- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - She’s been Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Captain Jack Sparrow and Donald Trump. With the stroke of a brush and a pencil, Rebecca Swift can transform herself into anything.

Swift, 30, a South Dakota makeup artist who recently moved her business from Deadwood to Mitchell, has used the magic of makeup to turn herself into astonishingly lifelike approximations of 70 different characters and people, as part of a 100-day challenge to become anyone from political figures to cartoon characters.

Her original plan was to take part in a more elaborate version of a 30-day makeup challenge that is popular on Instagram. But Swift decided to continue past the 30-day mark because she still had hundreds of characters and people she wanted to try out.

She posts every completed work on Facebook and Instagram.

“I don’t read too many magazines, but I keep up with pop culture and what’s current in the news,” Swift told the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1OfIFeP ). “If something’s trending nationally, or something has sparked my interest, I’ll see what I can make of it.”

Swift got the idea while working on the set of the independent film “Carter & June” under makeup artist Steve Costanza (best known for “Napoleon Dynamite”). Though she’s always had a knack for makeup, Swift was inspired to try things beyond beauty as she learned about prosthetics and other tricks.

“Girls have been doing these makeup challenges on Instagram, so I thought I’d go outside my boundaries,” Swift said.

Swift said that she’ll select one or two pictures that give her a distinct idea of what a person’s features are in order to get an exact sense of a person’s facial shape and shadows.

“Capturing the shape sometimes takes more time than actually doing the rest of it,” Swift said. “Finding out where the shadow lines lie on someone’s face takes trying over and over again until it comes together.”

Swift has said that she likes to mix things up depending on what she’s feeling and what her resources are in a given day. On a day when she’s traveling and has run out of wigs, she might pick a celebrity with the same natural brown hair color as herself. On another, she’ll put on a bald cap and turn herself into “Harry Potter” villain Voldemort. Oddly, more exaggerated figures like Voldemort or a Disney princess are easier than most.

“Cartoon characters take 15 minutes,” Swift said. “A more intricately detailed one like Donald Trump takes about an hour and a half because you have to get the hair right, the facial features, any challenges you might have with aging yourself.”

More difficult still, however, are young women in Hollywood.

“Oddly enough, the easiest ones are Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp because of their bone structure,” Swift said. “Young women in Hollywood with zero sign of aging don’t always have a specific shape and no shadow lines, so it’s almost impossible to do.”

Swift gave the example of Keira Knightley, Kesha and Taylor Swift as three challenges she scrapped because she wasn’t pleased with how they turned out. By contrast, Angelina Jolie, with her pronounced cheekbones, was a cinch.

“I want to give those other ones another try, though,” Swift said. “I want to see if I can perfect them next time.”

They’ll be on a long list of the people she wants to capture: She has 30 days left in her 100-day challenge, but her shortlist has over 200 celebrities and characters she wants to attempt, including some holiday-themed ideas.

“I want to see where this goes, but for the holidays I’m going to try Buddy from ‘Elf’ and Santa Claus, among others,” Swift said. “I’m excited to dive into it.”

Swift has done a number of series from both sides of Brangelina to both Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. But Swift says the best part of the whole endeavor is interacting with people.

“Reading their reactions to this project is really fun,” Swift said. “I get to build my business, I do crazy theatrical looks, I get to drive people to my business and do beauty and bridal looks throughout the Hills at the same time. I do what I love as a job.”


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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