Interview with ~Anesthetic-X
Krista Montgomery, also known as ~Anesthetic-X
, is a fine artist, model, actress, stylist, special effects and make-up artist, based in Pittsburg, who has worked professionally in movies and TV series. And in between all that crazy stuff she does, she's taken the time for an interview with me!
1. How did you come across dA and what made you create an account here?
I came across dA probably in the early 2000's. I'm a huge fan of Goldenwolf ( Christy Grandjean ) and Zeriara ( Holly Ramirez ) and was in search of more of their work. I grew up in a really small town in West Virginia, and drawing helped me pass the time and not feel so alone out there in the wilderness as a young girl. Their work made me smile, laugh and inspired to create my own. I didn't know many artists, and seeing their success and fan base on dA made me excited. I don't think I immediately made an account, because I'm my own worst enemy with my work, and I hesitated, thinking, “What do I even have to share?” I made an account finally about seven years ago and I have to say, deviantart has been so warming and welcoming. The people here inspire and uplift me to create more, and seeing other amazing ideas on this site never fails to get me in my studio. It's sort of a strange family to me here.
2. When did you first start doing art of any kind? Did anything inspire you to start?
I've had my hands in paints or attempting to draw and create since I was able to hold a utensil. Like I mentioned, there are some particular artists that inspired me ( and many others at different times in my life ) even though I am not particularly an illustrator. I remember seeing Jurassic Park when I was maybe five? Seeing those giant animatronics scared the living piss out of me, but it also sparked something in me to create living things, or be a part of something unreal. I think subconsciously then I decided I was going to really attack my dream of being a professional artist somehow as I galloped all over the house pretending to be a T-Rex. When I entered High School, I faced hardship after hardship regarding those dreams. No one believed in my abilities or supported my creativity. I was bullied for it, outcast, looked down upon - especially because I was a woman trying to be her own independent entity, I suppose. It was a pretty foreign concept for a female to aspire to be a creative force in my hometown. The constant abuse, although sort of morbid, really pushed me to be that much more dedicated to my work. I wanted to be a positive, female force in the art world and prove that with hard work and some turmoil unfortunately sometimes, you can eventually, get where you want to be if you refuse to give up. I got into art college, found my niche, dropped out, and never looked back. Yes, I dropped out. School wasn't for me, I work better as a lone wolf I suppose. I do have a degree from another institute but if I could go back in time I would've just saved my cash and done it my way. Sometimes you just have to buck the status-quo of what you're “supposed” to do, but then again, everything happens for a reason. All of my experiences created, what I like to think, is well-rounded, considerate and very strong artist. Even if you are the ONLY one who believes in you - remember that there's hope.
3. You're a professional special effects and make-up artist - can you tell us about your learning process and your first steps in the industry?
It's funny because if you were to speak to me during my early years on my path as an artist I would not have ever imagined myself to be an SFX MUA. I took fine art classes for most of my young adult life, and I had no idea what I was going to do as an artist, but I knew it was where I was suppose to be. It just fell into place. I had a broad range of skills that didn't seem to fit anywhere until I was introduced to this craft. From painting and drawing to people skills to fabrication and a strange love for getting dirty and working in difficult, strenuous environments – I was a warrior woman and the field just fit. I really have to give the credit to my success to my mentor, my best friend and ironically, lover, Jesse Lechok. Along with a lifetime of my own personal interest and practice, he took a risk and gave me my first gig. I didn't know him, but I was in the room when he was whispering about a project that I, of course, overheard. Right then and there I decided that I was going to get that gig no matter what. I walked right up to this random man and demanded he hire me. If you know anything about me, you'll easily recognize that I don't have eyebrows. I remember not wearing makeup that day so when I ran up to him demanding a position I'm sure I looked pretty striking, to say the least. He, obviously annoyed with me, said he would see, but somehow, I had gotten him to tell me what the project entailed. The next morning, I brought him about 70 conceptual designs and he hired me on the spot. I was beyond excited. I had no clue what I was getting into. We were working in an old prison, and in one of the most haunted, and depressing areas of America building sets for a haunted attraction. It was really terrifying and physically exhausting work, and he made sure to put a lot of responsibility on me. I didn't let him down, and we fell in love. We've lived and worked with each other ever since. Sometimes it's like my own fucked up fairy tale. I don't think I would have gotten into the industry as young and as quickly as I did ( I was 20 ) professionally if I had not shown such dedication and force when applying for that position, and of course for his choice to take a risk on me, which I like to think worked out. Since then, I've embarked on a lot of my own independent projects, and have become the same kind of mentor to other artists just starting out, but I truly believe we were just supposed to meet. Sometimes the path finds you. I feel really lucky.
