As a child, Victoria Fox was captivated by the fictional creatures and extraterrestrial beings she saw on television and in movies, from Universal’s classic horror monsters, to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, to Alien’s Xenomorph, to the memorable residents of the Star Wars galaxy. Her appreciation for George Lucas’ beloved space opera intensified when she began attending Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World.
It’s no surprise then that Victoria eventually chased her passions into a career as a special effects makeup, scenic, and fabrication artist. As part of the team at Orlando business MAD Creative Fabrication, she builds sets, props, and projects for theme parks that help bring fantastical and fictional settings to life.
In high school, Victoria dabbled in special effects makeup, using basic Halloween kits as a starting point, and proved talented enough to launch her own series of makeup tutorials, Blue Sky Beauty, with Attractions Magazine, featuring vibrant and imaginative pop culture and park attraction-themed looks. Attending the Vocational Academy of Makeup and Prosthetics effects program ramped up both her makeup and fabrication skills.
Victoria’s love of special effects, sci-fi, fantasy, costume, and general building and creating can be seen in virtually every aspect of her life, from geek fashion and cosplay, to her hilarious Run Disney Star Wars-themed outfits, to her Etsy shop, Creature Cartel, where she sells geeky accessories.
Hopefully, it won’t be long before Walt Disney Imagineering and/or Lucasfilm realize how lucky they’d be to have her.
You’re a special effects makeup, scenic and fabrication artist who’s also a huge Star Wars fan. For those who aren’t familiar with the terms, what does a scenic and fabrication artist do?
I like to refer to what I do as “creative construction.” It’s building sets or props or whatever the job requires in a way that is both durable and convincing to an onlooker.
You work for Orlando fabrication business MAD Creative Fabrication. What does your job there entail?
It can be anything really, literally no two days are the same. We work on a lot of theme park stuff because of where we’re located but it can be other stuff too. It’s a lot of bouncing around from project to project, doing things such as painting, moldmaking, sculpting, carpentry, metalwork, and fiberglass. Painting is my best skill set, so I’m doing that a lot but I can hop on to other things as well. I’m also a project manager from time to time.
Fabrication seems to involve many different skills, like painting and sculpture, for instance. What are some of the tools, techniques, and equipment you use the most?
With painting, it’s typically very simple. I use a ton of chip brushes, sea sponges, detail brushes, and paint rags. Those things are so versatile, whether it’s painting brick or rust or even bamboo. HVLP spray guns are also something I use from time to time if I need something to be painted evenly.
If I’m sculpting, I use my hands for as long as I can, and then refine with specific sculpting tools and some not so specific ones like popsicle sticks or a dental tool. On a regular basis, I use a belt sander, miter saw, table saw, and pneumatic sanders.
Fabrication is a relatively recent professional endeavor for you. What sparked your interest in that field? What prompted you to choose it as your career?
The best examples of scenic fabrication are theme parks and I basically grew up at Walt Disney World, having lived in central Florida for most of my life. To be honest, I just kind of fell into it. I always had a massive appreciation for this kind of work growing up, but never really thought I could end up doing it. When I went to special effects makeup school, I gained so many skills that translated seamlessly into the scenic fabrication field. I applied for a job on a whim and the rest is history!
Are there many women working in this field?
From what I’ve seen, absolutely. When I started at my shop, there were more women than men. I’ve met so many incredible women working in this field.
For those who aren’t familiar with the job, what does a special effects makeup artist do?
Special effects makeup is using the tools at your disposal to make someone look very convincingly like something else. It can be as simple as giving someone a cut or a bruise for a fight scene with the stuff you already have in your makeup kit, or it can be spending months sculpting, molding, casting, and painting an appliance to make someone look like an alien.
How did you become interested in that art form?
Growing up, I’d watch all the old Universal monster movies with my grandmother. Exposure to those films, coupled with a love for E.T. and Star Wars at a young age, definitely pushed me into this field. When I found out that it was an actual job to make Boris Karloff look like Frankenstein, I couldn’t believe it.
What kind of background and training do you have?
