A taste for the unusual

Leungo Mokgwathi
RARE TALENT: Hildah Tlhobolo

Young artist’s special effects

After spending her childhood days gazing over her father’s shoulder as he brought images to life with his paintbrush, Hildah Tlhobolo fell deeply in love with art.

Years later, that love for art opened her up to a new world of special effects makeup.

A taste for the unusual
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The 28-year-old Maun native says that she was 13 years of age when she discovered her abilities in arts and crafts, which were manifested through drawing and painting.

“I was inspired by my father, John Tlhobolo who is also an artist. I would sit and observe how he uses color until I was able to sketch and draw like him.”

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One day, while scrolling through Instagram, Tlhobolo came across a post by the award winning Nollywood makeup artist Hakeem Onilogbo who had shared pictures of his special effects makeup.

“At the time, I was already practicing as a makeup artist, however, I was mind blown because what I saw was a completely different avenue from what I was used to, ‘said the young artist.

A fire was lit up inside of her and she began to search the internet, turning to the university of YouTube for demonstrations and tutorials on special effects makeup and how to create the fake bruises, scars and cuts.

“I learnt a lot from watching YouTube videos and surfing the internet. I learnt the basics of special effects makeup and eventually I was able to venture into prosthetic and special effects makeup without attending any school.”

From there she sought out products that were used to create these looks and she began her work as a special effects makeup artist practicing under the name Hilda’s Makeup.

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“The first special effects project I ever shared on social media was a second degree burn I created and people’s minds were blown away! That was when I realized that what I am doing is not ordinary but it’s a calling from the universe.”

“I remember seeing my work trending all over social media, even on twitter spaces which at the time I was not even a part of. The feeling was out of this world.” She says that it was that one post that opened doors for her as a makeup artist, gaining her media attention, not only locally but internationally as well. “People were mesmerized by the girl from Botswana who was creating fake scars” she said gleefully.

Tlhobolo dreams of studying Special Effects and Prosthetic Makeup in United Kingdom or in America.

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A taste for the unusual
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“My aim is to ensure that Botswana offers the best television programmes with the help of my hands,” explained the woman who wishes to work with more local productions and museums to showcase her artwork.

Although she has received recognition for her work, it is a bit disappointing that so far no one has ever expressed willingness to pay for her services, which is unfortunate scenario for special effects artists in Botswana.

“I am ready to be paid for my hard work! Special effects makeup is a lot of work, it requires time and the products used are way too expensive for me to give it away as a free service,” she quipped.

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