Exclusive: We Chat With 'American Horror Story' Makeup Artist Christien Tinsley


American Horror Story is one of the most intriguing shows on television. Christien Tinsley is a big part of that. He is one of the top FX makeup artists working in the industry today, and he is responsible for some of the most ghastly prosthetics AHS has to offer. Tinsley and crew are back for American Horror Story: Asylum (aka season two) and, as you would expect, he can’t say a thing about what he is working on. So instead, we had to stick with the basics.

What are your favorite kinds of makeups to do?

I love creating realistic character makeups, changing the shape of someone’s nose or their entire face. But making it real is very difficult but also very rewarding when it works out. Monsters can sometimes be very easy because they don't rely on any reality. The challenge is making something supernatural feel as though it is real. Not just tangible, but possible.

What are some of the most difficult makeups you have done? What are you most proud of?

The Scourging scene in The Passion of the Christ answers both of those questions. Most recently I am very proud of the makeup we did on Josh Brolin in Men in Black 3.

How did you tackle the American Horror Story FX? How much artistic freedom do you have?

American Horror Story is such a fun project. I really enjoy reading each script and seeing all of the characters that we get to create. I always work very closely with [creator] Ryan Murphy to achieve his vision. Fortunately, I am given a great deal of latitude and am able to play with the ideas we get based on the script and Ryan’s notes. There are always several design passes for each character until we lock in a look that resonates with Ryan’s vision.

What was your favorite AHS makeup?

I can't talk about what we are doing for Season 2 so I would have to say Infantata... for season one any way.

What are you working on for AHS season 2?

I can't give away any details but I can tell you that there is a lot of cool, creepy stuff coming this season! Surprises all around.