3 min

Paint by body parts

Martin Armand's flair for airbrushing

AIRBRUSH THIS. Martin Armand has reinvented body art. Credit: Matthew Lister

Michael Venus: Well I guess first things first: let our readers in on why you are becoming so famous.

Martin Armand: Um, I don’t know about being famous, but I have changed the style of body painting. I wanted to be different than everybody else. I definitely have my own style. I do pure airbrush-not touching or old fashion brushes-and have lots of detailed work. I’ve mixed every subject from Mickey Mouse…

MV: …to donuts and eggs on boobs!

MA: I’ve covered just about everything. Not just animals or clothes like traditional body painters. I try to bring out the shape of the body to basically anything in our environment.

MV: So, like, how on earth did you get into this kind of work and how long have you been mastering it?

MA: Officially, over four years now with the airbrush, but I have been painting for 15 years. I have a university of fine arts background. I am a hairdresser and make-up artist as well, which kinda led into this to make a name for myself and do non-traditional work.

In my work every photo has a message behind it. But when people are viewing my work they are always trying to search for the body parts which are very erotic. It’s considered sexual just for the simple fact that it’s the nude human body.

MV: So after you have completed a job on someone do you consider them naked?

MA: No, not at all! All my models feel like they are wearing something, most of them say they feel so comfortable they could walk down the street!

MV: What are some of the perks working with some very perky parts?

MA: Some of the more interesting things I’ve done are Playboy in LA, Living Large, Headline LA, some British papers and probably the biggest was Airbrush Part and Action which was printed in four different languages around the world.

I have also been voted top body painter in Canada and in the top five for the USA-and the other five [painters] have been doing this for over 20 years. The fact that I am in the top five of the USA and that I am Canadian makes me very proud. I’m also the youngest one!

MV: So how long does it usually take to make your masterpiece come to life?

MA: The shortest time has been about 20 minutes, which was lingerie. And the longest one was nine-and-a-half hours. On average it takes about three hours.

My models range from pregnant moms, to professionals, to everyday (if I can say that) normal people who all have fun just doing it and are often repeat customers.

The whole process of changing the look of the body really appeals to people and seems to be the thing that is most commented on. People get used to their body and usually don’t see it as a piece of art, so this really helps them appreciate the whole metamorphosis.

Straight men are sometimes a little more hesitant to be naked and to have makeup applied, whereas I find women to be a lot more comfortable. The men are mostly actors or professional models.

MV: Okay, when doing male subjects how do you disguise their genitalia?

MA: A couple of the guys I’ve done have been completely comfortable and for me it’s totally professional…

MV: Wink wink?

MA: [Giggles] A little wink wink!

I do try to remain professional and to not lose my face or reputation, but if I want to mix anything other than my art…that’s after-hours.

I want people to feel comfortable and not mix business with pleasure. For the guys who aren’t totally comfortable being nude- they wear a special underwear. It all depends on what I am trying to create.

MV: What are your origins?

MA: I am originally from Tehran, Iran, then I moved to Montreal where I took hair and make-up school. Many of my family members did hair as well…I guess it was in my blood. I was drawn to the beauty/film industry and the English language and that is what brought me here to Vancouver 10 years ago. I just knew this was the place for me.

Now that I am teaching in San Francisco and Los Angeles it is very convenient being based here.

MV: It seems like this work keeps getting more and more popular. What advice could you pass on?

MA: Well if you’re interested, you can always take my course! [Chuckles] I teach private or group but any course gets you started and then you can use your artistic talent and practice-lots. You don’t need to be an artist or painter, you just have to be able to replicate and have a vision.

MV: Okay, when you’re working on a hot guy do things ever start to grow by mistake?

MA: [Blushing] They usually try to keep it professional!

MV: When looking at a body, what makes you decide what you should paint on that particular person?

MA: I look at the shape of the body and am able to go from there. It doesn’t really matter what their body type is because you can always paint it and change it to suit the design.

MV: I know in a lot of muscle mags and for television (like Baywatch) they will basically enhance the muscles with make-up. Do you do that?

MA: Oh yes, like my Aqua-Man or Spider-Man, I actually build the muscles on them.

MV: Gorgeous!!! So you can make me, like, a total buff Mary!

So, what’s your ideal man? Or fetish?

MA: Spider-Man!