Make-Up Artist magazine recently had the opportunity to interview John Stapleton regarding one of his new, creative make-up projects called Character Study. The interview and the project videos are below! We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 


Make-Up Artist: What inspired this project?

John Stapleton: Character Study grew from my own need to be creative and challenge myself. I’ve always felt make-up artists shared a very unique bond with the actors we work with; I wanted to take a peek into the make-up room and share what “behind the scenes” may look like to some of us. The conversations, the rhetoric. I also wanted to challenge myself to work in real time, doing an unrehearsed, transformative make-up within a half hour, all the while keeping the actors in the dark. It’s sort of like playing a game of trust, working without a net. I think it shows just how far people are willing to go when they trust you and explores the beauty of being vulnerable.

Kathleen Wilhoite 

MA: How did you come to interview the performers you did?

JS: I reached out to three of my favorite performers who I have history with and wondered if they would open up to me in a different way than they do with experienced interviewers. Each talent is familiar with my beauty work, but they also know I have a taste for the avant-garde, and have dabbled in filmmaking since childhood. They were willing to sit and take a chance. Let’s face it, this is a busy world. To have people show up for you is a beautiful thing. I’m so lucky to know and work with Margaret Cho (standup comic, Bright), Selene Luna (Pixar’s Coco, My Bloody Valentine) and Kathleen Wilhoite (Road House, Gilmore Girls).

MA: What is the purpose behind the project?

JS: I guess I just wanted to paint and talk. To create a final image of other-worldliness. I suppose in this day and age it’s all about content. Everyone’s looking for it. We’re all searching the streets, the restaurant tables, the tiny corners of the world for something unique to share. I think in a way I’m still finding my identity as an artist. I vacillate between the world of commercial beauty and fine arts constantly.

Margaret Cho

MA: What was your experience with the project?

JS: Here’s what’s amazing. People still want to put on a show. People still want to be a part of something. The producers of this project work with me backstage during New York Fashion Week, shooting all of our content (Pellicule Film’s Hayden Vann Jensen and Peregrine Dunignan), they flew to L.A. to shoot this. My dear friend Karen Reddy-Medeiros at M.A.C. helped provide funding. My friends Alfonso Campos and Tarina Tarantino provided equipment and the stage for shooting. If you build it, they will come.

MA: Were there any challenges that you faced during this project?

JS: To say it went smoothly is an understatement. It felt so good to play and talk and hopefully, now to inspire. The real challenge these days is where to share this. There are so many venues available for people to watch content. And what better place than Make-Up Artist magazine? I’m so happy to have these little moments shared through your site!

Selene Luna

MA: Do you plan on doing any more in the future?

JS: I’d love to do some more. There are a few friends of mine who avoided the hot seat due to scheduling conflicts etcetera, since we were on such a tight timeframe (we shot them all in one day). There are dozens of fellow make-up artists, actors, singers and tastemakers I’d like to get my brushes on. They know who they are … let’s see if I can gather more funding and do a few more rounds. For the sake of art.