Are you dealing with a professional body paint artist?

This article is written by a member of our expert community. It expresses that member’s views only. We welcome other perspectives. Here’s how to contribute to MM EDU.

Bodypaint art is becoming extremely popular lately, and many people want to try it. I encourage people to try it, because it can be an incredibly satisfying art form for all involved.

Model: cMicaWOW; Photographer: Hoodlum

However, I have noticed a problem recently, and that is the fact that there are many people out there claiming to be professional body paint artists that really should not be making that claim. It is GREAT if you want to work with an amateur, and help them gain experience, but if you are doing this I would at least like to be sure that you know what you are getting into.

Whether you are hiring an artist, posing for one, or looking to establish yourself as one, here are a few things to help you decide whether you are dealing with (or working as) a body painting professional.

A professional body paint artist will use professional tools and professional materials

A professional will use makeup, not paint. The makeup should bear a seal stating that the product is safe in your country to use on skin. Many products will be labeled “non-toxic”, this does NOT mean SAFE FOR USE ON SKIN!  Also, pens made for writing on paper, are not okay for marking on skin.

A professional should have an array of brushes, sponges, airbrushes, or other pro grade equipment. A professional will not suggest that they dip their hands in some bright color and then leave handprints on your breasts as an “artistic statement”.

Artists who do not use professional grade materials and/or equipment are taking chances with your health and should be avoided.  It is also unlikely that you will get good images from such a person.

A professional body paint artist will have some form of liability insurance, which covers body painting

IF something should go wrong, your painter should be prepared to deal with the consequences. Many photographers have liability insurance that would cover their studio, but would not cover their activities if they are body painting.

This is important, because body painting carries a small, but serious risk. If the makeup being used is contaminated and causes you to get an infection of some sort, the painter will need to be able to cover your hospitalization. If the painter accidentally stabs you with a brush, ruins your cell phone with spilled water, or causes some other mishap, you will want them to have the means to deal with the problem.

This is also just something that an amateur would never think to get, but a pro would NEED to have if they are dealing with professional level clients.

Model: cMicaWOW; Photographer: Hoodlum

A professional body paint artist will be able to give you references

A professional will have worked with others in the field. You should (no excuses) contact a couple people from the artist’s portfolio and ask them point blank: “Did (artist in question) do a good job, were you comfortable, and were there any problems or concerns?” PLEASE, for your own good, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

Personally, I also tend not to trust artists who do not have other artists (from their field) in their “friends list” or among their tags.

A professional artist will have professional grade images

Just as in other fields on Model Mayhem, the proof is in the pudding. If a person is claiming to be a professional body paint artist, they should have some good images in their portfolio. Images should be clean, crisp, and not have the appearance of being overly “fixed” in post-production.  A variety of images helps as well. Do not expect an artist who has a full portfolio of people painted gold to be able to pull off a realistic clothing illusion, and don’t expect to get a decent graffiti style image from someone who has a portfolio full of leopards and tigers.

Once again, working with beginning or amateur artists is fine, as long as you know what you are getting into, but if you want to be sure you are dealing with a professional, consider the information I have provided you with as a good place to start.

BodyPainter Rich

BodyPainter Rich

Rich has been making a living airbrushing and painting on people for 20 years. People wanting to learn more about airbrush, bodyart, and combining the two, are encouraged to check out his YouTube Channel or contact him about classes and seminars.

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22 Responses to “Are you dealing with a professional body paint artist?”

  1. April 17, 2013 at 10:16 am, Facebook User said:

    I love body paint projects! I’ve only done one but I had such a good time I want to do it again!


  2. February 11, 2013 at 10:57 am, SelfridgePhotography said:

    Do you know any isurance companies that cover both body painting and photogrpahy? My State Farm insurance just got cancelled because they didn’t know I did body painting as well as photography. Well the under writers didn’t until they look at my website but the people who sold me the isurance have pieces of my work. Any tips?


    • February 11, 2013 at 9:46 pm, Rich Diltz said:

      You might contact Stephanie at . She has carried my insurance for years. Doubt that the photography aspect added to the face/body painting would cause too much concern.


  3. May 02, 2012 at 10:57 am, Brody Hall said:

    Very well written and MUCH appreciated!!  Please note…all these points apply to professional photographers in every sense!!!  (Just insert lenses and strobes were it says brushes)  


  4. May 02, 2012 at 10:11 am, Anthony Hayes said:

    Why use body paint anymore? PS Displacement Map does a better job w/o the high labor and higher costs of body paint.


