The Man Behind IMATS and Make-up Artist Magazine: Michael Key

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With IMATS Los Angeles just around the corner, the buzz surrounding this huge industry event is deafening. To give you an idea of how big, let’s just say 10K tickets were sold and over 200 vendors will be present. The show offers excellent make-up educations classes taught by the industry’s best, live on-stage presentations, special make-up effects demonstrations, show-only offers by the best make-up brands, Battle of the Brushes student competition and more!

How did something that was just a “trial” become so popular? Last night, when Deverill Weekes interviewed Michael Key, make-up artist and the man behind IMATS and Make-up Artist Magazine, we got a simple answer: there was a need for it.

Michael is a musician who was caught in a twist of fate. When asked what started his career in make-up, he replied, “music was my first love, but it wasn’t taking. I’ve always loved movies, and I came across ‘Cinefex’ a magazine that covers behind the scenes movie make-up. It had a step-by-step on how to sculpt, and I thought, `I could do that’. So, I went to a hobby store, purchased plaster and clay and did everything wrong.” It turns out, that after 7 weeks, he successfully sculpted a head. He and his friends used it as a prop to scare people. Then, he got his friends to pitch in to purchase foam latex, so they too could have their own props. Project after project Michael was able to make somewhat of a portfolio, although, he credits his “gift of gab” for getting him his first make-up effects studio job.

Michael’s make-up career includes five Emmy Award nominations, and two wins for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His make-up credits include Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Planet of the Apes, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Charmed, Batman and Robin and more. (IMDb: Michael Key)

Deverill asked, “Who were your heroes and mentors?” With no hesitation, Michael names Michael Westmore, Jack Dawn, Christopher Tucker, Jack Pierce, Rick Baker, and Dick Smith. He credits Michael Westmore for teaching him lessons you don’t learn in a text book, like how to work with a producer and how to present yourself as a class act. He is grateful for Dick Smith for agreeing to be a part of the first IMATS stating that because of Mr. Smith, it was a success.

During Michael Key’s early career, he noticed that there weren’t enough resources for aspiring artists. Everything he learned was from trial and error and knowledge shared by his peers and mentors. Because this knowledge was so valuable, he was inspired to get it in writing and thus Make-up Artist Magazine was born. He admits that he’s shocked it went beyond the first three issues, but today we celebrate 106 issues of a great publication.

The interview concluded with a raffle for two sets of sold-out IMATS tickets.

Thank you Michael Key for sharing your story with us, and thank you fate for putting Cinefex in his hands!

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