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Alex The Great

June 30th, 2017

June 30th, 2017

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Michael DeVellis, Editor and Creative Director of OnMakeup Magazine and Founder of The Powder Group, sat down recently with World Bodypainting Festival founder Alex Barendregt, to get the inside scoop on the upcoming festival celebrating its 20th anniversary.  Being held from 28th to 30th July 2017 at its new location Klagenfurt on Austria’s Lake Wörthersee, DeVellis is also teaching a new program focused on the business of make-up as part of the week-long celebrations, World Bodypainting Academy.  For details about this year’s festivities, visit bodypainting-festival.com.  Book tickets for the Academy here.

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This year, The Powder Group is also proud to be featured among the prestigious educational programs with Michael DeVellis presenting his session Turn Your Passion into Business: Marketing and Branding in Bodypainting, to be held from 11am to 5pm on 27th July.  He will take artists through how to move from art to commerce with their work, and making a successful career through strong business development.  Michael will also participate on the judging panels for The Purple Brush Make Up Award on Friday 28 sponsored by Matilda Make-Up Academy, and the Make Up Battle on Saturday 29th, sponsored by NYX Professional Makeup.  For more information about the festival visit bodypainting-festival.com

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MDV:  What was the reason you started WBF?
AB:  When I was 21, I got hired from the local tourism organisation to create events in our area.  I did many different kind of events, but when I saw a bodypainting photo from Veruschka von Lehndorff I got really inspired to create an event around the art of bodypainting.  After researching, I could only find here and there some artists doing bodypainting, but it was only a handful.  I invited them to showcase their art and I called it the 1st Bodypainting Festival in Europe.  Later it changed into the European Bodypainting Festival and, when I understood there is nothing like this around the world, I changed the name to the World Bodypainting Festival.

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MDV:  What do you think has made the WBF remain so popular for 20 years now?
AB:  Pushing boundaries, letting artists create, experiment and communicate about the World Bodypainting Festival.  There was no day in 20 years I wasn’t thinking at least two hours a day about this event.  The participants pushed me to develop the event every year wondering, “What’s new each year; can we change this; can I do that?  YES of course we can, “ was my answer every time.

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MDV:  What makes WBF 2017 different from past years?
AB:  We have a new location, a fantastic venue surrounded by art, architecture and culture.  It’s a wonderful place in the middle of a beautiful park in Klagenfurt.  A lot will change and for the 20th anniversary, we added many special programs.

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MDV:  What are some of the things that attendees can look forward to at the event this year?
AB:  There is an extended workshop program before the main festival days and every day there are numerous events in the evening throughout the week.  The main days are packed with activities such as the competitions with the World Championships, installation art, as well as special categories for make-up artists and loads of music, shows and performances.

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MDV:  How do you decide on the theme of each year?
AB:  That depends.  I always get suggestions from artists, but in the end I sit down with my crew, having some drinks in a relaxed atmosphere and then I decide the theme.

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MDV:  How many different competitions are there at WBF?
AB:  This year we have 13 categories, we’ve never had so many before.  We also have two additional categories – the Team Category and a Creative Make-up Category.

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MDV:  What makes a good make-up design for the types of competitions you have at WBF?
AB:  Beside the perfect technique, the bodypainting needs to stand out.  The judges always want to see something new, something that hasn’t been at the competition before.  The realisation of the theme is also a big part of the decision process.

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MDV:  You also have a wide selection of classes at the World Bodypainting Academy that takes place before the WBF.  Why is education an important part of this event?
AB:  Workshops have been part of the festival since the beginning.  We did the first airbrush, bodypainting and photo workshops in 1999 to give interested people the chance to learn.  The programs have extended every year, now there are 40+ instructors during the festival week before the main event days.

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MDV:  Who are some of the sponsors of the event this year?
AB:  Our main sponsor for 13 years has been Kryolan; it’s been a great partnership since the beginning and the support we have from them is just wonderful.  Snazaroo joined as a bigger sponsor for the Face painting Category for seven years now.  MAC supported us in the past years in the Creative Make-up Categories and in the Show Awards, and now Make Up For Ever is sponsoring the Amateur Categories.  We are very happy with all this amazing support.  We also have smaller sponsors for many years and they help to develop the arts and the festival.

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MDV:  There is also a lot of live music and DJ sets at the event.  Why was it important to you to include music as such an important part of WBF?

AB:  We always entertained our visitors during the long process of the bodypainting work.  In the beginning it was just very small, but the more people came, the more programs in between of the bodypainting presentations we provided.  With bigger music acts and more visitors, we were able to build a bigger stage.  For the artists it’s an outstanding experience to perform with the models on a massive stage with great light and sound in front of thousands of visitors.

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Words: Michael DeVellis and Priya Maharaj
Photos by Daniel Janesch and courtesy of Alex Barendregt, WBF

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