BEHIND THE ARTIST w/ MIKE MARINO

// Mike Marino is one of the industry’s most sought-after prosthetic make-up designers. His company Prosthetic Renaissance is an artistic powerhouse of design and makeup FX with clients in all forms of media. He and his artists are responsible for the make-up effects in such films as Black Swan, The Wrestler, The Place Beyond the Pines, Deliver Us from Evil, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, among many others. We are so happy to chat exclusively.

// How did you get your start in the industry?
I had 2 major influences when I was growing up. Both shaped my eye and my interest. When I first saw the movie the elephant man, by David Lynch, I was about 5 years old. It happened to be playing on tv. I was really disturbed by it, haunting me for years. A few years later, I saw the making of Michael Jackson's Thriller with Rick Baker. I was fascinated with his process. How he could make someone turn and transform before my eyes into a werewolf. That solidified me wanting to do this. I found out all I could about Rick Baker, and read that he was a protege of Dick Smith's. I learned who Dick Smith was, found his address and wrote him a letter.
 I sent Dick Smith my portfolio, and we corresponded for years. He encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing, and not only did he give me technical advice, he taught me how to think and reason things out . Why is this shaped this way, Why does it need more interest on this side of the face. That made me look deeper into the psychological aspects of a design and that it was about each individuals character, the life through his face. Not just because it looked good aesthetically.He gave me a big push of confidence that made me stick with this.I first started doing some small indie films which were terrible and barely got paid for. Then I worked at Saturday Night Live in NY learning more from the other makeup artists around me, and
how to deal with actors on a fast pace.I moved to LA shortly after and worked at larger makeup fx studio's like Rob Bottin's, Optic Nerve etc… I moved back to NY a few years later and started honing my skills and started my own small company called Prosthetic Renaissance.

// Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
Well, it really changes from job to job. But I do like to think my work has a real sense of organic
naturalism. The randomness of it all, not too stylized. Like the way a wrinkle is shaped, or a form.The way I paint too, is very natural, down to blood vessels. I really try to analyze nature and try to replicate it with some extra layer of emphasis design wise. Always keeping in mind the art masters of painting and sculpture to keep me striving for a high goal.

// What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
There are always challenges on every project. Each job has its difficulties. I think our last project
which comes out next year has some good makeups in it. American Pastoral starring Ewan
Mcgregor and Jennifer Connelly. There are some subtle to extreme makeups in it, which are
always very difficult to pull off.
Another challenge was for a friends movie trailer. Its called Degenesis, artist Marko Djurjdevic
designed a world with creatures in a post apocalyptic setting. We filmed in Berlin. You can see the creature we built for it briefly on youtube. Soon to be film…
Our actor was in makeup for over 10 hrs, and he wore close to 100 prosthetic's . Fellow artist Mike Fontaine helped me make it a reality along with my talented crew.

// Who are the role models who have inspired you?
Dick Smith, Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Stan Winston, Joey Orosco, Jordu Schell, Bill Corso.
And for art history, I would say Michelangelo, Bernini, Carpeaux, Daniel Chester French, Gutzon
Borglum, Rodin, Arno Breker, Velasquez, Raphael, Frederic Lord Leighton etc.. the list is large.

// What's the next big trend you're starting to see sneak in?
I think a lot of people are trying to go for an ultra clean look to all things. Even with prosthetic's. I never think of trends, just what feels right to me.

// Must have product or products for your kit ?
Must have, Skin Illustrator Pallettes, Blue Bird inks, A variety of airbrushes by Iwata, Telesis glue
and some really good brushes!

Editor

Digital Thump, Sydney