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Beauties and Beasts

St. Clairsville Native Is Makeup Artist to the Stars

December 29, 2013
By JOSELYN KING Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

ST. CLAIRSVILLE - St. Clairsville native Jeff Swan puts makeup on celebrity faces most everyday, and he says "after a while they all start to blend together."

Swan has worked as a makeup artist in Los Angeles since 1996, starting his career in the early 1990s in North Carolina on the sets of "Hellraiser III" and "Children of the Corn II." Since 2007, he has been a contracted makeup artist for Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.

"It's fun," he said. "Coming from a small town and what I've accomplished, I feel good about it. I have a lot of good memories, and I'm still going. ... I'm very happy. I've done a lot and I've seen a lot."

Article Photos

Hollywood makeup artist Jeff Swan applies makeup to an actor portraying a troll.

Swan has worked with a number of well-known entertainers and athletes. He speaks well of actor Rob Lowe, and terms rapper-turned-actor L.L. Cool J "a class act." He also described actor Clint Eastwood as "the nicest guy I've ever met."

Swan, though, said he was especially disappointed about missing out on one job opportunity.

A friend had recommended him to be the make-up artist for then President Bill Clinton when Clinton came to Los Angeles, but Swan said he had to decline when he contracted the flu.

And Swan said he was nervous on one occasion when he was called upon to do the makeup for actor William Shatner, best known as Captain Kirk in the "Star Trek" television series and movies. Shatner's representatives had given him a list of "do's and don'ts" for working with Shatner, which included not speaking with him.

In the end, he said he had a positive experience with Shatner by just doing his job professionally.

"I mean, I grew up watching him, and I thought, here I am working on him," Swan said. "But what I found is he is a business guy. He likes to get in, get out and leave. He does things in one or two takes. He expects people should know what they are doing."

He explained the key to working in Hollywood is being respectful and professional with others.

"Just like in any profession, it often comes down to who you know (as to whether or not you get a job)," Swan said. "But in Hollywood, if you have a good personality, work well with others and are good at what you do, you are going to work."

Swan's career in the entertainment business began in 1991 shortly after his graduation from Ohio University in Athens with a degree in communications and a minor in theater. He and some friends took a road trip to High Point, N.C., where he heard rumors a British crew was about to set up to do the filming for "Hellraiser III" and "Children of the Corn II" simultaneously.

Swan returned a few weeks later, and was able to convince producers to hire him on the set as an assistant to the makeup artist and as a background actor. He started out working for free, but eventually earned a paying job with the crew. He worked on numerous productions in North Carolina before moving on to Los Angeles in 1996.

Swan is skilled in both theatrical and beauty makeup application.

He learned theatrical makeup techniques at one of the country's few schools offering the education, the Joe Blasco School of Makeup in Orlando, Fla.

From there, Swan discovered additional knowledge about beauty makeup application would make him more employable.

He worked six years at a cosmetic counter in the Los Angeles area, specializing in Bobbi Brown and Stila cosmetics.

Swan said his father, John Swan - owner of Swan's Sport Shop in downtown St. Clairsville - was supportive of his efforts to leave the area to pursue his dreams and opportunities.

"He wanted me to work in the business, but I fought it for years," Swan said of his father. "He has helped me. When times got tough, he was behind me. He knew I was one of the few out of our family who has tried to pursue this tough industry.

"I wanted to do what I had to do .... If you have a passion for it, go for it. Don't let anything hold you back."

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