Make-up is commonly used to enhance or beautify our features. However, Nigel Phua decided to do something different with make-up – to create a horror-like appearance for his subjects. Better known as Nightchylde, he started exploring the possibilities of creating Halloween “costumes” without the use of fabrics and mannequins. Instead, brushes, face paints, liquid latex and water-activated paint (that looks like eye shadow to me) are the tools behind his many faces. He “doesn’t like to paint on flat surfaces,” hence the interest in face painting.
I recently got the chance to sit down and interview him and he even did a really good job trying to be a zombie with the make-up, dragging his foot while walking and giving the occasional moans.
Q: How did you learn to paint on yourself with such skill, and why?
A: I have always been interested in Halloween but costumes were too expensive and overpriced and I wanted to source for a (then) cheaper alternative. I started watching YouTube tutorials and finally, three years ago, I challenged myself to practice it on myself. I also kept practicing along the years to improve on my skills. I haven’t been able to practice much now though.
Q: Being so talented, you must have been really busy doing make-up for gigs, right?
A: I actually did special effects make up for haunted houses and short films. I remember having to paint 30 faces in 3 hours for Jurong Junior College’s haunted house! I first started helping people 3 months after I started. My friend from Temasek Polytechnic asked if I could do some simple make-up like creating burns and cuts. Recently, I also helped a group of Mass Communication (MCM) Students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in their thriller film, “Joke’s On You”. That was much more intense than the gig at Temasek Polytechnic because I was to create a clown-like serial killer (which he did).
Q: Which would you consider your most memorable gig out of the three?
A: It would have to be the one I did for the MCM kids. I had to be on set till the actor left because I needed to make sure that the make up stays and that if it comes off, I can help touch up on it. This meant that I had to (on one day) stay at a factory until 4am in the morning and having to work the next day. I guess they helped me opened my eyes to the film industry. I occasionally watch the film they sent to me to see my works come to life!
Q: What do you plan to do in the future?
A: I would definitely want to continue working in this industry but it is not a very viable career option because nowadays, special effects make-up is becoming obsolete with the prevalence of visual effects. I have already gotten placement in NTU’s communication studies, so I’ll be entering the media industry pretty soon after I graduate!
Last year on Halloween, Nigel went to the streets of Orchard, in his make-up, handing out candies to people. If you’re lucky, he might roam the streets of Orchard this year again!
Follow him on Instagram (@nygelphua) to keep up with what he is up to or track the hashtag, #Nightchylde, to see his works!