My Most Frequently Asked Questions Part 1
I get quite a few emails requesting information regarding my career in the make-up and body painting industry. Some requests are from magazines or on-line publications who would like to feature my work. Some requests are from students who are thinking of a career as a make-up or body painting artist, or who need information for their college assignments. It’s not unusual for me to receive questionaires that can take a considerable time to complete. I do try to reply to everyone but sometimes it’s just too hectic and I just don’t have the time. So I’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions from the various requests that I’ve received. I’ve had to split it into two parts as I think most people might just fall asleep if they had to tackle the whole list in one go!
Some of these points are covered in more detail in earlier blog posts, so if you have a poke around in the archives you should be able to find more in depth and (hopefully) useful information there!
Where did you do your training?
Suffolk College Ipswich. I did Art and Design followed by Beauty Therapy. Then West Thames College in London where I did a HND in ‘Specialist Hair & Make Up’
What made you want to start your own business?
After graduating from West Thames I had to weigh up the options of working for an established make-up company or starting out as a freelance make-up and body artist. Although there is the chance of less financial stability with no regular work, I do prefer the diversity of the assignments that come in. Then there’s the freedom that I get from less rigid working hours, and best of all I love being my own boss.
Why did you decide to paint on a body?
I’ve always had an interest in art and my hobbies include sketching and painting on canvasses. A lot of my spare time is still spent in my little art room at home working on various projects. I particularly love using pastels, pencils and oil paints. I, like most people, had seen the amazing photos of Demi Moore ‘wearing’ her suit painted by Joanne Gair. So when I began my Specialist Hair & Make-up HND course at West Thames, I was very pleased to see that body art was one of the modules as it was definitely something that I wanted to try. Once I started painting on the body everything just clicked and I knew this was something that I wanted to pursue.
What did you find difficult when you started?
It does take several years to get established in this industry, so it was definitely the lack of any regular work and no regular income. Living in rented accommodation in London, and having to pay very high rent meant a lot of sacrifices had to be made. No holidays, no shopping for nice clothes, meals out etc. But the sacrifices and hard work have paid off and it’s definitely been worth it in the end.
Where is your business based?
I’m based mainly in London but travel anywhere that my work takes me, whether it be somewhere in the UK or an overseas location.
Have you done much international body painting?
Yes. I’ve been lucky to travel extensively during my career and have worked with clients in some amazing locations including Hong Kong, Cape Town, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Orlando, The Dominican Republic Mumbai, Thailand, Paris, Rome, Berlin and several other European locations. Some assignments have literally been fly in, paint, fly out! Plus there’s the dreaded jet lag to deal with. But most of the long haul destinations have included some free time for site seeing and most importantly time to shop and fill my suitcase with assorted souvenirs. After a December trip to Hong Kong everyone’s Christmas present had a definite oriental theme that year! One of my favourite destinations is Las Vegas and I’m really lucky to have visited 3 times for various body art events.
Can you describe your clients?
Most of my clients are from the world of marketing. They’re usually Advertising and PR agencies who want to use body art for a particular campaign or promotion. I’ve also worked with quite a few television companies who are featuring body art, or would like to use body painting for a television commercial. I work with some charities that are very close to my heart, and I do some private commissions if I have the time.
What’s the most unusual place you’ve painted?
This definitely has to be the assignment in The Dominican Republic. I was commissioned to camouflage several models into a lovely hotel and beach side location for a Belgian travel company. On some days we were very tight on the timings and for one location we only had around 40 minutes to get the painting completed before the sun went down. So myself and Emily who was helping with the job, ended up painting as fast as we could, practically up to our chests in the sea….well it was more like Emily’s waist as she’s a lot taller than me! We had the paints floating next to us in a bucket, so yes, we were painting in the Caribbean….quite literally!
Who decides on the design?
I would say that with 95% of my commercial work the client is the one who provides the design. Sometimes they want my input and then I put a design together for their approval. If there are logos I hand cut the stencils beforehand for a nice crisp professional finish. For my past competition work I usually play around with sketches before deciding on my final designs.
What do you like about painting on the body as opposed to working on a canvas?
I like the way a body painting can tell a story and have a range of emotions. You can play around with the lighting and position of the models’ body and your artwork changes every time the model changes position. You can also interact with your model and I’m very much a people person, so it’s great to create a piece of art that you can actually chat to whilst working. The down side is that you can’t just leave a body painting as you would with a canvas. You can’t put it aside whilst you have lunch, or leave it for another day. Once you start you have to finish, and usually as quickly as you can.
How long does a body painting take?
The timings will depend on how much of the body is being painted and the complexity of the design. A full body paint in a very intricate design can take up to 4 hours. With camouflage work I always prefer at least 4 hours particularly if it’s a very detailed background, but I rarely get as long as I would like. As a commercial body artist it’s all about being able to achieve the best possible result for the client usually in the shortest amount of time. I’m always up against the clock and there have been a few shoots where I would have loved the luxury of an extra hour for finishing touches. If the timings are really very tight I take along another artist so that we can work together to speed up the painting time.
Do you work alone, in a partnership, or have employees?
It depends on the job and the timings. If it’s a one model or 2 torso body paint I usually work alone. For bookings with multiple models I have a great team of make-up and body artists who work with me on larger assignments. Some of my team are also employed by established make-up companies like MAC or Inglot and some are freelance like me. But most have been with me for many years and 2 of my girls were actually my bridesmaids when I got married 3 years ago.
Continue to FAQ’s Part 2 for more information on life as a freelance make-up and body painter.