Mark Tavares was born a pleasantly unusual child.
Instead of playing sports or getting involved in other outdoors-y activities like the other kids in the Suburban Massachusetts neighborhood in which he grew up, Mark engaged in more solitary pursuits such as reading comic books, obsessing over televisions shows like “The Six Million Dollar Man”, “Batman”, and “Star Trek”, and of course, Drawing. Mark loved to draw! In fact, his love of comic books and drawing was so great that, for many years, Mark’s dream was to be a Marvel Comics Bullpen artist like his heroes, Jack Kirby, John Romita, and George Tuska.
Mark’s extremely supportive parents, while not necessarily thrilled at their son’s introverted ways, saw that his interests fueled his imagination and creativity. So, at every opportunity, they encouraged Mark’s pursuit of the weird. Even at Halloween, Mark’s favorite Holiday, his Mom would let him raid her make-up kit so he could spend hours looking into the bathroom mirror and painting monster designs onto his face. Like I said, VERY supportive parents.
Mark’s comic book and face painting obsessions continued into the mid 70’s when something happened that would forever alter the course of his life. That thing was a little movie called “Star Wars”. Mark had always been a fan of Sci-fi movies. However, this one was radically different. From the opening shot of the Star Destroyer bearing down Princess Leia’s cruiser, Mark was hooked. This was a quantum leap past everything else in terms of story telling and most obviously, special effects. Those fantastic images burned themselves into Mark’s brain. From that moment on, Mark knew that he had to get into the movie business and create Movie Magic!
Throughout High School, Mark lived and breathed Special Effects. He read every book and magazine on the subject that he could get his hands on. Mark’s Mom discovered and enrolled Mark in a summer day camp called the Charles River Creative Arts Program. In this remarkable program, kids got to learn about and get involved in all aspects of the arts, including film making and animation classes which Mark devoured.
When Mark graduated from High School, he was accepted into Emerson College, a school in Boston well regarded for it’s film and television degree programs. In his sophomore year at Emerson, Mark decided to take a theatrical make-up course just for fun. It was about this time that films like “The Howling” and “An American Werewolf in London” were introducing the movie-going public to a new term: Special Effects Make-up. Geniuses like Dick Smith, Rick Baker, Stan Winston, and more, were creating amazing characters on screen with rubber and paint. Between the course and those films, Mark rediscovered his love of creating characters with greasepaint. He also saw that Make-up Effects, which are done live on the set, provided more immediate gratification than the other effects disciplines like animation. This appealed to Mark’s somewhat impatient nature.
Getting my feet wet
Now fully determined to pursue Special Make-up Effects as a career, Mark looked for more opportunities to learn the craft. Through an ad in a magazine, Mark discovered “The Make-up Place”, a downtown Boston make-up supply store run by Dennis Curcio. Unlike traditional theatrical make-up stores, this store catered to the effects professional, selling foam rubber and other products necessary for creating latex prosthetics. Mark spent all of his free time at “The Make-up Place”. Eventually, Dennis gave Mark a break and brought him in as an “intern”. It was an amazing time.
The Big Move
After graduation, Mark decided to go for broke and move out to Los Angeles to become a Special Effects Make-up Artist. He packed all of his earthly belongings into his beat up Ford LTD and drove out to L.A.
Armed with a weak beginner’s portfolio, Mark had difficulty securing work at first. Moving out to the coast during a major Writer’s Strike didn’t help either. Eventually, after numerous rejections, Mark interviewed at a fledgling Effects Company called K.N.B. EFX Group. Founders Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger were all accomplished make-up artists working for other Companies when they decided it was time to strike out on their own. They were completing their very first shows at K.N.B. when Mark walked through their door. Sensing a passion for the art akin to their own, they looked past Mark’s inexperience and hired him on.
Over the next 18 plus years, Mark would have an amazing ride in the business. At K.N.B. and other shops, he worked his way up the ladder, learning every aspect of the Make-up Effects business. As he learned, his skill set grew. Eventually, Mark would come to be designing, sculpting, and painting all manner of characters for film and television.
As an offshoot of the Make-up Effects business, Mark became involved with the Halloween industry in 2001. Famed Halloween Mask Company, Don Post Studios, hired Mark as a freelance illustrator to design and prototype all kinds of masks, props, and décor. The relationship continued until September of 2012 when Don Post Studios closed their doors.
The end of an era and a new beginning
With the closing of Don Post Studios, and Make-up Effects slowly being replaced by Digital Effects, Mark was at a crossroads. He needed to figure out his next move. Mark had always dreamed of selling his own original artworks. So, he decided it was time to return to what he loved most, Drawing and Painting. Freshening up the resume and creating this portfolio website, Mark has rededicated himself to becoming the painter and illustrator he always thought he could be. He looks forward to seeing what challenges and opportunities this next phase of his career will bring.