MUD Celebrates our Emmy Nominated Winner: Emma Faulkes

Emma Faulkes

Despite its fantastical premise, watching Game of Thrones always feels very real. Whether you’re watching the death of your favorite character or a battle between two others, computer and prosthetic special effects blend seamlessly, giving birth to one of the most captivating fantasy TV shows of our generation. Special Make-up Effects Artist, Emma Faulkes, was part of the team whhelped bring this television fantasy to life. 

Emma Faulkes recently won an Emmy for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special for her work on Game of Thrones’ seventh season. Starting out as a trainee for Nick Dudman on the set of Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows, Faulkes has always been drawn towards prosthetic effects. “I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be surrounded by so much talent on one of the greatest franchises in film history,” she says about the job, defining it as the moment she knew she needed to be a make-up artist. In fact, she had already studied make-up in the UK for two years before coming to MUD, searching for a class that was “solely prosthetics-based” and “was 100% focused on hands on practical learning.” Luckily for us, MUD served her needs. 

But her time at MUD wasn’t all work, and she has some fond memories, too. When asked to share her favorite story, she recalled a time where her make-up kit was stolen out of the trunk of her car and her instructor, along with others all pitched in to replace it. “It was an act of kindness that I will never forget,” she says, describing her instructor, Mark Shostromas “an incredible FX artist,” and “the reason I travelled all the way from the UK to Los Angeles.” In fact, she even stopped by our Los Angeles school just last week to say hello to the staff! We are very excited about Emma’s success, and proud to say she is a MUD grad.


MUD Celebrates Our Emmy Nominated Grads: Nicole Faulkner and Jen Fregoz

Nicole Faulkner

Nicole Faulkner, alias “Lipsticknick” has developed a name for herself as celebrity make-up artist, with a personal brand marked by bold lips, feathery eyelashes, and flawless skin. You might know her from her beauty influencer status online, with 518,000 followers on Instagram and 42,100 followers on Twitter. She’s performed as herself on Todrick Hall’s MTV reality show Todrick in 2015, only broadening her internet base and front-facing public persona. Her expertise shows through both her industry and technical smarts, as she has become known for applying picture-perfect dramatic looks spanning from drag to high fashion.   

This year, she has received her second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) for Ru Paul’s Drag Race’s episode “10s Across the Board.” She was nominated for this same award at the Emmys last year, and has worked on the show for the last two years. A show focused on over-the-top looks and extravagant performances, one might imagine the job is many beauty make-up artists’ dream.  

Passionate about art from a very young age, Nicole chose to get an art-focused make-up education at Make-Up Designory before moving on to the professional world. Plus, Nicole Faulkner not only graduated from Make-Up Designory, but also has come back to teach, calling MUD “one of L.A.’s most renowned makeup schools” on her personal website [link]. She has also toured as a make-up instructor, and used her marketing and artistic skills to work with multiple large companies and celebrities including the Pentatonix, Tori Kelly, Todrick Hall, and Def Leppard.  

Jen Fregozo

Nominated for the same award as Nicole Faulkner for her make-up on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, outstanding make-up artist Jen Fregozo is a MUD grad from our Los Angeles school. She has collected over 20 years of experience in the industry since she graduated from Make-Up Designory, including work for people like Jennifer Lopez, Mat Devine and Siera Kustebeck, and Naya Rivera. She also has worked on movies including WinterthorneThe Blackout, and A Night of Nightmares 

In addition to beauty make-up, Jen Fregozo is an expert in the world of character make-up as well. Creating the make-up for characters based on Saturday Night Live’s ‘Gilly,’ a DC Comic’s Joker, or zombies for a live attraction, Jen Fregozo has become an expert in demonstrating special effects character make-up. She was also the Senior Makeup Assistant Supervisor at Dark Harbor up until 2015. Her character make-up skills have even earned her spots as resident expert on multiple make-up “how-to” videos, like this:  

Working on the set of Ru Paul’s Drag Race amongst equally talented peers like ‘Lipsticknick’ seems to be an absolute blast. In an interview with Bionic Buzz, Jen Fregozo was caught speechless, giggling “we love it” and agreeing with her coworker that there’s simply no better way to describe the experience. During this interview, Jen said she was drawn to make-up artistry after having an interest earlier in life in art, media, and pop culture. Like so many MUD grads, Jen’s artistic talent is obvious, as she creates creative and out-of-this-world looks on TV’s most popular drag show. 

