A frightening brush with zombie chic

Some examples of Natalie's art.
Some examples of Natalie's art.

Many folk might start to worry if they came home to their partner looking like a zombie, ghost, mummy, cartoon character, or skeleton. But if you’re living with Buxton body and face-painter, Natalie Kirk, then it’s pretty standard.

After many years as a regular painter, and following a long-standing love affair with Halloween and comic books, it only seemed logical that Natalie, 28, would turn herself – and others – into such strange, beautiful, scary, and surreal characters.

After excelling at art at school, then studying at Stockport College, Natalie always had a talent for creativity. However, when a friend asked if she could put her talents to painting adult faces at an event, a whole new direction was set.

“Painting faces for the first time was so much fun,” said Natalie, of Hardwick Street. “I had a blast, and knew it was something I wanted to develop.”

She was then invited to a Halloween event, where she perfected a full skeleton body-paint. Natalie said: “I got such a great reaction from people. It was brilliant.”

That was two years ago. Now Natalie is turning her passion into a career, after launching Optical Distortion.

Painting faces for the first time was so much fun. I had a blast, and knew it was something I wanted to develop.

Artist Natalie Kirk

Natalie then developed her style – bringing hugely realistic characters to life by painting 3D images onto people’s bodies and faces.

“I do most of the work on my own face,” said Natalie. “I then have a photograph taken and post the image online. A lot of people assume they are paintings and are really surprised when they realise it’s an actual face.”

However, Natalie has recently been expanding her illustrious portfolio of work.

She said: “My skills were put to use in a band’s music video, which was a lot of fun. And I’ve got another one coming up soon. But I am available for all sorts of events, or to decorate people for fancy dress parties, and so on. If you’ve got an idea – get in touch with me.”

However, what does partner, Jamie, think about seeing a million different – often fearsome – Natalie’s from one day to the next? Natalie said: “He’s completely used to it now. But I think some people would find it strange. I do try and use Jamie to paint, but it makes it difficult because he’s got a beard.”

Laughing, she added: “Sometimes I think he keeps the beard on purpose, though.”