Halloween is traditionally associated with several trademarks: candy, pumpkins, and horror-themed makeup. It is the latter that is the speciality of Nigel Phua (@night.chylde), a self-taught makeup artist who has been practising his craft for four years now. Here we pick Nigel’s brain (not literally…) as to his brilliantly delightful works!
How and when did you first start out doing makeup?
I started when I was in J1, four years ago. I needed a Halloween costume for an event, so I decided to try face-painting. I went on Youtube to watch some tutorials, and I tried it out. The first one was quite bad though [laughs]. Despite that, I found it quite interesting, thus it became a hobby for me.
Did you do any makeup prior to this?
Well, I started out with special effects makeup, mainly gore and injury simulations. After a year, I realised it wasn’t really my thing, so I transitioned to more face-painting and character stuff.
Makeup products can be quite costly. When you first started out, where did you get the funds to buy your products?
The products I bought weren’t too expensive, so there wasn’t much of a problem. I would use normal makeup as a substitute; for example, I’d use lipstick to create bruises. And instead of buying fake blood, I’d make my own, using red food colouring.
What are some factors to consider when purchasing make up products?
Makeup products are quite expensive, so I’ll do my research and read reviews, among other things, before I make the decision to buy. This is because for special effects makeup, there’s a lot of focus on creating different textures, or creating fake skin. So they make use of materials like silicon and latex to achieve this. It’s quite inaccessible and expensive in Singapore, but there are shops that sell it. For me, I usually buy my products online.
How do you approach different skin types?
When I’m working with materials such as latex and silicon, I will always make it a point to check whether the person I’m working on is allergic to them. If they are, I’ll use alternatives like gelatin.
On average, how long does it take you to complete a full makeup?
For face-painting, I usually take one to two hours. The longest I took was when I did jewels – like rhinestones, gems – on my face, which took five to six hours. If I do body-paint, that will definitely take longer as well, for example three to four hours. For body-painting, I would usually take a couple of hours longer than usual – roughly three to four hours.
How long does the makeup last?
When I go out for Halloween, it’s usually just around three to four hours, and it holds quite well. But there have been shoots I’ve done where I did use latex, and the makeup might wear off quicker due to the actor talking, sweating, and moving around. In those instances we might need to do a touch-up.
Do you have any preferred styles for your face-painting?
I prefer the creepy styles, which is why I tend to do Halloween makeup.
When you embark on a new painting project, how far in advance do you plan?
First, I’ll have the idea in my head. Then I’ll check if I need to get any additional materials, and factor in the time needed for delivery. For example, contact lenses are a very important part of my makeup. Hence, if I don’t have a particular contact lens colour, I will proceed to order it. I’ll also draw out some designs that I have in mind and store it in my phone.
For these contact lenses, is it just a one-time or long term usage?
It is either of monthly or yearly usage. Therefore, I will have to maximise the number of looks I can do with that colour.
Are there any challenges that you’ve faced as a makeup artist?
One of the challenges I face is gender stereotyping. People make assumptions of males who do makeup and I’ve definitely had some criticism regarding this. However, in reality, many professional makeup artists are males, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with males doing makeup, especially if it’s something you’re passionate about.
Are there any styles that you have always wanted to try, but have yet to do so?
I’d really like to do full-body painting, but I haven’t been able to find a model, because that’s rather private and very sensitive. It’s also very hard to do it on myself. In addition, it would take quite a long time, perhaps seven to eight hours. So the model would have to stay still – for seven to eight hours. I think it’d be quite awkward for me to paint on another person, but it’s a challenge.
How was your experience when shooting these Halloween looks with OOWA lenses?
I find it very hard to get a good angle on normal lens. With the Wide-Angle lens, it really helps to solve that problem, as I can capture the entirety of the subject in the frame.
Lastly, do you have any advice or tips for those who are just starting out doing makeup, or thinking about doing so?
Well, everything I learnt was from Youtube. So you don’t necessarily need to fork out money to learn these kinds of things; you can do so on your own. Of course, if you go for professional courses, you’ll get a certificate at the end, which would be very helpful in terms of employment, especially if you want to do this as a full-time job. But it’s not necessary if you just want to do this as a hobby.
Firstly, I would advice beginners to practise. You’ll never get better if you don’t practise. Even if you fail, learn from your mistakes and know what to do (better) next time.
Secondly, make use of social media. Get to know other people doing this, and get feedback from them. It’s very helpful.
Finally, you don’t need to be good in art or makeup, but it requires a lot of patience.
So do you see yourself turning this into more of a job, rather than just a hobby?
Hopefully. I’m currently studying Mass Communications, and I’m hoping that it will help and guide me towards the path of doing makeup.
This first look is inspired by my weirdly-specific phobia of mouths being in places they’re not supposed to be. I was partly inspired by the demogorgon from the tv series, stranger things. It also has a huge mouth and a lack of eyes.
This second look was created because I wanted to do something that would be more manageable for beginners, since this look focuses more on face-painting instead of SFX makeup. The materials are more accessible too. I came up with two versions — a creepy one and a slightly less creepy one.
All pictures and videos courtesy of the OOWA team, and were taken with the 15mm and 75mm OOWA lenses.
Follow Nygel on Instagram: @night.chylde