For most painters, a model’s body serves to inspire what they paint on their canvas, but for Israeli artist Avi Ram, the model’s body is his canvas.
Originally from Kiryat Gat, a city in southern Israel, the 31-year-old Ram has been living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, since 2008, where he works as a professional airbrush artist, running a very successful airbrush shop.
Last month, Ram returned to Israel for three weeks to paint and shoot a special calendar project featuring camouflage body painted models. Using historical landmarks and beautiful sites throughout the country as his backdrop, Ram body painted models in a dozen locations throughout Israel, using his artistic skill to seamlessly blend them into the scene.
From T-shirts to murals to body paint
Ram’s popular airbrush art can be found in many forms: in portraits, in wall murals, on t-shirts, in body painting and more.
How does he do it? He creates a composition in his mind as to how he wants to bring the image to life. He then transfers the thought by free-hand airbrushing to his medium, such as a canvas, clothes or metal (cars, motorcycles, etc.), where the natural evolution of the illustration comes together with the different elements, characters and colors.
“The most challenging technique in the industry”
“Camouflage body painting is the most challenging technique in the body painting industry,” Ram tells NoCamels. “Also, there is a big difference between indoor to an outdoor camouflage. With indoor camouflage, you can take your time and give your models lots of breaks to stretch after all that time standing still. However, with outdoor camouflage, like on this project, you are constantly working against the sun and painting cannot take more than two hours, because when the time changes the colors in nature change and make shadows. Sometimes the appearance of just one cloud can change everything.”
He adds: “The model cannot take breaks, as time is of the essence. And if you are outdoors, you have to make sure the model stays hydrated. The challenges are what make it interesting, and I love it!”
Although Ram had been drawing and making art since he was a child, he only started to airbrush when he was 18 years old, when he decided to combine his passion for drawing and painting and began teaching airbush classes.
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In 2010, Ram started doing body painting at clubs and bars, as well as photo shoots. He has competed in a number of national body painting competitions including 2015’s “Fabaic” in Florida where he won first place.
A finalist on a reality TV show
Avi was a finalist on the second season of the American body painting reality TV show Skin Wars. He also competed on the second season of Global Beauty Masters, where he was the winner for “best makeup artist.”
“Skin Wars was an amazing experience for me,” Ram tells NoCamels. “Every week we got to do challenges that you never imagined you could do. Being under pressure makes you a very creative person.”
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Ram proudly represented Israel on the show. “Some of my body painting on the show was all about Israel,” he says.
Speaking of Israel, Ram could not help but feel a bit homesick when thinking about his brief visit in April.
“Even though I live on the other side of the world,” he tells NoCamels, “Israel for me is home and will always be in my heart.”
Photos and video: Courtesy of Avi Ram