For a successful Body Painting career, versatility is vital
Although being well known for my camouflage body painting, as a freelance body artist I have to be able to paint whatever design my clients’ require, whether it be crisp logo work, temporary tattoo’s or intricate details for fine art prints. I never know what, where, or when the next assignment will be and each body paint brings its own challenges. Quite often the design will be something that I’ve never painted before, so I have to have confidence in my ability to transfer my client’s design onto the body with a very professional finish, often in the shortest possible time.
I also have a very talented Getmadeup team of make-up and body artists, most of whom have been with me for years, who support me on larger assignments when multiple models need body painting and/or make-up.
Camouflage Body Painting
Camouflage work is quite specialised and can be pretty complex depending on the background that the model needs to be blended into. Personally I prefer a ‘busy’ background with a lot of detail. It might take more work, but I find this makes it easier to make the model disappear. I’ve worked on numerous camouflage jobs during my career, some that needed the model to be virtually invisible like when I painted Rob Riggle for ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ where it was vital that he wasn’t seen by the audience before he moved and revealed his identity. But on other camouflage jobs the model needs to be painted into the background, but still be partly visible to the viewer. In this image we were painting in The Caribbean for a television advertisement which was for a Belgian travel agency. I was with my fellow artist Emily Dowdeswell, and due to the timings we only had 40 minutes to do the painting before the sun went down. We were quite literally up to our waists in the sea with our paints floating next to us in a bucket!
Some jobs have the client’s logos incorporated into the design. I hand cut stencils for the logo work to give a really professional finish. There are usually only one or two logos required. But for the job at Silverstone where I had to paint World Super Bike rider Leon Haslam in his racing leathers, I had to cut numerous stencils for all the logos that were needed on his torso. It was a really enjoyable day. Leon was great to work with and everyone was really pleased with the finished result.
There have been quite a few people, including very experienced motor cyclists, who didn’t realise that Leon was ‘wearing’ body paint and not his actual leathers. There’s a time lapse video of the painting on my video page.
Fine Art Prints
As well as body painting for CD album covers I had the pleasure of working on a series of limited edition fine art prints for the late great Storm Thorgerson and StormStudios. The designs were all of various album covers from Storm’s vast portfolio including Pink Floyd, Muse and Audioslave. Some of the shoots took place in the UK, mainly at The RAC Club in Pall Mall. But we also had an amazing two week trip to South Africa in 2009 where I worked on ‘The Beach Back Catalogue’ and ‘The Outback Catalogue’. Visit www.stormsight.co.uk for beautiful prints and posters and other assorted goodies from the very talented crowd at StormStudios.
Body Painted Tattoos
Tattoos are always popular with clients and I’ve painted quite a few over the years. If the tattoo is only required for the photoshoot I use my usual water based body paints, and the design can be washed off easily with soap and water at the end of the day.
But sometimes the client might want the tattoo to last for a few days. I would then use one of the more durable alcohol based FDA approved cosmetic inks on the market. It depends on the brand that you use, but the design will last for at least 3 or 4 days, and sometimes up to a week. These products are usually removed with an oil based cleanser.
Body Painting and Special Effects
There are times when I’m called on to produce some special effects to transform the model for a particular shoot. Some prosthetic pieces can be bought ‘off the shelf’ from specialist suppliers such as ‘Charles Fox-Kryolan UK’ in Covent Garden, London. But for some of my jobs I make the pieces myself with handmade individual moulds and liquid latex. It can be a bit of a messy process and I think my husband’s heart sinks every time I commandeer the bathroom with my sack of plaster and tubs of latex.
For one assignment I was asked if I could transform 2 models into Mystique and Azazel during a week of PR events for the release of ‘X Men First Class’ on DVD. I hand made all the numerous latex pieces myself, and then had to reproduce the look several times on various models throughout the week. They appeared at different London locations including seated on an underground train, and in a 1960’s style ‘pop up lounge’ at Victoria Station. I then had the pleasure of transforming model Sam Cooke into ‘Mystique’ for a photoshoot at the end of the week.
Combined Body Painting and Make-up assignments
As well as being a body artist I’m also a make-up artist and some shoots require a combination of make-up and body art. If we’re working on a shoot with a celebrity their time is very valuable and will almost certainly be limited. So I usually take along another artist from the Getmadeup team to help to speed everything up.
In 2011 I was commissioned to reproduce a £5.00 note on TV presenter Kate Garraway to publicise the charity lendwithcare.org. It was a very enjoyable shoot where I did the body painting on Kate’s back whilst Emily Dowdeswell did her hair and make-up.