Dawnielle Banks, also known as Siryn, is a make-up blogger for the comic book geeks. She posts step-by-step video tutorials on YouTube and gives a rundown of all the products she uses to create stunning looks on her blog, Makeup by Siryn. The difference between Banks and so many other make-up artists, though, is that a lot of her looks are inspired by comic books.
Banks has been experimenting with make-up since she was 16, but her love of comics pre-dates that. She flipped for the books in the summer of 1993, right after graduating from elementary school. Twelve-year-old Banks had walked into a liquor store and spotted Jean Grey, who she recognized from the X-Men cartoon series, on the cover of a comic. Grey was battling another female character on that front page. “At the time, I didn’t know who she was, but now, I know that it was her daughter from the future alternate timeline, which is Rachel Grey,” she recalls.
Banks had stumbled upon a new obsession. She started buying up comic book multi-packs at Toys”R”Us. By the time she hit her late teens, she was working in a large comic book shop near Disneyland, where she learned to appraise issues, and heading down to San Diego for Comic-Con. Now, she has a collection of comics that numbers in the “thousands.”
It’s Banks’ passion and deep knowledge for comics – X-Men is still her favorite – that makes her work with eyeshadows and brushes so intriguing. She’s not showing people how to look like superheroes and villains. She’s developing palettes and creating looks that are inspired by the costumes and personalities that come to life on comic book pages.
For Mystique, Banks focused on eyes and lips. “She’s kind of an elusive character because she can turn into anyone and blend in,” she says. “If she doesn’t want you to find her, you won’t find her.” To capture the essence of the character, Banks went for “sultry and smoky” eyes in white and blue, to match Mystique’s skin color and costume. She used red lipstick to reference the character’s red hair. For Pixie, she used pinks and yellows with a touch of glitter. “I try to ask, ‘Would the character wear this? Could I see the character wearing this?’” she says. She even did a three-part series dedicated to the various appearances of Phoenix. A look based on the character’s green and gold costume remains a favorite of Banks. Her attention to detail is incredible. In the blog post for the Phoenix look, she writes that she applied the eyeshadow to “show the restraint Phoenix had before she went Dark Phoenix and lost control.”
Banks didn’t start out as a make-up artist. She just happened to be really good with brushes and colors. Friends asked her for tips and suggested she should start blogging about make-up. “I started it for myself as a reference to see what I could do, to challenge myself, and to also help out my friends and the geek girls who needed some representation in the make-up world,” she says. Soon she built up an audience. About a year after she began blogging, Banks started working in the field. She still has a full-time day job in an unrelated area, but is a freelance make-up artist on the side. “I do want to do make-up full time eventually,” she says. “One day.”
What Banks does isn’t cosplay. “I don’t think most of the stuff that I’ve done would look good with cosplay because it’s too arty,” she says. For a cosplayer, “I would do something different, make them look more like the character.”
She also notes that some of the looks she creates aren’t meant to last an entire day inside a convention hall. “A lot of the stuff that I design is not going to last on you more than an hour max without getting messed up or smudged,” she says. Banks’ make-up has a different purpose. ” I kind of look at some of them as a moment in time as a piece of art,” she says. “This is my art work.”
Banks is keen to share her knowledge with others. Last fall, she appeared on a panel at Stan Lee’s Comikaze to talk make-up. While we were chatting, she offered her advice for people looking to improve their own skills. “The first thing I would say is look at the tools you’re using,” she says. “You want to work with different types of brushes for different techniques.” She adds that, depending on the project, she could use between four and seven different brushes to help achieve different effects.
“The second thing I would tell them is to practice,” she says. “Practice, practice, practice and get good tools.”
Images: Dawnielle Banks/Makeup by Siryn