Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

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ideas and inspiration

Most of my enjoyment derived from face and body painting is the creative aspect.  Coming up with new ideas or making changes to existing designs on the fly that make them better satisfies the artist in me.

Original and all my idea!!

Original and all my idea!!

I get inspiration from a lot of different places and people – like most face painters/make-up artists/body painters I am inspired by the work of others.  I like to take bits from here and there and create something that suits my style.  There are many designs created by others that are so perfect that changing them is silly!!  Those get added to the working repertoire with slight variations so as not to be an exact copy, I hope!

Some artists like the Wolfe Brothers and Mark Reid have had a very profound effect on face painting style around the world – I admit to the influence on some of my work.

Painted AFTER I saw the Wolfe Brother's work

Painted AFTER I saw the Wolfe Brother’s work

The skulls that Nick and Brian Wolfe do are so effective and eye-catching that you can’t help but emulate their “look” – which is taking the realistic approach to the anatomical structure and making it expressive!  Everyone loves a Wolfe Monster.

Mark Reid’s tigers have taken over the world.  Colourful, bold and beautiful – and fast to do!  I see so many face painters doing “Mark Reid Tigers” that sometimes you don’t know if Mark painted it or not!

Lynne Jamieson’s fantastically beautiful butterflies took the face painting world by storm a few years back… stunningly gorgeous!  Lynne’s style is slightly more difficult to master but, again, I see lots of face painters copying her style.

There are lots of books and magazines out there for us all to use for inspiration.  That’s why they are published!  My book “Your Face or Mine” published by Snazaroo USA Inc. is for beginner painters.  Other books target various skills levels from beginner to advanced.  Some books offer photos only, others a combination of drawings, text and photos, and others photos and text.


There is absolutely nothing wrong with copying other people’s work in your own way and using their ideas for inspiration.  Practising by copying every little detail in a photograph of another artist’s design is a good learning tool, absolutely.  But where this crosses the line is when these designs are put forward as “original work”… entered in contests for example.

There have been a few cases over the years of someone copying a design from another face or body artist, entering and winning a contest claiming it to be an “original design”… it happens. With the Internet it is so easy to find designs in obscure areas, or to see something somewhere not well known to others in the face painting community – and some people take advantage to use those designs for their own.  Without changing them at all.

I don’t have a problem with adapting designs from another medium – say tattoo designs or cover art or oil paintings or comic books (as long as you aren’t using a copyrighted, trademarked or licensed image!)   But using another face/body artists actual work and designs and copying them exactly to use for competition really takes the cake.

Painting your own versions of other artists work and using them for your own promotion is generally acceptable – although, I have to admit that I prefer it when someone makes changes to the design they are using for inspiration.  Rather than post an exact copy that you painted, make it uniquely your own by changing colours, number of stripes, shapes, etc.

There have been a few instance of “stolen photos” being reported to the face painting forums as people spot the work, or what they believe to be the work of more established artists on someones website or working displays – then it turns out that they painted the design in question but copied it dot for dot, line for line from a photo of another artist’s work.

Imitation, it is said, is the sincerest form of flattery… but, if someone has the abiltiy to copy another artist’s work so well that people have a hard time telling if it is their work or not… then I have to ask – Why on earth aren’t they painting their “own” ideas??  If they are that competent a painter they shouldn’t have to copy!

I like to display photos for the kids to choose from (and everyone else to admire 🙂 ) when I am working.  And since I do not approve of displaying the work of other people (I consider it false advertising – doesn’t matter if the artist is credited under the photo as it is the photo people are seeing) I have to create displays of my work only.  I have a lot of photos of myself on my display 🙂  because it is easier, and when I want to put up new stuff I don’t always have a model available.

I have adapted designs from other artists – of course – that’s why we all share them.  To show off, provide inspiration to others, and advertise ourselves.  But I hope to have put my own stamp on those ideas.

I have a series of laminated Design Sheets that are available to purchase (contact me at Contact Page for more info) and I give permission in the copyright blurb for these to be used for display purposes.  I know there are many painters, particularly those just starting out, that don’t have a large collection of photos of their own work to display.  These sheets, hopefully, provide ideas, inspiration and also samples to show the customers if needed.

I just finished off the tenth Design Sheet in the series which is “Speed Designs” and have three more in stages of partial completion – just have to get more photos to suit the themes!

Each Design Sheet has 16 photos of designs painted by myself – and some are based on designs of other artists and adapted to my style. All are designs that I actually paint on the job and display on my own working display panels and book.

The Design Sheets are themed.  There is a Christmas, Halloween, Spring, Summer, Butterflies & Swirls, Boys, Quick Designs, Arm Art, Eyes and the new Speed Designs.

Design Idea Sheets

Design Idea Sheets

Almost ready are Girl Designs, Cats and White Bases… with more as I get more work done.

Many of these designs also have Step-By-Steps to go with them.  Some are included on my CDs and lots more will be included in my upcoming e-books.  I also share a fair amount with the forums and periodically here on my blog.

So… find your inspiration where you can, get ideas, play around and practice the parts you really like and make what you do uniquely yours!