MUD NY Faculty Bios
Whether you’re interested in make-up artistry for film, television, theatre, retail, bridal, fashion or print, our accomplished NY faculty draw on years of experience in the business.
Alan Cutler started his career in Miami 26 years ago working on films, music videos, and photo shoots while teaching his craft to aspiring make-up artists. Since his move to New York in 1989, he has worked with numerous celebrities including former Beatles band members, disco divas, pop stars, and acclaimed actresses. Mr. Cutler has worked with celebrity photographers Annie Leibovitz, Arthur Elgort, Andrew Eccles, Walter Chin, and Mathew Jordan Smith. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, InStyle, McCalls, Ladies Home Journal, and Good Housekeeping, as well as on movie posters and assorted CD covers. Mr. Cutler is looked to as a resource by the make-up artist community; he has been quoted on Sephora.com and in Allure magazine and has been featured in Make-Up Artist Magazine. His film experience includes The Producers, Revolutionary Road, Perfect Christmas, and The Telephone; his television credits include Project Runway, The CDFA Fashion Awards, VH-1 Fashion Awards, The Sopranos, Fringe, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Homicide: S.V.U., Saturday Night Live, Sports Illustrated Bikini Issue, and Clash of the Choirs. He has received four Emmy® nominations and has been the key make-up artist on ABC soap operas and on The View, for which he won his first national make-up Emmy®. Mr. Cutler has appeared as a make-up expert on camera and has worked on over 400 commercials. He has designed and taught curricula for international cosmetic lines and has been the style director for ABC News, training new and established hires in updated techniques. Mr. Cutler is a member of IATSE Local 798 and a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Dan’s love for special effects makeup began at the age of 13, riding his bike across town every Friday after school to be inspired by the outlandishly illustrated VHS box covers on display in the horror section of the local video store and more importantly the treasures held within. From that point on most weekends consisted of producing shot-on-video monster movies around in his New Jersey hometown. Having graduated high school Dan completed The Tom Savini Makeup FX program in Pittsburgh and landed his first job with a life-casting art company in NJ. After a few independent film gigs he was given the opportunity to produce and create the make up for a stage play of the horror classic Nosferatu. Following this he moved to Los Angeles pursuing a job opportunity that led to a healthy career in the special effects industry across a broad spectrum of skill sets including prop and specialty costume fabrication, lab technician, sculpture and painting. He has worked on such projects as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the “Avengers” films as well as multiple television shows such as “Swamp Thing,” “Titans,” and “Doom Patrol.” In 2019, Dan moved back to New Jersey and intends to pay-forward his knowledge and experience as an instructor at MUD NY. Mr. Diana is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Anthony Giordano is a New Jersey native who received a degree in Industrial Design in 1997 and is a member of The Make-Up Artists and Hairstylists Union Local 798, IATSE. He has worked as special effects fabricator and international make-up artist for the over 20 years. Some of Mr. Giordano’s movie credits include The Last Samarai, Spiderman 2, and Scooby Doo Part 2. In addition to make-up artistry, Mr. Giordano has worked for Disney as a set and costume fabricator and has created training suits for NASA. He expanded his career further at Saturday Night Live for six seasons, where he was a special effects artist and prop fabricator. He also worked on Broadway productions such as Young Frankenstein, Tarzan and Shrek the Musical. His music industry credits include Madonna, Metallica, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Johnny Cash, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and Korn. Mr. Giordano is also an organizer of the International Makeup Trade Show (IMATS). For the past five years, he has run and operated one of the top haunted attractions on the East Coast, State Scare. Mr. Giordano is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f) and has recently worked on FOX Network’s Prodigal Son.
