The painstaking process of body painting for Sports Illustrated

It’s come time for the 2016 edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. One of the fixtures of this year’s magazine are the several models that bare all for a makeup artist. They, in turn, create hyper realistic swimwear designs by painting them directly on their bodies.

The makeup artist who did the body painting this edition was Joanne Gair. The New Zealand-born make-up artist and body painter has had her body paintings featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue since 1999. Joanne is considered the world’s leading trompe-l’œil body painter and make-up artist. This year’s lineup for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue that Joanne had the pleasure of painting includes UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, tennis player Caroline Wozniacki and ski racer Lindsey Vonn.

A tedious process, but enjoyable

At the issue’s recent launch event in NYC last week, the models who starred in the magazine’s former swimsuit numbers shared their experiences about being body painted.

Hannah Ferguson, who donned a fishnet swimsuit in SI’s 2014 copy said, “[Getting body painted] was…interesting…[t]hey basically told us to just make sure we were hairless. [My suit] was actually very intricate and diverse, so it took, like, 18 hours for them to paint it, and about five minutes to take off.”

The tedious painting process was not unique to Hannah Ferguson’s swimwear design. Though the multi-coloured bikini worn by model Samantha Hoopes was not as comprehensive as Hannah’s, Joanne spent a gruelling 16 hours painting the apparel onto Samantha for the 2014 issue.

“I always shave every inch of my body, even my arms, my face, my back; I literally shave everything…[t]hey start with a white base, and then they go from there, and it turns into, literally, a legit suit. It’s amazing,” explains Samantha.

Even when Samantha was naked for nearly 16 hours with everything spread, she loved the process. And when Russian Irina Shayk graced the Sports Illustrated cover back in 2011, the model had to wake up for a 2am call time and was subsequently painted for 13 hours.