Last tuesday I had one of the most interesting body painting commissions I have had so far. I was booked to create body painting for a No Smoking promotion. My assignment was to create the damages of smoking on to three models. This was the first time body painting was used for something like this in Finland. Usually body art is thought to be just fantasy and pure imagination, but this case was an amazing example how body painting can be used as a visual storyteller of facts too - the paintings conveyed a real message in a very memorable way.
The case took a lot of planning beforehand. I was provided with really good anatomical reference pictures by my client as their wish was to have as realistic paintings as possible. The damages of smoking in the human body are serious so everyone agreed the end result should be somewhat exaggarated, shocking even. I was happy I was given artistic freedom to adjust the realism and create my interpretation of the concept.
I had a team of three collegues helping me and it still took us 7 hours to execute the detailed designs. But it was all worth it. The models attracted enormous attention in Kamppi and Helsinki city centre. People stopped to really look at them and we heard comments like "haunting", "scary", "influental" and just "wow". Body painting really brought harmful effects of smoking on the skin - and left them permanently in people's minds.
What do you think? What kind of other messages could be painted on bodies? Are there any limits?
Within the past month I have been sitting in the jury at Helsinki Bodypainting Competition in Finland and Baltic Body Art Competition in Latvia. It is always an honour to be invited in the jury as well as very humbling, because how can you judge art? I've seen competitions as a judge in South-Korea, the Netherlands and Norway too, very different styles of paintings and I have been scoring works by so many amazing artists. It is one of those things that is very difficult, and controversial as it is a matter of opinion. Giving points is truly very hard, and having competed so many times myself I know how exciting, and at the same time scary, it is when you are waiting to see what the jury thinks of the painting you have put your heart and soul into.
So I thought I would describe what things judges look at. In body painting competitions there is a criteria of evaluation that helps when you are facing this difficult task of giving scores to another artist's artwork. The categories in which the points are given vary between competitions, but the basic ideas behind them are similar - quality, technique, use of colour, composition, interpretation of the theme, overall look and originality.
Everyone likes different things and consider different things more important, but more often than not you can tell if someone's painting is very clean or messy for example. The technique, the brush work is judged according to the lines being clean and even, whether teardrops and other classic brush strokes are in balance and whether the base coat of the paint is opaque and blending good. It's important to have a flow on the painting, all different parts of the painting should go together well and create a good overall composition. I myself pay a lot of attention to the colours - I love colours in general. Too much black on the painting doesn't make it standout for me, but on the other hand too many colours thrown on the painting can also look like a chaos. A nice flow between the colours make even a "rainbow puke" look fabulous - a hilarious term another artist kindly used to describe my this year's final painting at the World Bodypainting Festival! ;) I love it!
In competitions artists are always given a theme to paint on and I think it's good - that way you have to put your thought into the painting and story behind it, and as a judge it is lovely to hear how other artist's think and how inspiring stories they come up with. Thinking "outside the box" is the key to finding a good story for your painting. Also in a competition it shows who has made an effort and really wants to do well. It is important I think, and maybe that's why I have always put a lot of thought into the stories of my competition pieces. This year I was rewarded with amazing points for my final winning painting "iLive - iDie" at the WBF (read it here) , and I think it shows that the story can make or break your competition painting.
Of course competitions are just one part of the world of body painting, and I think the only part where the creations are judged "officially". There are so many artists around the world, creating their own body art pieces with their own styles and stories behind the pieces, that I don't thinki it's worth spending time thinking who is better than someone else. I think it's better to just appreciate the variety and of course naturally you just know which paintings you like or don't like, for any reason. I myself like those artists' work who create something that touches my heart, pleases my eyes and is somehow surprising or new to me.
So my piece of advice - don't judge body painting, just love it!
Riina's world of body painting
My latest news and behind-the-scenes stories. New projects and ideas. Just everything body painting related you (or I) can think of!