Catrina is a New York City based Make-up Artist. Her passion for make-up stemmed from her love for Halloween. She always loved using make-up as a way to transform and express herself and her creativity. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Catrina decided to change career paths and enter into the art of make-up. She began her career in the Halloween industry working for a haunted house. She went on to attend Make-up Designory’s New York campus; completed the Master Make-up Artistry program. Since graduating she has worked on photoshoots, fashion shows, music videos, commercials, short films, feature films, and live events. She plans to continue working hard and growing as an artist in all aspects of the make-up industry with a focus on special effects. In April 2016, Catrina was awarded First place in Battle of the Brushes at the New York International Make-up Artist Trade Show. Catrina is proficient in beauty make-up as well as special makeup effects, lifecasting, prosthetic applications, prosthetic fabrication, sculpting, mold-making & hair punching. She is currently a part-time instructor at Make-up Designory NY and is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Merideth Ivy is a Production Make-Up Artist and Hairstylist working in NYC and the surrounding areas. Having begun her career in Nashville, TN, the New Orleans native relocated to NYC in 2002 to expand both her career and her education. Ms. Ivy is a Cosmetologist and Master Barber under NY licensure in addition to holding a B.S. in Media and Visual Art from the State University of New York. She has acquired several professional certifications including Basic and Advanced Make-Up Artistry, Airbrush Make-Up Application, Hair Weaving, Wig-Making and Ventilating, and Special Effects Make-Up. Throughout her career she has had the good fortune to work with celebrities John Malkovich, Ruby Modine, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Lucy Hale, Julian Sands, Andrea Beltrão, Robin Lord Taylor, Bernardo Barreto, among several others. She is a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 798 Make-Up Artists and Hairstylists and has been with Make-Up Designory NYC as an Instructional Specialist since 2010. Ms. Ivy is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Make-Up Artist Emeritus
Byrd Holland is a recognized professional make-up artist and a member of Local 706, The Make-Up Artists and Hairstylists Union IATSE. His career spans 40 years in television, theater, and print. Mr. Holland’s film credits include working as Department Head for productions such as Executive Action, The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe, I Crossed the Color Line, Rabid, and Journey to the Center of Time. Mr. Holland’s television credits include The Alamo: Thirteen Days To Glory, Six Against the Rock, Crazy Times, Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge, Crisis in Midair, The Bill Cosby Variety Show, The Rock & Roll Years, and American Bandstand. In addition, Mr. Holland worked as the Department Head for Hard Copy for four years. Over the course of his career, he has worked with prominent actors, musicians, and entertainment personalities that include John Travolta, Danny DeVito, Cloris Leachman, Tom Hanks, Burt Reynolds, Natalie Cole, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Hal Linden, Jonathan Winters and James Arness. He has also worked with Jimmy Carter, Senator and Mrs. Bob Dole, and Governor Pete Wilson.
Tate Holland has worked in make-up education and cosmetic sales, manufacturing and distribution for the last 18 years. He is also an experienced Administrator and School Director. Along with his school responsibilities, Mr. Holland is active in local community affairs. He is a former President of CAPPS, the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools, the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, and the Burbank Downtown Business Improvement District. He is also a member of the Measure K Budgetary Oversight Committee for the Newhall School District. Mr. Holland holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the American University in Washington, D.C.
This Midwestern native moved to New York City well over 20 years ago with a passion for art, culture and the energy that only New York can offer. His work has appeared in regional, national and international fashion magazines as diverse as Rolling Stone Italia, Playboy, Cosmopolitan, Surface, and Zink. He has worked with a wide range of celebrity talent including Liam Neeson, Mandy Moore, Natasha Henstridge, Robin Tuney, Vivian Green and Kherington Payne, to name a few. He is a versatile artist and is able to seamlessly transition between the mediums of photography, film, television and live performances. His long career has been sustained by his constant inspiration by the world around him. He believes that successful design is the result of both the cerebral and the emotional. He has applied this perspective to wide range of projects from MTV, VH1, HBO and countless music videos, commercials and live events. As an artist he is greatly influenced by the ever-evolving worlds of art, fashion and pop culture, which he constantly immerses himself and finds that in the beauty and fashion worlds it is imperative to keep up with the latest products and techniques to successfully execute his work. He strongly believes in the power of make-up not only to transform the outside but also to foster well-being on the inside of his clients. Beyond the promise that cosmetics offer exists their true impact, enhancing self-esteem and promoting a sense of well-being. J. Sterling is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
