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First, look in your closet

The art of dressing up for Halloween

Jodie Garcia, a premier makeup artist used a classic Twilight Zone episode for inspiration for these makeup and costume creations.

Jodie Garcia, a premier makeup artist used a classic Twilight Zone episode for inspiration for these makeup and costume creations.

The Times-Advocate asked Jodie Garcia, a professional make-up artist based in Valley Center, to give our readers some advice on dressing up for Halloween.

Garcia was nominated for the Ron Hamm Award for Outstanding Hair and Makeup Design for the theatrical production of “The Addams Family” at Palm Canyon Theatre and under the technical category for best professional makeup for “Cats.” She can be found most days at Pin-up Culture in Escondido.

Q: Give me a little background on yourself. What sort of experience you have had in make-up and costuming?

A: I was exposed to makeup, and costuming as far back as I can remember. My parents were very much into Halloween. My fondest memories were watching my parents prepare and plan for each year. After one Halloween would come to a close, my parents were already in the works for the upcoming year. As I’m thinking back on my growing up years, and how I brought it forward to when my own kids were growing up . . .My parents are the root of where I first got my passion for doing makeup and hair. I just started working with different concepts and kept improving over time. I study other artists and their technique and then add my own blend and style.

Q: I’ve been asked to a costume party and I’ve put off doing anything at all about it until the day before the party. Am I doomed?

A: You are by far, not doomed. The greatest costumes come from your closet. You will be surprised at what you actually can pull together just by rummaging around through your home or apartment. I made a costume one year for my son who wanted to go as Scar Face. I went down to the thrift store and found two suits that lined up on the buttons and lapels. I cut them straight up the back and then sewed the two suits together. I found a very ugly shirt and tie to go with the ensemble. He wore a pair of black slacks from his closet. I did his makeup by watching tutorials on Youtube. Yes, it’s a great learning tool. Pinterest is another great tool. I have a folder for different ideas that I can go back on later. I’m constantly on it for new ideas. Best part of this is I get two ugly suits for the price of one. I think I actually invested less then $15 on the two costumes. My son’s best friend and he actually wore them again to a function at school. I keep all of my costumes in a closet or trunk that I can rummage through at a later time if need be, or tear apart to be used in creating a new piece.

Q: What has your experience around movies and stage work taught you about giving yourself a new look, even if it’s only for one or two nights?

A: Being on set is unique. It is constantly evolving and you need to be adaptable. Even in preproduction meetings, you start off with one concept, but as the production grows closer, even into opening night, the look and/or costuming is changing. Most importantly be you, be comfortable and have fun with the look you are going with. It doesn’t have to be costly to have a great evening. Don’t hold back in your thoughts and go where your imagination will take you. If you can dream it, you can create it.

Q: Is it true or false that you have to spend a lot of money in order to look cool when you dress up for a Halloween party or event?

A: You absolutely do not have to spend a lot of money on your costuming. A little can go a long way in achieving the look you are wanting. Add to your collection over time. You can get your best deals on decorations, costumes, makeup, wigs, etc. the day after Halloween. If you have the space and you find things that you like put them in a storage container for the upcoming years. You can use face paint to accentuate your makeup needs.

Q: What’s more important: spending money, or being creative?

A: I feel it would be in the creative aspect. Its your time to let your imagination go wild.

Q: Do colors matter? Are neutral colors better, or is the flashier the better? Are materials important?

A: I’m personally into color and bling. Depending on the look you are trying to achieve you really don’t want to do neutral colors. You don’t want to go boring . . . unless that is your intent on the costume.

Q: Are there any special skills that you need? The ability to sew. A little knowledge of make-up? What if you are a man wanting to do something new and creative, should you just throw your hands in the air?

A: If you can sew, that’s a big plus. But if you are like me, and can’t sew a straight seam no matter how hard you try…..hot glue / clothing glue, buttons, and velcro should become a staple in your kit. In a pinch….go as a cockroach…..a black trash bag, a small bucket on your head with some antennas and black out your face. You can go as a tourist….mismatch your outfit and put on some white socks and dress shoes. There are so many things you can do in a pinch for time and finance.