MUD Celebrates Our Emmy Nominated Grads: Carleigh Herbert and Hugo Villasenor

Carleigh Herbert

If you’ve ever watched American Horror Story, you know that the make-up and effects are always incredible. Whether it be Hypodermic Sally’s dark smoky eyes in Hotel or Twisty the Clown’s aged face paint in Freak Show, make-up is used to create the illusion of monsters, evil spirits, and everything in between. A limited series telling tales of disturbed horror and violence, the characters of American Horror Story play the ultimate canvas for a talented make-up artist who is prepared to stretch her artistic skill. 

Thus, we are so proud to say the make-up artist nominated this year for two Emmy’s for her work on American Horror Story: Cult is MUD grad Carleigh Herbert. This year, she has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) and Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special for her work on AHS. Carleigh Herbert has also developed a substantial portfolio outside of Cult, including a 2017 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) for American Horror Story: Roanoke in 2017.

Upon graduating from MUD, Herbert assisted in make-up FX shops to further refine her prosthetic skills. Within one decade, she moved on to working on cult television shows like American Horror Story, which display her special effects mastery with and without prosthetics. She told IMATS “I am constantly working to become a stronger and more established artist.”

Hugo Villasenor

Hugo Villasenor, a Make-Up Designory graduate from our Burbank school, has a diverse resume. From being the make-up shop supervisor for 2006 film Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny to working as a make-up artist on The Conjuring 2, his work covers a wide range within the special effects make-up world. Some of his credits also include ClownScouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseThe Bad BatchMystery Science Theater 3000, and Anabelle: Creation.  

Photo courtesy of IMATS

This year, however, Hugo Villasenor finds himself with his first Emmy nomination for his work on Star Trek: Discovery. He has been nominated for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie, or Special for the make-up in an episode titled “Will You Take My Hand.” This was the fourteenth and last episode of the season.

Photo courtesy of Mashable

Supervising Sound Editor Jon Mete and his team have also been nominated for Outstanding Sound Editing for an episode of the series titled “What’s Past is Prologue.” Gathering critical acclaim all around, Star Trek: Discovery is certainly taking a spot in the media spotlight. MUD is incredibly proud of our graduate, Hugo Villasenor. Live long and prosper!

MUD Celebrates Our Emmy Grads: Natalie Driscoll and Melissa Buell

Natalie Driscoll

Another accomplished MUD Grad from our Los Angeles school is hairstylist to the stars Natalie Driscoll. Like so many make-up artists, Natalie was drawn to make-up since childhood. On her website bio she says “in my younger years I dreamt of doing hair and make-up for film, television, weddings, and events. By working very hard my dreams have come true. Today I am doing it all.” Earning a make-up and hairstyling certificate from Make-up Designory, Natalie Driscoll has since gone on to style the hair of countless movie and television stars, red carpet events, and special occasions. 

Winning the Emmy for Outstanding Hairstylist for a Limited Series or Movie for her work on The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Natalie finds herself recognized by the Emmys for her fourth time. She also won the award for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Movie for her work on American Horror Story in 2012, was nominated again for her work on the same show in 2013, and won for her hairstyling on American Crime Story in 2016.  

