Q & A with Melissa Castro
By Monique Oxford
Melissa Castro uses the body as her canvas, painting and drawing on the human figure as she transforms her models into walking art pieces.
Monique: How did you become interested in art-specifically?
Melissa: I’ve always liked sketching, painting and working with my hands. When I realized I was good at makeup it just expanded my horizons beyond the typical beauty look.
Monique: You delve into more than one genre of body art, tell me about that.
Melissa: When it comes to the body/face I think I’m very versatile. I can make you look gorgeous for a wedding or horrifying for Halloween. My art is always evolving. One minute I can be really into my body art then next I’m focused on special effect wounds.
Monique: Any role models who influenced your work?
Melissa: Not when it comes to body art. I just go with what I’m feeling. As for my special effects makeup, Howard Berger, Robert Kurtzman, and Gregory Nicotero are such inspirations. They are amazing makeup artists. They are the masterminds behind movies like The Chronicles of Narnia and From Dusk Till Dawn. I would love to be on their level someday.
Monique: Did you take classes or intern with anyone to learn how to paint on the body?
Melissa: I’m completely self-taught. I do refer to YouTube videos, blogs and books occasionally to continue my education.
Monique: At what age did you start your art career?
Melissa: 18, it was the first Halloween after high school. I painted my face like a cat from the Broadway show, CATS. Everyone loved it and complimented my work so it inspired me to try more looks.
Monique: You were painting on a model at our launch party from Mitsu Overstreet’s installation piece at the El Paso International Airport, how did it feel when Mistu jumped in and began painting with you?
Melissa: I was beyond thrilled and a bit nervous!
Monique: Where do you draw your inspirations from?
Melissa: My body art pieces are freehand and though they are henna-inspired they definitely resemble my sketches. My special effects makeup is more on the fiction side I love to try and remake famous characters.
Monique: How time consuming are your designs?
Melissa: My designs are ridiculously consuming. I’m so meticulous when it comes to my work, particularly my special effects makeup. I give it my all so I expect only the best results.
Monique: Do you feel you are learning skills now that will elevate you? If so, what would those be?
Melissa: Definitely, the more I practice the more I learn. I’m always looking for new ways to express my creativity on my models, and means working with different materials and paints all the time.
Monique: Is there a particular project you want to work on?
Melissa: I would love to do makeup for a Tim Burton inspired photo shoot.
Monique: How are you further enhancing your career?
Melissa: I work with the skin all the time so I am furthering my education and getting my Esthetician license.
Monique: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Melissa: I definitely want to continue working in the makeup industry, specifically in special effects. I want to make my name a trademark.
Monique: What is the biggest hurdle artists in El Paso face today?
Melissa: Speaking for myself I think there isn’t enough interest in the arts, especially in body art. I’m flooded with work for my glamour makeup but only get to showcase my special effects and body art sporadically. I do though, see a slow but growing interest in other art movements in El Paso. I can’t wait to see what the art scene will be like in a few years.
Monique: What is your biggest hurdle as an artist?
Melissa: I personally feel it’s pleasing my audience. My work and name get out there by word of mouth more than anything, so if I am not pleasing my audience I am not doing a good enough job.
Photographed by Omar Augustine Hernandez