Bringing Art to Life An Interview with Makeup Artist Marie-Helene Babin

by Alyssa Laube

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About: Marie-Helene Babin is a professional makeup artist who specializes in body and face painting, SPFX, editorial work, bridal design, and film/television. In the past, she grew up in Quebec and worked as an illustrator. Today, she is creating art in Vancouver, with a focus on airbrushing and body painting. At this year’s Art World Expo, Marie-Helene will be displaying these skills!
You’ve been a body and face painter for over 15 years now. How has your work and skills changed since you started?

It’s changed on so many levels! I have better abilities and product knowledge now, so i’m getting greater and faster results. Going back to school also taught me different skills such as airbrushing, which I have since incorporated into my working technique. A lot of elements in my body paintings are still done by hand, but airbrushing is a wonderful tool which provides results that can’t always be achieved with other methods. I like using a balance of both techniques.
Why did you move to B.C., and why did you choose to stay here?

I lived in the United Kingdom for over two years before I moved to British Columbia. It was a bit of a hiatus for me, the goal of which was to discover where to take my career. During those two years, I face and body painted very little, but I attended the IMATS trade shows every year and took a film/television makeup course at the London College of Fashion. These were deciding factors in my decision to go back to school full-time for makeup and obtain my diploma. However, my Visa ran out, and coming back to Canada was the only way for me to attend school. I choose Vancouver (over Toronto) for various reasons; I wanted to study in a city where I could see myself staying, and the artistic industry, sea side, mountains, and mild winters were all very appealing reasons! It’s been a great journey so far.

MHB Pregnancy Belly Painting
Did your family impact your artistry?

My mother had a huge impact on me. She was a visual artist, so I grew up having access to all sorts of paints and mediums. As a result, I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember! She encouraged me to pursue my dreams, which played a big role in getting me to where I am today.

What type of body and face painting do you consider your favourite or specialty?

Body painting has a lot of creative options and freedom, not to mention a bigger canvas! As for face painting, well, I’m always going to love face painting. I always say that it’s like my baby. Since the age of nine, I knew I was going to face paint one day… and I did, and still do! Kids are so much fun to work with. They’re truly mesmerized by having their faces painted and it always makes me smile to see their delight!

Overall, I think my that paintings tend to have a surrealist and “flowy” feeling to them. I also like details and painting them by hand.

marieheleneBody Painting_Vancouver
Can you describe one of your favourite projects or pieces that you’ve worked on?

“A Little Bird Told Me” is probably one of my favourites. I was pleased with the overall look and the beautiful pictures that came out of it. I do like “The Octopus” and “Carnival” as well, though. It’s actually quite hard to choose! There are certain elements from each painting that I am quite attached to, such as a back painting, colour themes, or props/costumes (I make my own props and headpieces when I have the time). Body and face painting is a very ephemeral form of art; Apart from pictures and memories, there’s nothing left to cherish. You have to learn to let go of the original and all of the time you spent working on it.
How did growing up in Quebec shape you as an artist?

Culture and art has an important place in Quebec. The government invests a lot in the support of musicians, visual artists, actors, dancers, and so on. Many small galleries have emerged, artist studios and music festivals are affordable, and therefore, we can access art very easily.
What did attending Blanche MacDonald Center do for you as an artist and individual?

It inspired me to take my art to another level and it made me realize that I didn’t necessarily want to choose a specific area to work with. I love all aspects of makeup, whether it be an editorial shoot, a commercial, or a body painting. I really enjoy the diversity that makeup has to offer and the different people you get to work with. That’s why I choose this field.
You also work in illustration. What sort of projects do you like to work on illustrating, and what draws you to it?

My style is mostly surrealist. I enjoy using pens and ink a lot, and I also paint with acrylics. Lately, makeup and body painting has been taking a lot of my time and energy, and I had to put my visual artwork on the back burner for a while. Still, I do have a painted series on wood panels that I started a couple of years ago. I would love to finish it and exhibit it in a gallery eventually.

What is it like to work on a film set, and have you worked on any well-known productions?

I enjoy working on sets, despite the very long hours! I’ve worked on small and bigger ones: a few well-known television series last year, and also a lot of smaller commercials and videos. Seeing the behind the scenes has always fascinated me, whether it be for a film or a stage production. It’s captivating to see how it all comes to life!

To see more of Marie-Helene’s work, visit:


Thank you to our Platinum Sponsor-Twin Peaks Construction!


Pushing Past the Limit-An Interview with Autumn Blake

By Alyssa Laube

Autumn Blake Puakai (1) Autumn Blake Robot (1)

About: Autumn Blake is a freelance makeup artist and married mother of two from the TriCity area. Her passion is creating unique and interesting characters with her skills, but she is currently dabbling in a little bit of everything, from fashion and beauty to film and body painting. She will be showcasing her work in this year’s body painting competition at the Art World Expo.


