Creature creator

NANAIMO - Local makeup artist Max Dowie teaches people how to turn others into zombies and other creatures in upcoming workshops.

A gruesome spider is one of many puppets that Nanaimo’s Max Dowie has created for films. Dowie leads Master of Makeup and Master of Puppets workshops at Headliners School of Performing Arts starting this Saturday (June 22).

A gruesome spider is one of many puppets that Nanaimo’s Max Dowie has created for films. Dowie leads Master of Makeup and Master of Puppets workshops at Headliners School of Performing Arts starting this Saturday (June 22).

Max Dowie loves to turn people into somebody else.

His interest in creating different characters started at an early age. His father was a circus clown and got Dowie in on the act when he was a child. Then as he got older he continued his artistic interest. Add to that a love of Halloween and his career as a makeup artist took off.

One day when he was looking through some art books on his shelf he asked himself the question ‘what am I doing with my life?’.

That led Dowie to make the decision to attend the Vancouver Film School where he took makeup design for film and television.

“I really enjoy it. I enjoy turning people into other people,” he said. “It’s like the whole mission impossible Spy vs. Spy thing. It allows me to create characters without having to portray them.”

During the makeup course he learned how to make masks and various techniques to turn people into monsters, zombies or other people.

“Going to the school was like visiting heaven,” said Dowie. “Everyone was artistic and knew how to communicate in the same respectful way. All of my teachers worked in the movies.”

During school Dowie worked on several projects, including one called Alice in Wasteland. He said the prosthetic makeup he created for that project was his favourite.

“I took Tweedledum and they were mutated. It was awesome stuff. We had false teeth for them and contacts and it totally changed the actors’ look.”

Dowie doodles a lot and turns these into ideas for monster makeup.

Dowie said a true makeup artist will work with the attributes of the actors because the rubber and silicone will change the shape of someone’s face but because it’s stiff the movement isn’t the same as an actors skin.

He loves to show people how they can be transformed into something else.

“There is always the reaction of people around me. They have a little sparkle in their eyes,” he said. “It makes me feel like I am doing my job right.”

People can learn the tools to transform others into zombies or monsters or just change their appearance to look like someone else during the Master of Makeup workshops Dowie is leading at Headliners School of Performing Arts on Sunday (June 23) and June 30. The class includes eight hours of instruction and people will learn about hygiene and makeup, colour and design and more.

“We’ll get into some fun stuff like bullet holes and zombie-fication,” said Dowie.

Dowie is also teaching a Master of Puppets workshop Saturday (June 22) and June 29.

It also includes eight hours of instruction. During the workshop people will learn how to design and create a puppet and then manipulate it for theatre or film work. Material for the puppets is provided but people are free to bring their own items. Workshops are $199 each. For more information about the workshops, please go to To register please call 250-585-1811.

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