Amie Gordon meets an artist who has shunned the traditional canvas.
A Bognor Regis artist has moved beyond the typical easel and sketchbook – instead using people’s bodies as a canvas for her artwork.
“I have always been an artist and designer and enjoy creating bespoke art work through all mediums,” explains Elissa Barrett, who now runs the business Imagine Face and Body Art and Design.
“I thrive to do my best on every creation, whatever the canvas.
“I started painting faces about eight years ago and began to gain a real passion for creating art that makes people really happy,” says Elissa, who studied at Bishop Luffa School, Chichester College and Northbrook College in Worthing.
“From moving into much more detailed face paints for adults, I started to expand my direction towards a relatively-new trend of body art.”
Elissa’s creations range from quirky and eclectic animal designs to surreal, otherworldly Hallowe’en art, all using the human body as her canvas.
Plus, alongside the body art, Elissa has been commissioned to paint murals for local businesses, and even work on prints for Chichester’s Stagecoach buses.
And she says she is ‘very proud’ to have worked closely with local companies such as Tangled children’s hair salon, Aqualife swim centre and with the charity Count the Kicks, among others.
“A lot of my work now is focused on face and body art, murals and bespoke art work,” she says. “I also focus a lot of my attention towards interior design.”
This move into using alternative canvasses has opened up many avenues for the Bognor Regis resident, in particular when it comes to competitions.
In fact, the 33-year-old artist represented the UK in the amateur open body paint category at the World Body Painting Festival in Austria this year, coming away with the silver trophy.
Now in its 18th year, the festival saw more than 45 nations competing in the summer in Pörtschach am Wörthersee.
“I started to enter competitions and have started to gain recognition and prizes for my work through every competition I have entered,” she says.
“It has been my ambition for a long time to be able to make it over to Austria to the World Body Painting Festival and this year I was lucky enough to have made it.”
Elissa entered the amateur open category, which allowed her to use a variety of techniques, including brush and sponge, airbrushing and prosthetics.
And she certainly had the support of her family throughout the festival, with her sister Serena Henry acting as her assistant and sister Bonita volunteering to model.
“They were both fantastic,” the artist says of her siblings. “I was really lucky to have the support from my family.
“The competition was incredible, there was so much inspiration everywhere,”
“There were 37 contestants in my category and I came second in front of a seven-strong panel of judges, taking home silver for the UK.”
And she adds: “I believe I was the only artist from the UK to be placed in the top three of all 13 competitions, which was absolutely amazing.
“I took home a trophy and certificate along with a make-up voucher for £100.”
Thanks to winning a place this year, Elissa believes she should qualify for the world award next year.
“I’m planning to enter more competitions in the future,” she confirms. “This win has given me a real boost to push myself forward in the make-up world and to keep on following my dreams.”
Elissa is available for hire at events and children’s parties and did body painting demonstrations at the Birdman competition in Worthing this year. To see more of Elissa’s work, visit Facebook and Instagram.
Picture of Elissa – Picture: Liz Pearce
December 3, 2015 Culture and Events