Q: What are the basics. If you want to put together a unique look, what sort of “toolkit” do you need? Should you go up in family attack or look in the closet, or should you visit the local thrift stores? Do you need special make-up?

A: You can make costumes out of most anything. We use to make Dracula capes out of old sheets and the collars out of cardboard. Pillow cases make a great base for kids outfits. My Mom went as a “Pink” Elephant one year, tutu and all. She made her costume out of an old pair of long-johns. The elephant face was an extra pair of long-john pants and the leg was used as a trunk that we stuffed with newspaper. The ears were made of cardboard, and the tutu was made out of netting. Your best friend is going to be your closet, linen closet, garage, storage area, thrift store, friends’ closet….the ideas are endless. If you have spray paint, clothing dye, and an imagination you can virtually do anything. I always work off of a budget and usually can get it way under.

Q: If you are a mom or dad helping your little one dress up for Halloween, what’s the best way to approach your task?

A: The first part is finding out what your child is wanting to go as. Their favorite super hero? Actor? Animal? From there youtube, Pinterest, and Instagram. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fabulous. If you have time you can buy costumes on ebay relatively low cost.

Q: What do you do if you don’t have much time to put your look together?

A: First don’t panic . . . take a look at your closet, hats, wigs, if you have an old “catch-all” drawer take a look through that. You will be surprised at how quick you can come up with a fun goofy outfit in a pinch.

Q: What about accessories? Are they important?

A: Yes, accessories and props are a big part of any costume or outfit. They add that little bit of extra to your idea, and it adds to the story you are trying to tell to your reader.

Q: Do you have any stories about dressing up for Halloween or a costume party that you could share that might amuse or inform the reader?

A: My fondest memories go back to my childhood watching my parents getting ready for Halloween. I actually thought this was the “normal” in all households. We had the scary house where people would come from miles away just to check it out. My Dad had built the coffins and we had cauldrons that were filled with dry ice. My parents would be in full costume, scary masks, scary music, chainsaws, black lights, vampire costume blood, you name it; we had it and it was fun. It was actually like living on a set of a scary movie. We would have Halloween parties and my Dad would build a crazy entry tunnel that lead up to the front door. I remember one year, my Dad had gotten this really cool coffin that he placed on a table near the door where everyone was coming through. I was laying in the coffin dressed up with a horrible scary mask, and as different people would walk past I would reach out and touch them. A really good friend of ours had come in dressed like a huge pumpkin. The bottom of her costume had small little holes just enough for it to come around her ankles. Her whole outfit was stuffed with newspapers. I can still see her waddling into the room. As she passed me I reached out and touched her. I have never seen anyone jump so high before and literally levitate over the couch. I still laugh about it as I think about that moment. My Mom still giggles as she tells the story of a Halloween Party where she had two masks on. One facing front and one facing to the back. They were scary and very real looking. One of my parents male friends couldn’t even talk to my Mom because it scared him so much.

Q: What is the best makeup job or costume that you were ever involved with?

A: Some of the best makeup I’ve done has been on the set of “Cats,” “Addams Family” and I airbrushed the cast of “Little Shop Of Horrors.” I’ve done makeup for special effects, wounds, princess style, and super heroes. I’m continually learning and trying to expand on my craft and my imagination. My most recent fun project was at this year’s Tiki Oasis. A couple wanted to recreate an episode from the Twilight Zone. Quick hair and a few accessories and we had the look. If you have any questions as we get closer to Halloween, please do not hesitate to contact me or stop by the salon at Pinup Culture / Pinup Garage at 105 E Grand Avenue, Escondido. I will be happy to help you game plan your ideas. I offer makeup and hair services on and off location. You can reach me at 760-802-7060 or you can book me through www.styleseat.com/stagedoormakeupandhair


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