I have been decorating people’s faces since 2004. My face painting journey started on the streets of Mexico where I was performing with my partner of the time. Having seen the street clowns painting children’s faces, I bought a set and painted our faces (pretty badly!) for our street performances. Little did I know, from these humble beginnings, what a journey this would take me on and how it would change my life in such a positive way.
On returning to the UK, after traveling all through my 20’s, I set up NamNam’s Face Painting in Brighton, slowly building up a small business, painting at any children’s events I could find! After a few years of working primarily solo and not really knowing any other painters, I decided to bite the bullet, join the Face Painting Association and go to their conference to meet other painters. This turned out to be a great move, as I finally had lots of people to bounce off and be inspired by. I decided to challenge myself and entered a few competitions over the next few years, some of which I won, and I became an active part of the face and body painting community.
This then led to me teaching. Over the years I’ve taught hundreds of people to face paint, many of whom are now successful full time painters. As I was painting more and more adults, which was a relatively new concept then, I became well known for my eye designs. I began teaching these designs all over the country to face painters wanting to expand their repertoire. My involvement in festivals also ramped up; I started running the team at Camp Bestival and working at many other shows with various different painters.
I first met Philly on a road trip to the World Body Painting Championships in Austria where we were both working on a glitter tattoo stand. It was a two day journey in 30 degree heat in a beat up old minibus; a very bonding experience! After spending a week together, the foundation was set for a solid friendship, even though it would be a couple of years before we started working together. I had been face painting at festivals for a few years, however once Philly expressed an interest in joining forces, we stepped up a gear and had a few summers of back to back festivals, decorating thousands of happy faces and having a lot of fun along the way. It soon became clear that we were stronger as a pair and the idea of a joint venture emerged a few months later. Poppy & Perle was officially born at a beautiful beach cafe in South Goa, India. Bringing a wealth of different strengths to the table, we launched the new business together, and have never looked back.
My face painting career highlights include; painting children in India, who had never seen face painting before and were shrieking with joy on seeing the end result; painting FatBoy Slim’s face and seeing my work used as visuals on a giant screen at his gig; working for a dance company in India and being flown to the Bahamas for a job; -painting as part of the Glastonbury Kidz Field face painting team, the best place to paint in the world; and finding Philly, my true partner in crime, and all the subsequent adventures that we’ve had.
Entering the face painting world has given me friends for life, a fun and varied career working in some incredible venues, the opportunity to meet and connect with a wide range of people, the freedom to continue to travel and pursue other passions, and the ability to bring smiles and color to people on a regular basis. It’s been an exciting and ever evolving journey, which I am so happy and grateful to continue on!
My face and body painting journey started at a very young age, learning the art from years of watching my mother at work – Juliet Eve, face painter extraordinaire and founder of Facade Academy. Juliet would adorn the delighted faces of children across Hertfordshire and at a number of festivals in my youth where my family would work in the kids area. So when I was first gifted my very own face painting kit around the age of 15, I found that it all came naturally and I was soon out on jobs across London, which is where I called home for most of my 20’s.
With a degree in Politics, my career path was firmly headed towards the world of charity and policy work, however life took a different turn following my graduation. After a stint of traveling in Asia and Africa, I set my eyes on the prospect of working summers of festivals, and reconnected with Nams who I had met a couple of summers before. The foundations of Poppy & Perle were very much born in those early festival fields and little did we know that it would be the beginning of a wonderful, organic and long-lasting friendship and working relationship that has taken us across lots of the UK and various parts of the world.
My favorite place to paint and henna is still in a festival field but I have been lucky enough to work on some other incredible projects over the years, from painting a supermodel in Rankin’s photography studio to party revellers in the Sahara desert. I remain incredibly passionate about the joy that face and body artist can bring, the connections we make with such a magnitude of people from so many different backgrounds, as well as the transformative process and effect of this medium of impermanent body art.