Meet Issa Al Namani, the King of Horror Makeup

Makeup in cinema is key to creating the mood and the feel, in reinforcing the genre, in making a character more loved or more hated. And in Oman, one man knows just how important makeup can really be – 24-year-old Muscat-born Issa Al Namani, one of the most sought-after cinematic makeup artists around.

Al Namani, who also works as an art director and graphic artist, has spent his entire career mastering cinematic makeup artistry in every way, working on different aspects such as makeup for beauty and glamor, as well as special effect makeup and makeup for horror films.

After graduating high school, Al Namani went on to study mechanical engineering, and that is where his journey towards becoming an expert in cinematic makeup began. While in college, he was exposed to art, to theatre performances, to students working hard on their projects and canvases.

As his curiosity grew, he decided to sign up for an art class, where he then learned how to paint and draw. During this period, he also spent a lot of time online watching tutorials, and he joined his classmates often for drawing sessions on location. He then started working with regional artists in order to refine his painting skills.

Still enrolled as an engineering student, Al Namani began realizing that he wanted to make the switch and really focus on something more art centric. He just had to now find the type of art he was truly passionate about.

And then that day finally arrived. While watching videos online, he came across a film of a person with a torn limb. As he watched it, he realized it was in fact just gory makeup; the skin, the blood, it was all, in fact, makeup. That was when he knew – cinema makeup, especially horror as a genre, was his true calling. 

Al Namani approached several local filmmakers, partnering up with them to create stories and characters with cinematic makeup in mind, establishing himself as a professional cinematic makeup artist, something which was lacking at the time in Oman.

Today, Al Namani gives workshops and is planning to host more in the future. He has also been involved in many successful projects and endeavors, including Oman Tahki for Oman TV, a contest in Saudi Arabia in which he won first place, another in Oman in which was named winner, and yet another in Dubai in which he came in third.

Speaking to Times of Oman, Al Namani explained that one of his main sources of inspiration for his work comes from real surgery videos. He studies these videos to better understand the human body and to create believable results with his work.

Aside from working on sets to create memorable characters, Al Namani has recently launched Pixels, a media production company that provides makeup, production, graphics, 3D, and several other media-related services. His next goal is to establish an academy for cinematic art and makeup, to inspire others in a region where cinematic-centric art is still finding its footing.

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