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Conversations with Kelsey Gizelle

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelsey Gizelle.

Hi Kelsey, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I’ve always been an artist. Makeup has always been around my life. I was a dedicated dancer from age 3-13. A great memory of mine was when my mom first took lipstick and used it as blush for me before a performance. I used to sneak into my mom’s closet and go through her makeup when I was 11. I would look at all the different eyeshadows, lipsticks, all these different products. When I reached middle school, I started to experiment with eyeliner (also putting it on in the car ride to school. I have no idea how my Dad never discouraged me from doing so for I could have definitely poked an eye out!) The film industry has been a familiar environment as I am born and raised in Los Angeles. When I was 15, I moved to the Philippines. I began makeup as a side hustle during college with the encouragement of my dad. I would go to classes and on the weekends working on proms, debuts, small fashion brands, etc. I was self-taught at the time, and in 2017 I decided to pursue makeup full time and move back to my hometown of Los Angeles and enroll in Cinema Makeup School. I wanted to pursue a career in film and special effects. I graduated in 2018 and have been working ever since.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
There have been a few challenging moments throughout the past years. One major one was the pandemic. When the industry shut down for a few months, and as a makeup artist specifically, it was an unpredictable situation. I wasn’t sure how I would navigate going back to work or even worse –finding work. Thankfully, creatives will always find a way to continue providing art. It’s a learning process as we are still learning day by day. There are times when work is ‘slow’ or a ‘dry spell’.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The work I do is I am a film makeup artist. I work on feature films, short films, music videos and other digital content. I specialize in film work but specifically special effects in injury and blood work. (All the bruises, cuts, gunshots, etc.)

I love working on injury effects because it’s just generally fun. Designing injuries has a lot more to it. Researching and making sure continuity to real-life injuries is something I like to learn about. For example, knowing exactly the transition of a healing bruise–the coloring, texture, patterns, etc.

Something I’m most proud of is my work has taken me and given me opportunities to work in beautiful locations. Not just all over Los Angeles but also in all types of environments and terrain. The desserts of Joshua Tree. Camping out in the Dumont Dunes. Filming in the beautiful snowy mountains of Utah. Working in the tropical jungles of Hawaii.

What sets me apart from others is aside from my work as an artist in injuries and blood, I like to collaborate with the producers and directors as much as I can. Whether it’ll be on a budget level or artistic ideas. I make it work for the both of us. Any challenges they consider a burden, I accept as a challenge that can be resolved. I try my best to give them the confidence that any visual ideas they have I will find a way to execute.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
Directly reaching out to those who inspire you or someone who you attain to follow in your career. Looking up to makeup artist who I want my career to mirror is important. For those I look up to, I reach out via social media or take a class of theirs. I was taught by the great Oscar-winning makeup artist Steve Laporte (Beetlejuice, Lost, the X-files) in blood gags. That has greatly helped me advance in my craft. What’s worked for me is really just connecting with anyone who is interested not only in makeup but have a passion for film and pop culture. Sometimes I’ll attend events and forums that I know they’ll be in presence as well.

Creating a network of my own that is supportive of each other is something that is really important. Makeup artists need to support each other and I love how I have a network of not just other artist but have become great friends. Passing along gigs to each other, collaborating, or even having each other join a team needed for productions.

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Image Credits
Christian Soria

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