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The Roy Lichtenstein “Oh Jeff…” Costume Tutorial

Most of the items needed for the costume can be found in your house thus making this an inexpensive project. The majority of the costume is makeup.

  • Plain tank top (or in this case, polka-­‐dotted top)
  • Any primary colored belt & bracelet, (funky earrings optional)
  • polka-­‐dotted shorts
  • old phone
  • yellow (not blonde!) wig
  • cardboard or cardstock
  • blue, white and black acrylic paint red-­‐brown face/body paint permanent marker
  • barrette white thread liquid eyeliner pink lipstick

1. Study it!

Really look at the work, deconstruct it and look at it for what it really is. The common mistake, and I unfortunately made this too (not by choice-­spilled paint on my only clean black tank top!) is that if it’s Comic/Pop Art than the whole thing has to be dots. Wrong! Looking at “Oh Jeff”, you will notice that the black tank top isn’t dotted, and neither is the hair, quite a few of the objects found in Lichtenstein’s works are flat and singularly colored.

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The Phone and “bubble” should be worked on in advance, as both of these items require an excessive amount of drying and painting time. Bubble requires white paint, paintbrush, white thread, permanent marker and a barrette.

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2. Prepare

For the bubble, you will cut out in either cardboard or cardstock the desired shape. Paint with 2-3 coats of white paint-­ allowing for dry time in between each coat. When completely dry, you may then write with permanent marker the message needed and completely outline the edges with the marker as well.

Next, the barrette is to be added. Place the barrette in the side of your hair where comfortable and hold the bubble on top, placing in the desired spot according to the original piece. While still holding the bubble, unsnap the barrette and remove together, attempting to hold the barrette against the bubble as you will need to permanently attach it in this spot.

Once removed, begin to attach the barrette to the back of the bubble with white thread, sew in a couple of areas with continuous loops. This will keep the barrette from sliding. DO NOT USE HOT GLUE. When the barrette flexes shut into the hair, it will remove itself from the bubble. With thread, this will allow the barrette to be opened and closed and will flex in unison with the bubble, not against it. White paint may be added on top of the thread to further blend it in.

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3. Practice

Practice is crucial; I learned that red lip liner does not work for the dots as it instantly rubbed off and cream (or stick) eyeliner is pretty much the equivalent of grease when trying to remove. I’m not lying when I say that I scrubbed my face three times with an exfoliating cleanser before all black lines where removed. For best results on the dots use face/body paint as it will adhere to your skin like normal paint but won’t come off as easy as makeup. Use the end of a paint brush, approximately 4mm in diameter or smaller and dip into the paint and apply to the face. Only liquid eyeliner should be used as it will stay on all night and come off in one exfoliating wash!

Set yourself up so that when you look in the mirror, you can see your image behind you. This is so that your face is now exactly in the same position as the work of art to be copied. So if in the mirror the face is turned to the right, you’ll turn your head to the right. Practice a couple of dots-­‐always go at a diagonal line, and practice your black lines. * If there is a line in the painting, then it needs to be on your face. Do not just outline your eyes, lips and jawline. There are little wrinkle lines on the nose, eyes and forehead that need to be added and the nostril must be lined as well! This is why step 1 is so important. Really study and pay attention to each little detail! It may be a pain but it’s going to allow you to really do your best on the day of the party and quickly assess any mistakes that might be made!

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4. Start getting ready!

Yellow wig is required with black acrylic paint.

The wig can be saved for the day of the party if there is adequate time available as it only takes roughly a little less than an hour, (it took me two-­ but that was through process of elimination) but keep in mind that Makeup can take up to 3 ½ hours.

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Start with the Yellow wig. I found mine a costume shop and only set me back $15. It was already the perfect shape and cut so no scissors were needed! Pin your hair up and place the wig on. Just as with the practice makeup, you will set your image up behind you in the mirror and look at which strands need to be black. With gloves on, pull a desired strand up and coat with black acrylic paint. Evenly coat until the section of hair is completely black. Carefully lay the strand back down into the desired spot and bobby pin if necessary. Repeat for each strand needed. When complete, you may leave the wig on while it dries or gently remove. To Speed up drying time, you may use a blow dryer on the cool setting.

Once the wig is completely dry, the strands will have become hard and plastic like. Comb each strand out as best possible. Some will remain hard but the idea is to make them more ‘hair-­ like’ again. After they have been combed you can bobby pin them back into place. This is to make sure the wig stays looking exactly how you want it.

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5. Makeup

It’s advisable to NOT wear the clothes you intend to wear later that night, but something comfortable and easy to change out of. Set yourself set up the same way as you would when you were practicing or with the wig and start with the face. First, apply a base cover-­up to face. If you’re like me and have tattoos, a thin layer can be applied, as this allows the dots to be seen better. Again, work in diagonal rows using the end of a 4mm wide paint brush. Do not try to work with the contours of your face, work against them and try to make it as flat as possible. If the dot runs onto your eyelid, so be it! Make sure that you work over top of your eyebrows, as they will be painted back on later.

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Dot the entire face and blow dry on the cool setting in between. Work in sections on the neck and continue to blow dry, this will speed up the process. Make sure that you have someone around that can help with the back of your neck and any other difficult to reach places. (Besides, they can bring you mojitos, blowdry, and even give you a break and take over dotting for a minute! )

Continue to work in sections ( remember to take your time! ) until the entire front area is complete.

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After all dots on the shoulders, neck and face are complete, start on the lines. Just like when you practiced, pay attention to every line and take your time!!! It is extremely important when working on the eyes and eyebrows to make the same face as the artwork and then draw them on. It may be difficult to hold, but will create the best results and the lines will match perfectly. Remember to add little wrinkle lines like the artwork and outline the nostril, jawline and the side of the face.  Before adding lines to the lips, apply pink lipstick. Lines are also to be added to the inside of the mouth. This will later come off when eating or drinking so make sure that you either drink through a straw all night or bring the eyeliner for touchups!

6. Put it all together!

Once the face work is done, you can start getting ready. Put all items on first and then the wig. Once the wig is on correctly, attach the bubble barrette in a comfortable spot as you would in your hair and check in the mirror against the original piece for placement.

Now, roll up your sleeves and start on dotting the arms and hands. You do not need to worry about the palms, or even how good of a job you do on the hands as you will end up washing your hands 2 hours into the night and it will all disappear. Lines can be added to the hands and the nails can be polka-­dotted for added effect.

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Then you’re done! I attached my phone to my belt for easy carrying all night and make sure you have your pose down! Know which angle is going to look the best in photographs-­ as you will be asked for them all night!

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Sarah’s advice for picking your costume 

Pick a work of art that is universal.

Even if no one knows the exact work itself, they will still recognize its qualities through popular culture-­‐ example, A few individuals didn’t know the exact artist and piece I was portraying, I received a lot of “ANDY WARHOL!!” and “ IT’S A COMIC!” but it still worked for them, because they understood it regardless of specified education or backgrounds. I’ve found over the last few years, the Halloween costumes that are most successful are the ones that A. included a lot of hard work, whether through the thought process or the crafting itself and B. evoke a sense of Nostalgia.

  • linz.rasmussen

    Great look! I am attempting it myself for Halloween this year but am wondering…the paint you used – was it a true red or red brown cause the photos make it look reddish brown. You did an amazing job and I can only hope to do so well.

  • Pingback: DIY Halloween Costumes | Powdered Wig Couture

  • Stuart Herrington

    Very cool :)

  • Daphne-Diamond.tumblr.com

    Cool!!

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