NY Makeup Show Bodypainting — Bodypainter or Makeup Artist?

by Christopher Agostino

This was my second time painting a body at The Makeup Show New York for Kryolan Professional Makeup and it was an exhilarating experience. It was also great to get a chance to work with Rebecca again, my model. I think of her as a muse, for she has always encouraged me to take chances and helped me develop the designs I paint on her through our discussions as we paint. I believe that bodypainting is a collaborative art between the painter and the model, and Becca is a great partner in the effort. We started painting at 10:30 and completed the full body in five hours. I did get the chance I was hoping for to realize a better iteration of this Animal Body design I have explored over the years. I changed the design to flow better around the body, including changing the direction of that movement, and I came up with better face design than previously. Given that this was a commercial gig, painting in the booth of a makeup company to demonstrate the product and draw attention, I’d rather be painting a design I am familiar with and confident in than trying something completely new (as Becca and I did the following day in a  studio session). This design also gave me a chance to show off the beautifully bright colors that are the reason why Kryolan’s Aquacolors are my makeup of choice.

James and Jessica interviewed attendees on their reaction to a painted body

With James McElligott there filming for his documentary we drew some additional attention. He also did some interviews with people that were stopping to watch, and, even though we were at a Makeup Show, there were a surprising number of people talking about how unusual it was to see a fully painted body. The one episode of Face Off that I saw was when they had to paint a body and I was surprised by how uncomfortable some of the contestants were with the concept of body paint, how unfamiliar it was to them. It’s a reminder to me that bodypainting still has an ability to shock and surprise people and, although I may be immersed in a world of painted people, what I do is unusual.

Which adds to the excitement of painting at The Makeup Show, for as I said to Rebecca while we were setting up, it makes me feel like “a real professional”. Face and body painting isn’t the kind of job that shows up on lists of professions for career day but at the Makeup Show I can feel a connection as a specialist within a small part of a large industry. I never think of myself as a makeup artist — understanding the level of expertise and training that comes with that title — but painting in that context I kinda have to. And I know my limitations: I can’t make a women’s eyes look beautiful for a wedding unless she wants cat’s eyes. I wouldn’t assume that the serious makeup artists at the show, doing fashion or TV and movies, would have seen me as part of the same profession, maybe more like something on a fringe, yet there was no lack of camaraderie and plenty of positive reaction to my process and the completed painting.

Rebecca is a makeup artist, so she was much more savvy than I about the vendors and the products, and when the painting was completed she had the additional pleasure of meeting Tate, her favorite contestant on Face Off.

Becca with Tate from Face Off

Is a bodypainter a makeup artist by definition? I think that is something for someone with a more legitimate claim than me to decide. Certainly a makeup artist can be a body painter, can include body painting within their everyday set of tasks for whatever job they are at. And many bodypainters come into this specialty as trained makeup artists and can handle cosmetics and make beautiful eyes — once while watching Nathalie Simard paint a fantastically theatrical full body design I was struck by the delicacy with which she did her model’s eye makeup.  When I think about it at all, I think of myself as a visual artist that paints on people.



See my fine art body painting at  http://thestorybehindthefaces.com/body-painting/

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