Preparation for First-Time Models
Here’s a few things to keep in mind for your upcoming bodypainting session:
We seek to create an atmosphere of respect and joyful creative discovery. Bodypainting is a four-dimensional artform— it has height and width like a painted canvas, as well as depth like a sculpture, but it also moves through time like a dancer. It is ephemeral and transient— it’s fleeting beauty captured only by an audience’s eyes or the camera’s lens. Expressing form and emotion like no other artform, it is alive like no other artform because YOU, the model, are alive. Together we bring it to life.
We are creative partners in this endeavor. What you, the model, bring to the equation is essential. This is true in a way that could never be possible with a traditional painter and a flat canvas or a sculptor and a block of marble. You can scream, laugh, cry, leap in the air or fall to the floor. You can reveal a multitude of emotions with a gesture, a glance, an expression. Because YOU live and breathe, the art can live and breathe. Hopefully, you are beginning to realize what an immensely powerful and evocative opportunity we have before us. One in which we can create magic simply not possible in any other artform. We ask you to rise to the occasion and let the spirit flow through you. Become the soul of the living artwork itself. Leave your day-to-day concept of who you are behind and embody the art itself. You’re in for an amazing experience!
We are “anti-shame” in our approach to art. We feel the human body is exquisite and beautiful and that the our bodypaintings are a strong positive statement to counter the negative body-image messages we receive from advertising and the media all around us. Therefore, all our models are completely nude. No exceptions. The English poet Keats wrote “beauty is truth, truth beauty”, and that is our goal — to create something beautiful and also truthful. Our intention is not to create erotic art. Not that we have anything against erotic art, it is just not what we are aiming for.
Bodypainting is a unique phenomenon in that you’re naked and yet you’re not. We know from experience that you won’t feel naked, and the lines and colors of the painted designs tend to over-ride the sense of eroticism that people usually associate with nudity. We find that any concerns usually mellow during the process and everyone feels safe and normal very quickly. Curiously, there seems to be some inherent emboldening power that is part of the bodypainting magic too— experience has shown us that even very shy models find being bodypainted such a charge that they are ready to take on every dance club in town after the session.
About the Paint
We use professional, theatre-grade make up products specially formulated for bodypainting. The companies that make them also make other kinds of cosmetics such as eye shadow and foundation. The paint is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and safe for the skin. It is water-based and dries completely, feeling light – almost as if there’s nothing there at all. If you’ve tried that awful grease-based Halloween make-up, you needn’t worry, this is nothing like that. Our bodypainting colors are also easy on the skin (moisturizing) and breathe well. The paint does not flake or peel, and will simply turn back into paint if you get it wet, so keep this in mind if you sweat a lot or plan on jumping in the swimming pool (don’t do it!). It will not rub off on to clothes (unless it gets wet) and even if it does, just throw the garment into the laundry and it should come clean. Your bodypainting will fade over time, as your body moves. Realistically, it will look good just for the one day that we paint you, although some folks have tried to keep it on until the next day (not very successfully). Ready to clean up? It all comes off easily in the shower. A little soap and water and perhaps a friend to scrub your back and you’re human once again.
How Long Does it Take?
While a traditional painter may spend months working a canvas, we must complete our work in a few hours. While that may be a very short time in comparison, it will certainly feel like a long time to you, the model, as you spend the hours receiving our brush strokes on your skin. A bodypainting session is typically 8-12 hours long, and sometimes longer. The photo session often takes 1-2 hours beyond that. Yes, it will be tiring, but you’ll get reinvigorated near completion just by seeing how amazing you look. Posing for the camera will also get you jazzed, and by the time it’s done and you’re ready to go out for the evening you’ll be excited and eager.
Most of the time you will be standing, and more than one painter will be working on different parts of you. Try to be aware of what we are doing as we will need you to turn and twist to access various parts of your anatomy. It always goes smoother when our model anticipates and accommodates our direction. Stillness is necessary a certain amount of the time when painting important detail work, but much of the time conversation, and minor movement, is fine. One word of caution: don’t lock your knees while standing! I know you’ve heard this since you were a child, but almost every model forgets and does it anyway. It might help you remember to know that we have had several people faint, vomit, and one fall over, face-first onto concrete for doing nothing more dramatic than locking their knees while standing. Don’t let this scare you, though, only one person in a hundred has problems and these are totally preventable with a little common sense.
We are sometimes asked if it is difficult to paint men because they are so hairy. The answer is “yes”, and while it is true that it is certainly easier to paint over smooth skin, the truth is that everyone has hair all over even on the tips of our noses. We can usually work around it. That being said, most models do shave their pubic area, and yes we do paint everything. We don’t require that you shave, however, it’s up to you. Neither do we require male models to shave their chests, arms or legs. If you have a concern or question, just ask us.
Nail polish is fine. In fact it is often a great compliment to the colors of the bodypainting.
Don’t wear any lotion the day of your session. Also, you need not wear any make up on your face as we’ll just paint over it. It’s fine if you do, just keep this in mind.
Tattoos and Piercings
Tattoos are neither a help nor a hindrance. The paint is semi-translucent and it is almost always possible to see some of the underlying tattoo art (which is somewhat distracting). While it would be preferable to paint skin that is not predecorated, this is not that big of a deal. If someone approached us that was literally covered with tattoos, we’d probably pass, but a few are fine. Piercings are no big deal, either. We will simply paint right over them or you can take them out for the session.
