by Alyssa Laube
For Ashley Vieira, working as a make up artist is all about instilling confidence in others. As a teenager, she eagerly anticipated any opportunity she had to get dolled up, whether it was for a bridal party or prom. Every time she saw herself in the artist’s chair, her “confidence levels skyrocketed.” That feeling is what inspired her to practice make up professionally. “If I was able to feel that strongly about myself, I knew I wanted to make others feel the same way. I’m happy to say that I have accomplished that with some of my clients,” she explained.
However, those clients aren’t all looking to be beautified. Vieira, who runs Smash Beauty & SPFX, also works extensively with special effects. Some of her most fascinating creations are gruesome and otherworldly, which she admits spawn from her obsession with prosthetic wounds.
“I love doing various things with prosthetics. However, I think my favourite thing to create currently is making small prosthetic wounds and putting them on little kids. Now hear me out, that sounds disturbing, but I actually get hired to do this at large events,” she laughed. “Both the kids and parents love how twisted it is, because who the heck expects to see a booth at a family event doing this? And yes, I layer on that blood. I swear, it’s all in good fun,” she promised. “Nothing Dexter inspired.”
Sure, there’s nothing menacing about Ashley’s morbid interests, but that doesn’t mean that it stops at prosthetic wounds. She also has a soft spot for skeletons, or more specifically, Dia de los Muertos Sugarskulls (Day of the Dead). Although she’s reluctant to admit it, Dia de los Muertos always ends up sneaking into her style in one way or another. Vieira says that it’s the “crazy amount of details” that she found so exciting, saying, “I love colours, patterns, dots, and skeletons. It just made sense to incorporate that into my art. I keep thinking that I will eventually get bored with it but it keeps popping up in my work and my details only get more intricate!”
The combination of her skill as a make up and special effects artist is what allows Ashley to leave her mark in the beauty world. Seeing things from a “contrasting perspective” is what makes her special. “My knowledge from one helps me understand what I’m lacking in another. That’s what helps me turn my first concept into something much larger, ending with a big bang,” she explained.
At this year’s Art World Expo in Toronto, she’ll be showcasing these talents in the body painting competition. Her plan is to create a hybrid version of The Little Mermaid, crossing Disney’s and Hans Christian Andersen’s versions of the iconic figure. And of course, there has to be “an Ashley twist somewhere in there.”
It seems that the “Ashley twist” is putting a creepy spin on cute figures, which certainly makes make up artistry more interesting. Of course, Vieira feels the same way. “One day I can be making someone extremely beautiful, the next day I can be ‘killing’ that very same person/character and drenching them in blood,” she said. “At the end of the week, it all evens out. Never a dull moment!”