Airbrushing at the Emmy's with Dinair: A Road Trippin' Recap
“You’re going to find me very honest,” said Dina Ousley, founder and president of Dinair. The Los Angeles-based airbrush makeup company has been around for 30 years, yet in September they nabbed their biggest client yet: the Emmy Awards.
“It only took them 30 years!” Dina said with a laugh.
Dina loves a challenge, and the challenge of the Emmy Awards was irresistible. In one hour, Dinair’s 16 makeup artists would occupy the back corner of the Los Angeles Convention Center and apply makeup to more than 100 people for the Governor’s Ball, the glitzy Hollywood party following the Emmy awards. Dina and the staff at Dinair exclusively invited BTC to get the scoop on the event and how it went down.
The official theme for the 2011 Governor’s Ball was “black and white with a touch of gold”—that gold, of course, referring to the iconic statuettes that would be passed out during the ceremony. There are two Governor’s Balls each year, one following the Creative Arts Emmy’s and one after the Primetime Emmy Awards, meaning Dina and her team performed their make-up marathon application not once, but twice.
Yet the theme was more than black and white—the Governor’s Ball would be styled to evoke the graphic, pop art-style of 1960’s mod. Dina said her company’s role in the process was to enhance “the atmosphere” of the night by extending the theme to the Governor’s Ball waitstaff, bartenders and performers with make-up. It was the first time the staff’s appearance would be incorporated into the theme, and it was the first time the Academy hired a make-up company for the night. In other words, this would be a ball to remember.
So how did they do it?
A Dinair air brush artist is never without three things: a small air compressor used for make-up application, makeup in assorted colors and stencils in a multitude of designs. In particular, it’s the stencil concept Dina pioneered for Dinair.
“The stencils are printed on a thin sheet of plastic, and the color is sprayed through it,” said Alyssa Brevick, Dinair’s press representative. “You’ll be surprised by how quickly it goes. They just spray, and they’re done.”
Stencils are available in just about every design and shape imaginable. Dinair artists can do an avant-garde look with leopard prints, strips and polka dots; they can airbursh symbols and images, like tribal symbols or even jewelry. Stencils are also used for more routine makeup application, like eyebrow touchups and eyeshadow designs.
The makeup is just as versatile: while commonly used for body art and makeup, it can also be used on hair for root touch-ups, avant-garde looks, spray tanning and tattoo coverage.
One of the reasons Dina suspects she was picked for the Emmy’s was of her stencil work featured in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. She did the mod body paint through stencils, and stencils would be the go-to item for the Governor’s Ball as well.
For the Governor’s Ball, the stencil design process was organic in nature.
“We really just took the stencils that we used all the time and started with those,” said Julie Tobias, one of Dinair's head instructors. “We took the stencils we use in our classes, which we also sell, and we took edges of those stencils and made designs.”
Yet that was just the beginning; after all, the Emmy's are a big client.
“Preparation for this has been about a month in organizing designs and having them approved by the Academy,” said Suzanne Jorgenson, Dinair's creative director. “We had meetings with some people from the Academy, they told us the theme, we went from their designs of the overall look and came up with some concepts.”
The Dinair team knew that to achieve their goal of more than 100 people in an hour, each design application could take no longer than three or four minutes each. With this in mind, they simplified the designs for ease. The final outcome is a series of mod patterns and prints, including spirals, radial lines, spots and more. Some looks would be subtle, just hints of black and white around the corner of one eye, while other looks would involve the entire face in stark black and white contrast.
The night before the Governor’s Ball, Alyssa flipped through her cell phone and showed us a few images. Dinair had been working with the Academy until the final hours before the Governor’s Ball to perfect every last detail.
“It’s all super secretive,” Alyssa said.
With the plans in place, it would only be a matter of time until the dash to the ball began.
The Governor’s Ball
Dinair’s space for preparation could only be found by traveling through a maze of black drapes. There they were: 16 Dinair staff members in bright pink T-shirts, surrounded by bright spotlights and chairs.
Suddenly, it began. The waitstaff were already dressed, and one by one they took the chairs and received their airbrushed looks. The humming of air compressors filled the air, as did the sound of shuffling feet as one “client’s” look was finished and another began.
An hour later, the chaos died down—Dinair achieved its goal. More than 100 people in an hour had received their makeup looks and were ready to take on the night.
"We had primed everyone, everyone knew what to do," Suzanne said when everything died down. "Once they started, it was just like 'boom.'"
While Dinair was a small piece of the puzzle that is the Governor's Ball, Suzanne and the entire Dinair team were fully aware of the impact the overall look would achieve.
"When you get inside and look at everything with all the people and all the things they have planned for tonight, it's like 'wow,'" Suzanne said.
Judging by the the countless attendees who asked the staff about their makeup looks, photographed them and ooh-ed and ahhh-ed from afar, "wow" is the right word indeed.
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