Sometimes things do not go as planned and you have to play the hand that you are dealt. Months ago I took a meeting with a promoter of sorts. They wanted me to do a makeup exhibition showcasing makeup and body paints by me as part of a bigger convention. I was excited about the venue and the idea but scared at the same time. I was expecting them to want me to curate a show of like-minded artists which I suggested but they only wanted me. The fear was if it wasn’t good it would all be on me, but that was also kind of the fun part. I was going to have to fill a 30 minute runway show with only makeups and body paints by me. It was going to be a lot of work but I thought with the abstract style I sometimes like to work in I could make it work. I was going to call it the “Corvin Arts” which is a surname based on the Latin word Corvus meaning Raven if that gives you an idea of the feel I was going for.
I don’t like to waste time on these things so I started planning immediately. I cast all of my models and even a stage manager. I wanted a very dark vibe so I was working with a DJ to put music together that would fit the feel I was going for. I even planned on doing a very quick, choreographed and abstract 10 minute body paint as part of the runway show. It was all coming together. I contacted the promoter about advertising for the show since there was a month to go before the event only to find out the date and venue were changing. Not only did the possible dates they were looking at not work for me but things were just to up in the air for me to stay the course. I wished them luck and I pulled out of doing the show. If things were going to go bad I didn’t want my name attached or string along the amazing team I had put together.
Needless to say I was bummed. I messaged my team and told them the show was off. Not only was I embarrassed but I was upset that this vision I had built up in my head may never see the light of day. Luckily they all understood. One of my body paint models, Melanie Smith messaged me outside of our group chat. She knew I was bummed out and had seen on Instagram that I had wanted to do some more super hero type body paints. Comic book character body paints couldn’t have been further from what I was planning for Corvin Arts but still something I wanted to do. The first time I worked with Mel was on a fashion photo-shoot about a year ago and she had mentioned wanting to do a Spider-Man body paint at that time. When I asked her this time what super hero she was thinking of she said “Spider-Gwen”. I honestly had no idea who that character was but upon looking it up I loved the color scheme. Spider-Gwen is the alter ego of Gwen Stacy in an alternate universe where she is bitten by the radioactive spider and not Peter Parker. I had actually done a “bubble gum Vampire/Ghoul” themed body paint on Mel before in close to the same color scheme and even used spider webs.
We decided to do it on the same date the Corvin Arts show was scheduled. I was excited and I started planning right away. I thought how cool would it be to if I had Alexandra Lee ( https://www.alexandraleestudios.com/ ), the best cosplay photographer around to photograph this body paint. I had wanted to work with Alex for a while so when she said yes I knew we had to make this big. Even though my show was canceled I thought we could make this an event of its own. I decided to stop into the Destination Comics ( http://www.destinationcomics.com/ ). They have a really nice sized room in the back that they use for gaming that I thought would be perfect for painting. When I mentioned the idea to the owner Brian he jumped all over it having seen my Venom body paint with Rebecca Rhodes as the model and Danny Alexander as the photographer ( http://mattgoodlettmakeup.com/blog/2018/5/25/venomiss ). Going from painting such at dark “Spider-Verse” character such as venom to some something as bright as Spider-Gwen was exciting.
Mel has short brown hair and I knew we would need a wig. I contacted my hair stylist friend and the best wig guy I know Matthew Tyldsley to see if he had something that would work. Mel and Gwen both have blue eyes but I wanted it to be over the top blue like in the comics. Primal ( https://us.primalcontactlenses.com/ ) makes these great blue lenses called “Captain Superhero” that I knew would be perfect which they agreed to send me. While I was at it I thought I’d push my luck and see if my friends at EBA Performance Makeup ( http://www.europeanbodyart.com/professional-makeup/ ) would be interested in being part of this. They offered to send me some paints and with that I was set.
I started looking around and I was finding different suit designs. They all had spider webbing but none had a spider on them which was kind of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, there is no spider on her suit in the comics but it just looked a little simple for a body paint. I was lucky enough to come across a design that was drawn by an artist that never appeared in the comics. Miguel Mercado ( IG: @merkymerx ) had done this awesome suit design that included a spider spanning the whole chest and back. Miguel does a lot of really cool alternate superhero designs that add a different element but still stay true to the character. His Spider-Gwen design was way more dynamic looking than any of the designs I had seen. I understood it wasn’t cannon but it looked cool. In his drawing you could tell by the face he had designed this look for Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy character from the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movie. Matthew Tyldley even cut and styled the wig in accordance with Miguel’s sketch.
I started by doing a fairly simple beauty makeup on Mel. I put white in her waterline to not only to give it a more open look but it would complement the blue contacts and make them pop. Before I started the body paint I airbrushed a tan color in alcohol based makeup to cover her tattoos. I knew I would have a hard time covering her tattoos with just white paint, and the water based makeup wouldn’t be able to wipe away alcohol based paint. I had done a Venom body paint as seen above and the spider across the chest on Miguel’s design had some similar forms. That said there was an extra color to consider which doesn’t sound like a big deal but for my sleep deprived brain it turned out to be. I also wasn’t going to paint the hood which also changed a few things. Instead of their being white above the spider like in the drawing I would bring the purple on the neck down onto the chest to the top of the spider since the hood wasn’t there to break up the white to the neck. Black is always the last color I paint because it will cover anything. I wanted to start with the white so I was essentially painting the spider in reverse. For whatever reason painting the negative space spider in white while conforming it to her body and matching it up with the one on the back which was a different spider design altogether confused me more than it should have. Several times I had to wipe things away and re-sketch things. Once I got the white placed it was fairly smooth sailing, not to say it wasn’t time consuming. The purple got an overlay of fluoro pink airbrush paint with a hexagon stencil to give it that super suit texture. Then on top of that went the blue webbing. Each color got a different stencil overlay to create different fabric textures.
With all of the little details it took longer than I expected but I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. In Mel’s words, “This body paint was an incredible experience to say the least! I was thrilled that Matt wanted to do Spider-Gwen, as I’m a huge Spider-Verse nerd. That and his superheroe work is incredible, so I knew the paint would turn out perfectly. The whole day was just a fun setting, chatting about comics and superheroes. The body paint was stunning and we had the best photographer for the images. I’m always sad to wash off the body paint after modeling them, but this one was especially hard. Matt captured Spider-Gwen perfectly and I think our rendition of her was spot on. It was a blast bringing her character off the pages of comic books and into real life.”
Alex again proved that she is the best cosplay photographer in the region. Mel was the perfect Spider-Gwen and Matthew Tyldley matched the wig perfectly. We could not have had a better team for this photo-shoot. I can’t thank the guys at Destination Comics enough for hosting our craziness. We are in talks about doing another comic book character body paint at their shop and I can’t wait! Until then I hope you all enjoy this body paint as much as we do.