Her images outsmart our eyes. Illusionistic photographs make Trina Merry bodypaintings and landscapes merge. The ‘Trompe l’oeil’ works of art by the New York based artist are printed as collectors’ pieces for museums on Hahnemühle Photo Rag®. The painterly quality of her art on the genuine artist paper for fine art inkjet printing add up to a sensual experience. Read more about Trina Merry in our Q&A.
When did you discover your passion for photography?
For me photography is much more of a tool that I can use in order to express a sliver of how I see the world. I don’t necessarily feel as passionate about photography as much as I am passionate about the ideas or painfully beautiful or honest moments that photography can capture.
How did you come to the world of this genre of photography?
I discovered bodypaint thanks to a rock cabaret show featuring The Dresden Dolls (Amanda Palmer, Brian Vigilone, Violent Femmes and TEDtalk) and an Australian band called The Red Paintings. I was asked to stand on stage and get painted, which I consider to be a direction-shifting experience. I subsequently began to study Kandinsky heavily and went to a lecture that discussed popular art versus great art that inspired to make the decision to stop working only on 2D surfaces and start painting on people.
Which of your projects/motifs opened the door to the art market/professional market?
My first San Francisco series featured illustrations that used the body as a canvas. That series would be my first real lead into print sales. My installation Objectified was the series that really opened my work to start showing in museums.
Who inspires you most?
I find so much inspiration in the world around me that it changes all the time. Right now some of my biggest inspirations are Kehinde Wiley, Veruschka and James Brown.
Usually I am inspired by the energy and form of the person I’m painting or something that I observe on the street or subway. New York is a great place for people watching and is continuously inspiring; though I do find the lines and texture of a building or political injustice just as stimulating as a person.
I would not say that I am simply inspired by a single person or muse—which I am grateful for—it would lead to dull, stale, derivative work.
I play with perspective to create a Trompe l’oeil tableau vivants.
What is most challenging about shooting your genre of images?
The most challenging elements to shooting bodypaint are remaining mentally nimble and flexible. I have to be able to respond quickly and work with changing weather and natural lighting, even though they may be working against me! I also try to keep my model as comfortable as possible, while being the least annoying as I can to be to the general public which can be a challenge in and of itself.
What importance do you place on the printed presentation of your artwork?
Which is your favorite Hahnemühle paper and why?
I love Hahnemühle Photo Rag®! It has a great texture and produces a nice colour saturation with crisp details. It feels simply luxurious. I usually have my printer print 24×36″ for my clients and 12×18″ for my models. Sometimes they order 40×60″ prints.
Do you have a dream project you would like to realise sometime?
One of my biggest dreams is to one day paint alongside indigenous bodypainters.
Right now I am working on a few top secret experiments and looking forward to see which ones I will be able to make into a new series. I am also hoping to escape the chilly New York winter and visit some indigenous tribes.