Hi, My name is Angela Kravcevich, and I am a Dublin based Software Engineer. I am originally from Klaipeda, a town on the coast of Lithuania. I moved to Ireland with my family when I was 12 years old. We originally moved to a little town in Kerry where I started school and was able to experience my first ever art class. I later studied in Trinity College Dublin for 5 years, getting both my Bachelors and my Masters in Computer Science there.
For several years I lived with my grandparents, due to my parents being busy with their business. I received a lot of encouragement from them to pursue a career in technology and mathematics. My grandfather had a little work closet that contained tools, welding equipment, wires, and other things. He would fix different mechanical and electrical appliances if they were broken. He took apart clocks, radios, and other electronics, and I loved watching him work. My grandmother encouraged me to solve puzzles. She bought me books with hundreds of mathematical problems and riddles, and I used to love trying to solve them with her.
However, my first exposure to programming was when I was 16 years old. I went to IT Tallaght as part of a summer program for game development. I got to mess around with the program Scratch to make my own computer games. That encouraged me think programmatically, and it helped me to decide on a career in Computer Science.
When I am not working or playing video games, I really enjoy artistic pastimes such as sketching, painting, sculpting, and most recently, body painting. My interest started about 2 or 3 years ago, when I stumbled upon an event called The World Body Painting festival. The festival is a competition where models, makeup artists, effects specialists, photographers, and body painters from around the world gather in Austria to celebrate the art of body paint. After scrolling through albums of photographs from the most amazing artists in the world, I wanted to try it out for myself. I decided to purchase some very cheap body paints to create a realistic skull face painting for my Halloween costume. However, practicing in the mirror is not the same as painting someone else’s body.
The first time I painted someone else was when I participated in the Dublin Body Painting Jam. I sketched out several designs to plan out what I was going to do, and then I practiced painting for days beforehand. I was very nervous and awkward at first. To make things worse, I was painting on a first time model. I had no idea what to expect or how to start. Fortunately, the other artists at the event were very helpful in teaching me the tricks of their trade. Every time I go to the event I learn something new from them.
Now I body paint at least once a month at the Dublin Body Painting Jams, organized by the Dublin Body Painters. Anyone who is interested in trying their hand at being a model or an artist can sign up to this event.
Compared to digital or traditional art, which is a more of a solitary activity, body art allows me to express my creativity alongside others. I get to spend a day hanging out with other creative people that come from all around Ireland for the event. Oftentimes I will get to paint and chat to someone for up to 6 hours. I have met people in tourism, sports, translation, animation, teaching, and many other areas of life, some of whom I would never have met otherwise. Then, after spending hours painting, we are both rewarded with amazing photographs.
When body painting for a particular theme, I try to create a story, or a snippet of a story, based off of that theme. Then, I take the concept that I want to work with and identify the colours and ideas that I want to convey. I do not treat the body painting as a still canvas; instead, I want to personify the story with the body. Painting something flat is wasteful considering the possibilities of a human canvas. However, I do practice body painting on paper by sketching my ideas beforehand, or sometimes I will face paint myself (which is not ideal). Most of the skills from traditional painting can be transferred to a human canvas.
In my Morrigan body painting, I wanted to show the opposing sides of the goddess: war and fate. The silhouette of a flock of crows that emerges from her heart, and flies out into the distance as an omen, contrasts to the soft white-feathered wings embracing her. The gentle red rose on her back contrasts to the sharp rose thorns winding around her legs into the earth. The Ogham along the arms and the war paint tells the stories of the great battles in Ireland.
The difference between traditional or digital art and body painting is that with body paint you have to work within a given amount of time as well as with the comfort of your model. The model needs to be given time to stretch and relax, and the temperature of the room must be checked to make sure that they are comfortable. Then, once you are done painting, there is usually only several hours for photographs before the artwork has to be washed away. One also has to keep perspective in mind when painting a human body compared to a flat surface. How will the painted image look like when the model raises their arms or stands at a particular angle?
Certain events might have a theme already decided on. At the Dublin Tattoo Convention in 2016, I painted for the theme “Tribal”. I was able to merge my interest in fantasy and video games with body paint by painting a story of a tribe shaman who worships dragons. For this particular event, I bought my first professional set of body paints; that, for me, started a more serious chapter in my body-painting hobby. It was very different from the usual settings, because it was in a public space. People would be walking around and talking to you as you were painting and taking photographs. My interpretation of the theme was a tribe that worships dragons, and I tried to show a story of the shaman of that tribe. The main colours are red, orange, and yellow to symbolise fire. The dragon wings and scales stretch along the chest and neck, with a dragon skull on the face and tribal markings along the arms and legs. On the back, I painted a tribal style tattoo of a dragon. I actually surprised myself with the overall aesthetic that I was able to create with this body painting. This is definitely my favourite work of body art that I have done so far. If there is no set theme, I work with my model to find a topic or style that both of us are interested in to create work we can be proud of.
I believe that everyone should have some sort of activity that can act as a distraction from office work, whether it is sport, art, dance, or something else. It allows you to get outside, expand your network of friends, meet like-minded people, and get you thinking differently. Body painting in particular teaches me how to both work in a team and deal with a customer, which are good skills to have in my technology career.
I make myself try new things all the time. That is how you find out if something is of interest to you, and how you get to meet new people. This is how I found out how much I enjoy body painting. If I had been afraid to try it out, I would never have met any of the wonderful artists and models I have been able to work with.
I post all of my body art and other work on my website here.