Every year IMATS provides a grand stage for the art of body painting and 2017 was no different.

Saturday, Jan. 14 Graftobian, a popular product amongst professionals, hosted Emmy winner Barry Koper. Using his Iwata RG-2 spray gun, Koper began gentle passes on his model with F/X Aire in White. He also used F/X Aire in Light Cream as the skin tone of the model for what was described by Graftobian president Eric Coffman as a “stencil-based body paint”.

This year Graftobian expanded their already diverse brand by doubling the amount of colors in their pro paint line. As Koper’s make-up progressed, the signature pig tails and varsity jacket of a certain DC siren appeared. The stencils used would become the tattoos of Arkham Asylum employee and inmate Harley Quinn—a character also seen in the Oscar-winning Suicide Squad. Koper’s character re-creation perfectly summarizes the versatility of a brand, from beauty to effects, that meets the needs of a professional make-up artist.

Barry Koper
Artist Barry Koper continues a delicate eye shadow application | Photo by Marky Andrews
Koper’s final look | Photo by Deverill Weekes

Just a few booths down at ProAiir Waterproof Makeup, artist Josh Counsel painted a female Aztec Demon statue. Cracks were airbrushed in black and then highlighted in white to create an aged, broken facade. Stone grain was speckled with a shortened curved 2-inch chip brush.

“A chip brush cut at a curve will give more interesting results,” said Counsel, instead of a brush cut straight across. This body paint was a crowd pleaser and one of the highlights of IMATS.

Artist Josh Counsel speckling | Photo by Marky Andrews
Josh Counsel
Counsel hand-painting the stone cracks | Photo by Marky Andrews
Cousel’s final look | Photo by Deverill Weekes

Grex Airbrush had an ace up their sleeve with body-paint queen Lisa Berczel and her King of Spades design. The detailed art of a Bicycle card was brought to life. The flowers down the center of the body were hand painted white, airbrushed yellow followed by a hand-painted black outline. When asked about airbrush versus hand-painting Berczel said, “I had to do a lot of on-the-fly design adapting in order to best fit the body mapping of the model. Hand-painting was the best option.”

Grex incorporated into painting | Photo by Marky Andrews
Lisa Berczel
Artist Lisa Berczel begins long lines on model Michael Huffman | Photo by Marky Andrews

Her casting of experienced body-paint model Michael Huffman was no gambit.

“I had an incredibly still model which afforded me the rare treat of busting out one of my automotive-style pinstripe brushes. Those black lines were the longest single stroke line I’ve ever been able to body paint,” said Berczel. Look closely into those black lines and you’ll see the word Grex blended subliminally into the art. This team turned out to be a winning pair.

Berczel’s final look | Photo by Deverill Weekes

The European Body Art booth hosted a demo by Nix Herrera. Artist Shepard Fairey’s design influence was immediately recognizable. Herrera incorporated several of Fairey’s creations into the IMATS body paint. At his model’s feet were several stencils.

Nix Herrera
Early in the day the stencils are spread out as the body paint begins to take shape | Photo by Marky Andrews

“I spent hours on the computer breaking down the stencils. If I was going to do this, it had to be perfect. In total, somewhere around 20 detailed multi-layered stencils were used,” said Herrera.

Herrera’s final look | Photo by Deverill Weekes

The stencils were custom cut for the day’s demo, some with very small details and others—such as the wide, round eyeliner and lashes—contained vast negative space. Tiny lines, or strands, were incorporated into the design of the larger stencils to maintain their integrity. After airbrushing, any negative space from the stencil, such as occur when airbrushing the letters, was carefully hand-painted to completion. In this application, Herrera used EBA Endura SKT, Wolfe FX Hydrocolor Essential in Red and Black and EBA Endura in Red and Black.

From street to screen, the art of IMATS Los Angeles continues to be at the forefront of body-paint art, both visually and technically. These creative works of art will keep everyone inspired until IMATS 2018.

For more on IMATS Los Angeles 2017, get Issue 125—on sale March 14.