A Beautiful Summer Day Talk with Zsofia Otvos

I recently completed the 25th interview with Zsofia Otvos in mid-June. Zsofia Otvos is a painter and makeup artist extraordinaire, who has worked on movies like Divergent, TV shows like Sirens, and as the resident makeup artist for Chicago theater Trap Door Theatre.

I asked how she would define herself as an artist. She explained: “I call myself a character maker. What I’m most interested in both makeup and painting is creating characters, bringing something from nothing, and making it happen. In terms of makeup, that might be part of the storytelling, maybe there’s an arch in the story when the character becomes super happy, then gets very depressed, so on. Maybe I can alter his foundation, maybe his eyebrows I can manipulate. I like to do those subtle differences that will read slightly differently on camera.”

“In my visual art, in my paintings, my process and ideas are different because obviously they’re coming from my own inspirations. Lately, they are spur of the moment experiences. So that might be: I saw someone at the airport, or a coffee shop, wherever I may have seen them, I often sketch them right away. That may or may not become an actual painting. Once they do, I start recreating some of the characteristics in forms of sketches: Maybe the body position was very particular that I need capture or maybe their hairstyle, something that is very characteristic. The features are absolutely not important to me. The features are the result of something else. And it’s really the spirit of the experience that I am interested in capturing. That’s how I create character. I’m just a character maker.”

Later we talked about her work at the Trap Door Theater. She explained, “These tiny things can really be a big impact...I feel I don’t actually design the makeup. I just put on what’s missing. Because the [actors] are so expressive in their movement, I don’t feel like I do it; I’m just putting on what is 'already there' thru their expression. The [actors] are not visual artists, so they don’t see what is not there…..“How can you not see it?” (I wonder)…we just have different tools. They use their body and voice… for the same end I use colors and shapes. I’m not doing much at all... I feel like a bit of a cheater.  So, it is a lovely moment for me, when, for example, actor Marzena Bukowska said, ‘I got my character now.’ How are you telling me that? Your character is already so finished, so complete.

“But that’s a very good experience and reminder that my job is to help the actors arrive to who they need to be, whatever that is. It’s not so such about the makeup, their facial expression and body movement will always be more expressive than my work. But sometimes when the actor looks in a mirror, it is my work that may help them get to that point. An ignition key.”

You’ll have to stay tuned for the rest of this wonderful interview.

Check out her fine art: www.zsofiaotvos.com,

Check out her work in makeup: www.madeupfaces.com