Talent can emerge from anywhere, and with the right encouragement, not even lack of resources can stand in its way.

No one better represents this than Jose Davalos Gomez, winner of the Make-Up Artist Magazine Scholarship. If anyone were born with make-up in his blood, it’s this 21-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico. For him, playtime growing up meant raiding his mom’s cosmetics, fashioning a costume from his grandma’s discarded clothes and transforming himself into a movie or television character.

Jose Davalos Gomez
Ursula make-up by Jose Davalos Gomez

“When I was little and played with my sister or cousins, I was always the bad guy because I love villains,” says Gomez. “Their backstories are so interesting.”

At age 10, Gomez saw An Epic at Sea: The Making of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.’ The 2003 short put his passion into perspective. “I saw how they applied the make-up,” he remembers. “My thought was, ‘Oh my God! This is so cool.’”

But learning effects make-up in the middle of Mexico was tricky. Gomez read books about moldmaking and any instructions that came with materials. He’d post questions on Yahoo Answers. He’d watch Rick Baker’s YouTube videos.

Jose Davalos Gomez
Lumiere make-up by Jose Davalos Gomez

And then he’d experiment. With no formal training, Gomez figured out how to transform himself into Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan’s Captain Hook and Aladdin’s Jafar, among others. But he knew if he really wanted to advance, he’d need to do more. After learning about Cinema Makeup School through Instagram, he set his sights on traveling to Los Angeles to study make-up. That is, if he could afford it.

Jose Davalos Gomez
Make-up by Jose Davalos Gomez

With his family’s help, Gomez saved enough to begin the Cinema Makeup School Master Makeup program in 2014. His passion was becoming a reality.

“I was not expecting to learn so much,” he remembers. “Some stuff I did was wrong. Some was OK. And I realized the OK stuff wasn’t that far from what I wanted to do.”

Strong showings in competitions such as Cinema Makeup School’s 2015 Next Level of Cosplay and the 2016 IMATS L.A. Battle of the Brushes showed that others thought Gomez’s stuff was OK, too.

“Jose is a talented young man with tireless enthusiasm for the craft of make-up effects,” says CMS instructor Shannon Shea. “I’m proud to have been his teacher.”

Jose Davalos Gomez
Make-up by Jose Davalos Gomez

But then, the money ran out. Unable to continue in the Master Makeup program, it appeared that Gomez’s dream of becoming a professional might end.

This is where the Make-Up Artist Magazine Scholarship came in. An award created last fall, it offers a chance for an artist to further his or her education with a financial package valued at $3,000. The funds go to a make-up school of the winner’s choosing.

Gomez was one of nearly 100 aspiring artists who submitted portfolios for consideration. Make-Up Artist Publisher Michael Key and Managing Editor Heather Wisner narrowed the field to 10 semifinalists. Each was challenged to show off his or her make-up skills in a video. On Monday, March 14, Gomez was declared the winner.

For his winning entry, Gomez transformed himself into Hades, the villain from the animated film Hercules. “I like to bring animated characters to life. I think that is more challenging,” he says. “I chose this character because he is very symmetrical. Hades has a lot of muscles and a very long face.”

Jose Davalos Gomez
Scholarship make-up entry by Jose Davalos Gomez

It took Gomez a month to create the prosthetics. “I was experimenting. I wasted a lot of time,” he explains. “I would make molds and they wouldn’t open because of the undercuts. I had to start all over again.”

The actual transformation took approximately two-and-a-half hours. Gomez would have taken longer, but he was afraid his camera would run out of memory.

What isn’t going to run out is his pursuit of his dream. He hopes that completing the Master Makeup program will lead to a job doing what he loves.

“I am super excited,” says Gomez about winning. “I am sure that they won’t regret giving me the scholarship.”