Body paint and tattoos done with today’s technology and array of color can look very similar (at first), and indeed they have some obvious similarities: they’re both striking and can display very unique and innovative designs; they both take a lot of time, effort and mastery to accomplish; and they’re both able, with that mastery, to create something that gives the illusion of something else. However, an important distinction should be made: body painting can always be washed off yet tattoos are forever.
Body painting isn’t a new concept either. In fact, it can be tracked down to its roots across the globe. Many cultures use body painting for ritualistic purposes, self-expression, for portraying characters during tribal dances, and sometimes just for the sake of beauty.
Body painting is often used in photographic art and theater. You can even say that it’s a form of makeup that extends below the neck and as this picture illustrates, even to one’s very fingertips. This particular picture takes hand puppetry to a whole new level, doesn’t it?
Speaking of theater, this image showcases the theatrical use of body paint –not in the sense that it’s used in play productions but in the sense that it has inherent drama (or impact) in it. Here, a man is posing seemingly with his muscles exposed. It’s a very interesting commentary on our standards of beauty and what they really boil down to.
When body art is done meticulously it can give off the illusion of wearing clothing, or, maybe, a Picasso-esque work of art. It’s probably uncomfortable wearing nothing but paint while posing for a photograph, but just looking at the end product it’s almost impossible to tell where painting ends and skin begins.
You may notice a pattern in these body painting photos. The overall vibe and theme of body art is ethereal and even slightly mythological. Tattoos tend to be more clear cut and gritty, while body art almost always has an element of fantasy to it, like this male water-nymph here.
Of course pop-culture has its place in body art too. Here’s some very cool three dimensional body art of Venom, the antagonist of the ever so popular Spiderman franchise —which is a good note to end on.