When it comes to Halloween costumes, it’s safe to say that Jaci Tubbs has a leg up on the competition.
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln junior studio arts major began dabbling in special effects makeup in high school, and the activity has become one of her biggest passions.
“Most people don’t see makeup as a form of art, but it really is,” Tubbs said. “It's an expression of myself. When I draw, I keep it in a notebook. But when I do the body painting or just painting in general, it’s a creative outlet, and I get to be someone else. It makes me feel more confident.”
Tubbs, who has always had an artistic side and an interest in anything spooky, said becoming a special effects makeup artist was a natural progression.
“I first got into it because when I used to paint, I would mix colors on my arm or on my leg. The mixing of the colors turned into me painting designs on myself. After I heard about body painting and that kind of makeup, I was like, ‘I like horror movies. I like gore and scary things.’ So I started getting into the liquid latex for special effects,” Tubbs said.
“Looking at my skillset now compared to then, there’s a huge difference.”
Tubbs’ Instagram page is filled with looks fitted for a haunted house. Some are inspired by characters from popular movies, like Batman’s Joker and Jason from "Friday the 13th," while others are more abstract.
"I love taking the photos afterwards, because then I can really get into the character," Tubbs said.
The designs take anywhere from three to five hours to complete, depending on how detailed they are. Tubbs uses latex, gelatin and fake blood for creating fake wounds or cuts, as well as skin-safe paint and more typical makeup staples to round out each look.
“I go through eyeliner pencils and brow pencils so much,” Tubbs said with a laugh.
She usually sits down and creates new character a few times a month, or whenever she has free time.
“A lot of times when I'm bored, even if I don't take a photo of it and post it, I'll just do it for fun,” Tubbs said.
Tubbs also puts her skills to the test during special events, including her favorite holiday, Halloween. Two of her prized Halloween costumes include a glow-in-the-dark voodoo doll and Medusa with wigs and face paint that glows under a blacklight.
Over the years, Tubbs has started lending her makeup talents to friends who do cosplay, as well as several campus theater productions. With her hobby expanding, as well as intersecting with her area of study at the university, she sees it as a dream career path in the future.
“I would love to do it professionally. If I ever got the chance to work on a 'Saw' movie, or even just a sci-fi movie, that would be amazing,” Tubbs said.