Little zombies, creepy clowns and assorted superheros will be out in full force tonight.
There’s a chance the more authentic-looking ones that turn up on your doorstep for treats will have had some help from professional makeup artist Allison Lumley, of Red Deer’s Main Artery Designs.
She’s been busy creating a series of uncanny faces this month in her Inglewood home studio.
Whether it’s ripped skin, deathly pallor or an exposed jaw bone her clients are seeking, Lumley has been making gory effects appear real through her imaginative designs and custom prosthetics.
“I do quite a lot of zombies,” said Lumley, “but it’s starting to steer away from that now. It’s almost been over-done …”
With The Walking Dead TV series now in its sixth season, people start looking for the next unsettling thing — and the latest trend seems to be borrowing from a Mexican tradition.
“I’m getting requests for a lot of sugar skulls now,” said Lumley, referring to the decorative, jewel-encrusted altar decorations for Day of the Dead ceremonies. The annual Mexican family holiday remembers ancestors and helps them on their spiritual journey.
Requests for more usual skull faces continue for Lumley, as well as for scary clowns that will freak out anyone who’s read (or watched the TV version of) Steven King’s It.
Characters from Hollywood movies and comics are perennially popular, especially from The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King, The Corpse Bride, Frozen, Batman, Spiderman, and The Wizard of Oz. This Halloween, Lumley made a couple of clients look like Cheshire Cats from Alice in Wonderland and some as Incredible Hulks, a scarecrow, a glitter girl, as well as the motley crew of requisite zombies.
The latter was her 10-year-old son’s choice of Halloween character, so Lumley did a plaster cast of his face to assist her in creating the look of deteriorating tissue.
The mold was later filled with latex and sculpted to create effects like exposed bone and torn skin.
These sorts of prosthetics are what film and television makeup artists apply to actors’ faces to achieve dramatic effects — but Lumley never took any formal training. She is self-taught, apart some workshops and online videos.
Her fascination with theatrical makeup started with her junior high school production of The Mikado. “I got addicted. I remember doing all these geisha girls …”
She later took hair and makeup classes, along with visual arts, at her Guelph, Ont., high school.
Lumley moved to Red Deer with her first husband in 1995, and worked in the hotel industry for a decade. After remarrying and becoming a mom of five, she sought more flexible work options and a way of using her creativity.
Word spread as she began doing professional effects makeup for clients out of her home on weekends, and painting murals and windows for homes and businesses during the week. Lumley said she’s now as busy as she wants to be. She does kids’ face-painting for birthday parties, festivals and trade shows, and does adult makeup for Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve and Halloween masquerades — and even off-beat weddings.
“I had one couple who had a skeleton wedding,” she said — not only were the bride and groom married looking like bone racks — some of their guests also got into the macabre spirit too.
Her designs range from a five-minute snowflake or tiger face to a four-plus hour full-body makeup job, including contoured bones and muscles.
Some people really get into dressing up, she said, with a chuckle.
Some of Lumley’s most imaginative designs are done for comic-book fans who wanted something a little different to wear to comic conventions.
Her husband became hideously scared super-villain Two-Face with help from a half-face hand-carved prosthetic. Another client was outlined with black ink-like lines so he looked like a drawing of himself, while a third customer became a comic-book zombie, with Lumley lining intricate depictions of decay on his face instead of using prosthetics.
“I thought I had gotten in over my head on that one,” admitted Lumley, but she was pleased with how it turned out.
Other local makeup artists include Mia Palmer of Mia’s Face and Body Painting and Sharon Morigeau of Little City Designs. While neither create prosthetics, Palmer has painted some gear-driven steam punk characters for a pre-Halloween party her clients were attending earlier this month, while Morigeau’s replicated pixilated faces from video game characters for young clients, mostly at birthday parties.
“I break their whole face into little squares,” she said, referencing photos her clients show her on their smart phones.
Lumley has painted everything from bruised and battered faux-accident victims for firefighter training drills to “baby bumps” — a trend started by singer Mariah Carey, who had her pregnant belly decorated with a butterfly design. The Central Alberta makeup artist also works regularly with local photographers on imaginative requests. It’s funny the kind of family photos some people want, said Lumley, who noted one request was for a photo of relatives dressed up for a zombie tea party.