Guest Speaker: Artist Emma Fay
Emma Fay is known for her concept body artistry, using paint on the human canvas to create artworks that challenge visual perception. Inspired by evolution and origins, her art conveys notions of surrealism and symbolic expressionism through her manipulation of the human form. Successfully combining her artistic, theatrical and business background with professional experience within the hair and beauty industry, Emma has gained notable recognition as one of the world’s most accomplished body artists. In addition to fine art, Emma’s work has been applied to more commercial domains, creating captivating artwork for editorial and advertorial use, both as photographed body art and live installations.
Following the worldwide viral success of the artwork, the series has gone on to be featured in many publications, including The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Huffington Post, as well as being recreated for campaigns and media appearances. Most recently, the designs featured as a live performance on stage at the 2016 International Photography awards in Dubai and demonstrations on beaches and parks in Brazil.
Aqua based liquid paint Mist fx
Brush and sponge
What would you call your ‘style’?
Fine Art concept body art using a bold palate and cultural or existential inspiration; often involving illusion compositions.
What are you currently working on?
Series of work exploring our origins, evolution and mind sets.
What is a favourite piece of art you created and why?
The Axis Mundi, the World Tree: a piece that shows the lungs of the planet.
Who are your art heroes?
Fritz Lang, Jim Henson, Salvador Dali, Craig Tracey, Kneehigh theatre company, Ennio Marcheto, Isabella Blow, Annie Lennox, Jim Warren, Rudolf Wacker, Karin Dreijer Andersson, the list could go on…
What qualities make your art distinctively you?
The fine art realism elements to the work, along with use of head adornments and cultural references make the work recognisable I am told, there is a ‘style’ so to speak but the subject matter varies widely.
Where do you create?
I have a studio and then I draw designs where ever I go, often on anything I can find if a journal is not to hand.
When do you create?
Anytime I like, mainly afternoon-evenings.
How long does it take you to create a piece?
The design process with concept ideas can be take years to develop, or for bespoke commissioned pieces a few days to work from the brief. Creating the living art varies depending on the piece itself and what is involved, commercial work for events is often much quicker due to timescale pressures, fine art pieces in a studio mainly range at 4-6 hours but can be anything from up to, so far, 7 hours.
Do you sketch or keep an idea journal?
Yes, I sketch and keep journals with concept ideas, mainly rough drawings, inspirational images, symbols and writing that influence the pieces.
What do you do when you hit a creative block?
If it’s a commissioned piece or I have been starring at a live piece for too long I often go outdoors and take in some natural light and surroundings.
Do you have any special techniques you would like to share?
I love building up texture using stipple sponges and brushes.
Do you teach? What and why?
I teach beginners within the arts and I am always blown away by the talent and innovation of young people, creativity is in us all, we just need the freedom and support to express our authentic selves. I am very passionate about self education and alternate career paths, I hope to be able to inspire anyone, no matter the age to unlock their potential and keep growing. I currently have wonderful assistants whom I train personally and I run workshops within varied environments including my own private classes, schools across the country and community or art led events. I work with all ages and abilities, including learning difficulties and disabilities, and from any skill level from amateur to professional, I sincerely believe anyone is capable at expressing themselves through an art form.
What do you listen to when you create?
The music I listen to while painting varies quite widely, mainly Enigma, The Knife, Deep Forest, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd Alt-J, Muse, Black keys, Ane Brun, Faithless; generally a range of things but lots of stuff from the 80s and often audio recordings from my favourite philosophers such as Alan Watts.
What other things do you like to do creatively?
Creating theatre productions and the costumes to go with this and occasionally writing poetry.
Tell us about any commercial art endeavours: (do you have any licensing agreements? Art being used for other purposes)
I have an agency for media cover and sell prints via my own and body art websites. I also work for entertainment agencies, designing make-up looks for area51.co for live shows such as Hyde Parks Winter Wonderland Circus and I work globally, appearing on TV productions and to create editorials or advertising pieces. There are many fine art body painting commissions and commercial clients using pieces for marketing, most recent released images would be Macmillan’s Big Coffee morning ‘tea set’ and Tiger Balms partnership with the Born Free Foundation campaign image.
How did you become interested in art?
I have loved art and making costumes since a very young age, I think my mother had a huge influence on my interest in art, encouraging mine and my sisters creativity all our lives. I had always loved figurative drawing and using bright bold colours to create the human form, along with a love of painting animals and utter joy in all elements of the theatre. My body art became a slight obsession, I soon realised it was the perfect fit for all the artistic interests I had had since early childhood.
What inspired you to do the art you do now?
I had been managing a salon for several years and began playing with more creative hair and make-up, along with using face painting skills I had been developing throughout my teenage years; the combination led me to begin body art. My inspiration for pieces at the moment is a curiosity towards evolution, our origins and mind sets, with philosophers and different cultures influencing the pieces.
How has your career in art developed?
I began freelancing 3 years ago in body art, previously to that I picked up hair and beauty skills running my own business and had studied art and design, particularly theatre design before that. I am extremely passionate in regards to the concepts of pieces I create, with technical skills forever improving through experimentation, practice and wonderful mistakes. I’ve been extremely fortunate with pieces of work having viral interest online, travelling internationally through media and prints and some wonderful commissions that have led to a varied portfolio of commercial and fine art.
How important do you think it is to take art out into the community?
I think it is extremely important to take art into the community, projects that encourage a range of art disciplines and lead people to learn more about the forms of art available and inspire them to create their own work. It is also important to enjoy works from a multitude of artists within communities not only as it benefits education but it also adds to a colourful and vibrant community spirit. I also still run musical theatre and drama groups, and when possible attend as an area board member for Leicestershire’s Young Enterprise.
What projects have you been involved in?
I have been involved in a variety of projects as a freelancer and also creative director of an Arts & Theatre company, Enter Edem. Recent projects include work with ‘Rethinkyourmind’ creating marketing imagery, videos and live pieces, the project provides support and better understanding of mental health, working with the NHS to provide nationwide publication; projects with organisations such as Action Homeless, creating their campaign video using body art to camouflage people into their surroundings to draw attention to the ‘invisibility’ of the homeless and point people effected into the direction of long term help; Big lottery funded projects such as ‘the Art of Employment’, creating an exhibition for a gallery over weekly sessions with a group of people who struggle with employment for various reasons, including disabilities and giving them a creative outlook and support using art with employment. We have also as a company just put on a recent theatre production called ‘Origins’ which follows an adventure explorer named Captain Pop on his journeys around the world, looking at the art and cultures, it is a family friendly piece using surreal body art and costumes.
Have you always been interested in body art?
I wasn’t very aware of the level of body art as a career until 4 years ago when a friend introduced me to the World Body Paint festival, ever since I have been hooked and found it was the missing piece in the puzzle. Now I attend every year and do my best to spread the still fairly modern art form and I am happy to say I do think it is a fast growing discipline with the first fine art body painting gallery, thanks to amazing artist Craig Tracey and pop up galleries appearing worldwide with artists such as Emma Hack. I also think its use within commercial marketing is ever increasing and mainstream cover is become more frequent and extremely popular; I dare say it’s the current modern art movement.
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