Pop Art Gets A New Coat Of Paint

Dazed get up-close-and-personal with RCA-graduate Boo Ritson, the world's messiest body-painting pop artist

Images courtesy of: Poppy Sebire
Boo Ritson’s artworks are generally pretty short-lived creations achieved using house paint and a flesh canvas that are captured in photographs before the paint washes off her subjects and her masterpiece disappears. Employing regular house paint she has recently been inspired to transform people into thickly-daubed Hollywood stereotypes – depicting Sunset Boulevard hookers, eager starlets and heavy duty police officers.

Her photographer Andy Crawford is the vital link in preserving the evidence. The main difficulty with her process is that she only has roughly 20 minutes to create her masterpieces before the paint dries, only she and her photographer ever see the work in its raw form. The idea to use people instead of canvas came to her one Christmas. She put on a shower cap and goggles, splashed herself in some old house paint and had her husband take a picture. “I just couldn’t stop looking at the image, " she says. "The next day was Christmas Day, which was rather annoying because we had all our family over. Then Boxing Day came and I painted my husband and took his photo, and the two of them side-by-side just worked." We caught up with her to find out why it's never stopped working...  

Dazed Digital: Things must get pretty messy in your process...
Boo Ritson: Not really. It resembles a forensic scene. Once the plastic is removed it is totally clean.

DD: What does it feel like to have the paint on?
Boo Ritson: It feels similar to having a facemask. It actually feels quite relaxing.

DD: You said you only have about twenty minutes to work?
Boo Ritson: It depends, it starts to dry once it touches the skin, so you are constantly having to hydrate. That is about the only annoying thing which you have to work with.

DD: And the photographer captures this fleeting moment? 
Boo Ritson: Yes, Andy Crawford. I am kind of in an unusual position because I can’t revisit the work. Once it’s done, I can’t go back to it. There is a point of no return at which I have to stop. I can’t come back and tweak something, if I don’t like it I have to go back and start all over again. Once it’s done, it goes on the wall. Then I can make judgments that I can’t necessarily make when I am involved in making it.

DD: You first began with sculpture and not painting am I right?
Boo Ritson: Yes, I trained in sculpture at Royal College, and it felt like I had to make a choice against painting that I wasn’t prepared to make. For me the desire to paint is very strong. What I do now is kind of a way for me to not choose against things.
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