From our Fall 2017 print issue, Michael DeVellis sat down with amazingly talented artist Emma Hack. Emma, an Australian based artist, utilizes both bodypainting, installations and photography to capture her exquisite body of work. She is known for her redefined body painting camouflage technique which combines both painting on canvas, body painting and then photographing, all resulting in a rich visual narrative.
Check out her full interview here and some of her amazingly inspiring work. We hope you are as inspired as we are by Emma’s work and her process. www.emmahackartist.com.au
How did you get started in bodypainting?
My teacher, Bill Peacock at the Peacock Academy of Makeup Artistry had noticed the face painting I had been creating and suggested I try painting all over the body, I
painted lingerie on my model and loved the illusionary effect. I was hooked! I created my first body art in 1990, I guess I’m one of the pioneers of the art form with 27 years
under my belt!
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I am from Adelaide, Australia and its exactly where I live and work now. It’s a smaller city with wonderful artistic culture, beautiful beaches and wine regions in each direction.
When did you see the connection between the makeup you do and creating printed works of fine art with it?
I always wanted to be an artist so it was a perfect melding of that world and makeup artistry. Makeup artistry allowed me to be creative while I worked on technique and I created on the side. I was working with celebrities, body painting for my calendars but was feeling oppressed in what I was able to create on them due to time-frame and what they were comfortable doing, my first art exhibition ‘Petal’ was born from just wanting to create in my own space.
Your work is incredibly detailed. What is the trick in getting things to be so precise?
There is not really a trick, I wish I had more time to paint to be absolutely honest, I would prefer to go finer! It’s easier to add more detail on my most recent works that aren’t intended to ‘blend’ completely into their backgrounds, that way the model can sit still, rather than be standing for hours with fatigue, inhibiting both of us.
You paint your backdrops as well as do all of the makeup for your photos. Do you use the same products for creating both, the backgrounds and models?
No, I use acrylic paints on my backgrounds usually as I just destroy them afterwards and need a quick result. I use makeup on the human form, MAC Chromacakes and
metallic pigments, Paradise/Mehron and Kryolan Aquacolours, most are cake based paints.
You also photograph your own work. Have you always done so and how has controlling this aspect of the process effected your artistic decisions or the results?
I was a traditional makeup artist first, so I worked with great photographers for many years. I started asking them to shoot my artworks but the legalities of ownership and the question ‘who is the artist’ kept popping up in conversation. Late 2007 I had enlisted Andrew Dunbar, a fellow artist to shoot a new collection and when I arrived, he told me I was shooting my own work from now on and showed me how to do it. Since then, everything grew and my work was accepted into galleries. I really love shooting my creations now, it’s the final piece of the puzzle.
Do you use different products depending on the style of the work — graphic vs. more detail work, flora, etc?
Not really, but sometimes there might be a better color for a line that I might get to match what I need, the products are relatively similar in application.
What type brushes do you use for this work?
I use art brushes for my linear work, number 2, 4 and 6. I also use round, flat brushes, slightly graduated for smoothing lines and blending, angle brushes under eyes. No particular brand, they usually get destroyed over a few shoots from many hours left in water as I work.
Your work has evolved over a variety of different styles. Is there one that you enjoy producing the most?
It’s always my most recent that I like the best as that’s where my head space is at. So right now, my recent GEOMETRIC collection would have to be the answer. I love the poses and would like to expand this idea further, but with a different theme. I get bored easily so I am always changing it up.
What’s next for Emma Hack?
I have just signed the lease here in Adelaide to open a new Emma Hack Gallery and ARTBAR space which will also house my new SA Art Collective. The SA Art Collective is born from a competition I run each year for all genres of artists to enter who are based in South Australia, it’s my philanthropic side. I want to give opportunities for artists to grow and create community. I am also showing in Hong Kong this month so am busy arranging that. As I’ve just created a new collection, I will start working on my next one in about four months. So, I’ll start conceptualizing that now as well. It’s a
busy time and exciting one.
Image Credits in Order of Image
Chinoiserie Collection – 2016
Australiana Collection – 2017
FLORA; Waratah, Gum and Sturt Desert Pea II
BLOOM Collection – 2015
Midnight Secret Garden
Royal Hanging Garden
GEOMETRIC Collection – 2017
Words Michael DeVellis
Makeup, Artwork and Photography Emma Hack