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Artists / Craig Tracy

Craig Tracy

Craig Tracy

1967–

Never one to be satisfied with conventional art, Craig Tracy has created mesmerizing images using human bodies as his canvases since 2001.

Tracy was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. The city’s colorful and vibrant culture played an integral role in developing Tracy’s passion for art, including his family’s tradition of painting each other’s faces in celebration of Mardi Gras. His parents nurtured his individuality and creativity, with Tracy attributing their “Flower Power” and “Power to the People” mentalities as being responsible for how he views art and life.

Tracy received his first airbrush at the age of 15 from his parents, and one year later, at the age of 16, he took his first steps into the professional art world by working nights and weekends as an airbrush artist. The experience taught him how to paint detailed works on a myriad of surfaces. He would later hone his artistic abilities by attending and graduating from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

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Tracy worked as an illustrator at the age of 20, but creating industrial and commercial imagery didn’t energize him or interest him.  He retired from illustrating six years later, freeing himself to explore what he loved, including painting on various surfaces. This led to painting on faces and bodies, which he found strangely motivating and powerful. His passion for art reignited, and after researching bodypainting further, Tracy realized he had found his calling and became a bodypainter.

His first series of bodypainting images, titled “The Nature Series,” was well received, leading him to travel to Europe to work with other bodypainters. He learned of the World Body Painting Festival held in Austria, and in 2005 Tracy and fellow artist and friend, Jeral Tidwell, received the festival’s first place prize. Tracy now attends the event every year.

The compositions of Tracy’s works are inspired by a specific body shape or pose combined with culture, nature and intellectual constructs. Artists who have been an inspiration to Tracy include Norman Rockwell, M.C. Escher, Boris Vallejo, Chuck Close, Robert Mapplethrope, H.R. Giger and Gottlieb Helnwein.

Tracy’s process unites a number of techniques, including traditional paintbrushing, airbrushing, finger-painting, sponging, splattering and dripping. The majority of his art is bodypainting captured through photography, and amazingly, it requires little in the way of digital and non-digital manipulation. Tracy typically spends a full day creating a bodypainting.

Some of the works incorporate a backdrop that Tracy creates by hand to complement or complete the desired image. Both the bodypainting and the backdrop are photographed at the same time, removing the need to splice them together. Tracy’s intention is to create images representing a single surreal moment captured in a real work of art, often causing the viewer to pause and question what is and isn’t living.

Tracy has had the honor of serving as a judge and “Bodypainting Guru” on the GSN TV series “Skin Wars” since it began airing in 2014. He has also judged the U.S. body painting competition Living Art America and helped organize the New York Body Painting day. Tracy married his wife, Ashley, in New Orleans in 2014, where they currently reside.

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