ArtistiCurves (Jim McAvoy) is an art photographer and a face and body painter working in the Cambridge, Guelph and Kitchener region and is open to travelling. He often works in Toronto for other photographers, workshops and shows. He is available for creative makeup and abstract design development.
I ushered in spring 2015 with my first body paint session with ArtistiCurves. We've since collaborated three more times and I have a huge list of other concepts that I'd like to complete. Head over to the Culture Fancier Instagram page to see some of the looks we've worked on together.
1. You're an artist, art educator, photographer and body painter. How did you get to where you are right now?
I had a number of interests growing up and in there, along with everything else, was the desire to be creative. I started my post secondary education in computer science but graduated with a Fine Arts degree in the late 80s. I immediately panicked about how I would make a living being an artist. I told myself that becoming a teacher was a good way of keeping my hand in the art world, but still making a comfortable living. For a long time, art was more of a hobby than a driving force. As I got older, I found I had more time to go back to art and work at things that were of a personal interest. I had been doing photography for a number of years and always leaned toward working on more creative fashion and portrait shoots. Like many artists, I am always looking at what other people are doing to help inspire my own creativity. I started seeing body painting creeping into artistic photography. Not that it was unheard, but it became more prevalent. I can't remember the first image to trigger that "aha" moment, but I do remember realizing that I am a photographer and a painter and body painting lends itself to being creative on many levels. It adds a level to the process that makes images unique with each photo set. In retrospect, I am still a little in awe of the Demi Moore body paint from 1992. I would love to do something on that level some day.
2. Describe a typical day for you.
Haha, I am not sure people are ready for the complete, mundane typical day. I have to be an early riser because I like to be at work for 8am. It gives me time to prep before a school day starts. There's the usual making lunches for kids, driving everyone where they need to go and then putting in a day of trying to inspire a new generation of artists. Teaching has its challenges, but for the most part, it is pretty cool to be talking about Francis Bacon with senior students or showing juniors how to put a moustache on their best friend in Photoshop. Two or three times a week, I will have a shoot after work. Those days are longer as there is prep before a session, the painting of a model and then the upload of proofs for everyone to see. I love those days, especially when a client adores the results.
3. What or who inspires you?
I'd like to say I look at everything, but I have found that my interests are narrow for long periods of time. I used to follow Pashur and check out any new body paints that he would do. He was the foundation for a number of my early pieces. I do that less now as I have tried to develop my own style and approach to body painting. I find I have to be aware of a lot of the pop culture to help with pieces I do for the cosplay community. I like dark imagery and find myself looking a lot at Dark Beauty magazine. I wouldn't say the work in Dark Beauty directly inspires me, but it definitely steers my thinking.
4. Do you think it is important to have a formal education in order to be an artist?
I think having a formal education makes being an artist easier. It helps to provide a foundation in the principles and elements of design as well as provide guiding principles for how to present an idea visually. There are certainly lots of examples of accomplished artists that either have little training or abandoned their training before finishing their formal education. With the level of competition to get eyes on your work these days, having the advantage of a formal education is a definite benefit, but certainly does not guarantee success.
5. What's the most ambitious project you've worked on to date?
That's actually a really tough question. I don't consider any project ambitious when I take it on. Body painting and the act of photography is ephemeral. It's not the kind of work that should take a long time to do. My longest body paint was ten hours which, in itself, seems like a long time, but is short relative to the painting of the Sistine ceiling. For a quick answer, any time I paint two models who will be posing together, I consider that ambitious. It's a long time to focus and there are no big breaks because who wants to wait around for the artist to get his focus back?
6. Have you had any career disappointments?
Every time a submission is rejected, it is a disappointment. It's difficult, because my work biases my own view. I like the work I produce, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it. When a piece is rejected and I view what was included in a show, book or magazine I try to see why my stuff is not part of the collection. It's easier when it is obvious that the skill of the other artists exceeds my own. That gives me something to aim for. When that skill separation is not apparent, I start to question my own abilities. Maybe I have deluded myself or maybe I am not as good as I think I am. It is a constant struggle for many artists and you have to have a pretty thick skin to keep continuing sometimes.
7. When did you know that you'd arrived or "made it" as an artist (besides being the first interview on my new blog)?
I'm not sure I have arrived. Getting a six image spread in Dark Beauty Magazine was pretty satisfying. Running a studio with a regular stream of clients is also very rewarding. When people proudly display images we have created together, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.
8. What's the biggest misconception people have about body painting?
I'm not really sure what the misconceptions would be, because I generally get contacted by people who like this art form. I have had clients who have booked a session and then have cancelled because they can't go through with it. I would only be guessing what those reasons are: maybe poor self image or worrying about what friends and family might think. In that vein, I guess people attach a sexualization to the images. A person is naked and naked must mean presentation for sex. The human body is beautiful and we are capable of appreciating that beauty without placing the individual in a sexual context. I have had a number of clients who have come in for a session and then remarked that it was much less weird than they thought it would be.
9. Any advice for aspiring artists?
Network, network, network. Whether you are connecting with someone for what they know or who they know, their knowledge is lost if you are not tapping into it. Be ready to have a thick skin. Look at rejection as an opportunity to grow. Figure how to move yourself to the next level in your chosen medium. Surround yourself with people who can give you an honest opinion. Sorry, but unless you have a fellow artist as a partner, the people in your life are going to "love" everything you do. Joining an art group or on line forum that provides critique is an excellent way to grow. Remember that critique isn't always about the bad, we can grow by knowing what we do well.
10. What's next for you?
I'll be retiring from teaching in a few years, which only means I will have more time to dedicate to the arts. I have a few ideas for submissions to art shows and I have a number of incomplete paintings that need some attention. Keeping the creative desire alive is always a priority now.