We had the good fortune of connecting with Todd Debreceni and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Todd, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
It was more of a calling than a pursuit, I think… not actively engaging in creative and artistic efforts would have killed my soul. I’ve done the corporate thing – suit, corner office, etc., and it left me cold, empty, and stressed out of my mind. I tell my students that being an artist is something we have no real control over. It’s something we can’t not do. It’s in our blood.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m pleased that I’ve been able to teach and ply my craft all over the world, not just locally. I consider myself very fortunate in that respect. Being in the right place at the right time also is a key factor – blind, dumb luck. I’ve written three editions of a best-selling makeup effects book that is very well regarded in the industry and used extensively worldwide. I am very proud to be a part of a craft that values sharing as much as it values skill and expertise. My original career path was Medicine, believe it or not. Way before ‘Dougie Houser, MD’ I was Dougie Houser, but without the MD; I did not finish medical school, but by the time I was 19 (starting at age 16) I had more hands-on surgical experience than most 1st year surgical residents. To make a rather long story short, I realized that I could not be detached, and the anxiety was eating me up. Now, I use much of my medical training in the makeup I create and the effects, but no one’s life is in the balance, and I sleep better. No one is going to die if I make a mistake. However, being an artist is not something you can do like being an accountant, or a surgeon, not that accountants and surgeons don’t put themselves fully into their work… I don’t mean to trivialize it, but being creative is who I am, not what I do. Does that make sense? And creativity has ups and downs – it can’t be turned on or off like a light switch, but it’s always there just below the surface, waiting to erupt. I’ve learned that being true to your inner voice is paramount.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I probably wouldn’t be the best tour guide! I don’t go out much, but I do love the mountains and the rich history that Colorado has to offer visitors as well as residents. Durango, Telluride, The Denver Art Museum, Crested Butte, Pikes Peak, Steamboat Springs, Rocky Mountain National Park, Royal Gorge, Winter Park… I love the pizza at Hernando’s in Winter Park… There was a barbeque place in Steamboat called Scotty’s that was so good, I’ve driven there from Denver just to get takeout. Sadly it burned down many years ago and was never reopened. There’s a great pub on 13th in Denver near the Art Museum called Pints that has an amazing selection of single malt scotches. We could easily put over a thousand miles on a vehicle just hopping from place to place and still only scratch the surface! I think my favorite thing to do is go off-roading, looking for weather and old mining roads at high altitudes where we might get stuck! Gets the adrenalin going!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are a lot of people at least partly responsible for my being where I am. My life and career have been touched and influenced by many over the course of several decades – my incredibly gifted wife, Donna’s support and encouragement is unwavering; my family – my parents, sister, and grandparents; Janice Goodfellow, my high school English teacher, and drama teacher; John Barclay, another of my drama coaches, Stuart Culpepper, my acting mentor; abstract watercolorist, Richard Clark, my painting teacher, and mentor; the Denver film and theatre community; artist and mentor David Parvin; Dick Smith, in whose memory I try to be a mentor to others… jeez, I could go on all day! I’m reminded of the George Bailey character from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’… my life has been touched by so many individuals that probably have no idea how much they’ve influenced the course my life has taken. I am so thankful for them all.
Facebook: I quit Facebook years ago