Artist Spotlight

Sydney McKee is a senior special effects makeup artist at Valpo. McKee is completely self-taught and was inspired to begin her special effects makeup after viewing a YouTube channel called “Glam and Gore” during the Halloween season. After viewing the channel she had the idea to do her own makeup, rather than having to pay anyone to. 

“So I went to Party City and bought liquid latex, bought a gallon of fake blood, cotton balls and bought the stuff I saw online, and I just did it,” McKee said. 

McKee doesn’t foresee herself working as a makeup artist for her career, because her heart is set on teaching English in China. “In my heart, I want to go teach in China and doing my effects makeup is just a fun thing to get out my emotions and it's a fun therapy,” McKee said.

As a hobby, McKee says that makeup is a good form of stress relief.

“I usually do it when I'm writing an essay. So I write, and I put liquid latex on myself. And while it's drying, I write more and I do homework while I'm doing it,” McKee said. “So it's kind of a good stress relief.”

However, she also has practiced on family members and is interested in working to do makeup on others. Doing make-up on others may also be a way for McKee to further fund her hobby, but what she does spend is worth it to her because she loves doing effects makeup.

“I am trying to get the word out that I would love to do it over Halloween for people,” McKee said. “I have talked to some sorority girls to get out the word that I am charging for my skill. Because I am poor, and I spend way too much money on my stuff. I spend about $200 on my makeup.”

Makeup is also a way for McKee to get creative with her materials. Some of her looks result from excursions to thrift stores like Goodwill, where she looks for things people might not expect can be used in makeup, but which inspire her creations. For one of her next projects, for example, McKee is looking to experiment with glow in the dark paint and with placing mirrors on her face.

“I go there and I get the weirdest things that I just like, ‘Oh, I could do something with this.’” McKee said.

Some of McKee’s work involves social commentary, which she would use to create portraits during a previous photography class. These pictures help McKee express herself. She describes a recent work, posted on her Instagram, in which she depicts her mouth decaying and a key trapped inside, representing the “vividness of how women feel” because they are unable to speak their true feelings on issues. 

“I feel way too much about things. I think it comes from being an English major, of having to read so many books, and I want to share how I feel,” McKee said. “But I feel like I can't share because people are going to put me down. So instead of sharing with words, I try to share with visual effects.”

To see more of McKee’s work or to contact her for commissions, find her on Instagram @penguin60561.

If you would like to nominate someone for an artist spotlight feature in The Torch, please contact torch@valpo.edu.

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