The Theatre Arts Department hosted professional hair & makeup designer Gary Arave to speak to students about hair and makeup design for the entertainment industry, Thursday, Feb. 27 in Parker Theatre.
The screen projector lit up behind Arave with the words “Welcome to My Makeup Table,” welcoming the students upon arrival and giving the impression that a very practical makeup tutorial was about to take place — which turned out to be far from the speaker’s intent.
The main point Arave made throughout his lecture was on the deeper meanings that go along with makeup that people should be aware of.
“Most people just want to know what color to put where,” Arave said. “But it has much deeper implications then that.”
Arave encouraged students to try not to take a “paint by numbers” approach to makeup and hair and to take time to open themselves up to the theory behind it.
“Makeup lies about structure, biology and social goodness with a little bit of paint. When we first meet people we put them into one of three categories,” Arave said. “They are a friend, enemy or mate — we are designed to care about looks.”
Arave said people that are perceived as “beautiful” are more likely to get better recommendations from professors and bosses, more likely to make more money and perhaps most importantly, are often perceived as being better people — morally or otherwise — then people who are perceived as “ugly.”
According to Arave, in the ancient pseudoscience of Phrenology people were told that if a person was “bad,” it would be evident in their physical features. While today we know this is preposterous, we still need the villain in the movie to be ugly, and we still access people right as we meet them based on their looks Arave explained.
“In 2014 we know that an unattractive feature does not equal bad character traits, yet eye shadow in a certain place and we automatically see the person as evil onscreen,” Arave said.
Arave explained that he has always thought of makeup as a phenomenal, magical thing. Having worked as a hair and makeup designer on Broadway shows for over 10 years, Arave has transformed people in ways varying from “subtle to violent.”
Not a fan of prosthetics, Arave usually keeps to just working with “paint” after having grown up with an ongoing fascination with Halloween and turning the ordinary into something bizarre or extraordinary.
A shocking photograph of a very macho-looking ex-Marine turned into a very convincing Cher showed the audience the amazing quality of illusion made possible through his art.
In addition to showing the deeper meaning of makeup, Arave spoke to students about the importance of doing what you love, laughingly telling the audience “next time your parents give you grief about your degree, just remember that I went on to get a degree in wigs and makeup.”
When it came to the practical side of things, Arave gave a brief introduction to the main concepts that exist within the science of makeup.
“I can put a little paint on someone and change the way the world perceives them. It all comes down to science and why things do what they do,” he said.
The keys to changing someone’s appearance lies in lines, size, objects, relative value, and most importantly, value contrast according to Arave. When there is a change in plane or a change in value, the information then forms a picture in the mind of the person looking.
“We have to push people to different ends of the spectrum — good or bad. If everyone is just average it’s not as dramatic or entertaining,” Arave said.