Photo courtesy of FX

The nine-episode series investigates the murder of Gianni Versace by Andrew Cunanan in 1997. Stylistically the show holds on to European high culture amongst all the violence, starring beautifully tussled long haircuts, stylish runway updos, and clean men’s looks. Featured in InStyle and Vanity Fair, star Penelope Cruz’s daring fashion, make-up and hair on the show have created a lot of buzz in the entertainment community. Natalie Driscoll’s talents are certainly on full display. 

Melissa Buell

You might know her as the make-up artist responsible for Lea Michelle, Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch and other stars’ looks on hit TV show Glee. In fact, this MUD grad has been nominated three times for an Emmy for her work on the show from 2011-2013, including nominations for Outstanding Makeup for a Single Camera-Series and Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special. However, this time Melissa Buell returns to the MUD Emmy nominated list after 5 years with not one, but two nominations for her brilliant on-set make-up.  

Melissa Buell’s first nomination is for her work on “Money’s in the Chase,” an episode from the flamboyant 80s TV show GLOW. The episode is the show’s first season finale, which received glowing reviews for its “aim of authenticity as period comedy, modern character study, and respectful wrestling adaptation” [link Vulture article]. Having to prep the actresses with colorful 80s make-up fit for the wrestling ring, Melissa Buell and her work were clearly as popular with the critics as was the series’ dramatic ending. 

Photo courtesy of CNN

Buell is also nominated for Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) for her work on The Last Tycoon. The episode, “Oscar, Oscar, Oscar,” is also this series’ season finale, full of romantic drama, secret ties, and emotional fallout. The 1930s time period lends Buell the opportunity for flirty lashes, bold brows, and defining lip colors. Buell has also been recognized for her work on Tron: Legacy, Scream Queens, and Love.  

MUD Congratulates our Emmy Nominated Grads: Gina Ghiglieri and Kristina Frisch

Kristina Frisch

Kristina Frisch knew she wanted to be a make-up artist ever since she was a little girl. “It was the 1980’s and every movie had a transformation montage. The frumpy girl turned into a babe. The dorky kid into the werewolf. I thought ‘I want to do that.’ I just love transformations I guess” she says about her childhood dreams. Some might say Kristina’s childhood inspirations led her career full circle, as she has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (non-prosthetic) for her work on 80s women’s wrestling TV show GLOW 

Choosing MUD because it “felt like a family,” in 2001, Kristina learned valuable lessons about on-set behavior in addition to the valuable make-up techniques. “The most important thing I learned at MUD was probably the basics of how a set works and what would be expected of me as a make-up artist working in films and on TV. You get to set, and you are expected to just know. That probably would have been even more terrifying if I hadn’t had a heads up” she says.

Photo courtesy of Business Insider

She advises aspiring make-up artists make the most of their time at school and on-set.  “Always admit when you don’t know how to do something or if you need help. If someone has to redo your work because you screwed up trying to do something you weren’t confident with it’s a lot more harmful than just asking for help in the first place. There is no shame in not knowing how to do everything.” If you’re still a student, the same applies as well. Every time you work on your skills, ask the questions you need to ask. Even the most qualified artists need some clarification.

Gina Ghiglieri

A MUD Grad from our Los Angeles school, there’s no doubt that Gina Ghiglieri knows how to work through the ranks. “Always stay connected to your peers…you will help each other navigate and pass on jobs to one another” she says. Her drive shows—not only is her beauty makeup impeccable, but she’s worked hard off the clock as well, including networking and staying connected with alumni. She even got her job on The Voice through networking, getting her name passed along to the department head as someone who did well on the make-up set for live TV competition shows.  

Now, Gina Ghiglieri is nominated for Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic) for her work on the faces of Addison Agen, Christina Danielle, Kyla Jade, and more for The Voice. “I seriously feel so blessed to be a part of it” she says. A beauty expert, she found a job with the creative freedom with Department Head, Darcy Gilmore and Key, Kristene Bernard, and excels as she works with the make-up and wardrobe department to make looks suited to each artist’s personal style. “We start early in the morning creating their looks and watch rehearsal to see if any changes need to be made based on lighting or wardrobe changes, and then add details and pops that take the make-up to the next level” she says, “and there is no room for error.”

