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British makeup artist Lynsey Mckenzie knows what you're thinking. You've hired her to do your makeup for your wedding, but as you're sitting in her chair, the signs that she has other intentions are popping up everywhere. Her entire Instagram is devoted to spellbinding makeup transformations, from Jon Snow to Maleficent, and as she organizes her tools, you start to wonder... is this woman going to turn me into a monster on my wedding day?
"Hopefully my clients don't worry that they're going to leave my chair looking like Deadpool," Mckenzie tells SYFY WIRE. "My day job is a freelance makeup artist, mainly bridal and special occasions. My clients are great though, and luckily they can see past all my SFX and see that I can do a whole range of makeup." Even calling it a "whole range" is an understatement; based on her portfolio, if she's armed with her makeup brushes, there isn't much Mckenzie can't do.
Mckenzie chatted with SYFY WIRE via email about her particular set of skills, the geek scene in the U.K., and what it feels like to try and eat a snack when she's wearing a costume beard.
Are you formally trained in makeup, or self-taught?
I began self-taught, but then I did some short courses at different professional makeup schools to further my training, and plan to do many more! My favorite course was with Stuart Bray at Creative Media Skills in Pinewood Studios. We learned SFX and Prosthetic creation and application.
When did you first start using makeup transformatively?
My makeup transformations really started properly at Halloween in 2018 when I set myself the challenge to do 31 different looks for the whole month of October. Even though the workload basically took over my life, I absolutely loved it. Because I love film so much, those were my favorite characters to do!
Since then, I just haven't turned back and I'm now planning on doing a small series of recreations based on my favorite films and TV shows.
How would you describe your aesthetic when you're creating your own characters?
My aim when creating my looks is to hopefully have as realistic a recreation as possible. I try and find the most high-def photos to work from, and then I try to get every small detail to be the same. Eventually, I want to start creating my own characters and hopefully work in film myself but that may be a long way off yet!
Which characters are you drawn to? How do you choose who you want to turn yourself into?
I tend to only recreate characters from films and TV shows that I love. Thankfully I love a lot! If I'm not passionate about something I just don't feel motivated to create. But I don't just choose the characters that are my favorites. They can also be those that I hate, as many "villains" tend to have the most intriguing makeup looks.
What geeky properties did you enjoy as a child? Do any of them hold up for you?
I was a big reader when I was younger, and I quickly got hooked on the horror genre. I was almost surgically attached to a computer from the moment we got our Amiga and I played Monkey Island for the first time.
Myself and my brother were hooked on films too. We grew up in a very rural countryside town and the videos we would rent from "Videoshack" were a massive escape for us. We must have watched our Beta Max copies of Labyrinth and The Goonies hundreds of times!
Nowadays, that's my geek avenue. I must watch at least a movie a day, and I watch and rewatch all my favorites over and over again. I just love being immersed in another world!
What's your experience like when you're changing gender presentation for a makeup look? Do you find it fun?
I absolutely love it! For me, it's the biggest transformation I can do to myself. Of course, covering myself in a full face of prosthetics to become some fantasy creature is incredibly transformative. But, to change small nuances and details of my face to change my perceived gender, and have it be believable — that's a challenge, and I love a challenge!
The first time I gave myself a beard I kept it on for hours afterward! I must say, though: I don't know how men don't get immensely aggravated with their mustache ending up in their mouth, especially when eating!
What's the geek scene like where you live? Do you go to conventions? How do those feel?
I wouldn't say there's a massive geek scene where I live. My boyfriend and I have started going to conventions, though we do have to travel to London for those! My absolute dream would be to go to San Diego Comic-Con and go in full cosplay. I don't think our comic cons over here can even slightly compare in terms of size and guests. I think us Brits are slightly too reserved to just let loose and geek out!