NA LCS makeup artist Kassandra Karr talks about the pace of LCS match day and why so many players need mid-split haircuts

Kassandra Karr has been the lead LCS makeup artist for the North American League of Legends Championship Series since 2014. She’s in charge of prepping the players and casters before they go on camera for each broadcast. Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Karr (via email) to talk about her job, funny interactions along the way and how long it takes people to get comfortable having their makeup done.

How did you become a makeup artist and start to work with Riot Games?

In 2007, I was finishing up cosmetology school and decided to take a makeup course in West Hollywood to broaden my skill set. I don’t wear much makeup myself on a regular basis, but I just fell in love with it. I started to pursue my career as a makeup artist immediately. I was very fortunate to work under the key makeup artist for Ed Hardy for two years right out of school, and I have been doing makeup ever since. A friend of mine asked if I could come in and help with pre-event content for the Promotion Tournament in December 2013. I ended up working on the actual tournament a week later. It is funny because I had no idea what League of Legends was, but I quickly found out! During the tournament, I was asked by the production company if I would like to work on all of the NA broadcast for the 2014 Season. I have been with them ever since. It has been amazing watching everything grow so quickly in esports and getting to be apart of it.

What are some things you really enjoy about being the makeup artist for the NA LCS and some things you really dislike?

I really enjoy that I get to interact with so many people everyday and the people I work with are pretty awesome. As far dislikes, I don’t really have any — maybe when a bunch of the guys all need haircuts? It seems to always be in the middle of the split because they’re so focused on the game and making it to playoffs that time for the barber falls to the wayside.

What was the most ridiculous situation you’ve ever been in with a professional gamer? (you don’t have to name names)

I don’t really have one with the pros but I do with the casters. Pranks are common around the NA LCS. I’m terrified of scary movies and when the shoutcasters found out, they decided to mess with me a little. While I was distracted doing makeup, Rivington once (or twice) hid under my table, and when I took a step back he jumped out and scared the daylights out of me. The guys would all be standing there and wouldn’t let on what he was doing. It’s OK, though. I will get them back, I promise.

How long does it take for new LCS players to get comfortable with the idea of someone doing their hair and makeup?

It really varies person to person. Many of the new players know before they come in that we do it for broadcast, so it isn’t a surprise for them. They are usually fine right off the bat with the idea. It can be hard to get used to the feel of someone else touching your face though, so that can take some time. I just have to remember to go a little slower if they aren’t used to it yet and let them know what I am doing. I understand it as I have never been one to enjoy someone else doing my makeup either.

What is some advice you gave a professional gamer or caster that you didn’t expect yourself to give?

I’m always chatting with them so sometimes it is small talk and sometimes we talk about more personal subjects. I can’t pinpoint a specific piece of advice. When it comes to advice about skin and hair (though), my DM’s are full, so I am always advising on that topic. Many people ask what kind of makeup I use. Although I have a few brands, the one I use most on set is MAC.

Are you in charge of everyone’s makeup and hair? How long does it take?

Yes, although, when we started doing dual streams in the summer of (2016), I was able to bring in a second artist since the amount of people doubled that need to be ready at the same time on those days. I have two regular artists that help out so the pros are getting used to them as well. I have about 1-1.5 hours with the casters and analysts. They require makeup that will hold up throughout the entire show and get touch-ups often. The players and coaches get much less before they go on stage. We want them to be comfortable while they are playing. My main focus for them is making sure their hair is in place and that they are not shiny as the lights can be bright and hot, so shiny skin can show up strong on HD. They don’t really get much makeup before stage, more so for photos and interviews. Maybe some anti-shine and powder. We start them at one hour prior to the first match and have 40 minutes to get through 24 players and coaches so we move quickly.

Who are some players or casters you’ve grown fond of over your time with Riot? Is it a strictly professional interaction?

There are so many! I have worked with a lot of the players and casters now for over three years. I can’t help but grow fond of them when I work so closely. I am always focused on making them as comfortable as possible, and I care about all of them. There are some I will probably stay in touch with forever. While everything is always professional, I can’t help but build some friendships after this many years. Since I started traveling on the road with the NA LCS and the international events last year, I have definitely grown closer to some. It is an experience like none other to be working in a foreign country. I spend all my time at work with them and often a lot of time outside of work as well when we are traveling. I would say I have grown especially close to Eefje “Sjokz” Depoortere. We stay in touch throughout the year and always look forward to getting to work together when we can. It is also always so nice getting to catch up with the rest of the crew from all over the world. I really just love them all.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot

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