cheap antabuse online Where were you born?
San Diego, CA in 1970.
http://thehistoryhacker.com/2013/01/22/three-extremely-belated-alternatives-to-the-civil-war/?replytocom=293 Where do you live now?
Los Angeles, CA.
What’s your sign?
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a makeup artist or a cop.
How did you get your start in makeup?
In the early 80s there was a magazine called Fangoria and in the back there was an ad for a makeup school in Los Angeles called the Institute of Studio Make Up. At that time I was graduating high school, so I jumped in my Toyota MR2 and moved to LA from a trailer park in Colorado. Makeup has been my only career choice and I’ve never had a backup. I never thought a backup was an option — I was going to make this work no matter what. I kind of feel that having a backup takes drive and energy away from reaching your true goal, and makes you not have to push yourself as hard to get that next job. After makeup school, I keyed a movie with one of my fellow classmates. He ended up getting fired and I took over as Dept. Head. I have been working consistently ever since.
How did you know that the makeup artist industry was where you wanted to be?
The moment I knew I wanted to be a makeup artist was in 1980, when I accidentally walked into the Friday the 13th instead of Jungle Book at the local theatre. I walked in just when you see Jason get his head cut off. That was the moment that I really thought “that’s what I want to do.” So in a way, the movie business came to me, instead of me going to it.
What was your first memorable work as an artist?
Everything that I’ve done! I’ve selected a career path that is very well thought-out and kind of planned. I know that’s weird to say, but I’ve always put myself in situations and taken opportunities that are best for me and that showcase what I’m good at. I don’t just do a movie or TV show to do it. I’ve always really thought about every opportunity and how it helps get me to the next step on my path to reach my goals.
What are the things you love about being an arist?
Learning and expanding as an artist and person. I also love teaching others from my experiences, this is why I started Beauty MasterClass with my wife. I feel it’s our responsibility, as artists, to show the next generation the things that took us years to learn so they can excel and build where we left off.
What are the challenges you face as a makeup artist?
I guess the challenge of being a makeup artist is finding the next job. Even with a solid 35-year career, I am the same as a student — we’re always looking for a job. Be prepared for that because there is no forever job. Every few months you are looking for your next gig.
What should someone who is looking to develop a career in makeup know before getting into the business?
Work hard, don’t be an asshole, watch other artists — what they do and how they do it, keep yourself and your kit clean, have a tidy and organized station, don’t gossip. Also understand that this is not an easy business, the hours suck and they can take you away from your family or personal life, but if it’s a passion of yours, there is a balance that can work out between family in the movie business, but it is tough. You will have to find a partner who is understanding, able to hold down the fort while you’re on location (sometimes for months on end), and if you want kids, they will often be asleep when you wake up and in bed before you get home from work.
What are some of the most important qualities that a makeup artist can have?
Be humble — don’t brag about yourself to anyone, ever. Winning an Emmy is great, but the Monday after the awards people are showing up to work making cool shit and being driven to win next year. Be willing to learn — once you think you’re amazing and know everything and should be getting more or better jobs, you’ve started your decline in the industry. Be willing to be okay with making a mistake, learning from it, and using it to help you succeed.
What makes you a good makeup artist?
That’s tough. I don’t think I’m a particularly good makeup artist, I think I’m an artist like everyone else and I come in to each show or each situation ready; ready to get dirty, ready to learn, ready to maybe throw out some things that I thought were the best ways and learn from an artist next to me who has a better way, ready to be able to step back and put my ego away to learn from that artist.
How do you continue to grow as an artist?
I’ve done over 125 TV shows and movies in my career, and during each one of those shows I have only been able to grow as an artist because of my team, because they have taught me new and exciting ways to do anything from makeup to scheduling. I’m always looking to the station next to me and down the row, I’m always watching my friends do new things, and they’re watching me do things that they’ve never seen before. The only way you can really keep learning and growing as an artist is be willing to be a sponge, absorb all the cool stuff happening around you.
What has changed most in the industry since you started?
Several things! Products are evolving faster than every and new ones coming out daily — even the materials that FX makeups are made of changes all the time. The biggest thing though, I think is VFX collaboration is bigger than ever. A few years ago, we thought we were all gonna lose our jobs to VFX, but now it’s a very beautiful dance between the teams. We have figured out where our worlds meet so we can all come together and make a beautiful piece of art.
Is there a project you’ve done that you’re most proud of?