    • July 07, 2012 at 4:09 pm, Na Cl said:

      You can also generate 3D figures that can be indistinguishable from real people. You can make them do anything, even defy the laws of physics, make any expression.. You’d have an unlimited wardrobe. You’d have absolute control of the lighting.

      So why use models at all? There is something to be said about using the real thing. (My apologies for sounding like a model is an object. I was referring to body paint. :))


  5. May 02, 2012 at 10:00 am, Lidiachavaque said:

    Thanks for the advice. I am currently looking for a body painter. I will make sure to keep this list in mind!


  6. January 12, 2012 at 12:11 am, Danny Setiawan said:

    nicely written, Rich


  7. December 05, 2011 at 10:13 am, Fototaker Tony said:

    good points made here, plus great tips. i recommend each and everyone who might work with any model/photog to contact their past recent clients to find out about the session. thanks for posting such an informative article!!


  8. December 03, 2011 at 8:03 am, Anonymous said:

    This is a lot of great information it is good to have, I wish I had read it at an earlier date.
    I tried to organise a body paint shoot a little while ago, I had been planning it for months. I had made plans with a photographer, another model and the body painter and we were all due to meet up on the big day, but when the big day came I received an email from the body painter saying that she was having problems finding a baby sitter.
    It left me feeling very angry and embarrassed as I had to ring up the photographer and the other model to let them down.
    Maybe if I had read this article earlier this may not have happened.


    • December 03, 2011 at 8:39 am, Rich Diltz said:

      That is really unfortunate. No matter what field you are in, or what field you are dealing with….flakes seem to abound in the modern world.


  9. December 02, 2011 at 4:07 pm, Paul said:

    Great article, I’m not at all into this but like that you covered the topic so well.
    Thanks for caring for all of us!


  10. December 01, 2011 at 8:24 pm, Sghphotoart said:

    Good Info for sure, I have only worked with a few (The Wolf Brothers_ and Jay Bautista, but they have both been awesome! I have seen some not so desirables. You are right on the photography as well, It can really make a bodypainters image. Great article.


  11. December 01, 2011 at 5:47 pm, Herbie said:

    Superbly well said Rich!


  12. December 01, 2011 at 11:25 am, Kevin C Mason said:

    Rich!! Great article !! Once again proving you are on top of your game! I am going to point people to this article!!


  13. December 01, 2011 at 5:03 am, Model T said:

    Thanks Rich 🙂 I’ve only worked with ONE professional body painter and LOVED the experience, however, I was also confident knowing that the “paints” he was using were going to be safe on my skin.

    I’m highly allergic to many chemicals used in paints, shampoos, dyes, etc. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this library.


    • December 01, 2011 at 5:19 am, Rich Diltz said:

      Thank you! If you are allergic to common cosmetic/hygiene products, you should be sure that your painter does a “spot test” on you before body painting. Even FDA approved ingredients are not hypo-allergenic… better safe than sorry.


  14. December 01, 2011 at 4:27 am, BSFischer said:

    Well done Rich!


  15. December 01, 2011 at 3:28 am, Dawn Marie said:

    Thank you for putting this out there Rich… nice article.


  16. December 01, 2011 at 12:28 am, Lonie Rock said:

    Here’s a good example of a professional body painter. (NY)


  17. November 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm, MarkyMakeUp said:

    I frequently hear the same complaints (usually about the same “artists”). Pardon my list… To summarize, liquid make up is water, alcohol or silicone based. Look for brand names (Kryolan Wolfe Bros Mehron MAC Skin Illustrator Ben Nye Mehron etc. NOT Liquitex! Createx! A pro will supply you with make up remover, also if the model wants they will apply a barrier cream, they will airbrush with ventilation and or air circulation, the airbrush will be set to the proper pressure (!) and omg, with respect to the art, you wont be finger painted, hand painted or strictly splatter painted. check their models check their references websites resumes etc. Just cus there is a lot of work does NOT mean there isnt a lot of angry models. ok ok ok off my soap box, srry I had a second cup of coffee 🙂


  18. November 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm, MJDigitalArt said:

    Perhaps worthy of mention and a view from the other side of the airbrush… bear in mind that a Professional will have costs that make him or her a professional… please keep this in mind when negotiating a rate when hiring a professional artist. Professional quality equipment and supplies, licensing, and insurance policies do not come cheap…

    For the record.. I am NOT a professional airbrush artist but I work with a few…


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