by Alyssa Laube
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.
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.
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!