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Domi the Unicorn’s fascinating world of FX makeup

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FX (special effects) makeup has been around for a while but is still fairly new in Sri Lanka. People who have a fascination for special effects makeup and body painting and have been looking for a special effects makeup artist, will be pleased to learn that there is a new one in town who is absolutely in love with this art and would be happy to offer a range of beautiful, weird, scary or just creepy creations. I went through pictures of some of her work and was mesmerised by the pretty ones and the fantasy creations, while totally cringing at the gory ones – which means she’s good at what she does! Weekend FT interviewed Domi the Unicorn Special Effects, Body Painting Artist and Beautician Dominique Croos Sedra, curious to learn something about her world of special effects and body painting.   

Following are excerpts of the interview with Dominique:

 By Fathima Riznaz Hafi

Q: Tell us a little about yourself...

A: I’m a unicorn, or like to think I am, this is why my handle is Domi the Unicorn. I have a minor obsession with aesthetics and order and buying makeup when I’m too broke; it’s makeup over food any day. I also have a major obsession with animals and will eventually own a farm, hopefully somewhere in the near future.

Q: How did you learn FX makeup? Did you attend a course or was it self-taught?

A: I was self-taught. My interest in makeup spiked when I turned 16, and I’d spend any free time I had watching tutorials on YouTube. I think it got to a point where I’d literally scoured everything I could, and so that’s when I moved to watching body painting and FX tutorials.

I would love to attend a course though; as much as I might know, it’s definitely not enough, especially if I plan to specialise in the film industry. FX makeup can be dangerous as it does involve using chemicals that can be harmful, and it requires a lot of time and patience, and I only know my basics so as much as YouTube helps, it’s not the same as having actual professionals teach you. 

Q: How long have you been doing this and how has the response been?

A: I started in May last year. My first attempt at any sort of makeup, other than normal/glam turned out pretty good; at least I still think so, considering I didn’t have any decent makeup to begin with. It was a splatter effect, two-dimensional thing – a recreation of a Snapchat filter. I’d posted it online, and a lot of my friends were awed at how similar it looked to the filter. Looking at the comparison now, they don’t look that similar, but it’s still not bad for a first attempt.

After the positive response, I started trying to come up with something weekly, and then I realised just how much I enjoyed it and decided that I was going to make this a full time profession. There aren’t a lot of body painters/FX artists in SL, so when I show people my work they’re generally speechless, which is a great ego boost and as the industry is still incredibly new, I don’t have that large a customer base, though around Halloween time I tend to get swamped with work. 

Q: Are charges for this sort of make-up application higher than regular application (glamorous or even bridal makeup)?

A: It definitely costs more than glamorous makeup, and sometimes can cost more than bridal makeup, but that is only for extensive prosthetic work; which I haven’t yet done myself.

Materials cost more and it is also more time consuming than normal makeup. 

Q: FX make up looks like it needs more precision, patience and creativity than regular make-up and therefore seems like a greater task for the make-up artist .. Is it?

A: In a way… Both are different skills in their own right, so you can’t exactly put a comparison on it. FX makeup/body painting definitely requires more precision and patience, but creativity and skill wise, that really boils down to the artists themselves.  I follow some beauty gurus (who do FX) and their transformations are absolutely phenomenal, but FX work is minor in comparison and the same vice versa.

Q: Tell us about some of your work. What kind of creations have you produced? Is there any particular creation of yours that is your favourite... and why?

A: I’m still trying to find my style but I like to do a lot of concept based pieces. I like to think that all my pieces are my favourite because I wouldn’t post it if I wasn’t somewhat proud of it, but if I was to choose it would be the reptile, zodiac and recent butterfly look I created, mainly because I had enough time to invest into them, and they came out the way I’d envisioned in my head. I’ve found what works best for me is coming up with ideas on the spot; I just let my creativity decide what’s best for the look rather than planning things before hand, not that I don’t do some planning.

Q: What kind of material do you use for this kind of work?

A: It’s a lot of things – liquid latex, body paints, and for heavier prosthetic work, silicone, alginate, etc; basically a bunch of things, some of which I don’t know my way around and there are probably a few I haven’t even heard of yet.

Q: How long does it take to create each piece?

A: A look, on myself, on average, takes three to six hours (depending on what I’m going for) so on other people it would take longer than what I mentioned, because I know my face and I can be pretty harsh on my own skin, but obviously I can’t do that with a client. It mainly depends on what I’m doing. The longest I’ve taken is 11 hours; it can go longer though! 

Q: Do you face any challenges with this type of work? (customer requests/time constraints/material)

A: Definitely, the main issue would be materials, as this is still a very new and budding market in Sri Lanka; most of the things used for FX are (almost) specialist stuff, so it’d have to be ordered online. I mainly make do with other resources but it isn’t always efficient, especially if you want to make bigger, better prosthetics.

Sometimes I’ve had to turn customers down as I can’t do what they’re asking for due to the lack of certain materials.

Other challenges would also be time management, especially with clients. As it’s such a new market here, many people don’t realise that it takes longer than average makeup. It’s a little frustrating really, as many times I am put under stress due to a time limit because the client doesn’t realise just how time consuming it is, but then again it’s no one’s fault and to get people to understand, I break down the process to them which generally works.

Q: Do you also do regular make up?

A: Yes I do. I’ve been doing regular makeup a little longer than FX but funnily enough, I’m more confident in FX than I am with regular makeup, more so with clients.



(Dominique’s ultimate goal is to work on a big movie set doing heavy prosthetic work and makeup.)

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