Athena Zhe came to the United States from Ukraine at age 14 to pursue her talents as a multifaceted artist. She is tri-lingual, a fluent speaker of Russian, Ukrainian and English. Athena owns and operates Athena Entertainment, which specializes in body painting, live shows, event planning and much more. She is an award winning bodypainter whose work had been featured in music videos, national television and publications. Athena is also a nationally known impersonator of Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. While running her event planning business, Athena is continually fascinated by creatures and special effects. She is often inspired by nature, fashion and the world around her when creating her art pieces. She is a positive and enthusiastic person which reflects in her art.
Beki Ingram comes from a small struggling family who encouraged her imagination and creativity beyond just a pencil and piece of paper. Beki has no formal training but has always had an artistic eye on life, striving to get hands-on with anything that ignites her artistic monster lurking inside. She is greatly inspired by the movie The Elephant Man. She got her professional start in special effects at Robert Kurtzman’s Creatures Corps where she learned to apply and create characters that she had only imagined. Beki is driven, outspoken and honest. A few of her idols are Jim Henson, Terry Gilliam, and Hayao Miyazaki.
This California native isn't just good at makeup...she's army strong. Brea owns and operates her own special effects company, where she creates simulated trauma injuries for military and medical training courses. Her only special effects education was training under a Dick Smith/Westmore graduate. Despite her lack of traditional training, Brea's enthusiasm and energy makes her a fierce competitor. Raised by a strong mother, Brea has a thick skin and a drive to be the best. In addition to her makeup job, she sings and engineers for a hip-hop group called Deep Rooted. Her only self-confessed weakness: She has never used an airbrush.
This toy designer left the special effects industry ten years ago when he became disenchanted and burnt-out from working on low-budget horror films. He now feels ready to return to the trade with renewed energy. He left an abusive home life in Ft. Lauderdale, FL at age 18 and traveled to California, where he lived in his car for several months while trying to find his way. After overcoming such adversity, Jerry has the resolve and desire to one day own his own effects shop, living up to his high potential. His industry idols include Dick Smith and Rob Botin.
Greg Lightner was born in Germany as a military brat. He came to the United States at the age of two and has lived in many states, as his father was relocated with the U.S. Air Force. His love of makeup stems from his early encounters with horror magazines that his stepfather would collect, and the amazement that artist could make someone who was alive and human, into something that looked dead, demonic or otherworldly. This fascination, along with his tumultuous youth filled with instability and often abuse, caused Greg to create imaginary worlds and creatures, which came into fruition with the help of his sister’s beauty makeup kit. Greg began his professional makeup career doing theatrical makeup and prosthetics, leading to become the supervisor of the makeup department at a Pennsylvania amusement’s park’s annual haunted attraction.
Don’t let this freelance make-up artist’s wholesome southern appearance fool you—her makeup effects, sharp tongue and sick sense of humor show she also has a dark side. She was first drawn to the make-up world by the fantasy movies she watched as a child. She became hooked on special effects 10 years ago when she and a friend made a short film that required making a fake head. Next, she attended the Joe Blasco School in Orlando. Heather has done makeup for various television shows including Prison Break and Chase, but her passion is in fantastic creature effects. She particularly likes the creativity and problem solving aspects of effects.
With childhood idols like the Ninja Turtles, Batman and Ghostbusters, one might guess that Ian Cromer always had an interest in special effects. Moving around a lot and being raised by his single father created a difficult childhood for Ian. Sculpting and creating - often with his action figures - was one of his few consistencies as a child. Despite a difficult upbringing, Ian was the first person in his family to go to college. He discovered his calling at Tom Savini's Special Makeup Effects program school where a teacher took him under his wing and fostered his talents. Ian has worked in architectural restoration for New York City buildings and skyscrapers and for the Manhattan-based sculptor, Carole Feuerman. Ian is excited for his next move with plans to soon move to Los Angeles. Ian has a big heart and does not do well with large egos.