Again, everything that I’ve done in my career I’m proud of. NipTuck was cool, working with my pal Eryn Krueger Mekash on the American Horror Story TV series was also a highlight of my career. But if I had to really pick just one, I think Star Trek has probably had the biggest impact on me and my career, because I’ve been an artist on many of the shows. I’ve done eight Star Trek TV shows and movies spanning over 27 years. I think Star Trek has helped me become the artist I am today because I am able to follow the changes in products throughout the years from foam latex to silicone, from 35mm film to digital, and from working with props for practical effects to working with VFX.
Do you ever get stuck creatively?
Yes, and anyone who says no is lying or hasn’t been doing this long enough to get stuck. For me, creatively it’s a lot of work department heading big shows, that’s why you have your team! You should be looking to your Key and your Asst. Dept. Heads and being inspired by the artists working with you everyday. And when the hours get you feeling stuck on a personal level, it’s your family you look to help you through tough times.
What project was the most challenging?
I would actually say season one of Picard. We did over 1500 makeups in that one season. We had some days with more than 100 Local 706 artists working, and the average was 35 daily artists. I will always talk about teams and teamwork, and my team on season 1, 2 and 3 of Star Trek Picard hit it out of the park. I couldn’t have done any of the cool stuff we did without Silvi Knight, Maxine Morris, Alexei Dmitriew, Richard Redlefsen, Hugo Villasenor, Mike Ornelaz, Bianca Appice, Kevin Wasner, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Maria Sandoval and so many others.
What would your clients say is the best thing about working with you?
I always have a smile on my face and a joke ready to go, and I’m always watching the monitor and paying attention so they don’t have to worry about anything but their performance.
What inspires you?
Watching the young artists working to be where I am. It reminds me of when I was younger and just started in the business. I knew where I wanted to be, I was watching Ve Neill and Greg Cannom work, and now I have young kids wanting to follow in my footsteps. I see that as a great responsibility, and I care about making sure that they know that it takes hard work, determination, dedication, time, and in the beginning take all opportunities that come your way. Saying no in the beginning can mean closing so many doors you couldn’t even see. It’s not always the makeups you’re doing, that make a project worthwhile, it’s the other artists you’re meeting who like working with you and speak your name in the trailer on another show.
Whose work do you admire?
I admire all artists who put their work and themselves out there to be scrutinized and judged by the world. I also admire artists who make the conscious effort to learn as much as they can — if you’re great at beauty and you work at some point to learn prosthetics, or great at prosthetics and you’re learning to do beauty makeup, I admire that in any artist.
Also, it’s super easy to make a big alien with overlapping pieces that you can hide imperfections with a great paint job, but what thrills me is to see our industry evolve to where we are combining prosthetics and beauty makeup in a way that the blend is seamless with the real skin, and you can’t see the transition from face to makeup. That really inspires me. That is talent. If you haven’t seen Kazu Hiro and Vivian Baker’s work on Bombshell and Justin Raleigh and Linda Dowds work on The Eyes of Tammy Faye, those most recent films are where I get inspiration and everyone should work to achieve that level of skill. Our departments, beauty and prosthetics, are working closer than ever now, and learning both beauty and prosthetics is how you can ensure you are constantly working in the future.
As if you aren’t busy enough as a renowned designer and artist, you’ve got some side projects as well right?
Yes, we are always busy at the MacKinnon house. My wife Dyane MacKinnon and I have created Beauty MasterClass and have the FX Edition, where working or recently graduated artists of all skill levels are learning from top makeup artists in film and TV and we are expanding to fashion soon.
I also have a makeup and hair trailer rental business — BigMack Trailers. I’ve had BigMack for 13 years. I have ten trailer with 8, 9 and 10 stations all designed and built by me. I am the designer, the mechanic, maintenance and janitor. So, if you’re ever looking for a makeup and hair trailer for your show check us out!
What’s next for James MacKinnon?
I have a movie in the works and I am also embarking on the journey of owning a salon and spa with my wife. Dyane has been working in the beauty industry for over 20 years in Canada and is a licensed esthetician. April 2022 we open the doors to The Complexion Apothecary in Burbank/Toluca Lake. This is an eco-minded luxury salon and spa with over 90% of our service and retail products being from BCORP and sustainable luxury brands from Italy and USA. It’s pretty exciting.
Words Michael DeVellis
Photos Courtesy of James MacKinnon