Kelly Belmonte aka “Red” gave us a colorful look inside the world of bodypainting with her show, Naked Vegas. Now, the fiery painter chats with us about how she became so infatuated with the craft, how she balances her life as a wife, mom and mogul, and her plans for the future.
We all know you're an amazing makeup artist. How did you come to specialize in body painting?
First of all, thank you very much for the compliment. That's incredibly kind. Honestly, the whole body painting thing is a funny story that I don't think many know. I was kind of bored doing faces and there were two other makeup artists that were my biggest competition at the time that decided to learn how to airbrush. I am competitive to a degree so I told myself if these two can do it.... so can I. Funny because both still use the airbrush but not for body painting. I guess I really enjoyed it and once I learned what I could do, I didn't want to stop. I suppose it didn't grab them like it did me. I just dreamt in color; it excited me, thrilled me and gave me a sense of accomplishment.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into this field?
Practice! Now you can go on YouTube and learn anything. I could fix my pilot light that way. You can learn how to paint there too. I also say take classes from any artist you respect. That goes for makeup too. What's really cool about all this fun stuff that we do is there's REALLY no right way. All of it can be accomplished in so many ways - you never know what you're going to learn. What trick, what technique.... product someone may know about.... assist for free, but do not step on toes. Practice. Did I say that already?
What qualities do you look for when you’re building your team of artists?
Team players. Hands down. I want someone I can trust. I want someone who could head this job or follow along to someones direction, and I want someone that if I walk away, I know they could and would finish the job the way I would. I want someone who cares as much as I do. I really can't say team player enough-plus I gotta like you because I have to spend a crap ton of time with you and if you're a jerk I'm not hiring you.
What was the most memorable body painting job you’ve worked on and why?
That's a super hard question because they all almost blend, yet moments stand out. A better question would be, 'What's the craziest body painting story,' that's the one people really ask. Well..... that's usually something I share over cocktails or coffee when I know the ages of my audience—they are all so adult in nature. I will say that that painting on Face Off and painting at The Playboy Mansion were pretty cool.
It doesn’t seem like you’re slowing down anytime soon. What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
My TV show, Naked Vegas!
You’re a mother, a wife, and a business owner, how do you balance it all?
Ha!!! I don't know if I do!!! I try all the time, I fail all the time.... and then I just try again. I think as a mom and a wife, we are all just trying to get by and just do better than our parents did. I think there's never enough of me or time... I also think we need to follow our dreams so our kids see us happy and working doing something we love, excited to go to work everyday.
What was it like to be apart of reality TV? Did it change your career in any way?
It was amazing, fun, stressful and a complete blessing. It's made me a better artist and opened so many doors. I've gotten to meet artists that I looked up to and to poke around the playboy mansion... it's been nothing short of a beautiful ride.
Since the show has aired, have you noticed the demand for body painting increased?
Seems to me yes! And I feel like my show was a direct reason for it. I think it opened doors for other shows too. I think we were able to show people how hard it is and that it really is an art. I'm proud of what I did, wished it could still be filmed, but I'm still painting just like always.
What are some of your go-to products that Camera Ready Cosmetics carries?
There are so many!!! I use European Body Art, Mehron, Graftobian HD foundation palettes (love their foundation palettes, seriously, couldn't believe it), Green Marble Sealer, Morphe brushes, Bdellium brushes, Becca, Embryolisse, Premiere Products, Parian Spirit.... literally I could restock my whole kit ordering here.
I chatted with the owner, Mary Erickson about what products I use and what she had to have, and Camera Ready Cosmetics pretty much has ALL of it. I'm really pleased with the selection and love your customer service!
What are your plans for the distant future?
I have a few paints coming up. I hope one day to go to Hong Kong and learn from these artists that I know that paint there. I want to learn oil painting, I want to bring my show back. Really, that's what I want.
How has the industry of body painting evolved since you started?
So many new products! Better pasties, better products and I think there's more respect in it. People don't look at me like I do porn as much now, so I guess that's good.
Catch up with Kelly Belmonte on all her social channels! Be sure to share this article with someone who would love it!