Here’s the second half of our epic interview with the lovely Kiana Jones. So let’s get straight back into it!
Have you taken any makeup courses in the past?
Yeah! I’ve done short courses in the past.
I did a course with Thomas Suprenant on making prosaide transfers and prosthetic teeth. I have also taken a course with Brian Sipe on how to make and apply prosaide transfers.
Brian’s was the best course for me so far.
He helped a lot with sculpting, and especially with my application skills. Brian taught me to extend colouring from the prosthetic onto the skin. And to blend it more (for instance, when doing a scarring makeup).
He showed me three Skin Illustrator Complexion palette colours for skin tones. I use these three colours on nearly every makeup I apply to this day – Pastel Yellow, DT Blush, and Cool Tone.
It was a great course and taught me a lot.
As well as showing me what kind of teaching style I like and aspire to.
For me, that’s lots of time for hands on experience. And repetition. Also, correcting people as they’re applying to direct them to better end results.
I also won a free short TAFE* makeup course. I was at a Halloween party, the first prize for best makeup was the TAFE course.
It was something like 7 weeks, to get a Certificate II in Retail Make-Up and Skin Care.
It was kind of random to win that. But it taught me a lot about practical beauty makeup applications on other people.
That’s great. I had no idea TAFE even had a course remotely related to makeup.
They certainly didn’t 20 years ago (I’m so out of touch!)
How do you feel about courses now? It’s such a bone of contention with makeup artists, whether to take courses or not nowadays.
Yeah, I can understand some of the reasoning. Some of the makeup schools in Perth would charge around $10,000 for a course.
And the courses seemed mostly to teach people out of kit stuff with wax and latex.
I guess if you’re someone who isn’t interested in learning at home. Perhaps, then it might be more beneficial to take a course of this structure.
I do think that the best and fastest way to learn is through observing others. Getting to see different ways of doing things. Whether it be on YouTube or a Stan Winston Studios course.
I know for me personally, one of the biggest learning moments was on a film set.
It was on Kong Skull Island.
Bill Corso had organised a practice day for us to apply the makeup looks on extras (a non-filming day). It was really lovely to get to have a play with other artists in a low stress environment.
I learnt so much from other artists in that environment.
It seems like many people would benefit from that in-person experience of having their applications watched. And then having someone with more experience point out ways that they can improve.
I think that sums up the beauty of what is essentially “on-the-job training.”
And now, almost 30 years into my career, I’m still learning each day at work.
I think that’s a huge part of why I still do makeup. There is an ongoing educational element to it, for sure. And that only comes as a result of the unpredictability of any given day on a film set!
In your world of video production, how long on average does one video take to put together?
Recently, my YouTube videos have been shorter than in the past.
Applying one gory prosthetic over about an hour or two, while narrating what I’m doing. This is usually a two camera set up. And then editing it down to a ten to fifteen minute video.
So that could be a full day of work in total.
That’s pretty fast – way quicker than I would have guessed. But there are a lot of different areas of expertise in there!
In the past when I’ve done full faces, or sometimes arms as well. Whether it’s an orc or zombie. I can get a bit lost in that and take several hours for the application.
Some of it comes down to taking snack breaks and technical things like charging camera batteries.
Then occasionally, I’ve made bigger things like the Clicker Makeup or Jaylah recreation. These projects can take me weeks of sculpting, molding, casting, painting, and application.
Add to that the days required to edit all the footage.
Recently I’ve started filming longer form courses that go a lot more in-depth. And presenting them as workshops and short online courses on Teachable.
That’s a three-camera setup. Two mics and I get a professional editor to help me with that. Having something like 20 hours of footage per camera. And with three cameras, it is just too much for me to handle editing on my own.
My most recent one is Applying Prosthetics (silicone appliances and prosaide transfers – specifically aimed at first-timers). It was edited down to something like 10 hours, divided into 90 videos (between 1 minute and 15 minutes).
Each video would be on a different topic. It contained multiple prosthetic applications on different skin tones, demonstrations, that sort of thing.
That one course took me about a year in total to complete. A couple of months’ break a few times a year to work on film projects that came up.
I am hoping to get that process going a bit faster this year.
Do you ever work by a schedule?
I need a schedule with ADHD because my mind is somewhat chaotic. And I cannot retain everything I need to remember.
I write everything down so I can refer to it later.
Scheduling can also get overwhelming.
Sometimes I have ‘time blindness’ to how long things realistically take. Or how long I have been actively doing a task whilst in the moment.
So this can lead to unrealistic schedules sometimes. Even though I think I’ve been generous with the amount of allotted time.
The main thing I’ll schedule and stick to now is days that models and videographers are involved in the shoot. Outside of that I’ll have a list of things that I want to work on.
I will pick a thing each day that I’ll try to work on. Keeping it a bit looser; all depending on how focused and energised I am feeling each day.
