Catching Up with 'Face Off' Finalist Ian Cromer

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Catching Up with 'Face Off' Finalist Ian Cromer

'Face Off' finalist Ian Cromer, hard at work on a sculpt for a challenge on the Syfy show's second season. When describing the season, Ian comments: "My family is really proud of everyone on the show. It was one of the most challenging things I've done.".

With childhood idols like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman and the Ghostbusters, "Face Off" runner-up Ian Cromer always had an interest in special effects. Cromer, a silicone fabricator whose specialties include sculpting, painting, mold-making, applicances, silicone and more, discovered his calling at Tom Savini's Special Makeup Effects program school. There, a teacher took him under his wing and fostered his talents. Ian went on to work in architectural restoration for New York City buildings and skyscrapers, and for Manhattan-based sculptor, Carole Feuerman. After reaching the finale of Season 2 of "Face Off," Ian is now planning a move to Los Angeles, to continue his work in makeup effects.

Angela Mitchell: Was there a particular movie or TV character that was instrumental in making you want to create makeup and effects as a career?

Ian Cromer: I always think of the Ninja Turtles, Jim Henson and his team did a beautiful job. I always knew that they were real. Being a kid and watching that on TV, was just the coolest.

Angela Mitchell: Who was the most surprising boot, to you? I mentioned this to RJ and Rayce, but for me, it was Brea - I'd thought Athena or Jerry might be out in that round.

Ian Cromer: I would have to say Nix, he is a really great artist and a cool guy as well. I thought he should have been able to shine more...

Angela Mitchell: What was your favorite challenge? I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the im Burton Challenge -- it seemed to bring out the best in everyone. Also, speaking of which, Ian, I really liked your plumber, despite the judges' critiques -- especially the detail work -- the pipe eyepiece was wonderful.

Ian Cromer: Thanks a lot! My favorite would most definitely have to be the phobia challenge. It was cool to come up with a creature that was totally ours within a certain guideline. I would love to take time and really recreate him and do him well.

Angela Mitchell: What was the most difficult challenge for you? I thought the Dinoplasty challenge was pretty tough (although the looks were all so fantastic in the end anyway).

Ian Cromer: I was most at ease with the Dinoplasty episode. I think at that point we all were pretty use to what we had to do. Everyone did well on that one. There were some really unique makeups. But the hardest was most certainly the Alien challenge with Patrick [Tatopoulos]'s Designs, a lot needed to be done for that one, and a lot went wrong.

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Bats, Rhinos and Dinos

Ian Cromer's quirky plumber character, created for the Tim Burton Challenge. The judges were divided, but praised the character's details, like the fact that the character's eyepiece is actually a piece of pipe. Courtesy of Syfy and NBCUniversal

Angela Mitchell: I've asked each of finalists this -- I was interested to know if, for the animal challenge, you might have wished to have picked a different animal?

Ian Cromer: I really wanted to do the Rhino, and make him all bright colored and patterned. I think that would have been interesting.

Angela Mitchell: I loved the rhino. I was also surprised nobody went with the wolf. Meanwhile -- what was the most useful or interesting advice you got from the judges? Both RJ and Rayce mentioned how approachable and kind Ve Neill was to all the contestants.

Ian Cromer: Ve is such an amazing woman. We still keep in touch and she's helped me a lot after the show. I'm most thankful for that.

But as far as advice, "sticking with my instincts" was one thing they told me I had to do. And that alone to just trust in my ideas and visions really got me as far as I did. I always second-guessed everything I was doing. And after they told me that, I spent less time worrying and back tracking and more time creating.

Angela Mitchell: Each one of you on the show showed skills in different aspects of effects makeup, from sculpting, mold-making and prosthetics to design and application. Which skills are your personal favorites?

Ian Cromer: I love sculpting and painting. I still love foam latex. I've scene some amazing things done out of foam by some amazing artists. Rick Baker uses it still. So if it's good enough for Rick, than it's got to be good enough for me!

Angela Mitchell: Which challenge were you most proud of?

Ian Cromer: I would again say the Alien Challenge. That bat was a mess through and through, but somehow it came out. I'm happy because it seemed to make Patrick very happy too and when a great designer likes the changes you made to their design, that's pretty cool.

Angela Mitchell: Ian, what was your favorite thing about your time at Tom Savini's Special Makeup Effects program, and how did it affect the way you work today? Also, do you still do any architectural work?

