Kiwi artist Joanne Gair is behind the Ronda Rousey body paint "masterpiece" that is driving the internet crazy.

Rousey - one of the US company Ultimate Fighting Championship's biggest names and one of sports most photographed athletes - confirmed on Friday to her 7.3 million followers on Instagram that she will appear in the upcoming Sports Illustrated 2016 Swimsuit edition wearing nothing but body paint.

The post featured a picture (see above) of her reclining in the surf resplendent with a grey and white body-painted swimsuit.

It features a creation she described as a "masterpiece" - that appears to be a tiger's face.


Before Friday's confirmation, debate had raged on the internet about her modelling ambition. Her post generated more than 240,000 views and has sparked mass interest on other social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

"Secret's out - so here's a free preview of this year's 2016 SI swimsuit issue.

"I was one of the lucky few chosen to be a canvas for a hand painted masterpiece by @joannegair that took 14 hours to put on," Rousey wrote.

"Can't wait to show you guys the final pics when the issue hits the stands."

Gair is the daughter of late National Party Cabinet minister George Gair.

She is regarded as one of the world's leading body painters, becoming a global sensation when she painted Hollywood A-lister Demi Moore for a 1992 cover of Vanity Fair.

Other global stars painted by her include Heidi Klum, Rachel Hunter, Sarah O'Hare and Jessica Gomes.

Describing her body-painting work in an earlier interview with the Herald, Gair said: "You work very close and it's a dance with one another. The body needs to be calm, still and working with the hand.


"It needs to bend in a certain direction."

Gair has also worked on album covers for the likes of David Lee Roth, Tina Turner, Grace Jones, Annie Lennox and Mick Jagger.

The Kiwi also worked on music videos for chart-toppers Madonna, Aerosmith and Nine Inch Nails.

She has worked on other projects with Christina Aguilera, Olivia Wilde, Kate Upton, Lady Gaga and Martin Scorsese.