Sometimes there will be entire weeks that I feel burnt out for no reason.
Or I’ll have zero energy or motivation and be unable to keep a thought in my brain for even a second. So I just constantly feel like I just forgot something important, and on those days I allow myself to have a couch day.
Finding out what was the cause of that executive dysfunction has been very helpful. Taking ADHD medication has been helping me have less ‘zero days’.
My latest goals are to commit to actually finishing tasks, rather than get them 90% then stop.
I’m really hoping that in 2021 I get to finish a big chunk on my to-do list.
My next online course is how to make prosthetics for beginners.
That’s great. Time management and creativity don’t always walk the same path!
I’d love to hear how you come up with ideas for your videos.
It’s always a bit of a mix.
Sometimes it’s seeing others work – whether it’s in a movie or tv show or on someone’s Instagram page. There are many interesting things that I save as inspiration.
Sometimes I see a real-life reference image of something medical. Usually, stuff online, or sometimes a friend will save photos of their own injuries specifically to send to me. I’ve made prosthetics that way.
There are prosthetics on my website right now (that I made with Dabbledark in the past). We brainstormed ideas for pieces that we thought would be unique.
Appliances like a skin graft or a dog bite on the hand. And a partially healed version of that bite that has white mushy skin from the wet dressing.
Other times it’ll be stuff that seems to be absent from the collective knowledge out there.
How does your schedule change if you take on a film or tv job?
I think because I’ve never been good with consistency, people don’t notice my absence.
I may take a two or six-month break from posting because I’m on a film job. Or if I’m working on completing a project of my own, it all looks the same from the outside.
And I’m lucky that most people are really understanding.
And can you to maintain working on both your online projects and maintain an onset gig at the same time?
I can imagine that being quite a challenge.
Haha, not at all!
I get so wiped out being on set or being in a workshop full time.
Some days are so long that I barely have time to shower and get enough sleep. Let alone spend any time talking to friends or family or doing any self care.
The online stuff is quite far down the list of importance when I’m on another job. I just put it all on hold.
Even replying to my emails gets so delayed when I’m working full time. I don’t know how people, in general, can juggle so many things at once.
What do you have planned in the future? Do you foresee expanding at all?
Right now, I’m finishing an update to my Applying Prosthetics course with some new videos.
After that, I want to extend the range of prosthetic appliances that I sell online. I have a long list of ideas for new prosthetics.
I’d also like to film some application shots and videos of those new appliances.
I’m also working on a “Making Prosthetics” course. How to sculpt, mold, cast, and apply them. Both silicone and prosaide, as the sculpting and molding process is very similar for both).
And then I’d like to expand the online store and kits. So they include stuff for making prosthetics to go along with that course, in kit form.
It would be great to keep expanding the teachable videos too.
I’d love one that gets lots of my industry friends involved. To have them speak about being on set and a thorough introduction to the profession.
From kit contents, to etiquette, safety and hygiene and so on, just all of it would be so good.
And from multiple perspectives from makeup assistants, to day-checkers, keys, through to designers.
Maybe I can hire you to do one of those videos for me Kerrin. Tackle your fears of being in front of a camera head-on!
Ha! Maybe one day!
How has the pandemic affected your videos if at all?
If I were good at regularly posting content, it would have been boosted by people staying at home a lot. People are turning to online learning and online entertainment more.
I haven’t been using YouTube regularly because of my use of anything with fake blood. They started placing restrictions on the reach and age of who could view my videos (some are 18+).
So now they have no monetization or ads. This removes part of my motivation to continue making content for the platform.
I could switch to doing more family-friendly and less gory makeup. But I just don’t want to keep anticipating things changing again.
The thing that made me popular on there and that they used to promote, now gets me punished. So I’m expanding what I do beyond YouTube so that I can ‘diversify my income’, as they say.
Your fans seem to be very loyal, some of which have stuck with you for a long time.
It’s really interesting to see them encourage you and support you. Is this experience a big part of the process for you?
Yeah, that’s one of the best parts of all of this.
When I’m working on set or in workshops, I miss the online gang – their encouragement and connections.
Sometimes I base my own opinion on my projects on whether people who follow me respond well or not.
If I’m too close to a makeup to be objective about it, I’ll be persuaded by people’s online feedback. This is good for my mental health as well. It makes me less critical of my work and myself.
Sometimes I am super excited to post it to see if others love it too. To see what they have to say about it – definitely a big dopamine booster.
Emails I like because I can write longer replies to people who have reached out.
Occasionally I hear from people that get angry at me if I don’t respond to them fast enough. It’s been pretty extreme.
So now we know a bit about Freakmo, tell us about Kiana.
Do you ever see yourself going into any other completely different fields at all?
Generally, I try to be pretty open about everything, including when makeups don’t work and my own mental health struggles.
It concerns me a bit about social media being a place for everyone to flex and post their highlights. To create this presentation of them having this fulfilled life when I know so many people struggle beneath that facade.
