Joe A. Lester, 1969-2013

Do us a favor, dearest readers, and make it personal policy to never take for granted the mysterious twists and turns shaping your experiences here on Earth. We rarely know in advance how our lives will play out – where we’ll live, what we’ll do, who we’ll know, like, and love – but we can shape it to the best of our abilities, hopefully to personal satisfaction and for the better good, while valuing every second we spend doing so.

C-U Blogfidential made the acquaintance of Chicago area make-up effects artist Joe Lester a year and a half ago through our mutual associate, Rissa Grandone, and your humble editor met him in person during the summer. At turns humble, quirky, and slightly enigmatic, Joe struck us as a model “quiet giant” devoted to exploring and sharing his craft while otherwise allowing his output to speak volumes for himself. Generously, he helped bring us Samantha Daley’s creature make-up primer as seen in issue 6 of C-U Confidential, decorated handsomely with images of Joe’s high-quality handiwork.

We had intended to discuss a follow-up piece with Joe when we could make the best use of our collective efforts. Sadly, neither us nor the film, television, stage, and haunted attraction artists calling him friend, mentor, and coworker will have another opportunity to collaborate with him. Joe passed away unexpectedly the evening of Monday, December 16, at age 44. We send our sincerest thoughts to his family as well as colleagues involved with the Bensenville effects firm he founded, The ImageWorks FX, and informational Web site he maintained, The Effects Lab.

Joe’s impressive sculpting work also appeared in the course materials at the school founded by legendary Hollywood make-up artist Dick Smith of TAXI DRIVER. “In a business that often makes people act stressed or just plain odd, Joe was an island of cheerful and much welcome normalcy,” offered Smith’s son David Smith in a statement shared by ImageWorks. “His old-fashioned courtesy, cheerful demeanor, and kindness lifted me out of a bad mood many times.” Even without the status of a Dick Smith or Rick Baker, we could easily tell from afar that Joe was already a success in character as well as character creation. Getting to know him better is now an opportunity lost.

Joe’s visitation and funeral service will be taking place later tonight, Saturday, December 21, at the Pedersen Ryberg Mortuary, 435 N. York St., Elmhurst, IL, between 6 and 9 p.m. Well-wishers may send flowers or personal messages to the following address: P.O. Box 942, Bensenville, IL 60106.

~ Jason Pankoke

Read: Joe Lester obituary in Chicago Tribune

View: Joe Lester portfolio at The Effects Lab

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