The Work of an Evil Mastermind
An Interview with Kelly James McLeod
By Alyssa Laube
About: Kelly James MacLeod is a 44 year-old husband and father of six with the “limitless imagination of a 5 year-old.” He works as a freelance makeup artist who focuses on fantasy and science fiction-themed pieces and was professionally trained at Blanche Macdonald Centre.
How did you choose the name, “Mastermind By Design”?
It came about in the mid-90s while I was going to college. One of the projects in my business marketing class was to create a viable business, and a friend and I decided to do a t-shirt company that would showcase my art. My friends always called me an “evil mastermind”, since my imagination always went off on different tangents, and the name stuck for our business. When I had the opportunity to create a new makeup company after going to Blanche, I decided to re-use the name!
You work in a lot of different areas, such as airbrushing, bridal design, and special effects. How do these compare, and which is your favourite to do?
When I first left school I threw myself into absolutely everything! From fashion to runway to weddings and beauty makeovers and demos – I mean everything! However, I do prefer character-driven genre pieces. Full body make ups and character creation are my thing.
How did your training at Blanche Macdonald change you as an artist?
Before attending Blanche McDonald, the only make up I ever did was on my kids at Halloween. One day, I had the opportunity to see a make up demo by Howard Berger, made famous by his work on The Walking Dead. After the demo, I got 20 minutes alone with him and he basically told me to learn everything I possibly could about make up. Well, I guess the universe had something in store for me, because Blanche McDonald sponsored my program and I have never looked back. They gave me the tools to bring my imagination to life, and gave me the confidence to make my mark in the industry. Blanche McDonald change my life.
What are some of your “biggest” or most well-known projects?
Some of my most well-known projects are:
Model Lia Awesome
Photography by Jonny Ray Studios
Superhero theme, full body paint and airbrush
Models Gemma Doyle and Cindy Van Beek
Photography by Ken Nash
Hand sponged body paint
Model Sarah Notman
Photography by Greg McKinnon
I also have a “Kinky Klowns” series with Prudeworld.com that’s gaining a lot of popularity.
Can you list some films, people, books, etc. that have inspired you greatly in your work?
I was a child of the 70’s and 80’s, so for me it was comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, science-fiction, Star Wars, etc. that fed my imagination from the time I was a little little boy until now! I can’t really pinpoint anything specific that inspires me because I get inspired every day by people, things, and other artists. My imagination literally does not shut down for any reason!
You seem to have an interest in clowns and zombies. Why do you think you’re drawn to that kind of work?
Clowns and zombies are kind of what’s popular right now. Zombies are always fun to do since everyone loves them; it’s what people usually ask for. As for clowns, either you like clowns or you don’t. I think, personally, clown make up on a male is creepy while clown make up on a female is kind of kinky. Still, I do not limit myself to just those two characters.
What are your hopes, as an artist, for the future?
My goals for the future in make up are already in play. I have started a production company with a friend called “Mastergraf Productions”. We’re looking to write, direct, and produce our own short horror films. We are currently working on a script but it’s still very much in the developmental stage. I work very closely with prudeworld.com where I am the art director and key make up artist for erotic, fantasy-style shoots. I do everything else with Mastermind By Design. All in all, I just want to create new and amazing characters and bring them to life. My imagination is vast, so I have a never ending source for material. I want to bring something visually new to the public and I just hope that they like it.
To see Kelly’s work, visit: