Animal Surprises at the Bronx Zoo — Facepainting Gallery

We had a team of 6 artists at the Bronx Zoo for a company’s family outing this past weekend, which gave me a chance to do some more specifically animal and nature themed facepainting then I get to do on most of my gigs these days. Although at our zoo facepainting concessions we post a list of about 40 animals for people to choose from (just a list — no photos), at our special events there we prefer to be more adventurous by surprising people with the animal we turn them in to. We ask each participant if they want to be “nice” or “spooky” and then surprise them with the transformation. Here and some of the faces I painted myself over the 4 hour event. (You can click on the photos to see the names I give the face designs.)

Li Chi Slays the Dragon — from Bodies Alive!



See the video: Li Chi Slays the Dragon from Bodies Alive! 

An ancient Chinese legend brought to life on painted bodies.


Li Chi Slays the Dragon is one of the stories I tell most frequently. Mostly as a StoryFace, illustrating the tale on the face of one volunteer as I tell it, but, once upon a time, I had the chance to expand the story onto a cast of performers as a tale told with painted bodies. This video is from that performance at the Face and Body Art International Convention in 2008, as part of the Bodies Alive! show we presented there. I was joined in the painting by Christina Davison, Sara Glasgow, and Jennifer Wade, with help from some volunteers, and in performance by Blair Woodward, Cully Firmin, Rebecca Reil and Chloe Agostino. See my StoryFace version of Li Chi live at PIFA. Learn about the Bodies Alive Show. Learn about BodyStories.

My specific inspiration for how to take a legend like this and turn it into a sequence of images on painted bodies came from a puppet show I saw at the New Victory Theatre by Ping Chong, adapting to the stage Japanese ghost stories from the classic movie Kwaidan. Ping Chong’s stage design re-created a cinematic style, varying the size of the puppets and the perspective of the settings he placed them in to do closeups, or long shots or tracking shots, to tell the story sequentially — like in a movie.

The development process included sketches of the body designs which I scanned and then moved around in photoshop to create a rough storyboard, plus some color and design tests done in the course of my regular facepainting gigs. To help the performers understand the visuals that their painted bodies would create on stage, I sketched the designs onto T-shirts for them to wear during rehearsals. Included here are the studio photos taken at FABAIC by Rich Johnson, plus some of the other images created during the process, and since.

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Related articles

Hero Tales! — for Library Summer Reading Programs

A new StoryFaces show for this summer’s Every Hero Has a Story theme:


My favorite stories to tell to children are traditional hero tales — the original Superhero stories — especially those that feature young or small protagonists, like Li Chi Slays the Dragon, the 2,000 year old tale from China about a brave maiden that saves her village, or Punia and the King of the Sharks, a Hawaiian tale about a boy who battles a shark. The reason Punia is so brave is because he is small — which is a wonderful encouragement to give to kids, that even the small can be heroes, as in Aesop’s Fable The Lion and the Mouse. In The Amazing Face, my newest original story, we see an audience member’s inner hero come to life on their own face. StoryFaces shows are a surprising combination of storytelling and visual arts that fully engages the entire audience.

Adventure tales about heroes were the original motivational speeches, passed down through generations to inspire listeners to reach for the stars and become the hero in their own lives. For this summer’s reading club theme, my Hero Tales! show will include some of my favorite hero and adventure stories — connecting these traditional tales to our comic book Superhero culture. A wide variety of tales are available to suit the age range of your audience, including samurai adventure tales for older kids. If I’ve been to your library before, I keep a record of what I’ve told, so that I can always return with new stories for your audience.

See the new video: What Is A StoryFace?

Always new stories. Always exciting. As much fun for adults as for kids.









And for your Summer Reading Club Party or Special Event:

Become Your Own Super Hero with Transformation Facepainting

Our Transformation Facepainting can bring any kid’s inner hero out, with surprising facepainting designs based on the special things they already do and what they dream of becoming, or maybe we’ll invent a brand new super hero just for them. What you don’t see at our Become Your Own Super Hero events are spiderman or batman faces — we want every participant to become their own unique hero for a day.


And also for this Summer’s Hero theme:


Jack in the Beanstalk 
The show about Reading that everyone loves.
Featuring a special hero theme version of The Have You READ It? Game Show
learn more at: The Bodacious Book Show
Agostino Arts Theatre has been presenting programs in schools, libraries, theaters and other venues throughout the Tri-State area for nearly 30 years.

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Art On Your Face — Gallery

Christopher Agostino  1/2/2015  #transformationsny

It’s a natural part of the explorations of a face painter to copy famous paintings of fine artists onto faces. We learn from each attempt. At events, turning someone into a work of art can also elevate the response to the facepainting, so I often put recognizable paintings onto people’s faces at parties. Beginning with an event for the “Picasso and the School of Paris” exhibit at the Nassau County Museum of Art in 2006, we have offered this type of fine art facepainting as our special Art On Your Face theme for museums, art festivals and the like. Working from a repertoire of recognizable images and developing new faces to suit specific exhibits, for clients such as the Parrish Art Museum and the Hudson River Museum. Here are a selection of the many photographs of guests painted at these “Art On Your Face” events, with designs that are imitations of famous works of art along with original faces inspired by such artists. learn about all we do at

 Doesn’t Your Face Deserve To Be Art?

Holidays and Christmas in New York — Transformations Gallery


Holiday season in New York brings its own special transformation to the city, and we enjoy being part of it. Through the years a steady stream of holiday parties, corporate events and public events for clients such as Macys have allowed us to develop some fun motifs for our holiday surprise faces. Learn about all we do at:


Here are some favorites from the past few years:

Returning to these same themes and imagery every year gives me a chance to apply lessons learned since the past season and continue the development of new holiday faces, combining face ideas from other themes into holiday designs, and developing new designs for specific events.


Combining a snowman with penguins or polar bears makes a very cute face, along with the idea of penguins making their own "Snowpenguin"

Adding in the type of scenic animal designs we do at the Bronx Zoo by combining a snowman with penguins or polar bears to make some fun faces, along with the idea of penguins making their own “Snowpenguin”

Some of the scary stuff: Christmas Zombies

We can also throw in a few Christmas Zombies and Santa Aliens to get a wider range of kids involved.

For a number of years we've had the pleasure of painting some of the people for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, as well as for their in store special events.

For a number of years we’ve had the pleasure of painting some of the volunteers and specialty performers for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as well as for their in store special events.


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