With the passing of Dick Smith, one of my inspirations is now just a memory. He inspired me to be a special effects makeup artist (even though that only lasted a short amount of time).
I was 16 when I watched my first horror movie. Up until that point, even horror movie television commercials gave me nightmares. Hell, Raiders of the Lost Ark and trailers for cable airings of the Elephant Man gave me nightmares. I was a nervous kid. And then I became a slightly less nervous young adult.
Anyways, I started with a VHS rental, Shocker, on my sweet 16th birthday. Afterwards, I told myself it could only get better. And it did. I watched them all. From the Freddy flicks to the Cronenberg classics to the Maniac Cops & grave robbers & haunted prisons. And when I watched these, I understood what they meant. They meant that art could be entertainment and still be art no matter how low that art was measured by the majority. It meant that a geniuses like Dick Smith & Stan Winston & Tom Savini could be master artists & still make a man’s head explode. It meant that I needed to work in low budget movies as a special effects makeup artist. And I did, for a bit, as previously mentioned. But not before studying book after book and technique after technique. But only one book stands out. I got an original copy of Dick Smith’s Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up, a book with more hyphens than words, and despite being written for kids, was an enormous inspiration for a beginner. I read and then tried recreating every scary face in that book on myself and friends. It was amazing. Dick Smith was one of my heroes. His career path taught me that there is money in art, entertainment, and what you love. Which isn’t everything. But it means that while you have to pay rent and eat and go places in vehicles, that it is okay to try to follow your passion.
RIP Dick Smith.