Irish body painter steals the Show in London!

We caught up with body painter extraordinaire Danielle Fitzgerald to celebrate her most recent competition victory.

ABT was delighted to see Danielle Fitzgerald win this year's Professional Beauty Makeup Competition with her Body Painting entry based on the theme of Natural Elements. We were especially proud as Danielle gained her place in the London competition following her triumph at the Irish Beauty Makeup Competition held in Dublin last May, organised by our sister brand, AIT. 

Ten months later, Danielle travelled to London as part of her prize to compete in the Professional Beauty Makeup Competition, and guess what, she only went and won!

Danielle, a tutor at Carlow Institute of Further Education and Training, was inspired by natural elements of her home in Ireland to create her first placed entry. We caught up with her to find out how she consistently achieves success…

What was the inspiration behind your winning design?
Our theme for this competition was The Elements. Initially I thought of the usual things like Fire, Wind, Earth and Water and how to represent them, but I always develop my idea several times to try and have something different from my competitors.

I ended up settling on the idea of glass blowing as this needs all the elements to be achieved. Being from Waterford I had to represent my County.

I wanted my costume design to look like holographic glass or when you see a prism of glass and light shining through it with a beautiful rainbow effect it causes.

I love to craft and have more hobbies than I care to admit. So, a competition with bodypainting and a costume element is the one for me. Using a heat gun, I melted holographic plastic to achieve a back piece that represented fire in its shape and glass in its colouring.

Making this costume has to be one of the hardest I've ever done, not because it was particularly tricky but because it had to all fit in a 20kg bag... Fast forward to packing to leave for London and I had to break some parts of it and pack my tools to sort it out once I got to the hotel - great fun!

What are the stages in formulating a design and how long does it take?
It takes several weeks to formulate the idea; I find it's like exercise the more you do it the faster you get at figuring out.

I usually start with a lot of research, which leads me on and on down the road of discovery until I finally have a feeling for what I want it to be.

Next, I will do a body chart and figure out placement and colours. Once that is done, using my mannequin torso I will practice and figure out the layout based on my body chart. Most of the time I hate it at this point and go back to the drawing board and re gig it a bit. This is where you can lose faith a bit but it's all part of the process. so back to a new body chart I figure out what worked and what didn't from my practice run.

All the way through this process I work on the costume and prosthetics, which like the body paint, changes as I go, all tend to inspire each other until it is all complete.

Turning my model into a Goddess is always my goal, whatever the theme is I always seem to end up there, regal and powerful. If I can make them feel confident to walk around in my paint and costume I have done a good job.

Depending on the competition you get a different amount of time to paint. For this look it was 4 hours, which sounds like a lot, but it goes by in a second when you're painting so when I am planning for a competition with this much time, I have to be realistic about what I can achieve. 

I like to make headpieces, capes, shoes and different accessories so if I am doing all of these things in one look, I make sure they continue to tie in with the paint the whole way through the planning. The fabric in the cape was pivotal in the colour palette of the paint, so sometimes as I said before the costume influences the theme. As I am researching, I am saving pictures all the way through, I am building a mood board which by the time it is competition time I can cut out and stick all my ideas together. This is a really important step because it lets the judges see into your mind and helps them understand your plan. 

Do you have any favourite products that are always in your kit bag?
I use a mix of products in my bag. From Diamond FX, Chameleon, Superstar, Fusion and Mehron. For linework Diamond FX black or white would have to be my favourite. I love Badass Stencils for creating amazing textures.

For brushes I love Essentials by Samantha Helen MUA, Blazing Brushes and Kryolan. Caitriona in Dublin Body Paint has always been extremely supportive to Irish body painters and has guided me over the years in what paints are best suited for the job.

My favourite thing to have in my bag is my Kabuki brushes, these are so important to get a beautiful blend and ombre effect in your paint. These can be inexpensive Kabuki brushes and having several in your kit is the ideal set up. 

My top favourite products are:

1. DFX Essential Pale Green
2. Mehron Metallic Gold and Mixing Solution 
3. Kryolan Fixing Spray

Tell us more about your career as a MUA…
I originally trained as a Beauty Therapist in Waterford College of Further Education and went on to work In a Spa for a number of years. I then went on to open my own salons in Waterford and Kilkenny City.

While I had the salons I was teaching in Ormonde College in Kilkenny and quickly realised teaching was the only way for me. I now teach in Carlow Institute of Further Education and Training where I teach everything from Beauty Therapy, Special FX Make Up and Prosthetics. My favourite subject is Bodypainting; this was something that was brought into our L5 Make Up Artistry course a few years back and I jumped at the chance to teach it. 

Helping students learn all the basics of bodypainting and then planning out their own first body paint is so very rewarding. Encouraging them to push themselves and to believe in themselves is what makes my job the dream job. Passing on my love for bodypainting and headpiece construction is my main goal. People who see bodypainting really don't believe they can do it, when they hear it can be up to 6 hours of painting they think, no way!!!, but if I can change their minds then that's the best feeling. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring makeup artist and also to someone hoping to compete in the future? 
My advice is simple, if you are nervous about competing then work hard on everything that you can do before you even get to the competition day. Get all the small points you can, for example make sure your costume idea is strong, that you have read the rules and have everything perfect, consultation card, you're wearing black, neat hair and makeup, bottles labelled etc, all these points add up, so read the rules!

Plan out your look and when you're practicing time each section, have a list of those times and where you need to be at certain points, if your model is eager to help they could let you know if you are running behind and need to speed up. If it is your first time competing you could have two options for your back piece, one simple idea and one with more detail, and if you are running out of time you have a Plan B ready.

What's next for you professionally?
Professionally I am competing again in Liverpool and then in Dublin again at the Professional Beauty & Hair Show. In September I am competing in the online competition for the World Bodypainting Competition in Austria. I am hoping to go there in person next year and compete. 

I will continue to teach in my dream job where I hope that I inspire students to take a chance and body paint.