BY YVETTE BROWN
A Queens native, Michael Mejia, is competing in a $100,000 competition where he will have to create different works of art through body painting on a TV show called “Skin Wars.”
“Skin Wars” is the first-ever body painting competition show and the Game show network’s most-watched original series. The show is about finding the most innovative body painter in America. There are 12 contestants, of which one of them is Mejia. The contestants have to compete in elaborate body painting challenges to avoid being eliminated and win the approval of the judges, including entertainer RuPaul Charles and body painting icons Craig Tracy and Robin Slonina.
Mejia is an American-Colombian artist with a diverse background in the art world. He is best known for his hyper-realistic animal body paintings. He has been body painting for six years and has been commissioned by celebrities including Jason Derulo, Claudia Schiffer and Timbaland.
Mejia explained that he got his start in body painting through a friend, who ended up hiring him for a few gigs, his first one being with two porn stars, “it was really crazy,” he laughed. “After that, I started enjoying [my body painting] class more and it became my profession after a couple of years and eventually I started using it as a form of fine arts, so it became a medium for me to create transformative works.”
He told the Tribune that he has been an artist since he was a kid, but didn’t know that he would be into the body painting world, “but I love it, I love transformation, I’ve always loved anything that involves transformation, whether it’s plastic surgery or remodeling a house or arts in general.”
Mejia went on to mention his “art mother,” Elizabeth Velmonsky, who he pays a lot of homage to for helping him get his start.
“She found me in Queens at an after school program in Jackson Heights and she gave me private lessons since I was a kid,” he said. “I owe all of my existence to her. She’s a huge part of my life.”
Mejia then went onto talk about how this helped him in the competition, saying that ‘Skin Wars’ isn’t an easy show to join because there are so many other talents.
“’Skin Wars’ is not an easy show to get on, you have to have a lot of talent. The most talented artists and body painters in the states and even internationally are on the show,” Mejia told the Queens Tribune. “Fortunately, in the last few years, I was able to generate a following, especially in the body painting community and so I think my name is pretty well-known in the body painting world and so they must’ve checked out my work, which I think is pretty cool and that’s how [‘Skin Wars’ must’ve found me.]”
He described the competition as being almost like a bootcamp, they each had to work really hard and think fast to come up with different designs surrounding the artwork, but Mejia said even throughout the hard work, “it was fun.”
Mejia said the judges were really helpful and were fun to be around, he expressed that the critiques that they gave were the most influential.
“Because [the judges] have a background with the School of Visual Arts and being critiqued in class so much, I was able to take the critiques very well,” he said. “They basically tell you how it is an generally I agree with the critiques and the other professionals in the field. They’re creative and they understand what looks good and what works and what design is, so they gave excellent critiques and it was an honor to be judged by them.
The first show aired on Wednesday at 10 p.m. on GSN.
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext.128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @eveywrites.