Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Live canvas for artist of illusion

Kiwi artist spends 14 hours creating a painted-on swimsuit for US mag cover.
The Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition features UFC fighter Ronda Rousey in bodypaint on one of its covers. Photo / Frederic Pinet
The Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition features UFC fighter Ronda Rousey in bodypaint on one of its covers. Photo / Frederic Pinet

The Kiwi artist behind Ronda Rousey's image on the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition says it was designed to represent feminine strength.

One of three different covers released by the US magazine, it shows the UFC fighter in what appears to be a real swimsuit - but is actually just layers of makeup.

Joanne Gair, 57, daughter of former New Zealand politician George Gair, was the key artist behind the illusory piece and spent 14 hours preparing Rousey's body, applying her makeup and painting on the intricate details of the suit.

"Each piece of swimwear to be replicated for the body painting [in the 2016 swimsuit edition] was perfectly selected to elaborate on the personality and the art form of each of these athletes and what they do as a craft," she said. "It was all about the strength of women in this issue."

As well as creating Rousey's cover image, Gair spent hours painting Caroline Wozniacki and skier Lindsey Vonn - both depicted in the magazine in painted-on swimwear.

Asked what it's like dealing with celebrities, Gair said it was important to be prepared, flexible in your work and, most importantly, trustworthy.

"You have to be very aware of their privacy, their needs."

Some of the celebrities she has been associated with include Madonna, Cindy Crawford, Heidi Klum, Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga.

Her body painting has been a regular feature in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue since it first appeared in the 1999 edition - though it's the first time the US edition has had a bodypaint cover.

For every piece of work Gair is commissioned to do she goes to the original garment, to see how it was made, the cut and how it sits before she begins layering the body with coloured make-up.

Joanne Gair, 57, daughter of former New Zealand politician George Gair, was the key artist behind the illusory piece and spent 14 hours preparing Rousey's body. Photo / Instagram
Joanne Gair, 57, daughter of former New Zealand politician George Gair, was the key artist behind the illusory piece and spent 14 hours preparing Rousey's body. Photo / Instagram

"It's just like painting on a canvas, you can't put mediums on top of mediums if they aren't friendly - you have to work out which one will work on top of another."

While the artist said it could be time-consuming, she loved the process. "I love the commitment, to actually be painting, to be working on a live canvas."

This is not the first time Gair's work has featured on the cover of a magazine - the 1992 Vanity Fair cover of sporting actress Demi Moore is credited with putting the Kiwi on the map.

Photo / Frederic Pinet
Photo / Frederic Pinet

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 23 May 2017 05:10:43 Processing Time: 1143ms