Makeup artist makes screamers terrified at Pierce College’s fright fair

Brushes stained with different colors and painted spots splattered all around the floor, Garrett Phillips brings the Halloween season to life as his artwork is placed on the scarers faces for the Fright Fair ScreamPark After Dark at the Pierce College Farm Center’s Halloween Harvest Festival.

Growing up in Reseda Ranch, Calif. Phillips lived in a home where he was exposed to decorative surroundings and talented artists. From his mother’s side of the family, he grew up around carpenters and interior decorators and his father who is a sign fabricator.

“Whenever past class projects would come around, I’d always have the best art project to turn in because it was always artistic,” Phillips said.

With the influence of his father, Phillips was able find his own individual gift and incorporated his talent on the contours and beauty of a person’s face.

“I’m an artist myself so I specialize in portraits, like realistic, graphite pencil, and also oil paintings,” Phillips said. “But I figured if I could do a face, maybe I can paint a face. So I started doing face painting.”

The 24-year-old first started out as a ride operator for the Halloween Harvest Festival, but found himself visiting the makeup trailer every night to mingle with the makeup artists and observe their handiwork. Phillips dedication led him to become a makeup artist for the Fright Fair ScreamPark After Dark.

“I was like ‘now is my last chance to get it,’ so I asked if they needed any makeup artists,” Phillips said.

This being his first year as part of Fright Fair, Phillips has had the opportunity to create werewolf faces, bloody zombies, stitched up rag dolls, and skeletons. Phillips was able to use his past work experience of painting faces on his friends and family to settle his nerves for opening night. Given only 15 minutes to do each actor’s face, he couldn’t deny his uncertainty of being able to finish on time, but does his best to use his time wisely.

“I kind of just let my hand do the work and figured out easy techniques on how to work on the face,” Phillips said.

Under pressure to make sure each actor looks scary, bloody, and gory, it pushes him to be better and more timely. Each of the actors that Phillips has worked on, mentioned how his artwork is what helps them get into character and put on a good show. Nikki Thomas, one of the werewolves Phillips painted, shared how her entire look and artwork on her face ties everything together.

“Instead of seeing somebody going around acting like a crazy person you’re focusing on the actual makeup,” Thomas said. “So when you actually see the makeup that’s similar to what you’re acting out, it adds even more of an effect.”

Trent Sutherland, 25, also worked with Phillips as his character runs through the corn maze portraying a skeleton wearing a white set of contacts.

“We’re all here for the same reason, which is to scare strangers,” Sutherland said. “We don’t do it for the pay, it’s all for the love of scaring people.”

General Manager of Fright Fair, Michael Keane expressed his gratitude for the makeup artists and how they make a fundamental impact on the scare fest.

“Makeup is huge, especially for a haunted house,” Keane said. “These people do a fantastic job of transforming their faces into something far less than human.”

Keane thinks highly of his team as they always exceed his expectations of being able to scare every single person that goes through the haunts.

“Every year our makeup should be fantastic. People should be talking about it, and it should be something spectacular,” Keane said. “So far my makeup artists, my actors, and wardrobe department have raised their game to meet that challenge, as you can hear the screams from outside.”

Phillips’s talent with a makeup brush has led him to create intricate and detailed face paintings and helped him realize that he wants to continue his career as a makeup artist. The Fright Fair has given him an immense amount of experience that he hopes to continue.

“I’m so happy to be here and it’s my first year,” Phillips said. “I’m gonna be optimistic and say ‘no it’s not my only.’”