Gina Ghighlieri advises recent grads to know their worth and stay focused on their career. “Whether it be to gain experience, compensation for your kit, tear sheets, meeting new people, etc., I never worked for free.” says Ghiglieri about her time as a recent grad. “If you have to take another job to pay the bills while navigating, make sure it’s make-up related, and it has flexibility for you to jump when projects arise. This line of work does not come quickly, and you have to put a lot of time and experience in to get to where you want to be” she says. Know you are qualified, and don’t settle. Especially with a MUD degree, why would you?

MUD Celebrates Our Emmy Nominated and Winning Grads

Everyone knows MUD grads are some of the most talented and professional artists in Hollywood, but the Emmy’s this year make us all particularly proud. MUD would like to officially congratulate our MUD Graduates Emma Faulkes and Natalie Driscoll on their Emmy wins!  Congratulations as well to our MUD Graduate nominees Melissa Buell, Kristina Frisch, Nicole Faulkner, Jen Fregozo, Gina Ghiglieri Carleigh Herbert and Hugo Villasenor.

In celebration, we will be posting make-up artist spotlights on each of our nominated alumni every weekday until the Emmy awards show. Stay tuned for success stories and advice from the following grads:  

2018 Emmy Winners
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special
Emma Faulkes, Special Makeup Effects Artist: Game of Thrones • The Dragon and the Wolf
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie

Natalie Driscoll, Key Hairstylist: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime 

2018 Emmy Nominees
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic)
Melissa Buell, Makeup Artist & Kristina Frisch, Makeup Artist: GLOW • Money’s in the Chase
Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic)
Nicole Faulkner, Makeup Artist & Jen Fregozo, Makeup Artist: RuPaul’s Drag Race • 10s Across the Board
Gina Ghiglieri, Makeup Artist: The Voice • Live Finale, Part 1
Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie (NonProsthetic)
Carleigh Herbert, Makeup Artist: American Horror Story • Cult
Melissa Buell, Makeup Artist: The Last Tycoon • Oscar, Oscar, Oscar
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special
Carleigh Herbert, Makeup Artist: American Horror Story • Cult
Hugo Villasenor, Special Makeup Effects Artist: Star Trek: Discovery • Will You Take My Hand?
Phone: 323-702-1136 number updated, left message 8/14/18
Congratulations, MUD graduates!

MUD Celebrates Our 20th Anniversary with Francine Reich

MUD 20th anniversary Francine

Francine Reich is the Brand Manager for Make-Up Designory Cosmetics. She began working for MUD as the store manager in 1998, and studied make-up and worked as a freelance artist in the early nineties. She has also been a licensed Cosmetologist for nearly 30 years. With the company’s decision to design, create and manufacture our own line of professional cosmetics, she has been an integral part of our success.  Francine has supervised the creation and quality management of every product produced by MUD.

Q: Did you go to MUD? If not, what type of make-up education did you receive?

A: I wish MUD had been around when I was in school! I attended a couple of schools and completed a full course in 1990. I also got my cosmetology license at the same time.

Q: What was missing from the schools you attended?

A: Student support, relevance, preparation for real-life make-up jobs, thoroughness, the list goes on.

Q: How did you get connected with MUD?

A: I worked with the founders of MUD at a previous school. When I left that school, I worked for an industry beauty supply store. When MUD was formed a few months later, Tate [MUD’s CEO] contacted me to help with student kits and supplies. I started off part-time until they hired me on as a full-time employee in August of ’98. My job was to assemble kits and open the first MUD Shop. I was thrilled! Our crew was skeletal so we all wore a variety of hats in the beginning. It didn’t matter to me what I did, I just knew I wanted to be a part of this small family that soon became an extension of my own family.

Q: What was the first MUD Shop like?