I taught myself a lot once I got into high school. It was all pretty basic special effects kits from Halloween and such. Once I was out of high school, I really pushed myself to learn and practice more, and began doing paid gigs for people. Two years ago, I attended the Vocational Academy of Makeup and Prosthetics effects program and I learned so much. It was really life changing.
You do a series of extremely popular makeup tutorials with Attractions Magazine. How did that come about?
A friend of mine kind of connected me with the owner and we had a small meeting where I brought a few ideas I had sketched up. He loved it so I started production right away!
You’ve created makeup looks based on a broad spectrum of fandoms, including Jaws, Overwatch, Toy Story, Marvel, Star Wars, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Pokemon, Game of Thrones, and attractions like Tower of Terror, Captain EO, Spaceship Earth and the Haunted Mansion. Where do you find inspiration for the looks you create?
I think it’s really as simple as, “Wow, I love this thing, how can I make it beautiful?” Current events really inspire the looks I create, like a video’s theme tying in with a current show that’s popular or a movie anniversary. I love a good theme or a good reason behind doing a makeup look.
What kind of work goes into putting together a particular pop culture-themed makeup look?
Reference photos are everything, no matter what I’m doing. If I’m doing a more abstract look, I try to think about what people associate with what my subject matter is. For example, when I did a Guardians Mission Breakout look for the ride opening, I worked in the lip paint that the Collector wears. I like to work in subtle little details like that.
Basically, it seems like you have a talent for making and creating things. Were you a creative kid?
Yes, definitely, haha. My mom always said she would never know what she would be coming home to. I spent many hours hot gluing things together or painting/drawing.
You’ve said you have a “love of creatures and aliens.” Where do you think that love comes from?
It definitely comes from the media I was exposed to as a child. How can you not marvel at the beauty of a Xenomorph or the cuteness of an Ewok? I think it’s also in my blood a little. I owe a lot of my fandom loves to my mom, and she definitely loves her some aliens.
What are some of your favorite fictional creatures and aliens?
Creature from the Black Lagoon has been a very influential creature design for me. Xenomorphs are a definite top as well. The craftsmanship and the combination of both grace and horror is unparalleled in my opinion. I really enjoy all of the variations that have come from the Xenomorph as well.
The aliens in the new Star Trek movies are absolutely gorgeous, particularly the seashell alien at the very end of “Beyond.” Star Wars is an entire subcategory; the Mon Calamari, Rodians, the Acklay, the Nexu, Pa’lowicks, and Lady Proxima are just a few that I love.
It’s not really a surprise then that you are very into Star Wars. Tell me your Star Wars origin story. How did you discover the galaxy far, far away?
I honestly couldn’t tell you the first time I saw Star Wars, I was that young. My parents have been big Star Wars fans all my life. I do feel like my fandom had a sort of “awakening” when I started attending Star Wars Weekends when I was 5 or 6. That really impacted me and is where I would say my love for Star Wars really took off.
Why do you think the franchise has become such an important part of your life?
It’s a meshing of so many different reasons. I am so inspired by the creatures and design of Star Wars, it has greatly impacted my career choices in that respect. I think I really connect with Star Wars because at the root of it all it is about life. It tackles adventures, romance, heartbreak, friendships. Its lessons taught me a lot growing up. Additionally, some of the best people in my life have come from Star Wars.
You once crafted a pair of stunning Mon Calamari sculptures, which you dubbed “Bubbles” and “Amanda Ackbar.” Tell me more about the creation of those creatures.
Yes! So my Mon Calamari sculpt was my first time seriously sculpting ever. It was a project in special effects makeup school where we made a latex mask. That was when I created Amanda. Initially I was going to make a fully accurate Admiral Ackbar but at the last minute decided to be weird and call her Amanda and give her felt eyelashes.
Bubbles was actually a junk pull from that same mold that I painted on occasion just to get some practice in, but in time I really started to like her and so I really polished her up and gave her glossy eyes with some epoxy and made a base and cloak for her.
Did you get to exhibit them in a gallery show?
Bubbles was in my shop’s annual art show in downtown Orlando and I got to exhibit her again for the same gallery’s Halloween/Monster themed show!
Let’s talk more Star Wars …
You’re a fan of Rogue One. Why do you love that particular film so much?
