Dare to be different

Published On: December 20, 2019 11:44 AM NPT By: SITU MANANDHAR

Known to many by her Instagram name, Ahskid (@_ahskid_), 21-year-old Diksha Thapa is breaking boundaries in SFX (Special Effects), fantasy and transformation makeup art in Nepal. Despite being quite young, Thapa has already worked as an art director and lead makeup artist in four Nepali films. She feels it’s her passion for makeup that has helped her get better at it with easy passing day.

“SFX makeup should reflect the artist’s mood, the scene’s emotion, and the director’s vision so it’s sometimes quite difficult for me to get that balance right,” she says. Apart from that constant challenge of having to do her best, she mentions that it has also sometimes been difficult for her to work in a male-dominated environment as there are some biases that are difficult to get over.

“But I want to embrace new challenges and break stereotypes so I just have to keep pushing myself,” she says.  

Thapa says that she feels the pressure because hers is a fairly new field. Despite the beauty industry making frequent leaps and constant progress, SFX makeup is still not very popular. According to Thapa, many people who show an interest in SFX makeup do so out of curiosity and not many consider taking it up as a career. 

“There have been times when people I have worked with have suggested that I switch to regular makeup as that could land me more projects,” says Thapa adding that she does enjoy doing regular makeup but there is something about SFX makeup that gives her a little thrill, and it is this thrill that she is pursuing. 

“Maybe it’s because I’ve always been more into horror or fantasy stories than love stories that what I do appeals to me,” she says further explaining that she often used to wonder if the wounds and creatures she saw in horror movies were real and that fuelled her drive to recreate those very things. “I guess I’m answering my own questions now,” she says. 

Thapa reveals that she has always loved the concept of outer space and finds herself talking to the moon once in a while. The looks that she creates are inspired by her fantasy about alien life on other planets. “Though I’m still not good at prosthetic makeup, I try my best to be as imaginative and creative as possible,” she says. 

However, Thapa confesses that though she was fascinated by it she didn’t think she herself would venture into SFX makeup someday. It was when she started studying fine arts in Kathmandu that she learnt how colors could effectively change person’s mood or the way they looked. Her choice of subject was more about practical knowledge than theoretical learning and so she got the chance to explore that even further, which ultimately led her to pursue SFX makeup. 

“There was a cosplay event where I transformed myself into Sakura from Naruto and it was so much fun that my friend and I decided to attend a Halloween party as zombies. This was when I actually started to watch SFX makeup tutorials to make fake wounds and such and I got hooked,” she says. 

Growing up watching Harry Potter and many movies and series that made full use of SFX makeup, it was also impossible not to be enthralled. 

The hours that she spent, watching one YouTube tutorial after another, trying to learn various makeup tricks have all paid off and today Thapa can easily be considered one of the best SFX makeup artists out there. 

In hindsight, Thapa says that her foray into SFX makeup was perhaps predestined. Thapa, who was born and raised in Punjab, India, was treated as an outcast in her class. She often got bullied and had scars and bruises as a result. To hide these “marks of shame” she used to turn to makeup. 

“Makeup has always been my escape from problems and fears. Whenever I’m sad, I start playing with colors, even when I don’t have a clear picture of what I’m trying to create,” she says. Makeup, for Thapa, is art and therapy rolled into one. 

“Nobody knows what’s going on inside a person’s head but all of us are fighting our own silent battles. Art can help release these negative emotions and heal our souls,” she says.  

However, she feels people don’t really need makeup to be beautiful and says that she feels more confident when she isn’t wearing any. For her, makeup is about boosting how you feel and thus one shouldn’t hide behind it. “I did and it didn’t feel good,” she says. 

She says she has learnt that you have to use makeup to your advantage, to play up your best features, and not make it a cover up for what you want to hide. SFX makeup, she feels, can be a way to express what you feel but, again, hiding behind it should never be an option. 

Thapa, who enjoys playing the ukulele and designing her own outfits when she has some free time, wants to continue doing SFX makeup despite clearly being advised not to stick to it exclusively time and again. This is how she gets to release her pent up emotions and create something new and different every single time and that, she says, feels really good. 

 (Situ Manandhar)

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