Ian Cromer: I've met a lot of great people and not only that, it's opened a lot doors. I'm very thankful for that. I haven't done much architectural work since I left New York -- I'm strictly concentrating on my craft.

Angela Mitchell: That's great to hear. Which fellow contestants had each of you picked to go all the way to the end?

Ian Cromer: We knew Rayce had an in, and we also all thought Beki would as well. They both did a lot of cool work very quickly and effectively.

Angela Mitchell: Which works by other artists impressed you the most during the competition, in Season 2?

Ian Cromer: Rayce -- he can create outrageous designs and do something so subtle too. That's really impressive.

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Attention to Detail

'Face Off' contestant Ian Cromer (right), with his designs for the competition's final challenge. "We were limited a ton because of the dance," comments Cromer. "Small appliances, and different paints needed to be used, so it was all kinds of tricky.". Courtesy of Syfy and NBCUniversal

Angela Mitchell: Which guest judge was your favorite?

Ian Cromer: Greg Cannom, and Michael Westmore, they both had a ton of knowledge and an insane amount experience. Cannom's work has always included some of my favorites.

Angela Mitchell: Were there any moments that were crucial or key in your processes or successes, that didn't make it on camera?

Ian Cromer: I think most of our processes and little details were a little overlooked. I mean, in our Old Age makeup challenge, they wore a ton of prosthetics. The 75 year-old had ten total appliances, along with stretch and stipple. It actually was pretty neat.

Angela Mitchell: I loved the old-age challenge and loved what it brought out in the designs from each of you. Meanwhile, what was most nervewracking about that incredibly tough final challenge?

Ian Cromer: Not having full reign over our characters was the hardest part. We were limited a ton because of the dance. Small appliances, and different paints need to be used, so it was all kinds of tricky.

Angela Mitchell: Ian, how has your family reacted to your accomplishments here? It's such a big deal to make the finals, so I'm sure they must have been proud.

Ian Cromer: My family is really proud of everyone on the show. It was one of the most challenging things I've done. They're ecstatic, and I feel like it's also brought us closer together.

Angela Mitchell: I love that. Meanwhile -- I'm asking each of you, so Ian, what mistakes do you think most fledgling makeup artists might tend to make when starting out?

Ian Cromer: A lot out there don't seem to love this stuff enough, [learning] the history behind it, the masters of our craft. For me, I'm constantly reading about the work online or in magazines, constantly trying to gain more and more knowledge. I live it and for me, I have this unquenchable appetite for learning more that I can't get enough of.

Angela Mitchell: What basic art skills do you feel are most important for aspiring makeup and prosthetics artists?

Ian Cromer: Anatomy knowledge and color theory. You can save a ton with a great paint job, make up schools dont seem to stress that enough.

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Tips and Advice for Novices

"Always check on your model and make them as comfortable as possible," comments 'Face Off' finalist Ian Cromer, who notes that the application process is usually not fun for the recipient. "Take care of your models.". Courtesy of Syfy and NBCUniversal

Angela Mitchell: RJ talked at length about the advantages that came along with a really professional and talented model (as with his model Landon) for his work on the show. What advice would you give to other aspiring pros when it comes to working with fellow makeup artists? What tips would you give on working with models?

Ian Cromer: Always check on your model and make them as comfortable as possible. Wearing makeup is not the most fun for anyone, so just take care of your models.

And for working with other makeup artists, communicate... Listen to their thoughts and ideas, there is a ton you can learn from any pro or novice. Keep your mind open. Absorb everything you can from everyone you work with and take what you like from them. Then when you work with someone else, just say so and so taught you that. Keep the trade going, share things.

Angela Mitchell: Which movie monster or fantasy creature do you wish you could have created, and why?

Ian Cromer: Great question! I wish I could have been able to have done the make ups and suits for the Ninja Turtles. My Buddy Eric Zapata and I always talk about how we'd make them look. Super gritty and brutish. He actually did a sculpt of one that went viral that's pretty interesting.

Angela Mitchell: What's up next for you?

Ian Cromer: Practice! And hopefully keep working! I'm so thankful I have a lot of friends because of the show. And I've had some amazing opportunities as well. So I just hope to keep practicing my craft, on any budget or scale, I hope to keep learning and improving my skills.

Angela Mitchell: Thanks for sharing your experiences, Ian -- it was great talking with you.

Ian Cromer: Thank you all so much, I'm truly grateful. And I hope to keep improving and hope you all keep seeing me in the future.

Angela Mitchell: Sounds like a plan!