Nine Q&A’s with Joanne Gair (part one) …

Nine Q&A’s with the world’s premier body painter and makeup artist, Joanne Gair …   

MumptyStyle Joanne Gair flowers
© 2005 Joanne Gair/PQ Blackewell
With a client list that includes Madonna, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Cindy Crawford, Demi Moore and Heidi Klum, Joanne Gair is an EXTREMELY, EXTREMELY big deal in the makeup and body paint world and I am so proud to feature her here on MumptyStyle!  And wow – she’s from New Zealand!

“Kiwi Jo’s” work is absolutely incredible; so incredible in fact, she’s been featured on “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” Honestly, there’s just not enough time or space here to even touch on the amazing work Joanne has done (and yes, she did THAT body paint on Demi Moore for Vanity Fair- click here to see!) Unfortunately, I am are not able to embed photos of much of the work Joanne has done in this Q&A due to copyright issues with Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair and other little companies like that (haha!) so you’ll just have to get clicking! A great place to start is Pinterest – type Joanne Gair into the search function and prepare to be amazed! Click here for a painted Heidi Klum; here for Rachel Hunter and here for Madonna.

You should also go to her website – – and just bathe in her glory – it really will blow you away! And guess what – she is the NICEST lady too – triple bonus. Joanne took over an hour out of her busy schedule to talk with me, not to mention several follow-ups and e-mails, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Joanne would love to connect with you all on Instagram too, so check her out – @joannegair

So get clicking ladies and gentleman; but in the meantime … meet Joanne Gair.

MumptyStyle Kiwi Jo
Kiwi Jo – Joanne Gair

Joanne, thank you so much for doing this Q&A (which was originally written for  As I’ve mentioned, your work is incredible and the attention to detail is phenomenal. We hope this article will help inspire other makeup artists to achieve greatness too!

Because Joanne shared such a wealth of information in this Q&A, I have decided to publish it in two parts.  But don’t worry – you won’t have to wait long – I’ll post them on consecutive days!

So – here goes with part one …

MumptyStyle Joanne Gair MAC displayMumptyStyle Joanne Gair MAC 2
Q1.  The August 1992 cover for Vanity Fair featuring Demi Moore catapulted both you and the art of body painting to fame. What products do you use for body painting and have they, or your artistic process, changed much since that defining work?

A. The Vanity Fair body paint shoot was actually a follow up story on Demi Moore from the previous year where she was featured pregnant on the cover of the August 1991 issue. I had done the makeup for that shoot too. Annie Leibovitz, who photographed both stories, had us in Hawaii and Los Angeles for different photo sessions during 1992. Eventually, it was decided one of the shoots would be body painting. Demi and I had discussed having her painted over previous years of working together with me only doing beauty makeup on her. This was her first of many painting sessions with me.

A lot has changed since that shoot with Demi. I originally only used Aqua Colours which are water-based. The brand is called Kryolan which is a German product – it is readily available everywhere now. Aqua products can be applied with a brush; sponge or with your fingers – the work I did on Demi utilised all of these techniques. Makeup through body painting has become more of an art form and the products are numerous in choice and so sophisticated. I’m very lucky that people send me products to try all the time. I love knowing what is new on the market!

Essentially nowadays body painting is a layering process. In addition to water based products, I work with alcohol-based, latex, silicon and acrylic products, and because of this the process has become more involved. The downside is there is more to sort and carry in my kit! For Sports Illustrated I tend to start with an alcohol-based product and then layer over painting with other products as I get to achieve the look and texture I’m after. There are innate requirements for each job and I adapt the products and processes I use each time to suit.

One thing I’d like to point out for anyone getting started is that you don’t have to have all the expensive products in order to do this type of work. Essentially, if you can use a product on your face, you can use it on your body; it’s all skin and there’s no right or wrong, particularly when you are colouring in. The most important feature of a product is its ability to mix and to stay on the skin without slipping or fading. M.A.C has a wonderful aqua line both in pancake and liquid colours. They also have a colourful grease stick and a silicon-based line that you can airbrush to achieve different looks. M.A.C’s Auckland store is excellent; their staff are very helpful and knowledgeable – it’s a great place to go for someone wanting to start out in body painting and in makeup in general. 

Q2:  With the massive attention to detail that is synonymous with your work, how long on average, would a full body paint take to complete?

A:  Aaaahh – this is the question I get asked most often! It is really totally dependent on the detail involved in the job. Generally though it varies between 8 and 12 hours; 12 being more realistic as normally there is hair and makeup involved as well.

In order to estimate a time frame, I ask the following types of questions:
How are you intending to crop the image – i.e. head and shoulders, waist up, full length etc?
Do you expect to be able to view the full body all the way around?
How many colours are being used, pattern, detail, etc. – all these add to the time it takes.
Are you going to be shooting on location?
The day’s weather also has a lot to do with time frames. You also need to add at least 45 minutes if any areas of the body need to be covered with latex for privacy.

Q3. Joanne, you’re not just a body painter (and I say “just” as a huge understatement!) you are an extremely accomplished makeup artist as well. What “new trends” have you noticed (or started!) lately that we should be aware of? Is there a trend you think should be banned (I’m thinking something like bleached eyebrows here!)?   

A:  Bleached eyebrows! It’s not really an everyday thing you would do for the public – it’s more of an artistic expression that a MUA might use for runway or photographic magazine looks. You don’t have to go so far as to actually bleach the eyebrows; if you dip an eyebrow wand into a reasonably thick foundation and comb it through the brow, you’ve made the brow a lot more subtle and given the illusion of being bleached; it’s a quick fix. Actually, I’m not against bleached eyebrows – it makes a much bigger canvas for the eye which can be fun.