I think aside from the fact that it is a stellar Star Wars film, it is just a stellar film in general. The work they did with the characters was phenomenal. They had so little time to introduce everyone and build those emotional connections but they did it all so flawlessly. The subtle and meaningful connections to other pieces of Star Wars enriched the story so well and I really enjoyed that it was from more of a war perspective.
It really made you realize that there are so many grey areas, not just strictly good and strictly evil. I also loved that it was a rebel based story. While I enjoy the Jedi, I have never connected with them as I have with the Rebellion. It was great to see a story that wasn’t so centered around the Jedi. My favorite thing is world building, and Rogue One went so hard in that department.
I have heard you’re pretty excited about upcoming TV series The Mandalorian. What appeals to you about that show?
It’s the exact story I’ve always wanted from Star Wars. What has fascinated me most in Star Wars has been the smugglers, bounty hunters, the more questionable sections of the galaxy. I love Mandalorians and I look forward to seeing what they do with all of all of this awesome source material to jump off from. I was able to be in one of the viewing rooms for the Mandalorian panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago and the scene and behind the scenes footage they showed us was incredible.
I understand you have a much-anticipated trip to Batuu (Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World) coming up. What are you looking forward to? How are you preparing?
I’m most looking forward to literally just walking around. I can’t wait to experience all of the sights and sounds. Oh, and also getting a Kowakian Monkey Lizard. That is going to be a dream come true.
I’m preparing by putting together a cool outfit! When I go, I want to look like I belong on Batuu so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I’d dress in the Star Wars universe. I landed on a jumpsuit, vest, and some cool accessories. I’ve been modifying and dirtying up the pieces I bought to make it as realistic as possible. I also participated in the datapad phone case trend and decked out an old phone case.
You and a friend were responsible for creating some amazing “Canto Bitches” buttons to hand out at Star Wars Celebration Chicago earlier this year. Tell me about the inspiration behind that and the experience of distributing them.
My best friend Brandi and I wanted to create our own girl gang so we came up with the name. I thought it’d be fun to make buttons to hand out at SWCC since I love how people hand out fun swag to one another. I came up with the concept and my boyfriend Justin and I collaborated on making the final design.
It was so fun handing them out. I had quite a few people seek me out to get them and I met a lot of cool people that way. We all had them on our lanyards throughout the convention so they were fun conversation starters.
You recently launched an Etsy shop, Creature Cartel, and your inaugural product is a “Japor Snippet,” modeled after the necklace Anakin gave to Padme. The necklace was another Star Wars Celebration creation, right?
Correct! I wanted to make something for some of my friends, some as birthday presents, some just because. It really came from Brandi because I remember when we were younger, she had a Japor Snippet silver necklace she’d wear all the time. I wanted to make her a realistic one.
What are your plans for the future of your Etsy shop?
I have quite a few accessory-type projects in the works right now. I’m hoping to have one out in the next few weeks. Additionally, Justin and I are collaborating on more buttons and pins that we’ll slowly be rolling out soon. We just released our Stranger Things button on the site.
You’ve also become known on social media for the awesome, creature-oriented outfits you put together to wear to Run Disney Star Wars events. You’ve patterned them after Sy Snootles, Yoda, and a Thala-Siren. What gave you the idea for your critter-inspired gear? What other looks do you have up your sleeve?
I think at this point it’s me challenging myself to find the most obscure/funny thing to make an outfit out of but still make it functional for running. I like the weirder stuff in Star Wars so it’s fun for me to pick things that are pretty out there. I just bought my races for next year and I’m already brainstorming. It’s looking like a possible overall “The Last Jedi” theme.
You’re a geek fashion aficionado and a cosplayer. What do you enjoy most about geek fashion and bounding?
It goes back to that “surround yourself with what makes you happy” mentality — it makes me happy to be wearing things that mean something to me. As I’ve said before, I love a good theme so I love planning outfits that will correspond with an event.
What favorite geek fashion items can be found in your closet?
I’m a big fan of cardigans, so my Spider-Gwen Cardigan from We Love Fine is definitely one of them. I’ve also got a really fun tropical button-up shirt with Blue from Jurassic World peppered throughout the pattern that I’m obsessed with.
