Artist Spotlight: Emily of Body by Svec

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Hellooo Koi Story Readers!

My name is Emily Svec and I am a body painter. Great pick up line right? :) I rock most of my body paint in the little city of Des Moines, but have recently been expanding to other cities in the Midwest, like Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Ames, Adel, Altoona and Cedar Falls.

Around town I'm known as various things relating to the paint. For example, yesterday evening a bartender was asking if I had been ID-ed and a friend piped up and said, "Oh you don't know Emily? Haven't you seen the naked ladies around town?" Needless to say, after that I had no issue getting a cold beverage or two.

I've been doing body paint for about 7 years now, but have been an artist since I could hold a crayon. I come from a long line of artistic talent and entrepreneurs, my parents and family have always been very supportive of my art. Paint has become my life. My history with body paint started one particularly snowy evening while I was in college, I painted a few friends for fun and posted the finished results on my photo heavy, song quoting, occasionally whiny blog on Myspace.


Things blew up! Everyone wanted painted. I was using up that cheap acrylic paint that you can find at craft stores as fast as I could buy it. Suddenly, the niche I had been seeking my whole life just bloomed in front of me. I started doing shows thanks to a formerly local party planner, Nathan Hewitt, who hired me for my first gig. So I proceeded to cram 4 models into a little bathroom at a club and went to town on them painting for a fall fashion show. I stood, biting my nails, watching my girls rock out to "I've got a date with the night" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs from behind the runway with Lindsey Ritland (fabulous make-up artist). BOOM. Gigs started, slowly but surely, rolling down the pipelines.


Then, it happened. We got hired for the first year of 80-35 festival. Beautiful homegrown Iowan women painted a riot of bright colors walking around topless in the middle of downtown Des Moines....I suppose it wouldn't be hard for The Flaming Lips to notice us, but when they asked us to come onstage with them, I (along with my other painted ladies) have never been SO EXCITED. There was a moment during the Yeah Yeah Yeah Song that I looked out across the audience and saw thousands and thousands of people holding up their hands in a peace sign. It gives me goosebumps just to remember it! That show and that first festival put us on the MAP for Des Moines. I really credit the organizers of 80-35 in helping push my business into the position it is today.


Since then, I've added different elements. Performance work (collaborating with belly dancer and choreographer Rachel Glaza), updating the paint I use, (utilizing make up extraordinaire Patrick Boltinghouse's Vanity and Glamour magic), taking a heavy lead in developing concepts, playing the role of Art Director instead of purely reveling in the's been a mad mad whirlwind.


Des Moines has it's pluses and minuses and my business took it's sweet little time getting off the ground, but I feel my painted ladies and laddies and my Body by Svec crew has really carved out something unique in this town that we might not have been able to do in a bigger city.
I think that the paint really has a magic of it's own (watch out, this is where the real passion starts coming out), and sometimes I wonder how much I actually have to do with it as the artist! It has transformed so many people's opinions and views of their bodies, it has granted confidence and security to both women and men in a way that nothing else can. A mantra the painted folk carry is "My body is a piece of ART." We are inundated as a culture with images of what's "sexy" what's "normal" what is "unattractive." The paint takes away those insecurities. Abolishes them. Kicks them to the curb. It's a beautiful thing and I'm so thankful I have been given the opportunity to allow my painted ladies and laddies the luxury of being secure in the body they have been blessed with.

I leave you with this beautiful ladies and gentlemen readers of Koi Story...
Your body is a piece of art, with or without paint. Love it, respect it, and accept it.

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1. Photo by Phil Thomson Photographic, hair by Amber Hathaway, and make-up by Karissa Andrews.
2. Photo by Robin Svec Photo.
3. Photo by Robin Svec Photo
4. Photo by La Bella Photoand hair by Brianne Cummins.
5. Photo by Phil Thomson Photographic, hair and make-up by Cate Wilkins and Karissa Andrews.
6. Photo by Phil Thomson Photographic.
7. Photo by Phil Thomson Photographic.
8. Photo by Serendipitiy Photography
9. Photo by Phil Thomson Photographic, hair and make-up by Karissa Andrews.
10. Photo by Joe Crimmings.
11. Photo by Emily Svec.
12. Photo by Ace Foto and make-up by Lindsey Ritland.
13. Photo by Des Moines Music Coalition.
14. Photo by Anna Jones Art of Photography.
15. Photo by Phil Thomson Photographic, hair by Brianne Cummins, and make-up by Lindsey Ritland.
16. Photo by Robin Svec Photo.
17. Photo by Valerie Carr Lennon, Hair by Brianne Cummins, Make-up by Lindsey Ritland.
18. Photo by Olivia Rose.

To view more of her work, go to here or here.
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