I’d rather see eyebrows bleached than plucked though; plucking inevitably damages the follicles and not only do they not always grow back; if they do, they often grow back in the wrong direction! If you’re going to pluck them, always pluck in the direction the hair is growing.

TrendsI think trends are very much seasonally dependent. In New York we are currently in summer. The other thing I would say regarding trends is that there is actually nothing new; they’re simply things that have been seen before that are being interpreted and applied in a new and different way. For example right now eyeliner is big again and has been for a while, particularly the application of the cat eye. Eyeliner has been around for years and years of course (a smoky eye with cat eye liner is the trademark for Guess for example) but it’s being interpreted in a different way on the catwalks right now; they’re playing with bold colours on the eyes; greens and blues; they’re taking the colours into areas they’ve previously not done before – up to the brow for example and others are playing with it under the eyes etc; they’re using iridescents and geometric shapes. That type of look is definitely high fashion/artistic expression rather than an everyday look – it’s about making a new statement, making a trend!

Anybody can set a trend – it’s really just using your imagination to create something that’s outside our normal use; it’s doing something different. Coming up with a new trend pushes your imagination – that’s why makeup artists are often sent new products; they’re hoping you’ll use your imagination to push the boundaries with their products. It’s fun and it’s what keeps things exciting!

Trends are also evident in the way new products are marketed now; their packaging; the hype surrounding them – it’s a way of differentiating them from the “normal” and going above and beyond.


Q4:  What are your top five favourite products (they could include hair, makeup, fragrance or supplements?)  

A:  Note from Mumpty: this was an extremely difficult question for Joanne to answer! She said she has her “regular old favourites” but she is constantly being exposed to new products; some of which have blown her away. These ones are ones she loves at the moment, but she did mention we could interview her again in six months time and she’d have a new list for us!

MumptyStyle Skindinavia Primer Spray1) Skindinavia The Makeup Primer Spray – this is an oil-free spray. I am really impressed with this product. I know they worked hard on the dispensing mechanism. The spray nozzle is the best one I’ve ever used; it gives a really nice, even spray. It brightens and nourishes the skin. Makeup sits smoothly on top with no product rolling or any build-up happening. If I had to choose one primer to use, this would be the one I would suggest. It’s an absolute must for your kit. Skindinavia is relatively new on the market and is rapidly becoming very popular amongst makeup artists.

2) By Terry foundation – E’clat Opulence – By Terry have many foundations but this is the one I always have in my kit. It comes in a glass pot and the colour I use personally is Nude Radiance. Its creamy, silky texture can be blended out quite sheer and it can be warmed up with blushers, bronzers etc. You can also have it quite thick if you want more coverage and it can even be used as a concealer.

Most people only have one foundation. Remember you will need to alter it depending on the season and if the skin colour has changed due to tanning, etc. I don’t believe it’s really necessary for a consumer to have more than two different foundations as long as they know how to warm up the foundation they have by dusting a warmer powder or bronzer over the application where needed.

3) AMAZING Cosmetics Powderset setting powder – even though it’s white in the compact, this product is so translucent it can go on any skin tone. It’s velvety, matte and very sheer. You can apply it with a brush, however I find it works really well if you just press it into your skin with a latex sponge – use it only on the areas you need – t-zone, eyelids, forehead etc. I like the fact that it comes in a slim-line compact with a good-sized mirror as I love a good two-in-one product – this one will last you forever.

4) A good mascara – I go through gazillions of them! I’d like to make the point here that you don’t need expensive mascaras – a good mascara is really all about the wand to be honest; there are multitudes of them out there so keep playing and experimenting with different ones! Having said that, I am loving M.A.C Extended Play Gigablack mascara – the bristles on this wand are quite far apart and they coat your lashes individually without clumping. Because they don’t clump you can achieve a natural look with a single application or go for something much more dramatic by building layers. It comes in a smaller container than most mascaras which I love as I find bulky mascaras are horrible to pack in my makeup bag.

5) A great eyeliner – Rapid Black Penultimate eyeliner by M.A.C – this one is perfect for both the everyday person and for the makeup artists out there. It’s a loaded felt tip pen that gives you an almost fool-proof line that lasts a long time. I find liquid eyeliners that are applied with a brush can be problematic; the bristles inevitably get damaged and it makes it very hard to achieve a good, clean line. With M.A.C’s felt pen eyeliner you will get a very proficient line; it’s very gentle to the eye and doesn’t poke you in between your eyelashes.

6) Lipstick – I adore lipsticks – they’re an absolute must! Here’s a little trick I’ve always done with my lipstick and I find it works with almost every colour … once I’ve applied my lipstick I tap, tap, tap on my painted lip with my middle finger and then rub the excess lipstick onto my cheeks; it becomes your cream blush. It gives a complimentary, tone-on-tone warmth to your face and creates a lovely healthy glow.

When it comes to lipstick, again I don’t believe you need to spend a lot. One brand I find its consistency is good is NYX. They have an extensive colour range and are lovely and creamy in texture. I find they stay on well on the lips without becoming dry. You can always make a matte lipstick have a satin finish by simply adding a lubricant of some kind.  

So there you have it … part one of this fabulous interview with a world-famous makeup artist.  For part two, come back tomorrow!  In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about Joanne Gair and her AMAZING work you can (and you must!) find her at the following social haunts:

Instagram: joannegair
Twitter: @joannegair  


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s