s makeup has been seen everywhere from feature films, commercials, music videos, fashion shoots to actors headshots. Most recently Jessica was the lead makeup artist for Bella Circo’s Oceania show. Laura Reynolds, from our TEMPTU PRO LA team, took some time to sit down with Jessica and discuss her inspiration behind the dynamic looks she created for Oceania.
The performance and set had a marine theme. What material was used as reference to inspire the designs?
Co-directors Sara Toney and Terril Teran did an amazing job at costume design. We used the movements in the performance and the costume as our starting point. For example, the contortionist, Sasha Pivaral, was playing an Angler Fish. Her costume was a sleek bodysuit and her feet had lights on them so that when she twisted her feet above her face, the lights resembled an angler fish’s bioluminescent antenna. Each performer had a costume that was as dynamic as their performance so designing the makeup was a pleasure.
Are the makeup designs created in collaboration with the director, set designers, script writers, and actors, or are multiple designs submitted and refined as a final part of the creative process?
The co-directors and I communicated visually by sending images via email and through meetings in LA Coffee shops. Anyone overhearing our discussions at the coffee shop meetings would have thought we’d lost our minds – we were going over ‘Aerial Starfishes, Angler Fish Contortionist, Water Fairies, Oceanic Pods and Hermit Crab Tango Dancers named Sandor & Parissa.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to create a color or texture using make up that is available. Have any materials been incorporated to the character designs that would not normally be used in application?
When you’re airbrushing, you look at every shape for inspiration. I needed to create a fish scale effect on Simon Chaban for his fiery ‘Neptune’ performance. The Saturday morning before the show, I was grating cheese for an omelet, and realized the crescent shapes of the cheese grater would make perfectly-spaced fish scales. Voila!
The participants in this production are performing some arduous physical stunts. What products did you use to help the makeup last?
The TEMPTU PRO Dura Airbrush formula was my secret weapon for keeping the makeup on no matter how the performers moved or how many times they wriggled into or out of tight, sweaty costumes. At the end of the show, the performers still looked flawless when they met audience members for pictures and autographs.
What are your favorite TEMPTU products and why?
The TEMPTU PRO Dura airbrush is my favorite for creating character designs. The TEMPTU PRO S/B formula is my all-time favorite foundation for on stage and on camera.
Could you share any tips for people that are interested in doing theater makeup?
Support your performers. Go out and see a show this weekend, get inspired, and get ready to get involved.