New York City-based artist Rich Krusell started making his mark in the art world as an illustrator and aerosol artist with aspirations to one day work for Marvel Comics. He studied commercial and fine art in their traditional mediums, though with the evolving job market, Rich eventually learned his way around a Mac computer and mastered its respective art programs. Having worked in advertising as a graphic designer (traditional & digital) for over 18 years, he found himself at a crossroads; inspired by watching horror and sci-fi films growing up, he shifted his energies to his oldest loves: sculpture, mask-making, and special make-up effects. He is well regarded amongst his peers for his likeness sculptures, conceptual design, painting and knowledge of color and his ability to think outside the box. In 2010, he co-founded “Gotham FX”, an FX shop serving the NYC metropolitan area and beyond. The spectrum of work coming into the shop has been very diverse, working closely with different industries such as: medical, pharmaceutical, fine art, fashion, print, film and television. Rich prides himself on being able to adapt to clients large and small, from corporate giants like Disney to short NYU student films. Today he is happy to join the MUD faculty and to be able to pay-it-forward by teaching what he has learned over the years as one of his mentors, the late Dick Smith, had always done. Mr. Krusell is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Chantal Mariani has been a professional make-up artist for 20 years, and is a member of The Make-Up Artists and Hairstylists Union Local 798, IATSE. Her work has appeared on television productions such as Guiding Light, As The World Turns, Good Day N.Y., A Current Affair, Larry King Live, Showbiz Today, and The 500 Home Run Club (Mickey Mantle). She has worked on commercials for JP Morgan, Dean Witter, Ticketron, Nutri-System and Robin Leach on the Beach. Ms. Mariani’s film credits include She’s Back (Carrie Fisher), Day Traitors, and The Gifted. She has also worked with major actors, models, politicians and entertainment personalities, including James Earl Jones, Patrick Stewart, Ellen Burstyn, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Reeve, Sigourney Weaver, Susan Sarandon, Ray Liotta, Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Richardson, Iman, John F.Kennedy Jr., Elle MacPherson, Brooke Shields, Jaclyn Smith and Cicely Tyson. Ms. Mariani has a passion for acting, and has been awarded the 2001 Curtain Up Critics Award for Best Actress, in addition to her extensive work in commercials, and as a spokesperson. Ms. Mariani is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Sylvia Pichler has been a professional make-up artist since the late 1980s. She has been a passionate airbrush enthusiast for the past 15 years, and uses the airbrush technique to create a wide variety of beauty make-up artistry looks. In addition to her freelance work, she worked as Director of Education and Product Development for Temptu Cosmetics from 2006 to 2007. During this time, she traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad, conducting airbrush seminars and leading hands-on classes. Ms. Pichler has worked on advertising for clients like Rolex, Clairol, Epson, T-Mobile, and Panasonic. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Zink, and Glamour. Her credits also include make-up for Broadway, red carpet events and the runway. Ms. Pichler is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Elizabeth Pisano is a Make-Up Designory graduate and has been a professional make-up artist for the past seven years, with an emphasis on film and television work. She has also worked in special make-up effects and as a hair technician on films such as Tropic Thunder and TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Ms. Pisano is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Associate Director of Education
Gil Romero has been an educator with Make-up Designory for over 15 years. He is a graduate of Willow Park High School in Apple Valley, CA, Cinema Make-up School in Los Angeles, CA, and Make-up Designory. Additionally, he received training in make-up design and artistry from UCLA Extension and Schell Sculpture Studio, and has continued to further his own educational experiences by taking courses in management and instructional methodology through UCLA Extension, University of Phoenix, Victorville Community College, Skillpath and the Coalition of New York State Career Schools. Mr. Romero has lectured and demonstrated make-up techniques including injury simulation, the process of prosthetic construction and prosthetic application on behalf of MUD, both nationally and internationally. In 2009, he co-authored the second edition of Make-up Designory’s Character Make-Up textbook. As a professional make-up and special make-up effects artist, Mr. Romero has had extensive experience in film and television since 1995. His work has been seen on television shows and films including The Unit, Scrubs, Prison Break, Untold Stories of the E.R., The Sarah Silverman Show, The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, The Shield, America’s Next Top Model, Midnight Movie, Five Fingers with Laurence Fishburne, Route 666 with Lou Diamond Phillips, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, tattoo transfers for Sherri Moon-Zombie in The Lords of Salem and effects for the short film Wounded Embark of a Lovesick Mind by author/ illustrator and film director Gris Grimly. In addition to his film and television work, he has produced prosthetic make-ups and effects for Universal Studios’ Hollywood and Tokyo live-action stunt show WaterWorld, the Anubis puppets for The Mummy II: Chamber of Horrors, Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream event character “Jack”, FuseTV/ Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, Lady Gaga and other live musical performers, and specialty trauma simulations for companies and professional organizations, including one of the largest and most technologically advanced burn centers in the U.S., the Integris Burn Center. Mr. Romero is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Cassandra (Sandee) Ross-Dixon is originally from Chicago, IL. She has been a licensed Cosmetologist since 2003 and a licensed Cosmetology Teacher since 2004. Ms. Ross-Dixon established herself as a gifted stylist working on numerous fashion shows in Chicago before moving to New York. Since relocating, Ms. Ross-Dixon has made a lasting impression in the Big Apple. She has regularly worked on New York Fashion Week for great designers such as Vera Wang, Oscar De La Renta, J. Lindeberg, Nicholas K, and Kimberly Ortiz. She also has established her own hair and make-up studio where she makes herself available as the go-to hair and make-up stylist for brides and various gala events. Ms. Ross-Dixon is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Director of Education
