The Other Side: Interview with Diana Tenes, Artisan – Costume, Makeup, Actress, Author

Credit: Steve Cozar, Photographer.

Diana Tenes was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is Hispanic of Iberian and Indigenous Mexican descent. She has worked as an Actress/Speaker, Make-up Artist, Costume Designer for Film/TV. She has written, produced, directed

Children’s Theatre and a Bilingual play in Spanish/English. She authored a book on shopping sustainably “90% OFF Every Day!”, on Amazon/Kindle, was a featured author and presenter at The Librarians Conference in Contra Costa County. Diana has been in The Wall Street Journal “Fashions New Tour. Guides Offer Insider’s Perspective” and SF”Walnut Creek: Art and the human Canvas”

She created a “Get Your Happy” card game for all ages that connects you to happiness.,

She has poetry published at the International Museum of Art in San Francisco Virtual Poetry Night, and

the 34th Annual Emeryville Art Exhibition online event (Time 17:11) (with a chapbook being published) She’s been on OZcat radio reading Poetry, is in Verses,

Voices & Visions of Vallejo anthology, has over 400 poems published on Instagram under get_your_happy, has a video poem in the Solano County library, is on Youtube “White and a Woman of color”

She has poetry published in Benicia Times Herald, Latina Magazine AR0oERAJz1hz5rauD7q1eo1lYDqcgyLbVtrixT6I Her poem “Broken” has been published by Women at Woodstock Diana Tenes – Women At Woodstock

NP: You’ve had a fascinating life and career. Did your work evolve or were there junctures or crossroads of inspiration?

Tenes: Growing up I’d paint, draw and sketch as soon as I could hold a brush, pen, crayon. I wrote stories, illustrated them. I made a book for my nephew on his birthday. I illustrated and wrote birthday and holiday cards for friends and family. I made doll clothes by hand and rooms for them out of cigar boxes. My favorite doll was little trolls with multicolored hair and tan skin color. They were more interesting than Barbie dolls. They were exotic like me. I memorized musical scores and would sing them. I started acting at thirteen. I had an art studio at school in 7th and 8th grade.  I’d make the backdrops for plays, decor, placemats, programs for events. It’s an extension of who I am. I enjoy learning. As a child I’d do research at the library. I learned about what I was interested in and how to do it. You can learn from the web, libraries, books, people, jobs, life.

My path is about exploring and developing my creativity. I deepen, build on past explorations. I allow them to take me where it leads, pick up where I left off on my journey. What I enjoyed as a child eventually became professional pursuits. I began to share poetry and publish professionally as an adult. Same as designing clothes and costumes, acting, writing, directing theater. I designed and created a playable card game in one week. A friend was seeking entertainment for his Holiday party of one hundred people. I said I’ll come up with something to make people feel good and have fun. He said, ”Go for it” I played my Get Your Happy card game for attendees. It was a huge hit. I sell the game on Etsy and continue to play games at parties and events. Why would I volunteer to come up with something I’ve never done before? It gives me the opportunity to be creative. It allowed me to use some of my skills and grow new ones. I was trusted to do something new. It gave me confidence and encouragement to step up.

Creativity and inspiration go hand in hand. They are essential in life for human happiness. You can be creative in everything: relationships, cooking, cleaning, decorating, exercising, etc. It keeps you and your life interesting. Inspiration is in daily life if you listen for it. It’s as small as giving a friend a call when you think of them, writing down an idea, making a new recipe, reading a book, dancing to a fun song, figuring out a new way to express yourself.

NP: What excites your imagination and energizes you? Could you describe your research?

Tenes: Telling stories energizes me. Through a poem or a new outfit. I fuse colors, words, thoughts, running around in my head to coalesce into that specific result. It is satisfying.

I enjoy researching. I google when I want to know more about anything: a news story, actor, director, someone being interviewed, vegetable or cooking method I’ve never heard of. I’ll get a book on the subject. When I’m lost on what to cook with the ingredients on hand I ask “Amazon Echo”. I have one sitting on my kitchen countertop. It is a smart speaker that responds to voice commands using Alexa an artificially intelligent personal assistant. Amazon Echo plays music, news, can be used as a timer, to find out weather, etc.

NP: Are there certain types of personalities among actors and actresses that are easier to work with? How do you handle stress? What do you do to enhance your emotional and physical well-being?

Frida Body Paint. Stephen Jacobson, Photographer

Tenes: I’ve worked with many types of personalities. Each actor/actress is unique. Some need alone time, and some have to be socializing. It’s nice when someone can state what they need and be clear about it. I handle stress and take care of myself by taking a break. I take a walk, play with my dog, brew a cup of tea, yoga, cry, talk to a friend or therapist, dance, do some drumming (west African), read inspirational literature. I eat a vegan diet. It’s calming and peaceful. I have friends that I can count on and enjoy being with. I make time for them. I focus on living in the moment. Going to Burning Man taught me that. It’s the way to enjoy the magical experience.

NP: How much of a role does technology play in costume design and makeup artistry? Do you envision a day when there will be requests for costume design and makeup artistry for artificial intelligence? What do you think the future will look like in terms of costume design and makeup work?

Tenes: Technology is continually playing a bigger role in makeup artistry, not so much costume design. Special effect makeup artists are occasionally replaced with digital effects. Costume designers would have to dress crowds of extras or hundreds in epic films. Digital effects can copy and duplicate masses of people. There may be a time when A.I. will design makeup or costume but it will be only as good as whoever is programming it. We will always need artists, minds with the capacity to think out of the box. Digital artists may be the next costume designers and makeup artists. Or maybe the other way round. How could you replace, fathom, articulate Leonardo Da Vinci’s genius?

High-Definition cameras have replaced shooting on film. There are filmmakers who insist on using film. You can look at an old film, it’s clear, crisp, fresh, real as the day it was shot. High-Def floats into this digital universe that feels synthetic. Glitches and pixelation are what we are used to. It’s the difference between listening to “Stairway to Heaven” on your device or hearing it on a vinyl disc. It is a profoundly different experience, environment. It’s like hearing pop synthesized voices versus Lady Gaga or Tony Bennet in person.

Filmmaking is accessible to the masses, keeping costs down is always of utmost importance. Yes, makeup and costume design will be digitally enhanced if not replaced soon.

True artists and those that appreciate a masterpiece will have to be nourished, supported in their craft.