Up Close: The Continued Evolution of Michael Harvey, MakeUp Artist

Michael Harvey, Makeup Department Head, Law and Order: SVU
Michael Harvey, Makeup Department Head, Law and Order: SVU
Michael Harvey is currently the makeup department head for Law and Order SVU; and, has been with the show since 2011. He oversees the look of the show's characters; and, designs and executes all of the special makeup effects. He manages a pretty robust makeup team from the Local 798, as well as, the application and  managing the makeup needs for principal talents on Law and Order SVU: Ice T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino, and Jamie Gray Hyder, to name a few.Michael's work can range from a stellar beauty look, men's grooming, to a gruesome bloody dead corpse all in the same scene. His work has been featured in: Isn't It Romantic (2019), The Tick (2017), Bloodrunners (2017), Sneaky Pete (2017), Marvel projects, and Men In Black 3 (2012).His career in makeup started back in 1996 in Florida, where he assisted the department head on a television show with special effects makeup applications. From there, he found himself in [the] New York City/Philadelphia area at a time, with little to no work in his craft as a special effects makeup artist. He had to expand his scope of artistry to beauty makeup, as well. His knowledge of both beauty makeup and special effects made him a more valuable resource to many productions. With a new skill set, he found work in the feature film industry in NYC area quite quickly. Bouncing from one feature film to another, and finally landing a full-time position at Law and Order SVU.

DT: How long have you been in your chosen profession? What was the turning point for you to call it a career?

MH: First professional job was 1996, working in the back lot of Universal Studios Florida. I banged on the door of the makeup trailer and demanded a job from Lou Lazzara, makeup department head for Seaquest D.S.V. I basically did a free internship in the fx makeup dept for two months, after my full-time day gig. Taking that leap of faith changed my life.  Lou ended up hiring and putting me on payroll.

DT: In a business where "new products" and knowledge is key, share some of your favorite fx products?

MH: I think alcohol-based paint (changed the game), easily mixed silicone, and Prosaide 3-D transfers changed our industry. I love the "flesh realism" you can achieve with all these products.

DT: How important is beauty and fashion trends for you?

MH: In regard to beauty in our industry (film and television), we are kept to a certain aesthetic for each character and or show. Many projects have to be very realistic (as far as makeup). I have to play within the guidelines of the show or network. So, being updated on new colors and skincare is paramount, as long as it plays into the character guidelines.

DT: It's the beginning of a new decade, what intentions have you set forth this season/decade?

MH: My intention, for this decade, is to better myself and try something I haven't done. Continue to strive to be better – improve, educate, [and] push myself to go outside of my comfort zone.

All these actions (taken above) will also inspire and push me tackle new projects; my 10-year goal is to be more advanced than I am today (or tomorrow). So, researching products, [finding] new talent, [observing] others work, and [being] in tune with what's next. You can always learn, share, and promote one another as artists.

DT: What great lesson would you share with younger artists?

MH: Don't be afraid to make mistakes and don't be afraid to admit when you don't know something. Accepting your failures and overcoming them!

DT: What is your passion and purpose?

MH: My passion is to be creative; if I'm not creative, a part of my soul dies a little bit. It's important to always challenge myself on set, or even doing a project at home.

DT: Finish this sentence, "the shift I would like to see in the world is…"

MH: "I would like to see patience and compassion towards other human beings.Name: Michael Harvey

Job Title: Makeup Department Head, Law and Order SVU

Instagram: @mikemakeup

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