Interview of Bert Verstappen

Bert Verstappen entered the world of body painting recently and in a spectacular manner . As a beginner, he participated to the European Body Painting Festival in Seeboden in 2002 and to his surprise, he won the first prize in the category brush and sponge! Here is his story...

(The interview is illustrated with his art.)


Question : 1. A few words about the country, town or village where you live; do you have children?; what kind of studies you have done or your profession? What is your artistic background? What do you like most in life?

Bert My name is Bert Verstappen and I live with my wife and three children in a small village close to the German border, Venlo. I have been working in the admistrative and automation sector. Unfortunately, following a serious car accident and the bankruptcy of my last employer, I am temporarily home without a job. I am considering to switch to the artistic sector.
Maybe bodypainting can help in this transition. I have learned artistic skills all by myself, without any course, and this is true for body painting.


Question : 2 What are your professional activities? Make-up? Training classes? Other?

Bert We are active in the body painting domain for a few years only, so it's still very new to us.
We work as amateur and we are not paid, most of the time; we work often for good causes (this gives us a lot of satisfaction). We are becoming well known, and we don't know where this will drive us.



Question 3. how have you discovered bodypainting? Describe the circumstances. How did you start doing body painting your self? Have you done a lot or a few?Have you participed in events, competition? Which ones?

Bert During carnival, there is a lot of face painting. I started with this, and it was a success. I gave various trainings to many groups. Then with the time going by, my motivation for face painting faded. I was recovering from an accident, and I was looking for an activity that could make me forget the pain and other consequences. At the same time, my daughter came back home from a disco where a body painter had painted people. She said: dad this is for you, you can make it 10 times better. I searched and found information on the internet in order to improve my skills and by mid-april 2002, a friend asked meto do a body painting show for his 40th birthday party. I was anxious and sweating, but I managed to fulfill the contract and the feedback from the audience was very enthusiastic. this was enough to encourage me to go forward.. I did a few body paintings, randomly. The European Bodypainting Festival in Seebodenwas our first participation to such an event/competition. We had only done three body paintings so far. Seeboden was a stop on our way to vacation in Croatia. To our surprise, we won in the brush/sponge category! Then things started to move faster. In March this year (2003) we took part in the Dutch championship and we finished in the 3rd place.. Two participations, and twice on the podium. This made us very happy. The next event is theWorld Award in July, in ... Seeboden.

Question 4. What do you like most in bodypainting? What do you find most difficult? What products do you use (paints and accessories for special effects)? What is your inspiration? How do you find ideas for new body paintings?

Bert The combination of paint and people is for me the most important in body painting. I am still fascinated to see how beautiful a human can be when (s)he is painted in the right way. I am getting a kick from it. The creation of living work of art. A total metamorphosis. How the model shines when (s)he is satisfied. The reaction from the audience. The attention. These are the elements that I enjoy much in body painting. Because of the accident, it is really difficult for me to focus when I am busy, and I am annoyed when people interrupt me during my work. Fortunately, my wife is often present and she answers the questions so that I can continue working, uninterrupted. We use mostly Kryolan and Fardel products. In seeboden, we have discoveed the paint of Tim Gratton? Ideal for body painting. We plan to import these products in Europe, because they are really difficult to find here now. My inspiration often comes from comic strips and the internet. New ideas often come from a competition or the person ordering the work.

Question 5. Do you have always the same model or so you have several models? How did you meet them? Describe your relationship with the model during the work. Do you work home, in a studio? Do you work sometimes outside, in the open? Have you been painted yourself? What was the feeling? Did you enjoy the experience?

Bert I work most of the time with my daughter as model. She knows her job very well. And she understands this art and knows how to present it. I am still astonished when she shines on the podium and does her show. Because of the circumstances, we have mostly worked inside, but we hope this is going to change with the summer. During the work we are very concentrated, the advantage is that we know each other very well, and what to expect from the other one.
No, I have not yet been body painted. A few times, I had my face painted, but I did not like it, so I have not considered to do my whole body. I prefer to paint rather than be a model. But I have a lot of respect for whoever is a body painting model.

Question 6. (question to the models) How do you feel when you are painted? Confortable,uneasy, clothed, naked? Was it difficult the first time or not? Do you give suggestions or opinions while you are being painted, or you don't say anything about the work while your father paints? Which body painting has left you with the best memories? Where was it and why?

Bert's daughter To be a body paint model is a pleasure. Sometimes difficult when it takes a long time, but usually, time flies. My father takes this into account and makes sure that we have a good time during the work. A lot of talk and laughs! To relax is important. I have no problem to be naked, when you are body painted, after 2 minutes you don't have the feeling to be naked anymore.I am still amazed to see how my father pulls everything together, building the body painting progressively in several phases. In the beginning, sometimes, it doesn't look too good and I can become nervous, thinking it's not going to give a good result. But he understands the art to deliver in the end a complete and perfect body painted model. He knows exactly what he is doing and he is in my opinion a true professional. He resists working on the details too soon. He creates a basis, and then adds progressively different phases, different levels of details.
The dragon that my father did during the festival in Seeboden stands brightly in my memory. i think that my face was the best, and I noticed this from photographers who always wanted to do more photographs, and finally because we ended in the first place.

Question 7 How do you feel during and after a body painting?

A body painting work for a competition always means some tension before. What are we going to do and how? A constructive tension. Just before a body painting work, I am not so nervous, but in a competition, I am nervous, for sure.The tension helps me to sharpen my skills. After the first 10 minutes, my tension goes away and I am so focused that I have no time left to be nervous .*smile*. When everything is completed, I always have a deep feeling of satisfaction. Tired, but satisfied are my feelings.

Question 8. Anything to say about you plans, desire? Something you would like to do and you have not done yet? What are your plans for trips and attending events and competition in 2003?

Bert Body painting is now my passion and my life. Hopefully, I can please a lot of people with this artistic expression. People can visit my Web site After being known locally, I hope I can achieve the same nationally and maybe internationally. We have been invited by Tim Gratton to go where he lives in Sydney. Dit is a very expensive trip, but we want it so much that we should be able to do it. I am married with my wife for 25 years and it would be a wonderful anniversary trip!

I hope to stay in good health and to find a new job, and if we could combine this somehow with body painting, it would be excellent. We will be present in Seeboden for the World Award in July. We look forward to see many known and friendly faces there. Body painting has become a life style for us and we hope we can enjoy it during many years.


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