TEMPTU PRO Exclusive Interview with Body Artist William Lemon III

Most makeup artists consider a model’s skin their canvas, but William Lemon III takes the idea more literally.  Best known for his “skin printing” technique, William Lemon’s body art has graced the skin of Marc Jacobs, Chloë Sevigny, and now Emanuela de Paulo.  Excited to work with and learn from such a visionary in the world of body art, Ava Scanlan, of TEMPTU PRO,  jumped at the chance to sit down with Lemon and learn more about his influences, techniques,  and upcoming projects.

Okay, before we begin, I first have to ask, how was it being backstage with the models for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

It was like being at camp but on the other side of camp where the boys weren’t allowed.  It was fun on a professional level too; it was the top of the industry and all of the most amazing girls.  Tod, the costume designer made it really fun and hilarious; he is such an amazing character.

You were called on to do the body art for the “Tribal Angel”, I believe this may be the FIRST TIME IN HISTORY that a VS Angel wore body art, can you tell us a little bit about the body art trend that is booming right now, you yourself have become quite famous for your body art…

I began as an avant punkish musician performing my musical in small clubs around NYC and was discovered by Richard Burbridge, who saw a zine I had made with Agathe Snow as my model, and I mention this because I had no reference point as to where the industry was at that time.  I feel like now me and body art/makeup are getting along very well and I think we are going to be getting along even better as things go more far out and the avant garde starts to be more the main stream of what people expect from beauty and entertainment.  I think that because of the tone of common entertainment being so bland for the most part people are going to start expecting more art injected into their TV and their fashion magazines.  I will know that I’ve done good when I work the cover of Marie Claire.

What was the inspiration for the Tribal Angel? Was it specifically African, Aboriginal, etc? Or a multi-ethnic tribal approach?

It was inspired by the Maori, the indigenous tribe of the Polynesian islands and New Zealand.

What techniques did you use to do the body art? Specifically – airbrushing, hand painting or other techniques?

I used the black Dura with the fly G6 from Iwata.  I sized the templates to the model and used custom cut acetate as the stencils.  It was fairly thick but I find that using velum is dangerous because it can rip.  The bands on the dancers were created by using strips of American Apparel leggings that are spandex coated, and then cut into perfect rings.  We were thinking of using tapes or stencils but this idea came to me and worked out perfectly, the bands adjusted to the dancers’ big muscles and gave a perfect line.

What products did you use?

Iwata Smart jet, Iwata G6 Airbrush Gun, TEMPTU PRO DURA in Black 301.

Doing body makeup for performance seems like it is very different than for say something like a photo shoot, were there adjustments you had to make with the makeup, or any secret tips and tricks to create long-lasting makeup? We’ve heard that Angels undergo rigorous hours in hair and makeup before the show…

I just had to make sure my amazing team was up to date and knew about the schedule changes etc.  It was just getting used to the time pressure but the people I worked with are the best in the industry so I got LUCKY. xo to all of my crew by the way I hope to work with you again soon!!!

Who are your makeup influences / artistic inspirations?

I have so many but I think the films of Kenneth Anger, Sergei Parajanov, and Jack Smith, have had a definite influence on the way I look for characters in my work.

What are the top five items in your makeup kit that you can’t live without?

My taste, my tude, my manners, my eye, my chewing gum 😉

Finally, we saw your cover of Flaunt with the body art / face makeup that you did for the art project for the Bright White Underground, what other projects are you working on or do you have coming up?

I’m working with my amazing friend Ryan Heffington for his final performance of Heavy Metal Parking Lot: The Musical at the MOCA on Thursday (12/2/10). It’s based on the 1986 documentary of the same name.  It will be so sick!!!!!!  Hope to see you all there.


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