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Meet Julianne Scotese

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julianne Scotese.

Julianne, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was a really artsy kid, meanwhile my only sports achievement growing up was being the captain of the rollerblading team. I’m still very proud of that title, but I think my parents caught on that I had a more promising future in art. I remember drawing every single day and having a fully stocked art closet, thanks to the support of my parents. When given a coloring book, I was obsessed with coloring inside the lines, and in middle school, I would practice copying fonts for fun. Not the most riveting. If it weren’t for my dad encouraging me to watch sci-fi/horror movies with him (most notably, The Fly) and dystopian games like Bioshock/Fallout, I don’t think I would’ve gotten interested in character creation and SFX makeup. I practiced as much as I could, investing time into Stan Winston School courses and completing Dick Smith’s Makeup Course. I started sculpting when I was 20 and absolutely hated it the first few times I tried.

For some reason though, I kept coming back to it. I began to enjoy the challenge and loved bringing characters that much closer to looking and feeling real. I took a chance and decided to move to LA and enroll in a couple of classes at Cinema Makeup School. I’ve had some incredible opportunities in various fields. I interned as a puppet fabricator at Monkey Boys Productions. I worked at Ojala Productions, where I was fortunate enough to sculpt two of the masks for the band, Slipknot. I was apart of a team of 50 makeup artists at Universal Studios Horror Nights. All while doing freelance work on set as well. My sculpture work has even led to me working as a cake decorator for Duff Goldman’s Charm City Cakes.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I knew I was in for a bumpy road before I moved to LA. I learned a lot in school, but when it comes to sfx, you’re bound to encounter a production that wants you to do something wild and there’s no rulebook or guidelines for those. For my very first gig, I was asked to set up a slit throat gag. I didn’t want my first time trying it to be on set. So I had my college friends sit in a pool of corn syrup blood for 5 hours while I pumped blood through a garden sprayer 20 times. Luckily, I figured out a somewhat reliable method, piecing together info from different tutorials. Unfortunately, it was after the blood sprayed 6 feet too far and landed on my carpet and the tube disconnected at the back of the neck and spurted blood directly into my AC unit. My house smelled like Ben Nyes Mint flavored stage blood for months. Most of sfx makeup is trial and error. You’re guaranteed to learn some things the hard way, but in the long run it really does make you a better artist.

At the very least, your patience will improve! It’s also been tough landing consistent work. I often find myself applying for an interesting gig, only to find out later it’s unpaid. Networking is so incredibly important in this profession. I’ve met so many incredibly talented, down to earth people and for the most part, the community looks out for one another. I’m grateful to also work at Charm City Cakes where I’ve learned to sculpt with edible materials. I never thought I’d be sculpting cakes and chocolate. Initially I saw the job post and thought, there’s no way I’ll be considered. I can thank my sister for encouraging me to apply, even though I doubted myself. Some of the weirdest projects I’ve worked on have been at Charm City Cakes and were ideas from the Kardashian family. I’ve helped carve a nude Kourtney Kardashian out of styrofoam and sculpted Stormi Jenner with robot spider legs using chocolate.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Since the amount of freelance work I have is constantly changing, I began selling prosthetics on Etsy under AtherisFX. I designed a small selection of encapsulated silicone prosthetics, including brows, cheekbones, horns and scars. I tried to have a variety of basic and more unique options. I definitely underestimated the time and effort involved in started a business, no matter the scale. It had a rough start, but I’m excited to add more to the selection and begin advertising. I get a lot of inspiration from insects, especially moths, and reptiles. They have the strangest forms and patterns. I plan on designing more prosthetics based on these animals. I’ve also been diving into digital programs like ZBrush and Maya, which have been a game changer for the designing process.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I’ve struggled most with low confidence after comparing myself to others and constantly stressing about enjoying recreational activities because that was time I could otherwise use to grow my career. I pushed myself to do projects I had no passion for, in hopes it would boost my reputation. Leaving your comfort zone is essential, but it’s important not to cross the line into forcing yourself so much that your passion becomes a chore. Separating yourself from social media and creating something without the weight of other’s opinions helps give me a clear perspective. I think it’s easy to get dragged down by stress and failure, but if you’re not failing, you’re not getting better. Bad experiences are inevitable. If you embrace them, you can benefit from them whether it be creatively or professionally. How you handle yourself in those situations is how you’ll be remembered.

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