Meet Special FX Makeup Artist Elizabeth Graham Just in Time for Halloween

XX: Tell us about yourself! Who is Elizabeth Graham?

ELIZABETH GRAHAM: I’m a 29 year old Venezuela-born Trinidadian! I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree from York University, with a Major in East Asian Studies and a Minor in Visual Arts.

I love food (especially desserts) and spending time at the beach I’m obsessed with anything Harry Potter, and I’m a huge fan of the fantasy and Sci-Fi genre.

Of course, I love makeup but my true passion lies in special effects and body painting.

Photo by Marlon James


XX: You’re a makeup artist! How long have you been doing makeup, and how did you learn?

EG: Professionally, I have been practicing for two years, but it was three years ago that I decided that it was the path I wanted to take.

The first year of freelance work was really daunting, it wasn’t until the amazing ladies of The MUA House (Krysta, Arry and Katrina) took me under their wing, and helped get my foot in the door, did I push myself to fully dive into making makeup my bread and butter.

However, I initially learned makeup from an aesthetician whom I took personal classes with in while I was living and working in Toronto, Canada right before I moved back home. Although I am not certified, most of my training and everything you see when it comes to special effects/ body painting I learned from watching and practising through my YouTube videos.

XX: Beyond just being a makeup artist, you’re incredible at doing special effects makeup! Tell us about that!

EG: My journey in FX began as a tangent to my make up research. Through countless makeup tutorials and videos on Pinterest and YouTube, two channels became my main source of inspiration into the world of FX; Alex of Madeyewlook and Jordan Hanz. They exposed me to a side of makeup that surpassed the typical foundation/eyeshadow/ lipstick for a beauty look. They used a combination of body paints and makeup to transform themselves into characters.

And of course me being the movie fan that I am, took this newfound inspiration to embody my own favourite characters, even adding in Dubsmash clips of their most popular lines.

So I’ve been doing self-taught body painting and SFX Makeup for three years, with many more to come!

XX: What’s your favourite part of creating these cool looks?

EG: Simply, the act of becoming a character. I love how I can disconnect from everything else going on around me while I create my looks.

The characters I replicate and create provide me with a positive creative outlet which had aided me in escaping from a low point in my life filled with doubt and insecurity.

Like any other artist there’s still that moment of anxiety when revealing something I’ve put my soul into and sharing on social media. But reflecting on my progress since I first started and having the positive feedback I get from my friends/family/followers keeps me motivated to produce more.

I’ve always believed that laughter is the greatest medicine, so if I can make someone smile with my work, I’m happy.

XX: Each look is so intricate, they’re incredible! It must take you hours! How long does each look take you to create?

EG: That depends on the level of detail required. I average about two and a half hours on myself now, but I have taken up to five hours on certain looks.

XX: FIVE HOURS?! Wow, that’s dedication! But with all these amazing looks, you must LOVE Halloween!

EG: I do! But not the scary movie part *laughs*. I love it because it’s one of the few times of the year where people embrace being different and let their freak flag fly!

XX: *laughs* The scary movies aren’t for everyone. But what are some of your favourite SFX looks you’ve done?

EG: Some of the looks I’m really proud of are The Mask, Iindra the exiled Dark Elf, Infected Zombie, Cruela Devil, Butterfly Empress, Hades, and Zombified Sara Sanderson.

Honestly I love all of them! Each one shows a different level of skill for me that I’m very proud of.

XX: There’s certainly a ton of skill in it! So, do you consider makeup to be an art?

EG: Definitely! In my character makeup, there’s definitely the challenge in creating textures and effects that take a technical skill, which combined with character abstractions is an art within itself.

In beauty, the art is more subtle, there is no cookie cutter method for enhancing a face.

A person’s natural beauty should be enhanced through makeup applied, and finding the right balance of colours and highlights for each person’s unique face makes each look it’s own masterpiece.

XX: What advice would you offer someone who thinks they want to get into doing makeup, or SFX makeup?

EG: Don’t stop practising. Be resilient with your work and always keep open to constructive criticism and advice. Remember you are always learning, and don’t be afraid to approach an MUA that you admire and respect to shadow them and learn more about the business.

XX: So Eli, what’s next for you? Any big plans, hopes, dreams?

EG: I’d love to do more makeup for theatrical productions and movies.

XX: That’d be amazing! Any words of wisdom for XX readers?

EG: For anyone pursuing a career in the arts, keep creating and sharing!


Follow Elizabeth on social media to see even more of her incredible work – both in special effects and beauty. You can find her on Facebook at Makeup by Eli or follow her on Instagram @mua_eli. 

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