4. Can you tell us a bit about your working process?
It depends on the gig. Sometimes I'm making someone look camera ready and simply using basic HD cosmetics. Other times, I'm building a creature from ground up, which starts with the script or concept and from there becomes, sometimes, months of fabrication. I don't think most people who love SFX realize how intensive it truly is unless they get involved with it. From construction, an understanding of stonework, and an understanding of chemical interactions to 3D painting skills, sculpting, application skills and hair styling – you pretty much have to stick your creative little paws into everything when you do this professionally. The hours are long, and sometimes in barren, dangerous environments. I've always loved a challenge though, and in this field there is definitely never a shortage of that. Sometimes you'll create a perfect creature and the temperature, or timing even, creates issues you never thought possible. You have to plan for everything or, what is usually a major part of the production, will be ruined.. I think of it as going into creative war, I come over prepared, for anything. And by anything I am prepared to sleep outside when I go on a film set! I'm usually one of the only women on set ( it's a male dominated environment ) and when they see this 5'5” sfx makeup artist come on set with 10 giant bags, taller than I am, they sort of look at me with confusion. I get a kick out of it.
5. What are your main sources of inspiration?
Anyone who's beaten the odds to do what they love and then turned around to uplift others in turn. Coming from an area, that I touched on a bit earlier, that didn't believe or support me – this means a lot to me, to uplift others. I am blatantly honest, but I love to help other artists grow too. I know what it's like to be the underdog. I mentioned this is a male dominated environment, and that's very true. I want to be proof to other creative people out there, particularly women, that they can do this if they truly want to. We can get in the dirt and build monsters. We can call the shots independently. We can mix deadly chemicals and carve stone – and simultaneously, we can wear makeup and skirts if we want to too, or not, it's up to you. No one owns your future. You are capable of making your dreams possible. We are multifaceted, just like our creative male counterparts. Sometimes you'll experience doubt, or pain, or stretches of time that appear to be stagnant, but take it all as a learning experience. Reflect on yourself and practice. Don't let negativity or negative people get in your path. Artists like Marina Abramović, and Anne Sexton really inspired me when I was going through my own personal turmoils as an artist, and sometimes I still even experience those feelings. I don't think artists ever truly think they've achieved their dreams. There's always a new challenge. I work my ass off for the other young artists, and girls, out there like me, who felt or feel like it's impossible for them. It isn't, and our life paths may not be the same, but I can promise you if you just keep working you'll get where you want to be some day. It doesn't happen automatically. Seeing others become who they've always wanted to be inspires me. I've also recently been modeling and acting professionally too, so there's also always time to expand on your abilities. Do whatever you want!
6. You've worked on a number of movies and projects already - can you name a few favourites?
Sure! I just got wrapped up with a holiday film called “A Christmas Tree Miracle.” I'm pagan, but I have to say that this film really has an awesome message on consumerism vs what really matters, and how people really tend to get obsessive over all the wrong things at times. It's a family film, which as an SFX Artist I don't always get the pleasure of working on. Most family films don't need zombies or murder scenes, and this one doesn't either haha, but they needed a professional and I was ecstatic to work on something with such a cool message. I've also worked with the History Channel on a Series called “The Men Who Built America” which just won two Emmys! I couldn't believe it! I cried, because here I am at age 24, having worked on a title that won two Emmys. Sometimes it is surreal, but again I've worked nonstop my entire life to get to this point. “The Family”, another film I had a ton of fun on, features horror legends like Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, and Michael Berryman. Meeting those guys was insane, and being able to work with them was an honor. Last but not least, “Dead Star”, was my first professional acting debut. It's a science fiction film mixed with some old western flair that I think a lot of folks will really get into. It's my partner's, Jesse Lechok, first directing gig too, so we collaborated with design and fx with a massive amazing crew. The trailer should be out for that one soon, and the other three films you can purchase as Best Buy, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Wal-Mart. You can check out the trailers too on Youtube if you want!