Matt Valentine hails from Austin, Texas and is a completely self taught artist. He's known by such names as “makeup’s MVP and The Pimp Of Darkness.” Matt believes his purpose and duty as an artist is to save the horror industry. His philosophy is that horror must be lethal, dangerous and fashionably high end to be worthwhile. Taking a very psychological approach to making monsters he tries to interject subliminal esoteric symbolism into each and every piece he creates. Matt is weary of predisposed horror and wants to introduce original terrifying abominations unseen before to traumatize the masses. Matt has surgical precision with his detail even taking the time to give his creations a unique back story. Matt currently runs his own business of horror -inspired creations and does everything from fx makeup, set design, costuming, graphic design, video production and acting. He is preparing to unleash his latest collection on the 2012 Transworld convention based in St. Louis and gain makeup immortality once and for all.
The youngest in the competition, Miranda's talents go far beyond her experience. Miranda moved from Seattle to Los Angeles to pursue makeup effects, and attended the Makeup Designory and Cinema Makeup School where she now works as an intern. She won first place in both the Beauty/Fantasy and the Character/Prosthetics categories at the International Makeup Artists Trade Show in Toronto and second place in Beauty/Fantasy in the show in Los Angeles. She wants to earn respect as a professional woman in a male-dominated industry.
Award-winning body painter Nicholas “Nix” Herrera got his start doing body painting and airbrush tattoos in Orlando FL. Nix is dyslexic and uses art to express himself. His perfectionism led him to body paint for numerous celebrities parties including some at the Playboy mansion. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Playboy, Fangoria, Makeup Mag, and Wizard Comics. His mentor is Bill McCoy (Zombieland, 2 Fast 2 Furious). Nix tends to procrastinate but loves the drive of competition.
RJ earned his spot on Face Off by winning the Syfy Viewers Choice Contest at the 2011 Comic Con in San Diego, where he competed against two other artists in a live make-up challenge, using prosthetics, paint and airbrushing to transform a live model into any creature. RJ was trained at the Joe Blasco Makeup School in Hollywood. He worked at special-effects company Alterian Inc. as a shop runner and production assistant followed by a brief stint at Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. RJ moved back home ten years ago to help his family. He received his Regents Bachelor's of Arts at West Virginia State. RJ now teaches film, television, multimedia and special effects to high school students at his alma mater in Charleston, West Virginia. RJ hopes Face Off allows him to work on more projects and open up a studio in West Virginia.
Rayce Bird works two jobs to support his wife and four children. He uses his artistic skills in his career as a tattoo artist and hopes to soon open a larger shop. He was inspired by the movie Predator and the He-Man character as a child, but his passion was sparked seven years ago by a mask he found in a Halloween spook alley in Salt Lake City. Rayce studied virtual technology and design at the University of Idaho and uses his computer knowledge in his character creation. He hopes to be an innovator in the special effects industry by combining virtual technology with classic techniques. His design style integrates a variety of types of art – tattooing, graphic design, 3D special effects and music.
Sue Lee always had a passion for the arts and wanted to attend art school, but her devotion to family came first and she put her dreams on hold. Sue studied fine arts and pre-med sciences at Colgate University to pursue a stable career in medical prosthetics. However, she finally took the risk of pursuing her dreams by attending the Tom Savini Special Makeup Effects program. Growing up with 1st generation Korean American parents, movies and television shows were a medium to understand not only American culture, but magical worlds created by special effects. Sue attributes her creativity and hard work ethics to her mother who owned a boutique store in her hometown of New York City. Immediately upon graduating, she was chosen as one of six women by Makeup Artist magazine to compete in the first New York International Makeup Artists Trade Show prosthetics competition. Her strengths are sculpting and anything that requires great technical skills. Sue hopes her New York attitude, positivity, fresh ideas, and artistic talent will help her win the competition. She is eager for the chance to mature her art and find her vision.
Tara Lang was born in Littleton, Colorado and now lives in West Hollywood. Tara is a positive, upbeat person who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Tara received her BA in business law from Loyola Marymount University, but decided her heart was in special effects makeup. She attended the Cinema Makeup School, and has since worked on 22 independent feature films. This past summer, Tara did makeup for the film, Blood Relative, and currently she is assisting on the second and third season of the successful web series, Bite Me. Next, she’ll be heading up the makeup department on an independent feature film called Sorority Party Massacre. Her expertise includes a wide array of techniques, including character work such as aging.
Check out a sneak peek of the next episode of Face Off, Tuesdays at 9/8c.
The artists must create their own angry and twisted trees, each afflicted with a particular malady.