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by Meg Harder

by Meg Harder


For Emma, body art began as a fun experiment, but overtime, has become a beautiful gift she shares with her community. Emma's body art journey began with a crew of self-defined “dumpster divers” who regularly salvage useful stuff from the landfill. When a few cans of white paint were recovered, Emma took the opportunity to put it to creative use. Remembering the magical effect of her friend Tate’s face painting had at a festival a few years back, Emma started by painting what Tate called “celebration dots” on her own face and those of her friends. The small white specs circling the eyes, nose, mouth, created a surreal popping effect to the face in “just the right sort of way” and she knew she was on to something good. 

Emma upgraded her paint kit and white dots evolved into lines, geometric shapes, abstract gestures, and recognizable symbols. Her palette now includes metallics, rich matte primaries, and black light reactive rainbow brushes.

She really enjoyed breaking out her kit for festivals and dance parties to enhance the magic of the event.  The more she engaged people with face painting, the more she became aware of the intimacy of the act. She wanted to personalize the designs to reflect this. She tried asking prospective faces for a single word that was meaningful for them and used that as a starting point for her process. Immediately, Emma could feel that her work became more focussed and impactful. She recalls a nervous looking party-goer who offered the word “acceptance”. Emma went to work with the face paint, creating a design that enveloped their face like two hands were tenderly holding their features. The participant’s word-less expression of gratitude at the final reveal was enough to convince Emma that she was doing something meaningful.

With so much experience in creating body art, I wondered if she had ever committed to a permanent tattoo. She does in fact have a tattoo, but she often forgets about it. For Emma, the ephemeral nature of her body art creates space for her to evolve and respond to her changing styles and interests as well as to the needs of those she adorns.


Books for Tats

Elizabeth Gilbert shares her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration to those who seek to live life with more mdfullness and passion.

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Elizabeth Gilbert