Client News: Screamfest makeup artist taking extreme scare to its limits

Client News: Screamfest makeup artist taking extreme scare to its limits

FCM is delighted to be offering PR support to the National Forest Adventure Farm this autumn, as they launch Screamfest 2018. As part of the campaign FCM has gone behind the scenes to showcase one of the creative team, Julie Tickle their makeup design artist, who creates the gruesome characters at the attraction.

Here is her story:

Julie Tickle, of family firm Funky Faces, started face painting as a hobby after giving up her career in sales to raise her daughter Paige. A chance career choice it left her a challenge which would push her creative flair to the limits as the South Derbyshire mum-of-one now designs and makes the intricate, gruesome characters for Screamfest, the fully immersive fright night attraction.

So, what makes the self-confessed ‘scaredy cat’ when it comes to horror swap kids’ parties with unicorns and princess paint to craft scar filled demons, gauged out monk eyes and zombies from the living dead?

“It really has to be the challenge of pushing my skills to the limit,” says the self-taught artist who runs her family business around her day job at a pharmaceutical company.

The 39-year-old, who splits her time between her office job and family face painting business, spends up to six months preparing for Staffordshire’s Screamfest each year.

Based at the National Forest Adventure Farm, in Tatenhill, the event runs for 15 nights through October and November and attracts around 18,000 visitors from across the country looking for the latest in extreme fear filled immersive scare.

With over 130 live actors, staff and extras each day in full costume it takes precise organisation to make the event run like clockwork.

“It isn’t something I ever thought I would do,” says Julie. “I started just doing kids face paint at the National Forest Adventure Farm 10 years ago and it has gradually got bigger and bigger each year.

“I found a real passion for scare artistry and each year we just like to push the boundaries and find innovative new ways to make the designs even more gruesome and shocking.”

Julie starts planning, testing and creating the looks for each of the five themed attractions in April to bring the designer’s concept to life.

Working from home it can sometimes throw up some unusual family situations.

“My family don’t flinch now when they come down in the morning for breakfast and see me in a full face of scare make up or hoovering as a zombie,” she said. “They have nerves of steel.”

“We have eyeballs and severed fingers on the kitchen table. It really is something that consumes our lives for that 6 months as I aim to get the perfect look.”

It isn’t just about the perfect look though. Each design needs to be durable and last through the night.

“I start by looking at the concept and then researching how we are going to make the actor look like their jaw has been dislocated, or their mouth is sewn up for example,” says Julie, who makes all of the latex prosthetics, masks and designs from her home in Newhall. 

“I also need to think about health and safety as well. If I need to make it look like the actor’s mouth is sewn up how do I make sure they can still breathe, that they can wear it for a long time.

“When we first launched the Demonica scare attraction, the characters had their eyes gauged out. If I am going to cover an actor’s eyes on a dark set you need to know they can see what they are doing.”

In the UK, scare attractions themselves are relatively new so through her work at Screamfest Julie has been at the forefront of crafting new and interesting looks which push extreme fright to the limits bringing horror to life.

“When we started 8 years ago there weren’t many people doing scare attractions it was a relatively new concept. So, I didn’t have many points of reference we had to work it all out.

“I have basically learnt along the way through trial and error and taken a lot of influence from American make-up artists who are very much established in the industry.”

In the early days this meant that Julie’s testing was even more crucial as she discovered red blood didn’t work with red lighting as it just ended up looking black. 

“There are so many things like lighting that affect the ultimate finish. We now use a lot of orange and brown blood on set as if the actors are working in rooms with red strobe lighting the red blood won’t show up.”

With designs each year from zombies, living dead, witches and clowns, Julie has just under 200 prosthetics to mould with the help of her husband James to create anything from boils and scars to deformed facial features, eye sockets, bullet holes and stitches. 



This level of work makes the night a hectic battle to get every actor ready in time. With actors including students from Burton and South Derbyshire College and South Staffordshire College there are around 130 people to get ready in just over an hour leaving Julie relying on some of her initial face painting training.

“As a face painter I am used to working under pressure and quickly,” she says. “When you have a line of kids all waiting and watching you, you learn to be efficient and get the best look in the quickest time.” 

It is these skills that she now uses to run workshops and teach students working at Screamfest to help in their own career development.

“It is great to pass on my knowledge and help others starting on their journey,” she said. “Some students come for work experience because they want to go in to theatre work, or be a make up artist or even face painter. The skills the event gives these students are immense and really help in their career progression as they can’t get that live experience anywhere else. I have had one student travel from Birmingham this year as she can’t get work experience in theatrical horror anywhere else.”

Now in its eighth year Screamfest has launched its 13th new attraction – Insomnia – this year and Julie is already looking at ways to push her talents as she starts to create full latex face masks.

“I can’t imagine not doing this now, it has become a part of me and my family’s life.”


To book tickets for Screamfest 2018 visit:



04 Oct 2018

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