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Meet Connie Chong

Today we’d like to introduce you to Connie Chong.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My love for art all started with me wanting to be able to draw like my older brothers. I was intrigued by how they could create objects by moving lines around on a piece of paper. My brother, David, taught me how to draw a bunny rabbit. When I was able to duplicate it, I was hooked. From that point on, I loved drawing, coloring and painting. I spent a lot of time looking at images and trying to draw it. One of my earliest memories was in kindergarten where we got to paint. It was the first time I held a brush. I recall taking that brush and swiping it in a circular motion, looking at the lime green paint and the forms I created. I thought, wow, that’s an apple! The memory is still so vivid.

In the 6th grade, my favorite day of the week was always Fridays. It was a full day dedicated to arts and crafts. We created ceramics pieces using construction paper crafting things like Turkeys for Thanksgiving. I loved that each week was something different. Creating something from nothing has always been such a satisfying and magical feeling to me and that hasn’t changed to this day.

As much of a tomboy I was growing up, I was still like any other little girl going through her mother’s makeup drawer. I loved experimenting with all the eyeshadows, blushes and lip colors. I would try to copy the makeup looks on the packaging. My fascination with art and makeup would become a natural progression for me.

As I got older, other factors began to mold me, I hung around my older brothers most of the time. They watched tons of horror movies and would buy Fangoria Magazine (an American horror film fan magazine) which featured articles on special effects. I was fascinated by the images I saw on film and print.

By the time college rolled around, I was a Fine Arts Major with a minor in Business. It was then I began to take a few theater classes. Though at the time it was just for fun, it eventually led to me getting part-time work on several of the theater productions assisting in set building and designing the makeup. I remember feeling my heart racing out of excitement while flying back and forth between actors working on their makeup before the show. I knew from that moment on that I wanted to be a makeup artist.

After I graduated from Fresno State University, I relocated to Los Angles in 2001 to attend Blasco School of Makeup hoping to further my knowledge on special effects makeup. The program was intense, but I learned a lot. I was able to make connections and eventually began working as a freelance makeup artist. My portfolio grew providing me experience in film, television, industrial videos, music videos, commercials, editorials, and photoshoots.

Over the years, I’ve shifted my focus to creating my own images instead of taking someone else’s vision. I enjoy the idea of pushing myself and letting my own creativity flourish. Not only do I find this liberating, but I find it creatively fulfilling.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have certainly been challenges along the way. The biggest challenge for me has always been simply coming up with ideas. You want to bring something new to the table and that can be daunting when it looks like everything has already been done. Yet, you can’t help but to be influenced by other artists or what you see and experience in life. I try to come up with creative designs and images that haven’t been seen before or at least reinvent concepts from the past in a new way. As an artist, my greatest desire is to evoke an emotional response from my audience. I’d be more than satisfied if someone were to be swept away by my conceptions and designs.

Another challenge is freelancing. You’re always looking for the next job, but also that big break. So, you tend to work every day of the week. It can sometimes lead to burn out. That’s when a break may be needed. Some artist may be anxious being away from their art. However, breaks can often renew your creative juices allowing you to come back to it with fresh eyes.

As we grow and gain life experiences, it can affect your art for the better. Your perspective alters a bit and it may not always be drastic, but you can see something differently and it reflects in your art, as art is an extension of you.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’ve been a professional freelance makeup artist for over 17 years. I specialize in beauty, avant-garde, and special effects makeup. However, I’m probably best known for the more experimental, dramatic and painterly makeups. The proudest I’ve been would be a draw between seeing some of my work on screen and published in magazines to when I branched out and started creating my own images.

I believe my adaptability, professionalism and good energy helps set me apart especially when you’re under pressure. Being able to think fast on your feet, staying calm and focused until the job is completed is essential.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I am thankful for a few of my theatre instructors at Fresno City College. They gave me opportunities to design makeup for productions. This instilled a lot of confidence that I needed to pursue my craft professionally. Also, working on productions gave me assurance that I was on the right career path. One art teacher specifically, Mrs. Merry Scott, became my mentor. Not only was she supportive, but she pushed me helping me find my inner creativity.

I’m extremely grateful for all of the connections I’ve made over the years, the multiple projects I’ve has the pleasure to be a part of; not to mention the network of other artists, and a few good friends for life.

Most importantly, I must thank my family for all their support. First, my husband for not only being supportive of my dreams but a wonderful sounding board for my ideas. His help enhance my designs impacting my final product. My brothers for always believing in me more than I believed in myself growing up. They were always supportive, and their influence brought out my self-confidence and helped me to not give up on my dreams. My parents had no idea how much I enjoyed art until I was in college. When I told them I wanted to change my major from Business to Art, they were supportive. They showed up for all the theater productions that I worked on. I’ve been fortunate to have so many people in my corner.

My parents had no idea how much I enjoyed art until I was in college. When I told them I wanted to change my major from Business to Art, they were supportive. They showed up for all the theater productions that I worked on. I’ve been fortunate to have so many people in my corner.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photographers: Frederic Carneiro, Aline Ponce and Connie Chong

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