Where were you born?
Where do you live now?
New York City.
What’s your sign?
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a visual artist, a painter or a sculptor, and I also loved the theater. My love for the theater started very early on. I had a well-rounded childhood in the creative arts and parents who supported and encouraged my imagination. They took me to the opera, theater, children’s and puppet theaters, dance and ballet performances and art exhibits. All of this inspired me to act in plays, build my own puppets, design the
scenery, make my own costumes, do my own makeup, cast my friends and put on shows. I was truly an entertainer — a clown!
How did that transpose into a working in makeup?
I have always been preoccupied by “the theater of the face.” As an artist I used to paint portraits on canvas with oil paint and water color. Then, that canvas became the face and instead of oil paint I began using makeup.
What was your first memorable work as an artist?
I would have to say my makeup design for some of my early Broadway musicals: The Scarlet Pimpernel, Once Upon a Mattress, The Sound of Music, Dance of the Vampires are a few.
How did you know that the makeup industry was where you wanted to be?
The community is amazing. From those you create with to the artists and brands that are so supportive. How could I not want to be in this amazing industry! Although my career has been in theatre, opera, dance, print, commercials and television, I have
great respect for the industry overall. I have been extremely fortunate to have developed over the course of my 25 year career relationships with make-up companies and the people and artists at MAC, MAKE UP FOR EVER, Ben Nye, Cinema Secrets,
Alcone, Temptu, The Powder Group, On Makeup Magazine, Make-Up Artist Magazine, Nigel Beauty, Kryolan, The Complete Sculptor, The Beauty Show, The Makeup Show and the many wonderful artists that I have crossed paths with who have supported me on numerous projects in theater and television. I am very thankful.
What are the things about working in makeup that you love?
What I love most about working in makeup is the transformative nature of the theater. What inspired me to get into theatre and makeup is the storytelling. The creation of a character through the transformative quality of makeup, transcends for me a mystery out of shadow and light.
What are the things about your work that makes it the most interesting to you?
The design process. It always begins with the story itself, the music, lyrics and libretto will contain everything you’ll need to know in the beginning. The authors are God. They are the persons responsible for the characters wants and needs and how they develop throughout the story. We must honor their creation. I then meet with the director and other designers: costume and wigs, sets, lights. We discuss the period Through research for historical accuracy.
We look at the design sketches and then we talk about the feel and the tone, style and what we want to say with the make-up design. Whether the character has a crooked nose or facial scar, ages through the story, or working out physical qualities to the
character, all of this must be configured into the design. Other considerations to creating the make-up look are schedule, budget, staff, venue, length of performance, backstage set-up etc. Then I begin to create a make-up plot for each character in the show. I gather the actors head shots and create the makeup bible. We are then ready to shop and build the show. During the rehearsals we have make-up and wig sessions taking
photographs of what we create. This is just the beginning of the design process.
What are the challenges you face as a freelance artist?
Makeup is a highly competitive field. As an artist I find that I have to stay interested, engaged, continue to educate yourself on new products and techniques, attend seminars, build relationships and maintain a high standard of work.
What should someone who is looking to develop a career in makeup know before getting into the business?
You have to be motivated, reliable, punctual, organized and work well under pressure. Makeup is art but also a service we provide to both the production and the actors.
How do you continue to grow your career as an artist?
I try to choose my projects well. Work with talented and supportive colleagues, and try to forge new relationships.
Do you have a project that you’ve done that you are especially proud of?
This is an unfair question because in truth they are all my favorites. You can’t ask a parent who is their favorite child can you!? My favorite show will always be the one I’m working on at the moment. In the case of today, that happens to not be in theater. Right now I’m working on the TV series Manifest.
What makes you a good makeup artist?
I always trust my instincts, my sense of style, creativity, honesty and a willingness to collaborate, to change and to abandon ideas. People get very attached to their ideas like a dog with bone, won’t give it up. You must know when it’s not working and be willing to change, come up with new ideas, and above all listen remember that it’s about the collaboration. One of the most important collaborators are your actors.
What project was the most challenging?
Large-scale Broadway musicals are always challenging and fun at the same time. You may have to design in the same show period beauty makeup, character makeup, aging, FX, body makeup, fangs, prosthetics, contact lenses and quick changes!
You may have to design a period show with 150 makeup designs and up to 7-10 makeup changes per character. These can be the most challening and also the most exciting.
Shows that have big casts, or highly developed characters add to those challenges. Good examples are shows like Young Frankenstein, The Little Mermaid, The Addams Family, Dracula, The Dance of the Vampires, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Pillow Man, Julius Caesar, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Color Purple, Cabaret, just to name a few.
Do you prefer one type of work to another?
My career has predominately been in theatre, opera and television and is all character based. Whether I do straight makeup, FX or fantasy.
What would your actors say is the best thing about working with you?
I don’t know the answer to this. But one thing I know is that the actors are your greatest collaborators. Don’t forget that there is a person underneath the makeup. Be kind, considerate and respectful.
Is there someone you have always wanted to work with who you haven’t had the chance to yet?
The are so many talented artists past and present. I admire great work. I would have loved to have worked in the Golden Age of Hollywood with the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich. I would have also loved to work with makeup artists such as Max Factor, Ben Nye and the Westmores. Directors such as Hitchcock and Fellini come to mind as well.
What inspires you?
I get my inspiration from everywhere. It’s all around us. It comes from the world the characters live in. The very society with all its entrapments, morals, politics, business, beauty, art, corruption etc. The inspiration is life itself and you are only limited by your
imagination to take that to new and unique ways for your audience to look at what you’re trying to communicate.
Whose work do you admire?
I admire original quality work past and present. We have to remember that we stand on the shoulder of giants who have come before us.
What has changed most about the industry in the time that you’ve been working in makeup?
There are far more makeup brands to choose from on the market. New products and technologies are constantly being developed. The Internet as the dominant source of information and communication. We are in the age of fast fashion, fast art, the influencers and iphone and likes on social media.
What’s coming next in makeup?
I would like to see more originality and authenticity.
How has working in theater changed over the years?
New technologies in lighting and projection design, sound design. New makeup and techniques in the area of FX and beauty, The Internet as the primary means of marketing.
How has social media affected your career or work?
When I first started you had to have a portfolio with photographs of your work. I had a camera with film and also a polaroid camera. I documented my work by taking photographs. I used polaroids for continuity. Now everything is digital. I now have to
have a website instead of a portfolio. Instagram and Twitter accounts. Everything is done through the iphone.
What’s next for Angelina Avallone?
To quote Tom Petty, “The future is wide open.” I’m excited. The show must go on!!
Words Michael DeVellis
Photos Angelina Avallone