I try to post to my Instagram stories about my own mental health struggles. Struggles with anxiety, depression, C-PTSD/childhood trauma, and now, newly, ADHD.
In terms of things people don’t see as much – I really enjoy baking. And started learning how to temper chocolate and make chocolates and confectionery at home last year as a ‘pandemic hobby.’
I’ve been told by a few people that I could be a professional baker. And that the chocolate chip cookie I made is the best they’ve ever had!
I like to wake up early before going into the workshop. I like to bake cookies fresh. So they’ll still have that crunch on the outside, and the chocolate chips will still be slightly melted. I love the joy that those things can bring to people.
Also, I’m a huge sugar addict. I could maybe go into baking or being a chocolatier in another life. More early mornings and recipes to follow, just like FX work, haha!
For a while, I thought the art world was where I would belong. Maybe working in a gallery (rather than being an artist creating the work).
But truthfully I felt like I didn’t ever fully understand or ‘get’ the art world, or fit in there.
A lot of the art that I liked was because it was technically skilled and realistic. But in the Ph.D. program, we learned that wasn’t enough. You had to be able to write about it, too, and explore different concepts and philosophies. And understand how it is applied and can be interpreted.
I did learn a lot about art. And I learned a lot about how to research (in general), and it gave me so many underlying skills that I can apply to FX makeup now.
I see that you often do tutorials with Marc Clancy (aka Powdah) – how did this come about? Tell us more!
I think he had been following me as Freakmo online and watching some of my tutorials, among others like Stuart Bray’s.
I saw one of his posts on Instagram (a wax missing eye with a Fourth Seal Studios eyeball in there). And I thought it was one of the best executed missing eyelid looks I’d seen. He has such great deep eye sockets for it too.
We started chatting, became friends online. He was over in Melbourne, whereas I was on the other side of the country in Perth.
I got to meet him for the first time at IMATS Sydney. We hung out with a few other online makeup friends. And since then we’ve become really close friends.
He was a ‘bridesman’ at my wedding a few years ago.
We have done a few collaborations. I always love collaborating with Marc. He’s just super easy to work with. And we have the same kind of vision and aesthetic.
If we were sculpting something, I could hand it over to him to swap and know it’d come back better. Same for application. He’d know the right colours and placements for things and make everything better while also being easy and fun.
In recent times he has lost the love for FX a bit. I think for him, part of it was Instagram and YouTube taking down. Hiding and demonetizing everything he’s created because it’s too realistic and gory.
It takes away the motivation when you are creating things, knowing they will be hidden intentionally. And not shown to the people who have subscribed to you or followed your page.
As he’s a ‘social media makeup artist,’ he’d also be subjected to criticisms. Things like, “Well, it’s great, but wax wouldn’t last on a set, so…” That sort of thing.
That’s interesting. It must be challenging not to take the knocks personally.
I’ve seen Rick Baker use wax in his self-applied makeups recently.
Do you think you will do more collaborations in the future?
For sure, I’m currently trying to rope Marc into doing a guest lecture on some of my Teachable courses. I’d love to add some of his out of kit FX stuff as video lessons. He’s just so good at it and really great at teaching/explaining his process.
We still have dreams of doing an almost full body/full creature creation in the future.
In general, I do a lot better with working on this stuff with other people around. Whether we’re working on the same thing or not. Having someone else creating with me is really motivational, and I love the company.
Especially when I’m used to working at home alone. I am excited for the pandemic to be over so that kind of stuff can resume more frequently.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a tough question.
I do have this yearning to be accepted fully into the FX industry and get lots of work under my belt.
But I think that will involve relocating to a new country, whether New Zealand, the UK, or the USA. This seemed easier when I was in my 20s but feels like a lot to handle now.
I picked up silicone painting pretty quickly. I’ve convinced myself that if I got lots of industry work doing that, I could become really good at it. Maybe become recognized for that skill.
The amount I got to paint at Weta and how much I learned in those few months is crazy. If that continued over the next five years, I think I’d be unstoppable.
But, as my husband tells me, that kind of work, the long hours and the competition. And workplace demands that can come with it aren’t the most conducive to my good mental health.
Even though I progress slower when I work from home, I only really learn from myself (or online videos). And I’m not constantly anxious or exhausted due to the stability of working for myself.
So it could be that I keep working on my own stuff. Doing prosthetics for smaller movies and other projects that people want to employ me for.
Also selling prosthetics and materials online, doing online courses teaching people what I know in a beginner-friendly way.
Or I could be trying to get more work in the industry in another country.
Or maybe a mix of both.
I think I prefer a mix of both. I guess we will have to wait and see!
Thanks so much for your time, Kiana! I wish you all the best in the future!
*TAFE is a leading vocational training organisation in Australia. It stands for Technical And Further Education.
All images courtesy of Freakmo (Kiana Jones)