Shaina Paulson, self-professed lover of all things dark, turned her creepy childhood fascinations into a dream career. This self-taught artist has a playbook all of her own, and that’s what makes her unstoppable. 


My name is Shaina Paulson, and I am a self-taught Special Effects Makeup Artist from Rockville, MD, a town right outside the land of suits and over-caffeinated politicians in Washington, DC. I was born in Tallahassee, a small town in Florida, which had its own humid, southern charm to it. However, it wasn’t too diverse and didn’t have much to do unless you went to the university there.

When I tell people I'm a makeup artist most people envision beauty makeup and not the gorey special effects side.

Growing up in Tallahassee, kids had no idea what I was. I was the only person that looked like me. After watching films about Native Americans in class, they began to say I was “Indian.” I even began to think I was. One day I asked my parents what tribe we were from, and they were like, “What are you talking about?” Funny thing: I really am Indian. Both of my parents are from India.

As a kid, I was shy, reserved and soft-spoken. But I enjoyed connecting with people. An introvert/extrovert, so to speak. I had very different fascinations. From a very early age I was always drawn to scary movies, horror, dark beauty, and the macabre—and absolutely obsessed with Halloween. My family always knew I was different.

I honestly think I was just born with a natural affinity toward dark things
dark movies, Halloween, horror, and mythical creatures. Halloween is a time of year you can be anything you want and nothing is out of the norm or too unrealistic. Creepy, dark, spooky costumes and things are embraced and celebrated. I was always fascinated with the sheer creativity to think beyond this world, create unique creatures and blur the lines between fantasy and reality.  

One Halloween, I decided to mask myself. I face and body painted myself into a half cyborg and did a skull mask on my best friend. Hours passed that felt like minutes, and that’s when I discovered what I wanted to focus my life on. I decided to start an Instagram account for my art and connect with the special effects, horror, art, and makeup communities. Pushing my comfort zone and putting myself out there on social media was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. It pushed me to show the world my art.

Whenever I hear a song I envision my own entire music video—from concept, to makeup and artistic visuals—everything to go along with the song. I envision these music videos months before, and when the opportunity aligns perfectly with the theme, I make my entire cinematic vision come to life. That’s what I did for my audition video for Season 11 Face Off.

I strongly feel when you get too comfortable, it is time to make a drastic change and challenge yourself.

I was scouted by the casting team for Face Off and invited to try out for Season 11 of the show! Although I did not make the final round of casting, I am extremely thankful to have made it past two rounds. And it ignited something within me. I moved to LA to pursue my passion.

Taking these moments of weakness or doubt and choosing to keep pushing and moving forward to never lose sight of your goal is the best advice I can give to anyone who has chosen the path less traveled. Venturing into the unknown can be scary at times, but if you never try then that path will always be exactly that: Unknown. I am generally one to never cry about things, especially happy cry. But every opportunity I receive related to my art, I hysterically ugly-cry from happiness.

My non-negotiable: Don’t let anyone treat you less than you deserve to be treated.

Believe it or not, I am very confrontational. Not in the aggressive, accusatory, or loud way that you may think, since I am a very quiet and calm person, but in the way that if there is something I am feeling or needing to be said, I absolutely HAVE to talk it out with the other person. It doesn't matter if I mess up. Avoiding confrontation drives me absolutely crazy.



The confidence, courage, and strength fueled by the constant, unwavering support and encouragement from friends, family, and my Instagram community.


Keep pushing forward no matter how crazy, far-fetched, or impossible your dream may seem at the time. No matter what anyone says, even you—try anyway. Failure is not merely a lack of succeeding. To me, failure is a lack of trying. You absolutely can make a career from your childhood fantasies.

Instagram @bloodxbones_makeup