My Her Universe Bespin Leia dress is my actual favorite thing I’ve ever owned. That’s my favorite Leia look and the quality of the piece is superb. Unsure if jewelry counts but I got a nice cuff bracelet modeled after the beacon Leia gives to Rey in The Last Jedi at Star Wars Celebration Chicago. I got my mom one too so it’s pretty special to me.
When and how did you begin cosplaying?
My first ever cosplay was my senior year of high school. I had bright red hair back then and made a Poison Ivy cosplay. It wasn’t any particular version, it was just my own version of her. I had started going to cons a little before that and had loved seeing all of the different cosplays. As someone who loves to create, I thought I’d try it out.
What are some of your favorite cosplays that you’ve created so far?
I think one of my all-time favorites was my Elizabeth from BioShock cosplay. Honorable mention goes to doing the new Ghostbusters with my good friend Courtney, Ramona Flowers, and the Miguel and Tulio El Dorado cosplay that I just did with my boyfriend.
What are some of your favorite fandoms aside from Star Wars?
Comics, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Ghostbusters, and Sailor Moon are probably my other top fandoms, but I have an appreciation for so many other fandoms that I’m more mildly involved with.
Walt Disney World has played a big role in your life and in shaping your career. I read that you used to do hair and makeup at the theme park and also worked in Adventureland. Tell me more about that.
Yes, absolutely. Adventureland is my favorite land and will always be my home! I used to work at the Pirates League and I was opening team for the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen. I also previously worked at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, located outside of Adventureland.
Both that and the Pirates League were transformative experiences where we would transform guests with the power of hair and makeup. I’m definitely more of a pirate and the League experience was far more makeup based, so that was really my favorite. It’s definitely the coolest job I’ve ever had.
You mentioned that the Star Wars Weekends that used to take place at Hollywood Studios had a big influence on your fandom. In what way?
I started going to Star Wars Weekends when I was very young, probably about 5 or 6, and went every year until it stopped. Being a kid and seeing and interacting with the characters that you watch at home all the time was a dream come true. It made the universe I loved so much very tangible and I think seeing such things up close really sparked a passion for the costumes and design of that universe. I also met a lot of cool people through SWW and had so many of my best childhood and family memories there. I still get a little sad every year when it’s around the time it would start.
I’m always thrilled to talk to a fellow fan of (the now defunct) Captain EO and the Haunted Mansion. What did/do you love about these attractions?
Ugh, yes! Captain EO is just so FUN. Seeing so many talented creative minds come together to make such a mini adventure was always a big part of the fun for me. When they brought Captain EO back to EPCOT, they added a behind the scenes featurette showing all of that, which was one of my favorite parts to watch. The music never fails to cheer me up. I was there for its last ever showing and boy was the mood both electric and sad.
As for the Haunted Mansion, I almost have no words, haha. Haunted Mansion is just one of those things for me that is really close to perfection. For them to think all of that up and to make it happen visually is breathtaking. I love all of the gags that go into it to really sell the happy haunts aesthetic. I love the spooky and scary, so it’s very easy to name it as one of my favorite attractions.
What are your hopes, plans, and dreams for your career as an artist?
I have several different paths that I think I’d be okay with. Making it to Imagineering has always been a dream of mine, but at the same time, making it to Lucasfilm is my biggest dream. I love the work I’m doing now, but I also hope to work more into the creature design field. It’s something I explore and learn about in my free time. No matter the outcome, I think as long as I’m creating I’d be happy.
What’s left to check off on your geek bucket list?
Wow, so much honestly. I have this big list that I keep adding to. Biggest things would be visiting Ireland and seeing Skellig Michael (where they filmed Ahch-to in The Last Jedi!), making it to San Diego Comic-Con one year, seeing all of the Hobbit sets in New Zealand, and taking my weird road trip across the U.S.
The weird road trip thing is going to be a long time in the making. I’m trying to go on a several week RV trip across the country, seeing all the weird sites like Area 51 (or as close as you can get), places where the Moth Man and Bigfoot were seen, etc.