A: Picture the size of a walk-in closet: small! I had room for a few make-up cases and some loose items on the shelves, and kits surrounded me on the floor. It matched our student population and needs at that time though. We rented an old hair salon as one of our classrooms and the store was in the front of the classroom. In a sense, I guess you could say I attended MUD because I was in the same room as them and got unsolicited refresher courses daily.

Q: How did it feel when MUD went global? You were a part of that initial conversation to open the MUD Studio brand. What was it like going to a MUD Studio for the first time?

A: It was exciting to know that “mini MUDs” would be all over the world. Visiting for the first time was kind of surreal. I never realized how big we were until I saw a MUD Studio. People wanted to be a part of this and trusted our brand enough to create their own. It was very humbling.

Q: What was the first product MUD created?

A: The student population was growing and so was the demand for consistent formulas and inventory. We had a micro budget, but we needed to start somewhere, so I met with chemists and gave them our requirements. We started with a handful of eye and cheek colors. It was the beginning of a whole new world for me and I loved it!

Q: What makes MUD products special?

A: I would say the research and development behind each product makes it a unique brand. Our testing process is rigorous! When I get a sample, I send it to our instructors to test first. If it passes their standards as instructors and make-up artists, I then pass it on to our staff who are not make-up artists, but actual consumers. It needs to function on all levels, not just professional.

Q: What is your main area of focus when creating a new product?

A: The need and demand are our primary focuses. Temporary trends fade in and out so quickly. We do look at trends, but overall, we create products that will have longevity with the line and work for both pros and consumers.

Q: What is your favorite MUD product that you have created?

A: The Eyebrow Cream – it’s something we have been missing for a long time. It took years to create, but we refused to settle for anything less than what we were after. We went back and forth with samples that either dried out, smudged, or had no payoff at all. Now we have a product that is not reliant on any special packaging and creates the closest thing to natural looking brows (without using fibers) that I’ve ever worked with. Plus, the colors are much more realistic to natural hair than the warm tones you find out there.

Q: When you started 20 years ago, did you foresee what MUD would become?

A: Not at all! I was in my 20s and ready for something new and exciting, but I had no clue if it would last. When I was first approached by Tate with this idea I was a little scared, but I trusted he knew what he was doing so I was on board. He had a vision that maybe some of us couldn’t see at the time, but his instincts seem to always be right, and here we are 20 years later. I am grateful they brought me on and gave me this opportunity, it’s been a trip.

Q: Where do you see MUD in the future?

A: It’s fascinating to see how many esthetician and cosmetology schools seek out our cosmetics and curriculum. It’s a good niche and the demand has been growing like crazy! I think keeping the focus on education and continuing to create a line that works for everybody is what has gotten us this far, so keeping on that course seems to be the direction we are headed. MUD Studios would also be a great addition in some of the larger U.S. cities for students that are unable to get to LA or New York.


Product Focus: Eyebrow Creams

product focus eyebrow creams

Whether it’s Cara Delevingne’s bushy brows or Instagram’s wavy eyebrow trend, eyebrows have dominated the make-up world for the last few seasons. However, unless you have perfect natural brows (and if you do, we’re all jealous), getting your eyebrows ‘on-fleek’ takes a little bit of care. In a world filled with eyebrow pencils, gels, and everything in between, finding the best product can be challenging. That’s why we at MUD engineered our line of Eyebrow Creams.

The unique formula fits into MUD’s Refillable 1″ Eye Compact, Universal Palette, or any MUD Palette that contains a well for eye products. Unlike some other eyebrow products, these Eyebrow Creams won’t dry out if exposed to air, they don’t require an air-tight seal. In fact, we love our eyebrow creams so much that we engineered a special brush just for this product. The #220 Brush comes with an ultra-sharp, short angled brush on one end and a spoolie on the other for your on-the-go convenience. This allows you to articulate perfect, hair-like strokes with even more precision than an angled eyeliner brush.

