Darth Maul wasn’t Sherry Fraser’s most prestigious client, but he was the closest thing to celebrity she’s had to date.
Fraser, a Chilliwack face painter, was hired by Lucas Films and 20th Century Fox to paint the face of a stand-in Darth Maul for last weekend’s re-release premier of Star Wars: Episode 1 in 3-D at Cineplex Colossus in Langley.
Quite the coup for a Chilliwack woman who not long ago was struggling working low-wage, part-time jobs.
“This was huge,” said Fraser. “Working for Lucas Films and 20th Century Fox, what that means for the future of my business… hopefully more movie premiers and movie characters.
“And I’m just a little Chilliwack face painter.”
Seven years ago Fraser was working as a school crossing guard and delivering balloon bouquets on the side. She started twisting balloons for children’s parties as a way of earning extra money. Almost always, she was asked by parents if she did face painting too.
While she had dabbled in several different fine art forms, she had never considered body art. But when she was accepted into a self-employment program through Community Futures in 2006, she figured that was her opportunity to start.
The self-employment program is supported by the Canadian government, and helps transition unemployed or underemployed Canadians into becoming entrepreneurs. It provides a foundation for developing a business plan, and also start-up funds to get the business going.
Fraser used the program to purchase her first set of professional face paints and start Imagine That Artworks.
She hasn’t looked back since.
She’s trained under world champion body artist Lucie Brouillard; came in third place at the 2010 Canadian Association of Face and Body Artists competition; has had her completed faces published in North American body art magazines; and has built a strong clientele, including Loblaws, Vancouver Olympic officials, Cineplex Odeon, and now Lucas Films and 20th Century Fox.
Last Saturday morning she drove to Langley, with not a nerve in her belly.
“I don’t get nerves anymore,” she said. “They can stop you, make you dizzy and woozy, and shake up your line work. You have to have focus when doing this. So I just get in there and get it done.”
With Darth Maul, Fraser had to paint the stand-in actor’s entire face and neck red and black to the exactness of the movie character.
“Even the insides of his ears were painted black,” she said.
She also had to glue eight demon-like horns onto his head and temples.
It took her two hours to complete.
“I love what I do — I create walking works of art,” she said. “My reward lies in the challenge of doing great art quickly and in the delighted reaction my guests have as they view the end result in the mirror. When I began face and body painting, I thought the experience ended for the model after they looked in the mirror,” but “I soon understood that after I’d painted them and as they went about their day, they would be greeted by the public with smiles, affirmation and praise.”
How did she rate her Darth Maul performance?
“He looked kind of cute, a little evil, but cute,” she giggled.
For more information on Sherry Fraser, visit her website at www.imaginethatartworks.com.