Taking Care of Yourself
It is important to take breaks as often as you feel is necessary. How often is different for each model. Don’t be shy about telling us you need to get up and walk around, stretch or whatever— it is easy for us to get very absorbed into the painting process and forget everything else. Bring a bathrobe to wear during these times. Have a light meal before the session. This will be an essential start for what will be a long, long day. Choose good, healthy food— don’t eat anything that you think will make you feel bloated or otherwise upset your tummy. It might be a good idea to pass on that plate of beans and cabbage curry, too! Remember to bring snacks and something to drink. Nibbling a little all throughout the day is better than a big heavy meal, and it will keep you energized and fresh as the day progresses.
Yes, we have everyone sign a model release form (download now). Besides being general good business practice, this is so that hopefully we can put together a book of our work someday.
Sometimes its hot, sometimes its cold. Sometimes we, as painters, will be sweating, but our model, standing still for hours, is chilled. If you’re too hot we can always put a fan on you and that should do the trick. Being cold is far more common, even in the warmer months of the year. As a model you will be nude and stationary for most of the day, and your internal body temperature will naturally get lower. Also, the jet of air from an airbrush will feel startlingly cool on the skin. We will try to make you as comfortable as possible with space heaters, etc. but there are a few things you can do as well. Warm socks and mittens work well, even though the rest of your skin is bare. Hot tea or coffee is a good idea, and a blanket or fuzzy bathrobe you can use during breaks to warm up is a great idea. Keep in mind that it might be hot at noon when we start, but it will be considerably cooler near midnight when you leave. Plan accordingly.
We’ve learned that some pregnant women have difficulty both sitting up straight and lying flat, and we have an adjustable bench that will allow you to recline. If you have special needs, just tell us. We want you to know that we will do everything possible to make you as comfortable as possible. Please feel free to make any requests or voice any concerns— we will do our best to make sure that your bodypainting experience is easy and trouble-free.
Props and Prep
Wigs, high-heeled shoes, props are all good to consider in planning. This is optional. It’s up to you. Also, plan on bringing hair brushes, etc. for styling. No use in taking great photos of your beautiful painted body with a hot tangled mess of hair on top of it all.
Clothing (before the session)
Please wear loose, comfortable clothes to the session. Clothes that you wouldn’t mind if they got some paint on them (which will come out in the laundry). A skirt or a pair of sweat pants and a baggy sweatshirt is good. We have had models show up in skin-tight clothes and then ruin the paint because they have nothing else to wear after the session. Their hopes of going out afterwards and sharing the paint were compromised because the tight clothes rubbed it all off before they got home.
Clothing (after the session)
You will almost certainly want to show off your beautiful painted self after the photography session. For some, this means going out to various night clubs. Try to plan ahead for this and bring appropriate clothing. This generally means something small and sexy. Something that will reveal as much of the painting as possible. To the best of our understanding, you are “street legal” here in the state of North Carolina if your top is bodypainted and you have a g-string on your bottom. That’s pretty daring and we have spent plenty of time downtown with models with just that and nothing else. Most, however, opt for a little more. The choice is yours, just plan ahead. Also, you may want to bring an old towel or sheet to drape over the car seat, both to protect the paint and keep your car seats clean. A sweaty body rubbing a leather car seat will remove that paint in an instant. Additionally, a blanket or robe to warm up in is also essential.
Yes, it is OK for people to photograph you at the dance clubs. Yes, it is OK for you to put these pictures on Facebook (unless we’re painting a practice run for a competition). Just give credit where it is due. If you have particularly great photos, please send them to us. You might also find it helpful to bring some dark lipstick for touch-ups.
We have worked with a variety of models at various skill and experience levels. Different models bring different qualities to the work. Of course, there are a lot of moods one can express, but it’s not the typical “fashion” look we want. We’re after something timeless and archetypal in the pose— a kind of quiet power that emanates from a goddess. If you can get into the proper mindset your body will reflect what you feel. Conversely, if you feel tired it will show very clearly in your photo shoot, so perk up! The obvious stuff applies: don’t slouch, stand tall with chest out and shoulders back, arch your back, etc. We’ll also try a lot of variations. We’ll work it until we get something interesting.
Afterwards, the photographer will send us a disk of the images from your session. A few of the best will be chosen and professionally retouched and polished. Then we send you a disk with your pictures. It usually takes weeks, and other projects will sometimes dictate time lines. Don’t be afraid to follow up, we need a nudge on occasion.
After the bodypainting session is over you’re very likely to want to go out on the town. You may have been tired during the middle of the painting process, but you will have perked up during the photo shoot, and by the time you’re ready to go out you will be on cloud nine. There is very little that can compare with the kind of experience you are likely to have — people will rushing at you, literally falling over themselves to exclaim how beautiful you are. How your very existence has made their spirit soar. And, if you are in a place with a lot of people, such as an outdoor festival (like Burning Man), this might mean a thousand people before the day is over. Most humans are just not used to this kind of treatment. Most of us light up like a candle if ONE person says, “hey, you’re looking good”, once in a great while. To be bombarded with it at this level of amplitude can be overwhelming. We call it getting “love bombed”. We suggest you do your best to take it in without reservation. It’s just one day out of your life, albeit one very special day. When people scream to the rafters, “YOU”RE GORGEOUS!!!” we want you to just reply simply, “Why yes, I am!”
you might want to bring…
• water, or something to drink (to keep you hydrated)
• hair band, hair brushes, styling gear
• wigs, high-heels, props, etc., for the photo shoot
• nightclub clothes (for afterwards), also something loose and warm like sweatpants and a baggy shirt
• an old towel or sheet to drape over the car seat for the ride home