To use MUD’s eyebrow cream, follow these simple steps:

Step 1. Brush up the brows with a spoolie so that you expose any sparse areas and can see the natural direction of the eyebrow hairs.

Step 2. Look directly in the mirror and use your unique eye shape to find the ideal position for the brows. First, align the inner corner of the brow with your tear duct. Next, the center and arch of the brow should fall in line with the outer edge of your iris. Last, the second half of the eyebrow should be as long as the distance between the inner corner of the brow and the arch, so that the eyebrows are balanced and even.

Step 3. Dip the angled end of your #220 brush in the cream, swiping both sides of the brush so as to create a sharp tip. Following the natural direction of your eyebrow hairs, apply the cream in short strokes throughout the brow.

PRO TIP: For more dimension, use two shades of the eyebrow cream, filling in the general shape of the brow with the lighter color and adding in the darker color from the arch through the end of the brow.

Step 4. Brush the brows into place with a little bit of MUD’s brow fix for a finished look!

MUD Celebrates Our 20th Anniversary With John Bailey

John Bailey hasn’t had the most typical make-up career. Starting in a college theater department, Bailey first picked up a make-up brush to do his own character make-ups for his college roles. However, his talent for make-up did not go unnoticed, leading to Bailey becoming the go-to make-up artist in the department and teaching his own class as an undergraduate.

Evolving from student to teacher, Bailey’s passion for education grew, as he became frustrated with the teaching techniques of so many industry-leading schools. Preferring a more easily digestible, detail-oriented approach, Bailey found full-make-up classes to be both rushed and unnecessarily overwhelming. Incorporating the company and co-writing MUD’s Beauty Make-Up Textbook, John Bailey is to thank for MUD’s step-by-step lesson plan.

Q: Going back to 1997 when MUD started, what was your role?

A: We came from a place where we were teaching make-up. But, people would teach a class in make-up in this rushed way, where you would watch a demonstration of a make-up, and then you just do it. That’s why, when we started, I wanted to break everything down into small, learnable bites. So instead of just doing a make-up, the first thing you would do is learn a little bit about the eyebrows when you walk in the door. The next day we would start learning how to base match. Then we teach them how to work with eyeliner: how to hold a brush, how to put the eyeliner on the brush, and we would dampen the brush and let them practice, so that they get used to the tactical aspects of it before they had to actually put on any make-up at all. We also developed the progressive eyeliner, where we would do a straight liner then turn it into a glamour liner, then turn it into a fashion liner, then close the inside corner. I’d teach them how to hold a brush instead of them just taking the brush and putting it on the eyes, because there’s certain ways that you hold a brush that make everything much easier. I always wanted to be taught how I learn best, and I think that most people taking make-up classes learn the way that I learn. We’re visually oriented, or tactile learners. A lot of people have problems with focusing, and I think the way we teach make-up gets rid of that because we’re doing short, specifically directed techniques.

Q: Did you start with the curriculum then?

A: The curriculum came first. Before MUD, I taught at a school with a two week beauty class. I thought that two weeks for a beauty class was just ridiculously short–I would have liked to make it six months long! So we put together a four-week class, where the first two weeks are basic skills, and the second two weeks are using those skills to create certain make-ups.

Q: Was beauty your specialty?

A: For me, beauty was the soul of it. There’s so many little things that you can do in beauty, and so many skills you develop that carry over into everything else. Beauty is much more interesting than people realize. You’ve probably noticed that when you’re younger you don’t understand the subtlety of things as much as you do when you get older. You don’t see the small things that make something work, but instead see the big picture.

Q: I heard when MUD started you would do these fourteen-hour days, doing the night classes and the day classes, right?

A: The day class would start at 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning and we’d finish at 5:00 in the afternoon. It was an eight-hour day, and then the next class started at 6:00. For about a year or so, I was teaching both. After that, because we were growing fast, I was mainly training teachers. I’d be in a classroom teaching a class and training teachers at the same time. And we got good at training teachers! They would be learning the short little skills and they’d follow me around and they’d watch how I’d teach things and the comments I’d make. Then, they’d just fall right in.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your background, before MUD?