Paul Thompson is the Director of Education at Make-up Designory and is a professional make-up artist with 24 years of experience, and an educator with 18 years of experience. He graduated high school in California at La Quinta High School, and then attended Orange Coast College and UCLA extension classes to learn the art of make-up. In addition to his make-up education, Mr. Thompson has completed courses in curriculum design and writing with the University of Phoenix, completed all course work required for a designated subjects vocational teaching credential at UCLA, and completed all course work to achieve a full teacher’s license in the State of New York. Over the course of his career he has been licensed to teach in California, Florida and New York. Mr. Thompson founded Creature Creations, a special make-up effects company specializing in television, commercial and theme park projects. One project resulted in the creation of the very first silicone bodysuit for Luke Perry in Robin Cook’s Invasion, an NBC mini-series. He also supervised film and television projects for the MUD/FX Group, a special make-up effects shop he co-founded. Mr. Thompson has held a number of educational specialist positions at several professional make-up schools including UCLA extension, and has lectured all over the world for major cosmetic companies such as MAC Cosmetics, Max Factor & Company, and Kryolan Cosmetics. Currently, he is responsible for the educational quality of the Los Angeles, New York and European MUD campuses which includes overseeing curricula, educational materials, and the recruitment and training of all faculty members. In addition to managing the development of curricula for MUD’s main campuses, seminars and company training programs, he also manages MUD’s publishing endeavors. Mr. Thompson authored MUD’s character textbook Character Make-Up, published in 2005 and co-wrote the second edition, published in 2009. Over the course of his career, he has worked with many prominent actors, musicians, and entertainment personalities including Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones, Jackie Chan, Matthew Broderick, Christopher Reeve, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Cheech Marin, Pauly Shore, Traci Lords, John Dye, George Hamilton, Clint Howard, and Mark Kriski. He is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Mary Anne Toccalino,
Mary Anne Toccalino has been a professional make-up artist and consultant for the cosmetics industry for over 30 years. Since 1997, she has worked to develop a strong background in commercials, industrial videos, and print, for clients like Chrysler, General Motors, The Detroit Pistons, Merrill Lynch, Audi, K-Mart, Benetton, and Domino’s Pizza. Ms. Toccalino has worked for major cosmetics companies including Lancôme, Ralph Lauren, Rene Guinot, Sothys, La Prairie, Dermalogica, MOP, Giovanni, and Sebastian. Her more recent fashion credits include Lux Life Fashion Evolution 2007 in Miami, Florida. Ms. Toccalino has also owned and operated her own business for over nine years. Her film and television credits include work as a Make-Up Supervisor for Jelly at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, The Big Story, and The Faith Hill Special (NBC). She has worked with personalities such as Michael Jackson, Gary Oldman, Lily Tomlin and Rachel Hunter. Ms. Toccalino is a graduate of Radford Union High School in Radford, MI, Joe Blasco Makeup Artist Training Center in Hollywood, CA, and Make-up Designory. Ms. Toccalino has her A.A. in Humanitarian Arts from Oakland University in Oakland, MI and an esthetician’s degree from Virginia Farrell in Royal Oak, MI. Additionally, she has received make-up training from Lancôme, MAC, Dermologica, Giovanni, Arbonne, Estee Lauder, Bumble & Bumble, and Toni & Guy; additionally, she has instructional methodology training from UCLA Extension and the Coalition of New York State Career Schools. Ms. Toccalino is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).
Sky Vega is an award-nominated Special FX Make-up Artist and entrepreneur based out of New York City. Beginning in entertainment business as a touring musician, Sky has since worked as a department head on many feature films, shorts, music videos and TV shows. She is credited with producing molds and life casting for The Hobbit (An Unexpected Journey) and has worked for a slew of celebrities from Dr. Oz to “Weird Al” Yankovic. Sky’s work has been seen in many publications, from creative costuming for singer P!nk’s red carpet appearances at the Bette Midler annual Hulaween ball and Heidi Klum’s party, to media coverage of various Isabella Rossellini productions, Green Porno and Animals Distract Me. Sky is a graduate of the South African Academy of Arts, with a four-year intensive and comprehensive arts curriculum. She studied aesthetics and cinematography at the University of Art & Design in Greece, A.K.T.O., majoring in Computer Graphic Animation and Multi-Media. She completed the Special FX Makeup course at the School of Visual Arts and fine-tuned her lab skills at the Make-Up Designory’s Special Make-Up Effects 301 course. Sky founded her creative company, Pittaway Art, in 2010, which acts as the retail portal for the Sky Vega Special Effects Makeup product line and her other artistic endeavors. Ms. Vega is a licensed instructor in accordance with NYSED Regulation 126.6(f).