7. If you were given a free rein, funding and a dream team, what do you think you'd create?
Wow, that's a tough one. Honestly, I would do a documentary. I have a passion for documentaries, and just telling an honest story. Documentaries like “Food Inc”, “Forks Over Knives”, “Black Fish”, “Gas Land”, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”, “American Movie” - stories like that have all changed my life drastically, because they're real people with valuable stories that I may have never fully understood if it had not been for those documentaries. There's no SFX or green screens but something about real life stories, without the scripts and fake reality spats, inspires me to be true to myself, always educate myself, and to always be environmentally, and socially compassionate. I think there are a lot of untold, and strewn by the media stories out there that need to be told honestly, and I would most likely invest my time into that – and afterwards – well, I do I have a dream of creating a “Dark Elf Trilogy” film because I really love Drizzt Do'Urden. Documentary would be first though.
8. You were asked multiple times to be on the hit reality show “Face Off”, why did you say no?
You know, a lot of people get really crazy with me over this. “Oh, it's your claim to fame! Why wouldn't you!?” Let me just say this before I say anything else, I know a lot of the artists on the show, and this is nothing against them at all, they are really talented, and I'm sure the show has done a lot of great things for them, but reality television isn't something I'm fond of. My “claim to fame” will be, or not be, on my own terms, while working with the people I love here. I refuse to ever not be in control of my message or how I am portrayed to the public, and I don't like drama. My personality can be one to remember, I curse like a sailor, I take no shit, and I feel like the public would be given a fabricated, fake, rough shell of my work, and my message, and not an actual representation of who I am or what I do or what I stand for. I think the show exudes unrealistic expectations for FX artists, and creates a ridiculous deadlines in the industry. I think people expect prosthetics to be flawlessly finished and ready for a months use of wear and tear in three days. It's just not something I ever felt like I needed to do to become a successful artist, and I never will. I feel no need to compete on reality television, I've been successful in my own ways. More power to the people who have had a lot of fun there though, but it just isn't for me.
9. Where do you see yourself in ten years' time? Any special dream you would like to have achieved by then?
I would love to see myself creating more films, written, directed, and conceptually created by my amazing crew and myself. We have sort of a small army that we've established over the years with some truly insane artists, cinematographers, sound engineers, and of course FX experts. I plan on doing Special FX and Makeup for the rest of my life, but this acting stuff is really something I am currently loving, and if you ever meet me, I'm sort of a little off my rocker, so it's a good outlet. My dreams? Man, I have a lot, whichever comes first, I try not to plan anything out too strictly. In this industry, things just happen. From starting my own cosmetic line to creating my own haunted attraction to really getting the films we've started creating on our own out there. I've written a script or two and I really love that too. I guess I truly do have the nature of an FX artist because I'm usually planning on 50 things at once. Needless to say, I'll be working diligently.
10. What advice would you give somebody starting out as a makeup artist?
Books, Mentors, Practice, On set Experience, Professionalism, Fuck Brand Names! That's my best advice! Purchase some great books like Todd Debreceni's “Special Effects Makeup” and see if this is something you can really get into, that book in particular also comes with a DVD which is awesome. Find professional SFX and MUA's in your area and ask if you can assist them on set, for free, just to get your foot in the door. We all pay our dues by working for free in the beginning, which is good, because you may end up hating this stuff anyway. If you don't hate it, practice on your friends and family. Accumulate professional products like life casting materials and sculpting materials slowly but surely, in time you'll have a shop of your own! www.monstermakers.com is a great website to start out on when searching for supplies. Remember, your first film will take years to attain, don't get down on yourself, keep practicing! School is unnecessary, but practice is a must, read that book I suggested and practice everything in it. Invest your money is a professional makeup kit, but don't worry about brand name makeup. If it works, who cares if it was 2$ or 50$? Ditch the ego! Always be kind, considerate and ON TIME! Be prepared for insanity! AND HAVE FUN! This field is unpredictable, but if you work hard, you'll have some amazing stories to tell on screen and off. Never stop learning!