Looking back at the 2019 New York IMATS

It’s become an annual pilgrimage now, where make-up artists from across the East Coast—and in some cases, a lot further—make their way to New York’s International Make-Up Artist Trade Show, held this year the weekend of April 12-14 at Pier 94.

This year’s show may have been a bit leaner in terms of numbers, but that appeared to be just fine with most attendants, who appreciated the extra breathing room for a change; as well as exhibitors who used the opportunity for even greater interaction with their customers. Generous support came from sponsors Morphe, Royal & Langnickel Brush Mfg., Make Up For Ever, Bioderma and Lime Crime.

Make-up by Bri Trischitta and Caliann Sophia Feimer for Make-up Designory

Friday Highlights

The 2019 show began with the Friday Make-Up Artist magazine Pro-Card Event, which included demonstrations and talks by Alex LaMarsh (“From Clean to Creative: How to Map Out Your Beauty Editorial Looks”), Flynn Pyykkonen on “The Business of Make-up” and M.A.C.’s Michelle Clark demonstrating “Forever Wear.” A talk with Joel Harlow wrapped the afternoon, with the Oscar winner providing career highlights that started with the difficulties of buying make-up effects supplies in rural North Dakota, to his current work on the new Hellboy (also recounted in our Make-Up Artist magazine Issue 137 cover feature). As a bonus, Harlow joined a small group of attendees at a Friday-night screening of Hellboy.

Joel Harlow

Saturday's Diversity

Saturday kicked off a wide cross-section of different topics: Emily Clayton demonstrating “Club Kid Couture,” Nicholas Lujan explaining “Complexion as Canvas,” Kevin James Bennett “Pairing Products and Tools,” Romero Jennings talking about “Extreme Editorial Beauty;” a local 798 panel featuring Jessica Padilla, Christopher Milone, David Presto, Milagros Cerdeira and Margina Dennis; and a featured presentation with Joanne Gair. Not to mention a panel discussion with yours truly interviewing Steven Lawrence and Craig Lindberg about their work on HBO’s The Deuce.

Emily Clayton for Mehron

Another highlight was Harlow’s re-creation of the iconic New York sewer creature from the 1984 low-budget horror film C.H.U.D.  But whereas the original make-up team (which included future Oscar winners John Caglione Jr. and Doug Drexler) were constrained by time, money and the materials available at the time, Harlow’s re-creation was done with cutting-edge materials and an entire afternoon to finish it. (See Issue 138, page 22, for complete details on how he did it.)

A popular IMATS tradition continues to be the Battle of the Brushes student competition, presented this year by Bdellium Tools. Saturday’s beauty/fantasy category was themed Graffiti Glam. This year’s winners included Make-up Designory’s Chloe Borgialli in first place, Gratia Arguelles from Cinema Makeup School in second and MUD’s Eliana Delgado-Petrosino coming in third. 

Make-up by Nicholas Lujan for Make Up For Ever

And incidentally let’s not forget the weekend’s eclectic array of make-up demonstrations by such names as Pamela Faller, Thomas Surprenant, Victoria Bessarab, Nzingha, Chelsea Vaughan Hunkler and Gabby Lee, which were scattered across the show floor, two stages and the Make-up Museum.

Special mention should also be made of this year’s returning Make-up Museum curator Craig Lindberg who put together a fascinating collection of exhibits, from Josh Turi’s Marvel TV work such as Daredevil and The Punisher; to an assortment of Lindberg’s own low-budget (and sometimes grisly) genre work. And a big thank you to The Compleat Sculptor for sharing a few of their own favorite pieces.

Sir John interview with Michael Key

Sunday's Inspiring Speakers

Sunday is often a bit quieter of the two days, but this particular Sunday was packed with programming. That included a teeth-whitening seminar from HaloSmile, Bernard Pochic explaining how there’s a skincare artist behind every make-up artist, Frederick Sanders revealing Hollywood’s secret weapon in the age of high-definition, and celebrity make-up artist Sir John sitting down for a career retrospective, which also included plenty of common-sense advice for his packed house. “I didn’t just want to be the black make-up artist who did videos,” he noted with understatement.

Sir John also stayed around for most of the afternoon, signing copies of Make-Up Artist Issue 136 (featuring our cover story on his work), as well as sharing a few moments with everybody who waited around to meet him.

Neil Morrill demonstration

Sunday afternoon continued with a bald-cap demonstration by Neil Morrill, a “Seize the Slay” session with Tim Pagan, DeShawn Hatcher outlining the “10 Commandments of Assisting,” and a “Powerful Women of Television Panel,” in which I sat down with Martha Melendez (The Village) and Arielle Toelke (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) to talk about the ups and downs of department-heading their own television projects.

The weekend’s second Battle of the Brushes competition turned its attention to character/prosthetics with the open-ended theme of Misfits. This year’s winners were Cinema Makeup School’s Gratia Arguelles earning a first-place award, Collin Rishell from Make-up Designory in second and MUD’s Hailey Reese coming in third. 

Battle of the Brushes beauty competition make-ups

So, was the 2019 IMATS New York a success? While not as big as previous years, bigger as the old saying goes, is not necessarily better. Attendees certainly liked the smaller, more intimate atmosphere, and the group of people who signed up for the all new Insider Pass certainly enjoyed the early access and special goodie bag that came with it. As for next year, only time will tell if bigger is better, or smaller is a lot more fun.

For more IMATS New York photos, see our gallery at imats.net. Coming up next: IMATS Toronto, Sept. 28-29 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Visit imats.net/2019-toronto for tickets and details.