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Meet Matt Deifer of Bodypaint.Me in Mid-Wilshire

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Deifer.

Matt, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Everyone always asks me the million-dollar question when they meet me. “Sooo how did you get into bodypainting!?” It’s a funny story because it kind of found me. It just happened, by chance, and quickly took over my life.

At the time, I was living in the Tiberino Museum in Philadelphia and I had an art studio there as well. I was working on a series of blacklight canvas paintings and I suggested that I bodypaint my friend. She said ok, and I painted her. It came out really cool but I wasn’t using real bodypaint and it was a super spontaneous thing. I posted online the next day and told everyone that I created my first bodypainting. Tons of people responded asking me to paint them but I shrugged it off saying I was just joking and I’m not an actual body painter.

A couple of days later a Playboy playmate emailed me saying she loves my art and was wondering if she could hire me to bodypaint her for a costume contest. I messaged the only other person I knew that did bodypainting and asked him if he’d like to do it with me and he agreed. We painted her and she won and she paid us a bunch of money and gave us a big tip.

I went home and randomly searched to see if was available. It wasn’t (of course) but a brand new domain extension had just been released to the public. Bodypaint.Me was available. Perfect! I bought it and created a logo and website and had over 20 gigs in the next month. It was explosive and very exciting. This was in November of 2010 and the bodypaint world was tiny in comparison to how popular it is today.

Fast forward eight years and I painted thousands of people at all types of events and ran a successful weekly bodypaint party for over two years. I’ve been featured in Rolling Stone, Spin, Esquire, Billboard, the New York Times and countless newspapers, magazines and other media outlets throughout the world. I’ve painted on British and Japanese television shows and did all the body art for a nationally syndicated Monday Night Football commercial. More recently, I was the only other bodypainter in 17 years to paint at the Playboy Mansion for their biggest party of the year, a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Now I work on private commissions, create live art at various parties, and music videos and have my art featured in several films.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My career continued to grow exponentially every year but there were some hurdles. The niche I carved out in the bodypaint world became very popular and, naturally, tons of other painters and makeup artists started to jump on the trend. Even though I had an established client base throughout the Northeast, I knew I’d have to move to NYC or LA to take my career to the next level. As much as I loved living in Philly, there just wasn’t a big commercial market for artists. I created live art at every major venue in the city from the fanciest museums and theaters to the most infamous underground warehouses. I wanted to reach a larger audience and Los Angeles was calling my name.

In the Spring of 2017, I decided to move to LA to continue to pursue my dreams. I had a townhouse and commercial studio packed full of belongings and sold a few things and gave the rest away to my friends. I bought a car and filled it with the few items I wanted to bring with me to this new world and planned a two-week cross country road trip with one of my best friends. It was shocking to leave everything and everyone I knew to move 2500 miles away to a city where I only knew a handful of people and had zero work lined up. I did it and it was one of the most liberating decisions of my life!

I moved five times and had a commercial studio in the first year and a half of living here. It was a process to really understand the logistics of living and working in LA. I needed a proper studio and it had to be close to where I lived. I spent most of my time living on the west side on the beach, but I felt too far from all of my clients and events. That was a big challenge and eventually, I found my “currently attainable dream home and art studio” in Mid-Wilshire. It’s in the middle of LA and in a beautiful neighborhood and I feel honored and so happy to have found such a hidden gem.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Bodypaint.Me – what should we know?
I provide bodypainting for high-end events and all types of productions. People also hire me to paint them for private commissions. One thing that separates me from other body painters is that I’ve always done all of my own photography and I sell my personal fine art bodypaint photography in galleries and online too. Aside from photographing body art, I also shoot headshots, portraits and all types of non-bodypaint subject matter. I rent my home and studio out to other photographers and filmmakers regularly as well. The space has gorgeous natural light and I’ve provided my space for celebrities shoots, commercials, films and magazines have shot their cover stories and editorial shoots here. It’s a really great space to get creative. So you are really only limited to your imagination here. There’s tons of free parking too which is unheard of in LA!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My biggest supporters are probably the participants of the Philly Naked Bike Ride. I started painting at this event when I first got into bodypainting and quickly became a main organizer. It’s the second largest bike ride in the country and its part of the World Naked Bike Ride international protest movement. Some years we have up to 3,000 riders and I help generate multiple rounds of international publicity that supports body positivity, cycling advocacy and desexualization of nudity. I curate a small army of painters every year and we paint thousands of riders in less than two hours. It’s an unbelievable sight to behold and is one of the many reasons I am so in love with Philly. Most cities (including LA) have serious body image issues and associate nudity with pornography and that is really sad and unfortunate. I hope to shift that paradigm out here and continue to spread body positivity throughout the world!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Matt Deifer, Shan Cerrone, Hisham Bharoocha, Abby Portner and Chris Ruggiero

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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