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Makeup, special FX, creativity, and careers in New Zealand: Q&A with Te Auaha's Dany Pike

Interested in doing makeup for a living? Get advice from one of New Zealand's leading makeup artists – Dany Pike.
BY Skendha Singh |   23-04-2019

Special effects makeup artist Dany Pike, from Wellington’s Te Auaha Institute of Creativity, recently visited India with a delegation of experts from New Zealand. She was here to talk about the exciting opportunities in her field. “I moved from Germany to Wellington to be closer to its amazing movie scene,” – a decision she found truly rewarding.

BrainGain Magazine spoke to her about her career as a Special Effects Makeup Artist, learning opportunities at Te Auaha, and the importance of building a great portfolio.

  1. How did you decide to become a  Special Effects Makeup Artist?

    Makeup, and creativity, was always something that I was inspired by. Specifically, creating characters and helping a performer to fully embody a role is a great privilege (and super fun to do). My time working across Europe gave me a great opportunity to make that a reality. 

  2. What inspired you to move from Germany to New Zealand?

    Originally, I was inspired to work on the Lord of the Rings. What Sir Peter Jackson was able to do from a smaller city like Wellington, and how he approached the filming of the trilogy all in one gigantic production was ground-breaking and unheard of in the industry. Like so many international makeup artists I wanted to be a part of that legacy. 

  3. Why do you think Wellington would be a good choice for international students – to live, learn, and work in?

    I think it’s important that students feel safe and welcome. As a female foreigner I can say that I have always felt like that about Wellington. But education is an investment and it’s important that students are getting a quality experience. Wellington’s institutions all set a high standard and Te Auaha is no different.

  4. As a professional, what do you think is distinctive about the learning experience at Te Auaha?

    We really do our best to create well-rounded students. We offer a very wide range of creative qualifications from certificates to degrees, so you can staircase your education, selecting the creative areas you want to explore and building a comprehensive portfolio, who don’t just understand the technical aspects of a role, but also understand other important aspects about being a professional and the business side of the creative industries. Getting the chance to work on real-world opportunities is a specialty of ours which sets students up well for their future.

  5. Please tell us more about your role in, or involvement with, the Institute?

    I’ve worked now with WelTec (which is part of Te Auaha) for many years. As the leader of the makeup artistry department at Te Auaha I developed the programmes we are offering.  I was actually named best teacher in 2012, which I was very proud of. I think it’s that attitude of helping the students achieving their goals and dreams. Each student has their personal journey and to get the best outcome for each students I have to get to know them and adjust teaching approaches to suit each individual.

  6. Learning on the job and learning in school – how do these two compare in your perspective?

    Both are important. In the vocational education sector, we try to give students plenty of opportunities to bepart of real projects or events to ensure they can practice what they learn. And get work experience to ensure they are ‘work-ready’. But the reality of working life is that you should never stop learning.

  7. For creative professionals, perhaps contrary to popular perception, a creative community and network are really important. How have you built that? How does Te Auhaha support these creative networks?

    Creative networks are crucial, as is resilience and ensuring that you are professional and friendly. Your fellow students will become part of your network but the main opportunity we provide is that many of the academics work, or have worked, in industry. This gives students access to a built up network. Our tutors are well connected with the industry and the industry professionals actively support TeAuaha. They recognise that engaging with our students has great benefits to the industry.

  8. Any tips you would like to share with a budding MUA for building a great portfolio?

    Experiment with areas of the industry, polish your looks and set high standards for yourself. Especially in the  makeup artistry field you have to be willing to work hard and never stop learning. Each project/show/film has unique requirements and you have to be able to think outside the box, be pro-active and solution focused.

  9. 3 qualities that can help a MUA or a SFX MUA to succeed today.

    Be professional, be easy to work with, and be top of your game in terms of technical skills. And a final one - never stop improving your talent.

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