Body painting with clay and other natural pigments existed in most, if not all tribalist cultures. Today, you are likely to see different forms of it at art/music festivals, in face painting, in glitter tattoos, hand art or henna tattoos. Recently, MODERN attended an art gallery exhibition at the Robin B Gallery in Chicago, where we caught up with make-up artist Orlando Barsallo — a skilled body painter.

Barsallo, who works at Salon 1800 down the street from the gallery, scored a spot in the gallery’s 3rd Thursday’s event which features a couple artists per month doing LIVE work. “The primary purpose of the gallery is to allow emerging artists to showcase their work as well as established artists. Every 30 days we rotate our exhibit. We represent over 45 artists in 13 states,” says owner Robin Bartelman. It’s not unusual to hear of a full body painting taking anywhere from 10-12 hours; Barsallo got the job done in only two!

On the day of the event, Barsallo says one of his first steps was sketching out his idea — a cyborg-terminator look. Barsallo sketched approximately 7-10 pieces which incorporated each part of the body and how he intended it to look (face, arms, torso). Then, at the gallery they put up a white background (so the model was the main focus) and proper lighting so Barsallo could see every inch of his work.

To create his cyborg-terminator look, Barsallo worked from the bottom of the torso upward towards the face. One of his final pieces he applied to his model was a prosthetic mask (see video). To finish off the look, Barsallo sprinkled glitter for a sparkly finish.

To create his body painting looks, Barsallo uses various make-up brushes, an airbrush/paint gun and mixes together a number of different paints, all of them either silicone-based, alcohol-based or water-based. Since he’s a make-up artist as well, Barsallo knows how to add shadows and definition to amplify different parts of the body.

For more information on Orlando Barsallo's work, visit