What are the judges really looking for? That was a question many fresh-faced competitors were asking each other during the North American Body Painting Championships inaugural gathering in Las Vegas during February. Curious contenders could find the scoring matrix on the NABPC web site. Judges would award up to 150 points equally distributed between the categories of originality, creativity, design flow, use of color, application and total design. Unfortunately little more was known by novice painters and the judges certainly weren’t giving away any secrets!
In an effort to help illuminate and educate body painters everywhere the following list has been culled from a variety of sources, including experienced competitors, past judges, as well as first-hand experience.
1. Don’t paint the obvious. Type your given theme into a browser search and bypass the first several pages. You will never be noticed if you design the same ‘wild life’ or ‘tropics’ theme as everyone else.
2. Keep in mind that 75% of your ‘work zone’ happens from the hips to the shoulders, devote the appropriate time there.
3. Work a wide variety of skills into your piece. Add elements that show your depth and ability, think about shadows, perspective, reflections and the way that images layer on top of each other. Don’t be a one-trick pony.
4. Consider an unexpected element for a longer ‘visual ride.’ Both Yolanda Bartram’s NABPC pieces had a ‘surprise ending’ only revealed when the model was in a certain position.
5. Move the judge’s eye seamlessly from one area of the body to another through an element of color or form.
6. Incorporate those places humans naturally look; breasts and bottoms. Make them part of your overall design, don’t make them the reason d’être but don’t pretend they aren’t there with a wash of a single color.
7. Color is king. As a general rule pieces with a limited palette don’t place on the podium. Think in terms of a rainbow of possibilities!
8. Flawless blending and crisp, confident line work are mandatory.
9. Sell your work! Be excited and passionate about your piece. Have a reason you’ve selected the elements you have chosen, spin the judges a story of how your piece perfectly reflects the theme. Confidence is contagious and can only work in your favor.
10. Accessories do make an impact. While you are not officially judged on false eyelashes, fingernails, contact lenses, fangs, shoes or headpieces ours is a subjective art and everything we do has the ability to affect the overall impression of our work.
And a bonus suggestions: Be prepared with a written statement about your piece as well as music selected specifically to fit your painting. Your model will likely be asked perform, or at the minimum present your work on stage. This is your showcase, the public pay-off of the long hours, the sweat, anguish and tears you gave this one brief moment in the sun – be prepared enough to enjoy it!