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Interview with Greg Lightner
EMG News for April
Interview with Greg LightnerArtist Spotlight
by Constanza Ehrenhaus
Did you attend art school?
No, but I was one of 200 high school students who went to the Pennsylvania's Governor School for the Arts. Much like Face off, I had to audition (in this case, submit artwork). From there I had to go through rounds of interviews and do a drawing in front of the judges. Also like Face Off, I didn't really do art for anything but self gratification. I didn't even have my first art class in school until that year (1993) when I was selected to attend the Governor's School. I guess I have always been good at art without realizing that i was good at it (if that makes sense).
What attracted you of being a make up artist?
My love of Halloween mostly. I have always tried to outdo everyone when it came to dressing up and doing makeup. Making a career out of it is just icing on the cake. Really it is just another canvas, another form of expression, but it's 3D much like sculpture, except alive. I like that aspect of it, turning fantasy into reality and making something exist that doesn't (to my knowledge) in the natural world.
How did you end up working as a make up artist?
Professionally, I began in 2008 as a makeup artist for Kennywood Park's Phantom Fright Nights (their annual haunted attraction). I began working there at the insistence of my boyfriend at the time. He knew I enjoyed Halloween and thought it would be fun for me (he worked there as a scareactor). So I interviewed for a makeup position, but got placed as a scareactor the first year (2007). I would do my and his makeup each night. Then people began noticing my work, and I started doing others in my haunt as well. Then I was noticed by the makeup supervisor and asked to assist them as well. The next year I was hired exclusively to do makeup. It was there that I truly began learning and honing my skill.
What is with all the zombies?
Haha. Well Pittsburghers LOVE their zombies! My portfolio is FILLED with them because of Kennywood, and also because of the annual zombie events they hold in Pittsburgh. I typically get hired for two things in Pittsburgh: beauty makeup (weddings, formals, social engagements) and zombies. I'm actually over zombies right now. I want to do more fantasy-related characters. Right now I am obsessing over these tree people I designed.
Can you explain in general terms for our readers what goes into creating art like this?
It all starts with an idea, a concept. Then I typically sketch and doodle and flesh it out. Often giving it a background and a reason for looking the way it does, wearing the clothes (if any) that it wears, etc. Giving it a life before I bring it to life. Once I am satisfied with the concept. I begin sculpting it on a form (whether this be a mannequin or a casting I did of the person who is ultimately going to wear the prosthetics). The tricky part there is figuring out how it will work with the human body, where the seams will be, how the prosthetic will be applied, etc. Once I am satisfied, I have to make a mold of the sculpture, which entails pouring a plaster-lke substance on the sculpture so I can make a negative impression of it (this process destroys the sculpture, so you only get one shot at this). Once I have the negative mold, I pour the prosthetic's medium into it (this can be anything really, I typically use latex or gelatin though more financial reasons). Then you place the original positive that you sculpted on (the mannequin or actor's casting) into the negative mold and clamp it shut. This will conform the prosthetic to the original cast, ensuring that you get a seamless appliance when it dries. From there it's simply removing the prosthetic, trimming where needed and painting and applying it to the actor.
You were selected to participate in Face Off. What did you take home from that experience?
I had two goals going in: to meet others in the industry and to get publicity so I can make this my full time job. Winning would have been great, but I wasn't deluding myself in thinking I could win, especially after seeing some of the looks during our final audition. These are truly gifted artists and I was proud just to make it to the top 40, cause (again) I didn't believe I was that good, but they thought different. After the show, I have a very close set of friends in the industry (most of the cast from season 2 and some of the cast from season 1 even), and I have begu n getting noticed and asked to do demos and sell my work (I don't have any "official jobs" yet, but I am staying positive that they will be coming). Right now it's mainly press for the show and doing publicity tours while trying to promote myself as an artist.
What would be your dream job?
Either to work under a master makeup artist that I admire (such as Wayne Toth, Greg Nicotero, Robert Kurtzman, to name a few), or to work for the haunt industry, whether in a shop or as a full time designer and manufacturer of products for the industry. Movies are okay, but they can be exhausting! However, they make the big bucks and get all the glory of seeing it on the screen (haunters get to see their work live, which offers a certain level of satisfaction, but it's not everlasting like film is).
Where can our readers find your work?
I'm all over the internet now! Haha. I really only update my Facebook page. I need to get a website going, but that's one more thing that I don't have the time for right now. My official Facebook address is www.Facebook.com/LightkoStudios (I used to call myself under that name, but since deleted it because everyone knows me from the show now, not by my former studio).
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