Utah Stories

Salt Lake Makeup Brings Fright to Life

Following his passion, make up artist Brett Hamilton creates art with terror.


I met local artist, Brett Hamilton, at his studio in the popular haunted attraction, Fear Factor. Props smeared with blood are piled here and there, randomly; makeup swells out of toolboxes and crates; mannequins and body casts stand and lean like the frozen living, lay like scattered corpses.

We sit down at a table scummed with a thin layer of dust, and when he speaks, his voice is like a pressed flower faded in a book, his eyes have a prudent shine in them that’s hard not to get lost in; and his sly smile is evidence that I am talking to a man who truly loves people and life. But, he tells me, it wasn’t always like this.

“People try really hard not to be happy,” he says, “and after the accident I realized I just didn’t want the life I had anymore. I wasn’t happy.”

Like many of us, Brett’s story wasn’t unique until after a construction accident in 2011 left him with a broken back, and it was then he decided he was tired of living punch-clock bored, being stuck within the affable lines of the collective status quo. So he made the proverbial leap. He would never work in construction again.

Aside from being head of makeup and prop design at Fear Factory (his zombie creations have become innovative and something of underground legend), Brett does makeup for the increasingly popular Zombie Walk in SLC, is a Freelance Makeup artist, Master esthetician, Massage therapist in training, and Body casting artist.

“I just love the body. I love skin,” he says. And it occurs me as he saying this, that human perception of the self, of confidence, is a saga of created realities that if allowed, rises to the surface and affects us, and teaches us who we really are.

“Exactly. When I am body painting, all I am doing is putting a small pigment over their skin; it isn’t hiding them,” Brett says, “it’s accentuating their natural beauty.”

What Brett loves most about what he does, he explains as we tour his studio, is the change he gets to see, both mentally and physically. “I get to experience a person’s transformation from the inside out, paradoxically. It’s like the final product, whether it’s a zombie or a well-known character like Rogue, or something straight from the imagination. I get to a confidence that wasn’t there before it bloomed out of nowhere.”

Brett almost curls into himself when I ask if he’s always been talented. “It doesn’t matter, talent. With anything you do there has to be a passion. Passion overrides talent, I think. And that [passion] is where happiness comes from.”

An extremely well-regarded professional makeup artist, costumer, body painter and caster, and Master esthetician, Brett continues to follow his passions as they shift and mature, intent on learning something new everyday and becoming a better artist with every project. He offers his advice for those interested in this medium.

“Watch a lot of YouTube videos,” he laughs. “There is no one way to make it in this business. But really, have passion for whatever it is you do, have fun. Break the rules, but don’t break the law.” His smile is infectious.

Brett poses with one of his zombie creations.

Brett Hamilton services companies and individuals. If you are interested in what he offers, check him out on Facebook or contact him directly at brettly74@gmail.com.         


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