Kids as young as 13 are posting incredibly creative, horrific looks – we talk to them about how how they taught themselves and how they came together
If you talk a walk through the gore and SFX hashtags on Instagram, before long you’ll find tons of accounts full of photos of people creating horrific injuries from latex, wax, and fake blood. Many of these accounts have hundreds of thousands of followers, and a huge proportion of them are run by teenagers as young as 12 and 13. The huge (and growing) community of young amateur and pro SFX artists using Instagram as a platform to learn tips, reach out to the community, and promote one another serves to disprove the idea that teens and kids are no longer creative because of their social media use.
The SFX community are actively utilising social media to further their creativity and support one another. Despite the innate grimness of kids making themselves look as if they've been attacked, their community and talent is nothing but positive. While it may be surprising to those who think gen Y and Z only use the internet to waste time, it’s anything but to those of us who grew up creating our own Myspace themes from scratch using HTML. We spoke to some young gore Instagrammers to find out how taught themselves SFX, how they got involved in the community, and whether we can expect to see their work in big budget films in ten years’ time.
RANI, 17, @raniratt
“I started special effects makeup roughly four years ago in August 2013 when I was 13 years old. My school was having a ‘dress up’ day for book week and I had previously been looking around on YouTube and stumbled across a lot of SFX tutorials. I got into a bit of a spiral; watching a lot of down different tutorials for the same makeup look. I then went out and bought a long zip, some cheap face paints, and searched the Internet for some liquid latex which I ended up getting from eBay. So that led to my first makeup creation which happened to be a “zipper face” makeup.
It's great that there's a community on Instagram for young SFX artists. It allows everyone to receive tips and bits of advice from other artists as well as being able to learn and grow in their work. My account started as just my personal Instagram which I had only just started before I began doing makeup. And so when I did my first makeup, I thought I'd post it on my page to remember the day that I went to school looking like an idiot. And then I just continued to post all of my makeups I there. And since I never take 'normal' photos (selfies I suppose) my page just ended up filling up with only fx makeup on it.
I've never intended on trying to create this into a full time job. At the moment I think I'll just be keeping it as a hobby, but maybe sometime in the future I might want to work towards possibly taking it on as a career.”
BEN, 13, @sfx_by_ben_
“I got into SFX makeup from my step sister Erika. She took an SFX class for fun, she then taught some things to me, and it took off from there. Halloween was also a big influence on my hobby, it was so fun to look like a zombie and it just grew from that. I learned to do SFX makeup by experimenting with different techniques. For example, using different types of paints to get the right effect that I want. I watched videos online to learn some more advanced skills and for inspiration. One of the major things that has helped me get where I am is by practicing, I spend time everyday practicing new looks and techniques to get better.
I like doing SFX makeup because it really is just fun. Doing it makes me feel happy because it's what I enjoy, also, I like to scare people. But it really is just a fun hobby that I enjoy. I got into the community on instagram because I would post gory pictures on my private account, and some people didn't like it. So, I decided to make an account just for that. I didn't realise it was a whole big thing on instagram until a month later. And I saw that many people did the same thing as me, which was really cool.
Once I saw there were thousands of young people doing the same thing, it really opened up so many ideas, and helped to get to know other people better. It also is so cool that you can just DM someone to get an idea or some help, that's why it's so awesome that there are so many people doing what I do. I would love to do SFX makeup for a job, it would be a dream. Although, I have other interests and I still have plenty of time to make that decision. But doing FX makeup for a job would be one of my goals. It would be the best job, going to work excited to start a new day.”
TINDRA, 15, @sfx.stuff
“I get a lot of messages from other young SFX makeup artists, some even as young as 10. I think it’s cool that so many young people even have the courage to do something like this. I mean, it is often seen as weird or even ‘fucked up’ to have something like this as a hobby. The amount of young people that go against that and just don't care about what other people see as strange gives me faith in humanity.
I started experimenting with SFX around 2015. I just wanted to do something easy for Halloween so I bought some basic products and I really enjoyed it so I just kept creating stuff. I've never really watched that many tutorials or read anything about how to do it, I've just bought the materials that I thought I needed and just experimented with it. And I'm glad that I did so because that made me try out so many different kinds of methods and products, which has been a great way of finding the products and methods that I'm most comfortable with.
I like it because it's strange and it's unusual and I just get to be very creative in what I do. It's something that is so random that makes people confused but also fascinated. It's such a weird way of expressing your creativity and I love that! I like to stand out and do stuff that's outside the norm. Especially as a girl I get quite a few messages from people telling me to “stick to beauty makeup and to stop being so gross” and that just makes me want to do it even more. You should do things that you like and not things that you are supposed to like.
I would love to work with something that has to do with this as I want to work with something that I like and not just work for the money. However, I'm not sure what that would be, since one of my favourite parts of this is that I get so much creative freedom, and I feel like if I worked at a film set for example that I would kind of lose that a bit. But I'm sure I can figure something out.”
AMY, 13, @young_special_effects
“It all started with one eyeshadow pallet and a red lipstick...I was messing around with a few shades of brown eyeshadow, which quickly led to something that began to resemble an old bruise and so naturally I grew interested. I began to look at images of SFX makeup which led me to buy my first ever bottle of fake blood, liquid latex, a facepaint pallet and my first ever bit of wax. After learning about these new basic products, I learned how to make basic cuts and wounds. A lot of time, effort and reference images helped me to learn to do makeup at the level I am at. I also spent a great deal of time exploring different products and messing with makeup, learning new skills and techniques. YouTube was also a great help when I first started, as it helped me learn the very basics. I feel very honoured when my makeup is complimented.
I find enjoyment in doing SFX and I get fulfilment from gaining authentic reactions to my makeup, such as shock reactions to my gorier looks. I also have a huge passion for what I do and I really feel that SFX makeup allows me to express my creativity. I joined the Instagram community a few months after I started doing SFX makeup as I had a huge amount of support from friends and family suggesting I should make an account for it. Joining such a large community and sharing your work can be scary and intimidating, but luckily for me I had a great deal of close people supporting me. The community of young SFX artists has been rapidly growing and I think this is because young people are inspiring one another by showing that they shouldn't be afraid to explore their passion and that they shouldn't be intimidated by their lack of experience. I also think that SFX makeup allows many young people to express their own creativity whether it’s by doing gory makeup or even face paint. Another reason I think that the community of young SFX artists is growing is because the community is so welcoming and friendly which I think definitely makes it easier for young people, like myself, to feel confident enough to join the big community.
At this very moment, I would consider carrying SFX makeup on as a job as I enjoy and have a real passion for it! The industry for SFX makeup is also growing, which will hopefully open many opportunities for the future.”