Brenna Mazzoni
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Credit: Brenna Mazzoni 

SFX make-up artist Brenna Mazzoni is sorry for spooking the UPS guy

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Oct 26, 2018, 3:55 PM EDT

Make-up and special effects hobbyist Brenna Mazzoni admits that she has scared the occasional mailman, but she's not doing it on purpose.

"I'm a stay-at-home mom, so sometimes I'm mid-project when the doorbell rings," she tells SYFY WIRE, laughing. She’s also frightened other carpool moms, neighborhood landscapers, and students at her children’s school after jumping into the car to get her kids, halfway into some horrifying make-up look. But to Mazzoni's two little boys, having a zombie prom queen for a mom is just a regular Tuesday.

"They're not quite old enough to be into creepy things," she says, "but I anticipate being asked to turn them into zombies in a few years."

Mazzoni posts her character and horror make-up on her Instagram account. Right now, she’s in the middle of a 31 Days of Halloween challenge, posting a new look every day. Mazzoni says the challenge has been exhausting in more ways than one.

“One look will take anywhere from two to six hours, depending on how extensively I’ve sketched it beforehand, and whether I’m using prosthetics,” she says. Body paint and heavy costume make-up are hard on her skin, so she’s looking forward to taking a quick breather in November.

She’s done a lot of freaky-looking make-up effects for Halloween, but Mazzoni says she’s not even a huge horror fan. “I’m actually more into aliens and superheroes,” she says. “I obsess over the techniques they use in Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, even Harry Potter.

Still, Mazzoni has an obvious predilection for creepiness. Though she’s dressed up as superheroes and cartoon characters, a “character peeling off her own skin” seems to be a running theme in her make-up FX work.

Mind-blowingly, Mazzoni is completely self-taught, though she did study fine art in college and familiarized herself with body paint as an art student. All the make-up and prosthetics techniques, however, are the result of watching "a lot of YouTube tutorials."

"I do gravitate toward characters who have a creepiness to them," she says. "But I actually can't sit through horror movies. I think I prefer to be the scary thing in the room. Ironically, I feel prettier if I'm wearing something that has a dark twist to it."

Though she’s still an unpaid amateur, Mazzoni is right at the crux of a possible career shift, partly because of her large Instagram following. Almost 100,000 followers lob requests at Mazzoni daily, and though she’s been game to transform herself into Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, Other Mother from Coraline, and Hellboy, the demand for new looks has only increased.

Mazzoni also attends at least three comic conventions a year, where she sews and crafts her own props for full-body cosplay looks and networks with other artists. “I went to Boston Comic Con this year,” she says. “And I always do Tampa Bay Comic Con in Florida, where I live. Mega Con is another favorite.”

Could she see herself expanding into a full-time make-up FX job? “Everyone asks why I don’t work in television, and I admit that’d be amazing. In the future, I want to improve my sculpting and molding skills and reach a point where I’m applying prosthetics of my own design. I also want to expand into creating looks on others, which would push me into doing this as a professional.”

Mazzoni may not have a professional SFX make-up artist’s salary yet, but she’s certainly got the workload of one.