Making up a new face in Burbank

January 17, 2001

Karen S. Kim

SOUTH SAN FERNANDO DISTRICT -- Red-haired and fair-skinned with

freckles, 24-year-old Rhea Brown sat on a stool and watched her partner

sculpt, mold and smear gray clay across a cast of her own head.

"I'm going to be a chubby black lady," Brown said, verifying her

partner's plans for the clay.

Brown is a part of the special-effects makeup course at the Make-Up


Designory, a vocational school in Burbank providing training in fashion,

hair styling and makeup artistry for television and film. Class members

are designing latex masks for each other, and in a few weeks Brown will

present her partner with a mask that will transform him into a vampire.

"I want to be able to do every aspect in makeup for television and

movies. That's why I came out here," said Brown, who moved from Missouri

to complement her degree in theater with a diploma from the Make-Up

Designory. "Just being out here is great. This is where you need to be to

start somewhere."

The Make-up Designory moved from Toluca Lake to Burbank on Jan. 6 and

opened for classes two days later. With a student store, a

special-effects lab where students produce radio-controlled animatronic

headpieces, a library and several classrooms, the school's new

8,000-square-foot building on South San Fernando Boulevard is a much

better fit than its last location.

"We got too big for what we were in over there, so we started looking

for another building," said Tate Holland, director of the 100-student


The three-year-old Designory was attracted to its new Burbank location

because of the city's ample supply of public parking, the convenience of

the nearby MetroLink station and the school's proximity to television and

film studios.

"Some of the major studios and special-effects labs are just a mile

away. There's a benefit to the fact that technology is being developed in

this industry right in this area, and by being here we can benefit and

contribute to that," Holland said. "Plus, you want to be in that

atmosphere [of the entertainment industry]. There's almost an intangible

benefit. You feel the vibe."

Training its students in hair styling, makeup, wardrobe and special

effects, the Designory offers certificates for completed courses and a

diploma for a completed program of classes that can take as long as six

months. Graduates enter a variety of careers, including makeup artists

and hair stylists for television, film, print magazines and runway


"It just depends on the desire of the person," said hair-styling

instructor Yvonne Hawker. "Some people take a makeup course and a

hair-styling course and then just go do [styling for] weddings."

The students, who range in age from 18 to 60, come from around the

United States, as well as from foreign countries.

Jens Bartram, 38, studied makeup artistry in Berlin before attending

Make-Up Designory for its special-effects course.

"It's a problem. We don't have this in Germany," Bartram said while

working on his special-effects mask. "Here it's a big industry, and in

Germany it's not."

Holland says that the background of his students is what makes the

Make-Up Designory a valuable addition to Burbank.

"I think that's one of the things we bring to Burbank that's so

unique," he said. "It's not just a vocational school. We bring


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