Earlier this month, we received some penetrating insight into the intricate work required to fill Hollywood’s demand for convincingly made fake penises. Now, fully aware that every bit of exposed skin shown to us in TV or film is a total lie, we turn our attention to the people responsible for creating fake tattoos and hiding real ones.
An article from The Hollywood Reporter looks at the artists responsible for covering some actors with temporary tattoos and disguising others’ actual body art. Using Sebastian Stan’s role as Tommy Lee in Pam & Tommy as a recent example, the piece details the process employed by the the special effects company that worked on the show, Autonomous FX, and various makeup artists.
In Stan’s case, preparing for the role required him to have “his body scanned and measured” by Autonomous before being “covered in plastic wrap as tattoo designers sketched onto his arms, back, and torso.” The artists then created decals, which are described by makeup artist Heba Thorisdottir (who worked on The Suicide Squad and Ant-Man) as a fancy version of kids press-on tattoos elsewhere in the article. These tattoo transfers have to be applied before each day’s shoot, which takes several hours. (Some of these tattoos can be reused and retouched more than once though “most tattoos are applied and removed each day of shooting.”)
When it comes to hiding an actor’s existing tattoos, costume designers may try to cover them up with clothing or, if that isn’t possible, apply “an orange layer of concealer to neutralize the ink color, and then body paint and makeup to return the actor’s natural skin tone.” The time investment required for regular cover-ups have prompted some actors, like Pete Davidson, to have some of their tattoos removed. Even in this case, makeup artists may still need to cover up a partially removed tattoo or skin that’s been scarred or discolored through the removal process.
Because all of this may require that actors get to set hours earlier than they would otherwise have to, some are hesitant to get tattoos on parts of their body likely to be exposed on camera. But even this sort of caution doesn’t always work out. Thorisdottir, the makeup artist mentioned above, says some actors have decided to get foot tattoos “because they think they will never be seen, and then they’re in a Quentin Tarantino movie.”
For more, including an interesting look at the legal challenges involved with recreating tattoos whose design is owned by tattoo artists, read the full article at The Hollywood Reporter.
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