Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from?
I am a Michigander through and through. I was born here, grew up here, and I now raise my two children here. I love my home state so much, the four seasons, the trees, the hills, the gorgeous great lakes. Michigan is a beautiful state, and I am lucky enough to have a home in Howell where I live and work, and also a cottage in the deep northern woods, where I have appreciated and absorbed Mother Nature’s works of art since I was just a year old. Of all the places I have traveled (and that’s a lot), Northern Michigan is still my favorite place in the world.
Are you an artist full time or do you have another job?
I am a full time artist (too full sometimes) and I run a very busy studio in Howell, Michigan, which is centrally located between four of Michigan’s largest cities; Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Flint. It’s a small town, but a great location, and it keeps my staff and I very busy providing makeup and cosmetic services, event services, photography and so much more. It’s also a retail store for makeup, special fx and face & body art supplies, mainly geared toward the professional market, but open to the public as well.
What type of face and body art do you specialize in?
I have been a professional makeup artist for 23 years, the first 15 years were spent primarily on bridal and special event makeup in the salon/spa environment. For the past 8 years I have gravitated more toward creative editorial, high fashion and couture makeup for commercial makeup shoots and runway events, and face painting for kids parties. Now I would estimate that 80% of what I do consists of body painting both in and outside of my studio, which makes me very happy!
How did you get your start?
I got my start in face & body art after nearly quitting makeup altogether from sheer boredom! After what seemed like a lifetime of brides and prom girls, I was dying to inject more creativity into my work. So I actually stepped away from makeup for a short period, and opened an art store where I taught painting classes and sold art supplies. At some point during that time period, I found myself in Disney World with my kids, mesmerized at the face painting that was being applied to my daughter. I took photos and mental notes, and when I got home I tried my hand at face painting – using all the wrong products of course. Nevertheless, myself and two of my friends set up a face painting table in front of my art store during a Harry Potter festival in my town and made over $1000 charging only $3 per face in about 3-4 hours! The line was wrapped around the block! When the night was over we all looked at each other in shock! The offers started pouring in from parents, schools, and local businesses who saw our work that night, and I started thinking; What the heck was I doing running this art store and barely squeaking by with the bills month after month? I should be painting faces for a living! So when the store closed down the following year in 2005, I went back to what I did best, Makeup, but this time I had a whole new attitude. I did my research and found out what products I should be using, and immediately set out to create a whole new and much more colorful makeup portfolio! A couple years later I became one of the most sought after makeup artists in Michigan and right about that time is when I upgraded my title permanently to Makeup Artist, Face & Body Painter.
What’s the most enjoyable part of what you do?
The most enjoyable part of what I do? Oh there is SO much I love about my job, but I would probably have to say my favorite is the travel. This job has provided me and my family with so much opportunity to see the world. It’s not easy to get to that point. I’m not saying that every face and body painter is going to start flying all over the place. There are a lot of artists who don’t ever leave their immediate area, and that is perfectly fine for them. I suffer from a thing called wanderlust. I have to constantly feed my mind with new experiences and for me that means traveling to new places. So I have specifically “trained” my career in such a way that I am able to do what I love in many places, whether it’s teaching workshops in other states, providing services for films and conventions, selling my product (Bad Ass Stencils) at various trade shows around the globe, or whatever else takes me away. I just love to be on the move, almost as much as I love coming back home.
What would you like to do more of, art or otherwise?
I would love to be able to find more time to take tons of classes in all the other areas and topics that I am interested in, such as art, photography, glass blowing, jewelry design, major special fx makeup courses and more. I also want to learn as many foreign languages as I can, including sign language, so I can travel around the world and explore historical landmarks, castles, villages, and ruins and know how to communicate freely with everyone I come in contact with! Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Outside of art, what do you do for fun?
Outside of my fun job and traveling, fun for me always involves my family. We have a nice big family and many good friends, and we are all very close. We enjoy riding motorcycles and ATV’s in our woods up north, kayaking, paintball, hiking, playing with our dogs, and pretty much anything else as long as we are together.
Do you have any pet peeves?
Pet peeves? Arrogant photographers with over blown egos and underwhelming portfolios, flaky “models” who should really not be modeling, parents who try to force crying kids to get face painted and/or want to choose their design for them, and would-be clients who don’t realize and/or appreciate the value of what we do after wasting our time asking questions and getting quotes, and then hiring someone cheap, especially for high quality body painting. I’m not the same thing as Joe Schmoe with a paint brush that they saw at a Harley Fest last summer… not even close. I think that last one is everyone’s pet peeve.
Where do you see yourself in a couple years?
A couple years from now, I would like to see myself having more time to relax in between jobs. Right now I am a little overwhelmed between the studio work, teaching classes, event jobs, trade shows, and now the Hunger Games Convention Tour, but I’m not complaining… just looking forward to a time when it balances out a bit more for me, hopefully sooner than later. My dream would be to do a few big magazine photo shoot jobs on a tropical island two or three times a year, some fun local jobs in between, and just party and travel the rest of the year!
Do you have any projects going on or in the works?
My current major project is SKINCOGNITO and all that revolves around it. In addition to that, I am super busy designing a load of new Bad Ass Stencils in time for the Face and Body Art International Convention, designing my body paint competition piece, and preparing for the World Body Painting Festival in Austria this July. I am also the exclusive makeup artist for the new Official Hunger Games Tour, which I know will keep me movin’ for the next couple years.
Will you be attending the 2012 Face and Body Art International Convention?
I am SO looking forward to seeing all of my favorite friends and artists at the 2012 FABAIC! I hope everyone comes by to see me at the Bad Ass Stencil booth as well as at the jams. It is such a fun and inspirational event, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Check out Andrea O’Donnell on FABAtv!