"A Tomb Raider who takes her clothes off and paints herself"
Melissa Croft is a self taught face and body painter who shares her unique artwork via social media.
By day, Melissa Croft is a graphic designer at a branding agency in London. By night, the half British half Filipino creative is a body artist who draws inspiration from comic books and video games. Speaking to Resonate, Melissa discusses her upbringing and inspiration for her craft.
Ethnicity and background
“I am mixed race, my mother is from the Philippines and my father is British, from the Grimsby region. I was born in Grimsby and I am really proud of coming from a little town. I think it you should always embrace your roots because you can’t change them.
There wasn’t much diversity in my school, and as with growing up if you’re different, then it can be noticed. I am lucky as it was not really that much to harm me growing up, of course everyone grows up with insecurities, and I suppose for a very short period, race may have been one but I didn’t like to dwell on insecurities, it’s good to be nice to yourself.
My parents were unbelievably supportive, they have let me choose what I want to do, with my career, my hobbies, my living choices, etc. When I started exploring with painting, my parents were kind enough to give me a gift of brushes and a face/body painting set by Mehron. I still have it now, I’m clinging onto it!”
Getting into body painting
“I got into it from makeup and cosplay really. Mainly makeup, I had dotted about with it through the end of secondary school. My friend told me about a girl she knew who could paint and turn others into different characters, an extensive make-up artist I suppose. I thought, “I wonder if I can do that”. I went home and rubbed cherry red lip gloss all over my face “drawing a rose” and it wouldn’t come off. I gave it up for a little bit, although I wish I had taken a photo. After a couple of years I played around making myself into an avatar with eyeshadow and thought, “That isn’t so bad”, I wonder what I would say if I told myself back then that I would be doing that for a full time hobby.
Even though I played around a lot, the main thing that really got my going was a leaving party for my Sixth form, my friends and I attended our last day as the Cat in the Hat, and Thing one and Thing two. I refused to attend without prosthetic whoville noses. I couldn’t find any online and decided I was going to build it myself instead, so I taught myself how to and fell in love with it, after that I kept turning myself into zombies.”
“I’m inspired by comic books/video games, I’ve played around with a lot of different styles but I love the cartoon and comic book style, I think it suits me well. Originally, I was inspired by Youtube make-up artists like Dope2111 and Madeyewlook. They definitely taught me a lot as I was learning, but they have their own styles and I have mine. I currently look towards KayPikeFashion as she is more in line with a similar interest, but again, we have different styles. I join her Streams and ask lots of questions, maybe too many! It’s good to learn from others as well as yourself.
I suppose in general I take inspiration from a lot of different places though, prints on jackets, films, comic books, character of the month from subreddits. I think it is good to always have a hobby in the back of your mind and apply things you see everyday to it to try and improve and work on ideas. Our brains never switch off, make the most of it.”
I am currently going through characters that have a similar hair colour to me, I have bought a red lace front wig so I’m going to play around redoing and improving my Poison Ivy. My pinterest board has all the future paints I plan to do (https://uk.pinterest.com/mcroft07/) so you can see what is coming up.
A big one is Lara Croft which will be very soon (I’m a big Tomb Raider fan), I have started to buy supplies for it. Nathan McCree (the composer of the original Tomb Raider games) ran a kickstarter to record the Tomb Raider Suite. Being a fan, and seeing his desire to make it happen I wanted to do something to hopefully encourage pledgers, not that he needed my help in the end! He smashed it. I said that if he reaches his goal I would paint Lara and he did! So that is a big upcoming one on my list.”
“I usually begin by finding one main photo that I want to copy. This can a panel from a comic book or a fan made photo. I will use that as my main reference, then if I cannot see a certain angle from that photo, like the back of a forearm, I’ll go hunting for one that does show it.
Then it is pretty much like painting normally combined with applying makeup. I use a white paint or a white eyeliner pencil to mark out blocks and fill them in from light colours first. I’m always tempted to start filling in the black areas because it really makes it come alive, but I know I shouldn’t, I just get too excited!
I then colour block, but the order changes up each time, sometimes I’ll do arms first, other times my torso or face. Whatever looks most fun to paint.”
“I’m trying to balance painting and working. I’m very lucky that my partner helps out with the body painting side, taking photos, adjusting lighting and allowing me to make time when I need to create more content. You can see him dot about on my channels, I paint his back for large “canvas” pieces.
I’m really just learning and developing my style, trying different brands and methods. After all I am only self-taught and these things take time. I’m just having fun with my style of body painting.”
In five years I think I will still have body painting as a side hobby, it makes me really happy, but I do hope that it will be possible to generate a little income through it one day. I hope in 5 years I will have learned a lot more about body painting and I won’t have run out of characters to paint.”