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Talking Ink and Clay with S3 'Face Off' Finalist Derek Garcia

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Talking Ink and Clay with S3 'Face Off' Finalist Derek Garcia

'Face Off' Season 3 finalist Derek Garcia with his designs for the 'Immortal Enemies' Finale challenge (Episode 311). Garcia consistently used his skills as a tattoo artist in his creations all season.

Photo by: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

Every season of Syfy's "Face Off" ramps up the challenges a little bit more, as its makeup design contestants are presented with elaborate challenges in makeup FX, including such tasks (on nearly impossible deadlines, this being reality TV) as drawing, sculpting, creating and applying complex molds and prosthetics, as well as face and full body paints, and more. With each episode featuring a winner and loser chosen by a formidably experienced judging panel, the show consistently pushes participants to incredible achievements in character design, and the results have ranged from charming and funny, to terrifying, to exquisitely beautiful.

With the arrival of the New Year, even as "Face Off" kicks off Season 4, I got the chance recently to interview some of Season 3's finalists, from Laura Tyler on her exquisite, carefully crafted creations, to fellow finalist Derek Garcia. Like Season 2 winner Rayce Bird, Garcia used his talents as a tattoo artist to bring an additional sensibility to his FX makeup creations, and he took the time to answer my questions and talk to me a bit more about his experiences.

Derek Garcia Interview

Angela Mitchell: Derek, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me about your experiences in Season 3 on "Face Off!" You did such beautiful work, and always brought a classical and creative twist to your work.

It was really cool to be able to see you compete alongside your brother Eric this past season (Season 3) of "Face Off." What was the best (and worst) part about competing as brothers?

Derek Garcia: Yeah, I was really excited when I found out my brother was going to be competing on the show with me. The only worst part of competing with my brother was when he was on the chopping block to be sent home. The day I won the 'Chinese Zodiac Dragon' challenge was also the day he got sent home, so it was a bittersweet win.

Angela Mitchell: Yeah, that had to be tough.

Derek Garcia: The best part of competing with my brother was getting to pick and work with him on my final challenge. We have always wanted to do a big project together but we never had the time or money to do it.

Angela Mitchell: Which had to be pretty incredible to be able to experience together. It still meant you both got to experience being in the finale together, too.

How did your work as a tattoo artist influence or change your approaches to your work on the season's challenges? Rayce Bird talked about how much he drew upon those skills in his season as well.

Derek Garcia: I think being a tattoo artist helped me a lot in this competition. As a tattoo artist, I'm drawing all the time, and most of the time I have to come up with a drawing for the client right on the spot.

Here, we only got 30 minutes to come up with the concept art for each challenge, so having to come up with drawings and designs fast for tattoos, I think, helped me come up with well thought-out concept drawing for each of my challenges.

Also, being a tattoo artist has influenced a lot of my makeups. Coming into this competition, I really wanted to bring a tattoo style to my sculpts and I think my Chinese Zodiac Dragon showed a lot of the Japanese tattoo style that I love.

Angela Mitchell: The judges really noticed and loved those details in your Chinese Zodiac Dragon too. Was that one your favorite accomplishment? I thought those classical design touches and curlicues were so gorgeous and stunning on that one. The more you look at it, the more there is to appreciate.

Derek Garcia: Thank you! Yes, the Chinese Zodiac Dragon was definitely my favorite accomplishment.

Angela Mitchell: The judges can be so tough, yet there was a lot of lightness and fun from them in Season 3 as well. What was your favorite judging feedback of the season?

Derek Garcia: Yes, the judges were tough, but I feel they were hard on us because they cared, and that showed a lot with Neville Page. My favorite feedback was from Neville, and took place on the live finale. He said that I was a great designer.

Angela Mitchell: Which had to feel great - it's high praise coming from Neville, and we really saw that the judges didn't give that kind of feedback lightly.

Derek Garcia: Yeah, that compliment coming from him felt especially good because he's a concept creature designer, and that's what I want to do in the future as my career grows.

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