How would you describe your work as a makeup artist?

My enthusiasm in the industry works strongly with the creative side of makeup artistry. I strive to create something that captivates the eye. I apply that drive to my makeup; be it fashion on the runway, special effects (my favourite), or a full character makeup.

How were you trained in makeup?

I was professionally trained at Blanche Macdonald Centre in the Global Makeup Program (and graduated on January 16th of this year), so I learned everything from everyday makeup and bridal to special effects and character makeups.

Many of your pieces seem to have an alien-like look to them. Is this the look you aim for, and why do you like to create it?

Though I really do enjoy science fiction characters, I feel as if I just truly enjoy freedom in creativity. Creating without restriction can result in some amazing pieces. That freedom makes the art push past the limit of natural world ideas, which is why the characters sometimes come off as alien.

Where do you get inspiration for your pieces?

I get inspiration everywhere! One week it could be comic books and video games and the next it could be organics and nature.

How does your makeup style for yourself compare to the one you use on your work?

My makeup style for myself is the complete opposite! It’s usually very subtle and natural, whereas my work is generally more bold and colourful.

What’s your favourite makeup design trend, or even time period?

I am a huge fan of the art style in folklore and fantasy, though I am still a huge sucker for winged liner and red lips!

What are you hoping to accomplish at this year’s expo?

I’m hoping to push my abilities, create something new and different, and share my and other artist’s work.

To view more of Autumn’s work, visit: https://www.facebook.com/autumnsmakeupandhair?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Humanity and Fantasy-An Interview with Effects Artist Isabelle Fallu

By Alyssa Laube

About: Isabelle Fallu describes herself as an “self-taught effects artist [and] certified makeup artist”. Her passion is to produce unique and fantastical creations using her skills and imagination! This year, she will be body painting at the Art World Expo. 

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When and how did you start your career in makeup? 

I started right after high school! Being self-taught in FX makeup specifically, I did a lot of small local film/theatre stuff and birthday or club events. I moved to Vancouver knowing that it would be the best opportunity for me.

What are some of your favourite techniques to use?

Dry brushing! I love using a slightly dry paintbrush to create texture in my makeups.

What are some of your favourite colours and why?

Red because of how striking it is, and earth tones because of their organic feel. I like my makeups to feel as if they could be real.


What do you find most challenging?

Clean lines are really tough for me. My teachers and peers have frequently describe my style as being an “organized mess”. My challenge is to create something that is simply crisp and clean.

How has your work changed since you started attending cosmetology school?

College really helped me learn how to apply all of my knowledge to makeup, from colour theory to anatomy to proper use of space, etc.

Where do you get the inspiration for the “characters” you create?

A lot of books I read; mythology, fables, legends, history, comic books…but most of all, nature is my biggest inspiration. I like my creatures to have aspects of both humanity and fantasy.

Have you worked in films, plays, or television? If so, how was your experience?

I’ve been working on indie movie/television sets since I graduated school 6 months ago. It’s my passion and I don’t see myself ever doing anything but! I’ve done a bit of work in prosthetic shops as well, but the application process is truly my passion.

Do you prefer to create fantasy-inspired pieces?

Yes! Fantasy and science fiction are my heart and soul.


Which makeup companies or products would you recommend using?

Every product has pros and cons. I’m a huge fan of Makeup Forever, Kryolan, Nars, and Ben Nye. I worked at Sephora for a while and I think I spent more money there than I made!

Which makeup looks do you like for yourself?

Winged eyeliner and red lips. That’s pretty much it! if I’m going out, I might smack on some foundation, contour, and brows, but it’s rare.

Is there any makeup designer or trend that you love, above all others?

I don’t really look into designers or trends, but there are people who inspire me everyday. Sarah Elizabeth was one of my teachers in school. She’s been since a wonderful friend, teacher, and great help when it comes to finding work and making connections. Melissa Meretsky, or M3 Artistry, keeps me so inspired. I have never seen anyone bleed art like she does. Her work is so creative and ridiculous and beautiful and shocking. She defines the word “Artist”.

More of Isabelles work can be seen at:



Matt Huntley is a body painter living, creating and working in Portland, Oregon. His Facebook Fan Page was recently removed due to “nude” photos of his models on his page. Though all models are covered in artistically executed paint and craftsmanship, censorship remains a key issue for body painters like Matt who are trying to push the norms of artistic expression.


Interview with Matt Huntley

by Aly Laube 


About: Matt Huntley is an experienced body painter who works primarily with fantastical, horror, and special FX painting.

To see some of Matt’s work, go to: 



Body painting has been a part of the Expo for a while now. Is this your first time taking part in the event and if so, what are you looking forward to?
2013 was my first time attending the event.  I met some wonderful people, and the experience was a good one.  I didn’t know what to expect, but had a blast, and placed 2nd, so I’m coming back for a second time. 


