F/X Friday: Clowning Around

TV Execs from Tokyo "clowning"

This week was the International Screenings 2010 at Warner Brothers, and ten artists were booked to create clowns for the closing gala. That means 3000 guests had the option of sitting in our chairs for a bit of paint, a wig, and a nose.

I’ve had some experience with this type of makeup, studying with some former Ringling clowns, and dabbling in clowning myself, so by default I was put in charge of customizing each artist’ s clown kit and supplying a bit of knowledge. Clowning has become a bit of a lost art, despite the proliferation of evil clowns in movies. It’s obviously very theatrical, which is less relevant in the world of HD these days. It’s also traditionally applied by the performers themselves, and not an outside artist.

When our guests arrived, it was up to them to suggest what sort of look they wanted. Some simply wanted a nose, a mouth, a heart, etc. Others went for the traditional whiteface clown. This involves creating a balance of shapes that flow on the face, to amplify the person’s natural expressions. As I found over the years, there are rules for doing a proper clown mouth, rules for color distribution, and even a hierarchy of clown types. Just ask a real clown what a “B.A.” or “dirty neck” is sometime…

Everyone involved had a blast at this event, and every artist learned something new. But we’ve only scratched the surface of the wonderful world of greasepaint. Look for expanded clown training in the months to come!

-Brian Kinney, Guest Blogger & Makeup FX artist working in Hollywood

Creating "Road Clown" for fellow makeup artist Adam Tenenbaum

Me as "Blotto" and the "Road Clown"


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