Nelly Recchia

by Abby Woodman

NELLY RECCHIA BODY ART EVOLUTIONIST nellyBorn and raised in France and multi award winner in International makeup and Body Art competitions, Nelly Recchia moved to Los Angeles where she is collaborating on music videos, editorials, commercials and fine art photography with Katy Perry, Dita Von Teese, Kelis, Static X, Marilyn Manson, Britney Spears, Vogue, Wired  magazine...just to name of few. Excerpts from an interview with Nelly Recchia

Body Art is a unique niche in the makeup world. Tell us a bit about the technique?

In fact body painting is such an ancestral form of expression in mankind history. Have the human skin as a canvas is very special. It requires  a lot of patience both from my model and the artist. I am mainly using water based body paints which take hours and hours to apply and wash away in a few minutes with a good shower. I sometimes use an airbrush but most of my work is achieved with brushes. My favorites are fine liner brushes since I love details.

What inspired you to start doing this kind of living art and for how long have you been doing it?

I have never said as a child " when I 'll grow up I will be a body painter ". I was more likely to become a ballerina but I would have had to leave the family's nest at a very young age to enter a professional ballet school and I did not want to. I was lucky to have my parents to nurture my early tastes and genuine interest for Arts. I don't remember this myself but my mother also mentioned I used to do strange makeups on my dolls so maybe there was already something there ! Years after studying languages and philosophy, I finally decided to pursue a career which would encompass various forms of arts theater, music, photography etc…and I concluded being a makeup artist would just do that. So I studied makeup artistry for a short year program in France. For our final we had to present a  body painting based on a given theme. That day I had a strong and positive reaction from the jury and the audience towards my work. I realized then the magic of paint on a human body  and wanted to experience and share these emotions again and again. I have been doing it for many years now too many to count ! ha ha !

Your skills are unparalleled. How would you describe your style in 5 words?

I find difficult to judge my own work but if I recall the words which have been used by others while looking at my images, they often are : elegant, unique, ethereal, majestic, powerful.I am also humbly hoping to be perceived as someone who is contributing to Body Art 's evolution and make it more than just "naked people with paint on " for those who don't know this art form well yet.

What is your favorite creation to this day and why?

Sincerely I cannot pick one in particular since I consider every collaboration to be a great experience. Of course it was fantastic to go toGwen Stefanie 's home on an early Saturday morning to test a makeup for one her videos, she was so kind, very humble and gracious. What a delight to have Dita Von Teese's gorgeous skin as a canvas or to work with Katy Perry's adorable dancers.When it comes to my personal projects, I tend to think each new image is my favorite because I try to raise the barre and challenge myself to do better. I must admit I am never fully satisfied and feel I have still so much to learn.

What is your definition of beauty and art ?

For me it is all about the emotion, to find something beautiful I have to be moved. When it comes to Art, I am drowned to Classic Arts because it is about the emotion but also an impeccable execution, I am not inspired by a dot or splashes of paint on a canvas as can be seen in the modern/abstract arts but deeply admire a Bouguereau or Caravaggio painting. I need to see skills. And as far as finding someone beautiful, I consider having a very strong personality and originality being attractive elements , one of my biggest role models is the 82 year old supermodel Carmen, not only does she have a uniqueness ( and amazing bones structure haha ) but, she also possesses grace, class and most importantly the intelligence and the kindness of the heart.

For more of Nelly's work, visit