How did you get started in body painting?  
I’ve always been an artist, and got in to special effects.  After many years doing SFX and theatrical makeup, I got tired of the same work over and over.  How many zombies does the world actually need?  So I started doing body painting, and love every minute of it. 


How did you receive your training?  
I’m mostly self taught.  I was an art major when I first went to college, but quickly changed career paths.  I did intern in the Special Effects field for a few months, and received a decent foundation, but over all I just research various forms of art, talk with painters, sculptors, and makeup artists.  I practice all the time with new products, various paint brushes, and airbrushes.  


What is the best thing about working in body painting? 
I like turning the human canvas into a piece of art.  The human form is already such an amazing art piece, so to use it to create is really the best part of body painting. Also, I do like that it’s temporary (this means I don’t have stacks of canvases piled up in my studio.)


The art that you do is very creative. How do you experiment with your work? 
I’m always testing new techniques and designs.  I test new brushes and new products.  I test to see which products work best with each other and how various paints lay on top of each other.  I also check my designs against what has already been done, and if I’ve duplicated someone else’s work, I try to change my design when I can.  When working with photographers or models, I take their input on what they want the design to look like, and I try to think of a way to get that look as well.   I’m always pushing myself to grow as an artist in all aspects of my art.  


What inspires you? 
Everything.  People, shapes, nature, other artists.  I get inspired to create different things every day.  Sometimes this becomes overwhelming, so I keep a book that I jot down my ideas in. 


How have you evolved as an artist over time? 
My work has become cleaner, bolder, and more detailed.  My use of time has improved, and I’ve become more confident with my designs.


Did you always want to go into body painting? 
Actually, I wanted to be an art teacher. After years of exploring all forms of art, I happened into body painting and fell in love with it.


A lot of the work you do is very fantastical. Is it your own ideas or others that inspire you in this area? (i.e.: movies, books, art)
Most of the work I do are my ideas.  I do also collaborate with models, and photographers on a basic concept, and they give me artistic freedom.  Some of my work might also be an interpretation of some other art work.  I have painted a person and a horse, based on work from artist “Olivia De Berardinis”, and of course as a huge Star Wars fan, I have also done a few pieces that follow that genre.


Many different models are used for your artwork. How do you think the model is important to the piece as a whole?         This is a tough question.  I have designs that are designed around very specific models, and then I have some designs that are designed around body shapes. (tall, short, petite, curvy, etc).  That being said, when I’m designing a new painting I will ask the model what his/her favourite colours are, I look at skin tone, eye colour, hair colour, height, length of torso, legs, etc.  the shape of the model is important to the design, and the design is important to the model.  If you paint a model with a design she loves, she will make that design hers and work it. That being said, some designs are meant for a single shot, straight on, and the model becomes less important.  For instance, if I’m hiding a model in a mural, or against a back ground (camouflaging them), for this type of painting the most important part is the placement of the model and lining up the painting. 


How is body painting different than other forms of art?
Bodypainting is temporary.  First and foremost.  Also, what might take an artist painting on canvas 2 or 3 days (or weeks) a body painter must do in a few hours.  Our canvas is alive, they move, they stretch.  The movement of a foot can change the lines you’ve painted on a cheek… so taking all of that into consideration is very important.


You’ve painted on both men and women. What do you consider the important differences? How about similarities? 
Differences? Body hair.  When a man is going to be painted, they will shave or wax their entire body before. Rarely will a female model shave or wax her entire body, and then they will make a comment about body hair.  Every model, “every single person”, has body hair.  It’s just biology.  Most of it is light and small and can’t be seen… but you hit that with some paint, and from up close this can be seen. Nudity.  Most female models have no problem with being naked for a painting, whereas only a few male models are comfortable enough to get fully nude.  Body shape.  Simply put, women have more curves, breasts, hips, legs, they are curvier and softer.  Similarities? The initial reaction to the paint.  Be it brush, sponge or airbrush, their reactions are the same.  Most have the same questions about how one gets into bodypainting, as well as how to clean up, so I would say the differences are mostly physical and the similarities are mental. 


How did your home life/childhood impact your decision to become an artist?
I’ve just always been an artist.  I can’t remember not being an artist.  I’ve always drawn and been pulled to various art.  My art drove my imagination and my imagination drove my art.  Some people are inspired by music, or theatre, or sports, and I was inspired by colour, shape, lines, and creating.


What do you hope to explore as an artist in the future?                                                                                                               I’m planning my first trip to the “World Bodypainting Festival” in Austria, June/July 2014.  I am hoping to compete, but at the very least paint. I’m hoping to get to work at conventions, as well as do more “Larger” production paintings involving multiple photographers, costumers, and hair stylists.  





 Read Matt’s interview with the Oregon Times for details about his recent run in with Facebook:  

“Portland body-painting artist fights Facebook over nude photos”