Bodyart: Characteristics, Types

Bodyart_types Art

The term “body art” describes a contemporary art form in which the artist’s own body becomes a “canvas” or “work of art. Although closely related to conceptual art and performance art, body art encompasses a wide range of disciplines including: body art using paint or markers to draw on skin; tattoo art; aqua makeup; nail art; piercing; makeup; mime and living statues; and photography. Sometimes it is created privately and then displayed in photographs or videos. sometimes it is created “live” in front of an audience.

A number of contemporary performance-dependent artists have become famous for inflicting pain on themselves or shocking audiences with extreme forms of behavior such as drug use, self-mutilation, eroticism and masochism. Presented at some of the best contemporary art festivals, including specialized events such as body art festivals, as well as in several top contemporary art galleries, these body disciplines exemplify the postmodernist tendency to expand the definition of art.far beyond the traditionalist sphere of drawing, painting and sculpture. However, some art historians take a narrower view and prefer to classify performative body art as entertainment rather than as a separate form of visual art.

Origin and History

Body art – at least in the form of body painting – has its origins in prehistoric art and the use of colored pigments, such as red ochre, for cultural purposes. Makeup and tattooing also come from ancient art, practiced all over the world, from North America to New Zealand, and pantomime goes back to the dramatic gestures of ancient Greece. The most modern forms include body statues (a type of street art), nail art, and performance body art. The latter first appeared in the mid-1960s and reappeared after a certain decline in the 1990s.


The main forms of body art include the following:

  • Body art related to performance
  • Body Painting
  • The Art of Tattooing
  • Makeup (including aqua makeup)
  • Mim and living statues
  • Manicure
  • Human nude photography

Body art today

Today, body art is a form of self-expression by an artist that uses the human body as a canvas. As a rule, it is naked. Naked nature is like an open soul. There comes liberation, freedom, and a living picture for the artist.

By the way, anyone who has tried to be this very canvas knows that the feeling is unforgettable, it’s a shame to wash it off, you walk around until the paint starts to fall off. Why? I think the thing is that body art as a modern art has its origins in painting the bodies of the ancient tribes of America, Africa and Asia, for them, however, it had a religious meaning. This is how ancient people protected themselves from evil spirits.

We, even though we don’t believe in spirits, but we instinctively want to decorate with something. That’s why drawings on the body are so exciting and attractive. Today bodies are usually painted with special makeup. But since it is expensive, it can be replaced by acrylic paint. And some artists make their own compositions, for example, using ordinary gouache, in which they add a little shampoo for softness.

By the way, this way the paint washes off better. Artists paint anything they want on the models. One such artist “put dresses” on the models. He put a zipper on their bodies, then coated everything except the zipper with acrylic paint, waited until the paint dried, and then defiantly removed the dress. Beautiful, and most importantly unusual, he created the dress himself and took it off.

And in Europe and the United States, you know what artists have come up with? They build compositions out of living people. First, they put pictures of water, earth, plants, etc. on each person’s body. Then they put all the people in pyramids, creating “living” landscapes. That’s how they have body art festivals.

Pros of body art

  • The colors are non-toxic.
  • Can be quickly applied and washed off.
  • Lots of stencils and different paints, even ultraviolet.

The rules for applying body art

  1. Dye tolerance test – paint on the inner side of the elbow or wrist (where the skin is thinner). Wait a few hours. If allergic – make up a new compound.
  2. Dyes should be breathable.
  3. Avoid contact with the dye.
  4. Warn the model when to close your eyes (you can use glasses).
  5. It is better if you use a brush and not a paint gun when working on the face.
  6. You have to stand for hours and your skin can itch.
  7. Contact professionals and salons.
  8. The price depends on the complexity, color and size of the drawing.

Subtleties in body art sketching

  1. It is important to consider the plasticity of the skin and the topography of the body.
  2. Light tones bring visually closer and dark tones remove.
  3. Warm colors (yellow, orange, red, yellow-green) bring forward, and cool colors (blue, purple, blue-violet, blue, bluish-green) deepen and remove. There are also achromatic colors – black, white and gray.
  4. Warm tones are used for highlights, and cool tones for shadows.

Paints for Body art

  1. Dyes should be of vegetable origin only.
  2. Only natural creams.
  3. Paints can be bought in cosmetics departments and theater stores.
  4. It is best to use aqua paints, but expensive and difficult to find.

Paint substitutes

  • If possible, do not use tempera and acrylic paints – bad for the skin.
  • You can apply baby gouache, cosmetic pencils, shadows and theatrical makeup.
  • Gouache is inexpensive, convenient, easy to wash off, but it cracks when it dries and falls off. You can add a little shampoo or honey to the gouache – the paint will be softer and will adhere well to the body. It can be irritating, so it is better not to use it often.
  • Cosmetic pencils and shadows are short-lived. You can use them to decorate only small areas of the body for a short time.
  • Acrylic paints are expensive, but more elastic, brighter than gouache, In addition, they last a long time on the body. It dries quickly.
  • Tempera paints are breathable and even, but once dry, they become brittle and crumble quickly.
  • There are two types of body paint consistency: paste-like and semi-liquid.

Body art types

  1. Legs art – painting of legs. Model should take a comfortable position, leaning against something so that the whole body weight doesn’t press on legs. The feet are treated with cleansing milk. Soften the skin with a moisturizer, then use a sponge to apply a light base. They let it dry for 10 minutes and then use a makeup pencil to draw the picture.
  2. Fact art is face painting. Body painting is body painting.
Chuck Livid
Chuck Livid

Chuck Livid hails from Miami, Florida. He did a zine in the '90s called Muddy Chaos and is best known for his work with independent music label Livid Records. Chuck lives in Boca Raton, Fl with his wife illustrator Helena Garcia and their son Nico. He founded and hosts's official music podcast - Another Music Podcast which is available on iTunes & Google Play

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