More than a year ago, Rachel Roll started taking her makeup artistry to another level by creating 31 exotic looks, one for every day of October. The Halloween season was the perfect challenge.
Roll had a new Instagram account for her freelance makeup business, Raydiate by Raychel, and posted each look there. A friend suggested she continue with 12 looks for Christmas. The self-taught makeup artist and face and body painter saw her side gig soar on social media, giving her the confidence to continue.
“And that is what led me into today. It just never stopped,” said Roll, a 2012 graduate of West Valley High School with 14,500-plus Instagram followers. A few hundred more join every week for a peek at her latest eye-popping designs on human skin.
She models monsters and evil clowns, superheroes and robots, whiskers and stitches and stars. Her body is devoured by a shark, deconstructed, divided into puzzle pieces. Eyes disappear and teeth lengthen. Gender shifts.
Roll usually works alone in her Sammamish apartment. On Saturday, she will complete her first face painting in public in a special event from 3-5 p.m. at the Union Gap Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch at 3213 Tacoma St. in Union Gap. It’s open to the public, but because it’s taking place inside the property, admission is $10 for ages 3 and older.
“I’m going to be recreating one of my favorite looks, a look that freaks a lot of people out: a spider over my eye that looks very greedy and a spider over my mouth,” she said. “I’m really excited to be doing that live because it’s one of my favorite looks.”
Logan Gress, who works at the corn maze, has seen work like Roll’s before because she likes intricate special effects makeup. She’s still impressed.
“I think it’s amazing how talented she is. I do think it’s really cool,” she said. “We’ve had a face painter here who would do kids’ face painting, (but this is) our first live (face painter) of such detail.”
Roll will also lead a seminar for West Valley High School art students this week. She looks forward to encouraging them and others interested in her craft.
“There’s so many questions when you’re starting. I try to be that person for other people who are interested,” she said. “Many of us learn the hard way when we’re artists. ... I’m very much open to anyone who wants to ask questions.”
A hearing aid specialist for Costco in Redmond, Roll works nearly as many hours every week as a freelance makeup artist and face and body painter. She’s also a part-time volunteer cheer coach.
“You make time for what you love,” she said.
That includes returning to Yakima every few months to see her parents, Jeff and Patti Roll, and other family members. Roll attended Western Washington University in Bellingham and settled on the west side for good after graduation. She started working in retail makeup, and had managed a cosmetics counter at Nordstrom in Tacoma before leaving for her current job.
“It wasn’t what I thought it would be. It wasn’t about the artistry,” Roll said. “I did love makeup. I just didn’t love doing it full time, or retail makeup.”
She created her professional Instagram account in the summer of 2018 to highlight her bridal and other makeup work, taking tentative steps into the world of face and body painting soon after.
“I was scared to try this because people would judge me,” Roll said. “I had to break a really big hurdle — stop caring about what other people were going to think of me. We always care about what other people think.
“I’ve grown a lot as a person just from doing what I do. You do have to get over that hurdle.”
Like other artists, Roll occasionally holds back on creating something because she worries that it won’t turn out well. For example, she had an idea for a face with half Little Red Riding Hood, half wolf; it took six months to make it happen.
“I’m really proud of that one,” she said. “You’re always your own worst critic.”
Success emboldened her to do even more. Roll created 18 superheroes and supervillains, a time-consuming project she had considered for a while. Each one took her several hours.
“Some of the smaller looks, like anything that is an optical illusion — where it looks like my face is a mask with laces through it — those looks are not as time-consuming. Those looks probably take me two to three hours,” Roll said.
“The large looks, like the shark eating my body, or any of the superheroes that are full head, neck, chest, arms, those take anywhere from six to eight hours. And that is just the makeup and taking the photos and washing it off,” she added. Editing the photos takes more time.
It doesn’t feel like it takes that long, though, because Roll enjoys the entire process so much.
“I love it. I love the outcome. I love inspiring people. The only thing I can equate this to — it’s almost like a form of therapy,” she said. “The way people feel when they love going to the gym. Whatever their hobby, that is their time to recharge. That is makeup and painting for me. That is a huge reason why I do give so much time to and make time for it.”
Her work has unsurprisingly piqued the interest of modeling agencies and movie producers.
Atlanta-based North George Media invited her to compete in the second season of its online Makeup Wars contest this year. Professional and amateur makeup artists had to complete their look in one hour. They videotaped their sessions; finalists were uploaded to YouTube. Contestants also shot a short video explaining their technique, products and inspiration.
Spiderman Lizard Tutorial - Makeup Wars Season 2
Roll was happy to come in second in the first contest she entered. She received a cash prize and plenty of exposure online.
“That was the first time I had tried to do anything in an hour. It went great,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect. That was the first time I had filmed myself from start to finish doing a makeup look.”
She has entered other contests since, one held by Skydance Productions, which has produced numerous movies, including “Terminator: Dark Fate,” set to release Nov. 1. A representative messaged Roll about the competition to create a look. She chose a Terminator.
“I have to do that, make myself into a robot,” Roll said, laughing. “I didn’t place in that one, but there was a much larger contestant pool than most of the competitions I’ve entered.”
A year into her creative journey, Roll still isn’t sure where it will take her. She appreciates the support of her hometown and is always happy to encourage others.
“I just want people to follow what they’re passionate about,” she said.