A: I was in college theater. While I was there, I would get cast in character roles, and I started learning to do character make-ups. I’d take a class in the make-up there, work on it, read books, practice, and study. All of a sudden people were asking me to do the make-up for their show, and then some students wanted me to teach them a class. People would come by wanting people who could do some make-up to look like George Washington, or something like that. I got sidetracked a little bit after that time, buying some property and doing some real estate stuff.

Then I moved to California. They had a very good make-up class that Bill Smith was teaching out here. So I went to learn from him and decided I was going to get a degree, but he passed away just after I got there. Then someone recommended I go to school in LA, and they said they would give me credit for taking the classes there. Soon enough I started teaching, and then I left in ’97. Of course I didn’t expect to get into the school business so quick, but all of a sudden Tate had an idea and I had an opportunity. We went out on September 15th, and I incorporated. We started working on the lesson plans, and Tate started working on getting his business, and we found a little place in Toluca Lake, upstairs over a Mediterranean restaurant. Our first class was about five people and then it was eight people and then ten, and we had to get another room for another classroom, then we had to get another room for another classroom, and soon enough we had several offices up and down the street in Toluca Lake. When Tate found a deal for a place we could actually buy, we ended up with the Burbank school we’re in now.

Q: Were there any people who encouraged you to keep growing when you started MUD?

A: It comes to the point of who motivates the motivator, right? At that point the last thing other people want to see is you become successful. But we have a lot of teachers that have been around since the very beginning. Mary Anne, and Yvonne–Yvonne and I worked on the beauty book. Writing the book gave us the opportunity to put down some of the techniques on paper. The book was written as we were teaching the classes, so it starts off with the eyeliner and all that. But everything we do comes right back down to small, manageable bites–putting you into a situation to do this work.

Q: Did you ever think MUD was going to be this big?

A: Well, I always dreamed it would! Whether I really believed my dreams were true or not I don’t know, but I kept believing it. Would you believe it?

Q: I wouldn’t imagine it!

A: It’s like anything–it’s small little steps. The hardest thing in the world is to get everybody on the same track, teaching the same thing. For me, being able to teach the teachers, and then those teachers teaching, was much better because they would be doing the same thing. Make-up artists assume that everything they say should be known but it’s not! When you tell a person to pick up the brush–what does that mean? When people had difficulties, I actually taped the brush to their fingers so they could learn to use the brush just like an extension of your hand. It’s a movement, a flow. The only problem with getting bigger is it takes you further and further away from the things you wanted to do when you first started. But there’s no way to get around that when you run a large company, is there?

Q: Where do you see MUD in the next 20 years?

A: I’m just hoping that it keeps growing, because once you stand still you’re either growing or declining. We have the two major schools, and then we have the studio schools. The idea was to have hubs and all the studio schools from around plug into the hub. It would help maintain everything if we had not only Los Angeles and New York, but also Atlanta and Miami, for example. That being said, I think we’ve done more for cosmetic education than anybody else. In fact, I’m sure we have.

MUD Celebrates Our 20th Anniversary with Paul Thompson


Starting his make-up career in 1987, Paul Thompson is MUD’s Director of Education and organizational leader behind the MUD Schools. Unlike our students, Thompson didn’t go to a traditional make-up school, instead he taught himself and took scattered classes under the guidance of an instructor at his community college. In the beginning he took jobs as a makeup assistant, learning from his experiences. As his career progressed he primarily worked in television and commercials, and ultimately opened his own FX shop. While working as a makeup artist, Thompson was also teaching extension courses at UCLA and doing master classes for multiple other cosmetic brands. Having fallen in love with the learning process itself, he went on to get a teaching credential and started teaching for MUD. Additionally, he authored the first edition of MUD’s character textbook Character Make-Up and co-wrote the second edition with Gil Romero.

