Tucked away somewhere in the city of Brisbane is a store called Barnes (a moulding, casting, sculpting haven for prosthetic artists), and behind the counter you will almost always be greeted by the delightful charms and guiding hand of Kym Sainsbury. She is a seasoned artist whose loving nature and willlingness to share knowledge keeps aspiring artists constantly coming back for more.
Kym has made a fulfilling career for herself over the past 20+ years, delving into every aspect from makeup to hair, wigs, special effects and most prominently, prosthetics. She is known for her work on all three Lord of the Rings films and others such as Peter Pan, House of Wax and Daybreakers. Most recently, she worked as a daily artist for both Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Kong: Skull Island. Now pursuing her new business endeavour, Bent Brush by KS (her own custom designed prosthetic glue/powder brush), it seems she’s not ready to stop anytime soon. Today we’re chatting about some of her past experiences.
What inspired you to pursue a career in film makeup?
Rushing home from school to watch ‘Lost in Space’ and thinking I want to do those makeups one day.
How did you get started and get your foot in the door?
In 1989, I trained in London at Complections International and in the mid 1990’s I also completed the Dick Smith Advanced Course. I still have all the manuals from his course. What a Man, Mentor, Artist and Legend! I worked in the UK for a while on a few shows before coming back to Australia to work on productions here. I have been very fortunate to work consistently my entire life. Having skills in Special Effects Makeup, Beauty Makeup, Lab work, Hair and Wigs has been the reason for my longevity in the film industry.
What’s your holy grail product you have to have in your kit?
I discovered Origins Zero Oil Matte Finish in the early 90s by chance at Macy’s and it’s still in my kit every production. I do love and have everything, and can’t get enough! I’m a typical Makeup Artist!
Tell us about your experience working on Lord of the Rings?
The Lord of the Ring trilogy was the best experience and learning curve for me. I was so happy to be involved with these films and for the films to then win 17 out of 30 Oscar nominations collectively. It is a reason to smile and be proud. The time I was there was the foundation for many friendships with technicians and actors that I still have today. It seems like only yesterday.
Tell us the most rewarding moment of your career so far?
The friendships I have made and the cool people I get to hang out with. Artists are the best medicine and everyone else is just boring haha! I thrive in the Arts, and it is what makes me HAPPY!
What is your advice for artists entering the film industry?
It gets said a lot but because it’s true, the answer is PASSION. Without it you will never succeed. The rest comes easy when you love what you do. I encourage and help where I can with advice, and am always happy to talk through projects or techniques with anyone. If I know the answer I will tell you. Share knowledge. Life is good, so enjoy the chance you have to make movies!
Kym is the Australian oracle. She possesses such a vast knowledge of products, people and techniques. When I’m in a blind panic, Kymmie can always offer a solution that will work and is tried and tested. Look to the oracle. – Chad Atkinson, Emmy Winning FX Artist