John Bayless, Professional Makeup Artist: Charlotte Film Industry Insider
An interview series highlighting local experts in the business with insight for the Charlotte community and those aspiring to break into the film industry.
by Brittany Jenkins Sep 16, 2020
"Curiosity coupled with a drive to discover 'How’d they do that!' Who did that? How can I do that?
I’ve always had an insatiable desire to find out why the obvious is not so obvious. My passion for makeup started at a very early age when I discovered the black and white Universal Horror movies of the 30’s and the 40’s. They scared me to death but even more so, drove my curiosity meter off the chart. “I can’t believe my eyes”. How did they make The Monster in Frankenstein? How did Lon Chaney Jr. morph into “The Wolf Man?” The Creature from “Creature from the Black Lagoon” is so lifelike. I couldn’t wait to read the movie credits to find out who was responsible for these incredible creations.
Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to get incredible advice from mentors, teachers, peers and friends.
One in particular, Dick Smith became my makeup mentor and teacher. Dick would answer all my questions. Sharing his knowledge with students and colleagues was his mantra. I’ve always taken Dick’s advice and have made it my own. “Share your knowledge and we all become better makeup artists and creators.”
Today there are many avenues to take in order to become a professional makeup artist. There are many different aspects of the craft to specialize in. The Apprentice/Journeyman path, which I took, is no longer available from the studios. Many great schools and programs are available, however, it is important to vet them carefully because many can be very expensive and all vary in quality and curriculum. My best advice is to find a professional makeup artist to advise, mentor, and teach you to find the best direction to follow. Dick Smith taught me and advised me to learn the makeup craft from “A to Z”. Learn all the different aspects, procedures and techniques. If you specialize, you only limit yourself to prospective projects and producers. Best advise I ever received!
Keep learning. Don’t become stagnant. Ask questions. Ask for advice if you don’t know the answer. Do your research. Find a teacher and mentor. Be persistent and don’t become discouraged. Makeup is a craft and a creative profession that needs to be learned and nurtured. Take your time. Don’t skip lessons. Keep practicing. Remember it’s a profession, not a hobby. Be diligent and you’ll become successful.
Make every job, project, film, television program, and commercial, print piece, industrial, etc. and new face a new adventure. Treat each like you’ve never encountered it before. This will help you maintain your passion and flame lighted. Every project I’ve been involved with has presented me with something I’ve never encountered before.
I’ve found some of the most exciting aspects and perks of my profession are the places it takes me – all over the world. The people I get to experience and become friends with – actors, singers, dancers, writers, designers, famous and not. The continuous discovery of new knowledge – history I’ve never known. Situations I would probably never want to encounter and repeat again – “Having to ‘hit the floor of the van taking us home’ when being shot at because we where filming too close to the local ‘cash” crop’. “We found a new location!”
I can’t imagine my passion, energy, thirst for knowledge and creativity, ever leaving me as long as I continue practicing the art and craft of makeup."