Around 6 months ago I was approached by Showem Entertainment Ltd regarding an idea that they were working on for a series of short films for Channel 4. In the shorts, models would be body painted into various backgrounds around London so that they were camouflaged and invisible to the public.
I really enjoy camouflage body art so was definitely up for the challenge. The people that I painted had volunteered because they all had a particular reason for wanting to find out what it would be like to be invisible and it was fascinating to meet them and hear their stories. They were all marvellous to work with and very patient during the whole body painting process which can take several hours. I’ve painted literally hundreds of models during my career in numerous locations around the world, but it’s always very important that I put first-time models at ease and find a comfortable pose that they’re happy with.
The series has just been released and can be seen on 4OD
We started the series back in August last year with the lovely Leyah Shanks who is a body confidence blogger from Edinburgh. It was my job to blend her in to the back of a telephone kiosk in a London street. Leyah disappeared into the phone box and undressed. She emerged in her pants and I arranged her in a pose that she would be able to hold for the duration of the painting. I was working with the talented Emily Dowdeswell and once the camouflage effect was finished we cleared away the painting equipment and left Leyah to surprise the public.
Leyah was a brilliant model and absolutely loved the whole process and said ‘it was incredibly freeing to rid myself of all my clothes and underwear in a public place’.
You can watch Leyah’s unique and unusual experience here
You can also read her account of the day on her interesting blog here.
I also painted personal trainer Ashley Lewis from London. Ashley has an amazing physique so can stand out from the crowd and sometimes his physique attracts negative comments. He wanted to know what it would feel like to be invisible and NOT have people staring at him. I had to camouflage him into a fruit and veg market stall and had the lovely Laura Scimone helping me with the painting. Unfortunately, as we were working outside, we were beaten by the weather on our first attempt, so we had to relocate to an indoor shop with hilarious results once the painting was finished.
Ashely’s experience can be seen here.
Matthew… ‘Morgan Fabulous’
Another fantastic model was drag queen and librarian Matthew whose alter ego is ‘Morgan Fabulous’ and he was definitely fabulous to work with. He gets mixed reactions from his clothes and make-up and would love to give other people the confidence to wear what they want to. Laura and I had to camouflage him into a coat stall in busy Spitalfields market.
Listen to his story and watch is transformation here.
Alison is a fully tattooed model from Bath. She was tired of being treated differently because of her tattoos and wondered what it would be like to be invisible for a day. So Laura and I camouflaged her into a stack of suitcases in a market. The main challenge was covering all of Alison’s beautiful tattoos and completing the body painting in such a busy market place.
Watch the story unfold here.
Taylor was born with a shortened femur and had her leg amputated as a child. She wanted to overcome her fear of having her scars on show in a public place. She was camouflaged into a busy café and once she removed her prosthetic leg she couldn’t stand for too long, so Laura and I had to make sure she was comfortable with her pose on a stool before we began the painting. Taylor was very apprehensive about the process before we began, but ended up enjoying the day and hoped that her experience might help others in a similar situation.
See her story here.
I also had the pleasure of working with Welsh body builder Kate Austin. She has an amazing physique but it can leave her feeling self-conscious.
Kate wanted to see what it was like to be ignored so she was painted to blend in with some shelves in a supermarket.
Kate was a pleasure to paint and I think she enjoyed the experience. The reaction from the shoppers was very funny!
Watch Kate surprise the shoppers here.
I’ve worked on a lot of camouflage assignments during my career but this has to be up there as one of the most enjoyable jobs that I’ve ever done. It was a great experience. Everyone from Showem Entertainment Ltd and all the brave volunteer models were absolutely marvellous to work with. We had a lot of fun with the various scenarios and the reaction of the members of the public when they were ‘surprised’ by the models wearing their camouflage body paint and not a lot else. It was all very funny!