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Meet Shaina Paulson of Shaina_MakeupFX

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shaina Paulson.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am originally from Maryland and I used to be an environmental scientist and was working a normal 9-5 in D.C. Going through the motions of a “normal life” everyone tells you you’re supposed to strive for and attain. They tell you you’re supposed to graduate high school and study hard so you can get into a good college, then study hard in college so you can get good job that lets you afford buying a good house and getting married and having kids so you can pay for their school and so they can get a 9-5 too. For a while, I accepted this cookie cutter notion even though deep down in my heart and soul, I knew I was meant for something very different. I knew there had to be something wrong with counting down every day waiting for the clock to strike 5pm, waiting for Friday to roll around so I could enjoy time away from something I spent majority of my life doing. I knew that it shouldn’t be “normal” to do something I don’t passionately love/wake up everyday excited to do just because everyone else accepts that as their reality.

Ever since I was a kid, I was very artistic and loved drawing, painting and loved all things Horror and spooky. Halloween was my absolute favorite holiday and I wished everyday could be fall time and Halloween themed. I loved watching scary movies and looking at all the makeup, costumes, and set-design that created a whole entire universe and fantasy world. It immersed me in this creative world with creatures and characters that were outside the norm existed, and I loved everything about it. I used to spent my time as a kid drawing in the living room while watching The Addams Family. Really every aspect of film that came together to create this artistic realm fascinated me, even though as a child I didn’t understand why I liked it so much, I just knew it made me happy. As adults, we tend to push aside or forget to do the things that made us the happiest as kids.

As an adult, I never realized how I could turn my love of art and Halloween into a career. As I got older I didn’t really enjoy drawing or painting on pen and paper anymore, but I still kept my love of creating art and Halloween and film. One day I was watching the show Face-Off, where special effects artists competed, creating elaborate and complex creature designs, then all of a sudden a light bulb went off inside me. I was like “wait there’s a whole industry in LA that you can create these characters and makeups and creatures and bring them to life in film and TV.” After that moment, I started teaching myself body painting and special effects makeup everyday after work, I would read books on it, watch tutorials, look at other makeup artist professionals’ tips, etc. I wanted to absorb as much as I could as quickly as I could. Once that switch went off, it ignited a fire in my soul that could never dim, flicker, or fade. I started doing makeup on myself and eventually on my friends, I realized minutes and hours would go by and I wouldn’t even notice the clock at all. I was having so much fun doing what I loved and not noticing time passing. That’s when I realized I wanted to do this every single day for the rest of my life.

I started an Instagram account just to keep track of the makeups I did, I didn’t think about showing other people really, but it quickly starting gaining traction on social media and I was receiving a lot of positive feedback from it. Very shortly after that, the producers of Face Off contacted me and asked me to apply for their new season. I was floored and thought it had to be a scam, I was by no means at the skill or experience level the contestants of Face Off were at. However, I took this as a huge sign that if they think I’m good enough to apply and I know that this is what I want to do in my life, and many people are not fortunate enough to find something they are this passionate about in life, then I owe it to myself to go full-force and pursue this career.

I quit my job, booked a one-way ticket to LA and only knew one person in the city. It was the scariest and best decision of my life. As soon as I landed in Los Angeles, I knew I was home. I worked my ass off doing part-time jobs and freelancing doing makeup in the beginning until I could become a full-time makeup artist.

I am now a full-time freelance Makeup Artist for TV and Film. I work on movies, TV shows, music videos, short films, commercials, and photography. I am so deeply thankful for being able to do what I love every day for a living and for meeting all the amazing, talented, hard working, and inspiring people I have had the honor and joy of meeting and working with in my career.

Has it been a smooth road?
My road has had ups and downs and not always been smooth, but I have always known this was the path I am meant to be on. No matter the hardest times or the best of times I always received reassurance to stay strong and persevere because this passion and drive isn’t going anywhere. This career is so near and dear to my heart and is my life’s purpose. There were times I had to work four jobs at once and gigs were slow or holiday season would come up and filming would be sparse. I always told myself these trails and tribulations would build strength and character within me and it would make it an even more satisfying feeling when I reached my goals. I am thankful for every step I have taken in my journey because it has made me into the woman I am today. I only have gratitude for every experience I have had and every person I have met along my path.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a Makeup Artist based in Los Angeles and specialize in special effects makeup, beauty makeup, and body painting. I work in Television and Film on music videos, feature films, tv shows, short films, commercials, events, and photography. I like being able to do both. Beauty/glam makeup enhances people’s natural beauty and features. It makes me happy to make them feel like their most confident self or have their appearance fully immerse them in their role/character they are portraying. Special effects makeup is also my favorite because while beauty makeup enhances what is already naturally there, sfx makeup transforms these features into something completely different. It brings a creature character to life and creates a realm outside of reality.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I feel like Los Angeles is a great city for a business like mine. If someone wants to be a Makeup Artist in the Film Industry, there a few select cities in America that offer the same amount of opportunities as LA does. Atlanta, New York, and Vancouver have a fair amount of jobs and opportunities as well for film, however none offer the unique culture LA has in my opinion. I have never seen a city that is so full of entrepreneurs and go-getters like LA. Even though there are so many people from other cities, states, and countries that live in Los Angeles, they all seem to share the common mentality of drive, passion, entrepreneurship, and creativity that I haven’t found anywhere else. I am so thankful to live in this beautiful city and be surrounded daily by people who inspire me to always create and move forward.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Snake photo by: Joe Hood; Skeleton photo by: Kavan Cardoza; BTS photo against blue wall: Ariana Gleckman; BTS photo of me fixing hair: Adam Rarey; Avant garde photo: Nicole Barton

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