Emma Fay

“The human canvas was like a missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle, when I was introduced to this strange and wonderful niche, it brought together all my previous interest in art and live art/theatre and was a way for me to truly play”

What do you do?

This was one of the questions I used to and still sometimes struggle with depending on the application form! When I first set off on the self employed artist adventure, people would ask during networking “what do you do?” and I’d mumble something on the lines of “I paint on people” with the response quite often being “that’s a job??”!

My attempt to explain my art form as a Concept Body Fine Artist was to try to make a kind of label to fit but, basically, I play with and manipulate the human form, mainly using paint, and this can be for exhibitions, commercial promotional “stuff” or live art.

While I do this I also like to juggle running a fabulously crazy company, Enter Edem, which is made up of a collective of delightful and wonderful talented weird folk who share my love of outdoor arts and theatre, and where I get to use my artistic eye on projects, but also get the fun tasks of filling in budget sheets, oh the joys!

How did you get to where you are?

I headed off to study Theatre Design after completing A-levels in Art and Design, but I ended up leaving University early as I wasn’t a huge fan of the lecturers (too many “we’ve cancelled today’s lecture” notes on doors when I was commuting there and a clash of, styles we’ll say). I love making work for family audiences and was continuing to teach LAMDA/RADA Musical Theatre and Drama in the evenings, after dropping out to decide what fitted better I thought I’d do a little random course while also studying for my teaching licentiate (as I’d planned to teach privately, not go into full time education settings) and so thought “I’ll study massage in the meantime”... Yep, how my brain works! But it was something I thought I could do anywhere, and randomly along the way in this process, I ended up helping out at a friend’s struggling salon business, turning it around and it doing quite well, time snuck by and I was still managing it 6 years later!

Even though I was adamant I would “never be a hairdresser” I completed all the hair and beauty training possible so I could teach the juniors and in my attempts to not go mad. I even installed a photography studio to play about in where I had started body painting but had become quite mind-numbingly bored... until the World Body Paint Festival! So, goodbye salon, hello Austria, freelance life and some crazy times since! The anatomy studies, makeup skills, and even the hairdressing ended up being quite handy, I studied with body artists I admired and I literally ran away with the circus, freelancing for lots of agencies doing theatrical make up and body art.

Somewhere along the way in all of this I set up a company and a studio space, where I was quite lucky to have one of my pieces of work, painting a contortionist friend Beth as a Giraffe, go viral, which then led to some bizarre moments like other artwork being in a centre spread of the guardian, appearing on the Paul O’Grady Show, doing a TEDx talk, recreating work on beaches in Brazil and painting Olympic athletes to name a few... Yeah, it’s been quite wonderful, mental, full-on fun!

(My friend James said I should mention painting a Japanese TV presenter's bum in a lift... no further explanation required).

Why do you love what you do?

The human canvas was like a missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle, when I was introduced to this strange and wonderful niche, it brought together all my previous interest in art and live art/theatre and was a way for me to truly play (I also have a deep passion for this undervalued word.)

I find creating on the body is my go to for expressing any ponderings on our fascinating species and this mind boggling existence, it’s a way of connecting with people and I really love making public visual art to open up conversation.

My art form is appetising in all the right ways for me too as it’s very hands on, involves people and it's extremely frustrating at times - which is perfect - as I think having plenty of challenges keeps me constantly falling in love with it.

Why are you based in Leicester?

I love the people in Leicester, it’s my home town and as I’m not a ‘big city’ person I find there’s a fantastic group of strange humans I can hang out with here and make wonderful madness. It also has great places for walks with plenty of trees (a necessity for me) and being smack bang in the middle of the UK is handy for getting everywhere needed.

What next?

I’ve been playing around with combining Augmented Reality in my work which is a pretty exciting headache! Also, there are some lovely additions to touring exhibition work which, fingers crossed, should be happening later in the year. I’ve always got a pile of sketches to realise on people too, so when I’m allowed to poke them with my brush again it will be time to play!

Social media accounts to follow:

Facebook: @EmmaFayofficial

Twitter: @EmmaFayOfficial

Instagram: emmafayofficial