Even with a firm belief in the power of education, Paul manages to keep things light and fun. whether he’s stealing his coworkers’ candy or face swapping photos of him and his wife, Francine, he keeps the MUD offices running with his goofy shenanigans. With his booming voice and high energy, Paul Thompson is the joyful lead behind the MUD education.

Q: What makes MUD different from our competitors?

A: From the beginning we fundamentally believe that the most important person in our organization is the student. We want them to have an exceptional experience at MUD learning makeup. To feel good about their choice of coming to MUD, and once they got in a class, we wanted to make it so meaningful and so outcome-based that they walked away getting everything they needed to start their career. In the beginning we really felt that we could make a makeup school that was better than anything that came before us. The other thing that continues to make us different is all the people that work here–all the different people that give voice to the education, whether it be the teachers, management, or the outside industry talking to us and working with us. It’s not a person, per se. It’s not Joe Shmoe’s make-up school, it is Make-Up Designory. So, it’s not based around me or Tate or any other single individual. It’s all about a company that does something of real value.

Q: Who is the MUD student?

A: I see students as so many different individuals. Our students are people that are just getting out of high school looking to start their career, but they can also be somebody that’s changing careers. I’m a make-up artist, and I’ve been a makeup artist my whole life. I see our student as me–as what I wanted and what I needed when I started. I learned as I went, and because of that I feel like I really relate to the students. I know what their needs are and, ultimately, what their dreams are regarding them wanting to be professional makeup artists. MUD is that company that really helps students to live those dreams.

Q: In the last 20 years, how have the MUD schools changed?

A: Originally, we said we were just going to do one school. But, we wanted to make the best school possible–one that had high-end, high quality education. I felt that we were doing a service that most schools couldn’t match because they just did not have the passion that we were pouring into it. Each one of the owners of the company were in the classrooms, doing everything we could to make the school the best it could be. The big switch came when we opened our NY campus and we expanded into Studios and Partner schools. Instead of just one campus, there are now 92 campuses offering some form of MUD education.

Q: Did you envision a cosmetic line back in 1997?

A: No, not so much. I know Tate initially was kind of like “oh maybe we should do products” but we didn’t have the wear-with-all to do that. It grew from Francine, really. She was the guru in product development and the rest of us would give her our opinions. She knew manufacturing and how to acquire things, she was the one who really got us started.

Q: Did you ever think MUD would reach the size it has now?

A: It’s hard to look back and go “oh, yeah, I knew we would be huge,” but I really didn’t. I knew we would be the size of some of the schools here in Los Angeles and have two or three classrooms, maybe four, tops. But, we grew to five classrooms and had extra teachers and people in the first year! I thought that all we would have is this cool little business and we would be set–and what I mean by “set” is that we would have jobs, we would do what we loved, we would be happy, and we would be able to make a good living. It’s crazy where it’s gone.

Q: Is there a most memorable moment from the last 20 years? Or maybe a funniest moment?

A: There’s a whole slew of funny events and things that have happened over the years. Time has absolutely flown by. My youngest daughter was born right after we started MUD, and seeing her in college now and knowing that’s how long the company has been around is cool, you know?

Q: Where do you see MUD in the next 20 years?

A: I think we’re going to see a lot more growth, on the education side we will be adding more campuses. For us, we are investing in the US and helping students live that dream of working as a makeup artist. It’s interesting how other cosmetic companies are moving to sell in China, even though to sell in China you have to test on animals. Companies are looking to China for that big untapped market. I really think the sky is the limit for the cosmetics side of things, however we will never test on animals.

Q: Is there anything else you want to include?

A: I love my job! We try very hard to help students find this level of happiness, to help them live their dreams. For me, I am so happy with the choices that I’ve made in my life and the great bunch of people that I work with. I couldn’t be luckier.