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Life & Work with JoAnna Esposito

Hi JoAnna, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
We lived in Connecticut growing up. I was born as an artist and I am a true believer. You either are born with it or not. It’s nothing you can learn. If you decide later in life to become an artist then it was always in you and chances are, someone in your family before you is also an artist because it’s proven to be hereditary. For me, I know I inherited my talent from my mother, Bette Esposito who was a well-known fine artist from Connecticut. She taught me everything she could about art at a young age (I’m talking months old and until the day she passed away in 2008). She was a true artist in every right and she also taught all the kids she came into contact with how important their imagination is and how to use it. She’s the one that got me interested in art. I moved to Florida at 19 and went to school for Commercial Art. A commercial artist is a professional designer as well. We can not only paint, draw and do perfect renderings but we are also trained in graphic design for print, which has become a lost art in itself. After working in the design field for over 25 years, I became burnt out. I wanted to do something else, but I couldn’t think of how I could make a living with just artwork as the market is flooded with art work from lovely artists of all genres. Then one night, I had a dream about my mother and I. It was so real, so vivid. I remember all the details to this very day and it was 9 years ago. I dreamed her and I were face painting kids at a carnival, in a tent. When I woke up, I thought to myself, “that’s it! I can do that… and so I did my research, created my brand and went into business as “Honey Bunch Face Painting.” I learned how to get into all the county fairs and carnivals. I named the company Honey Bunch because that was my mother’s nickname for my youngest daughter Angela, who is also an artist and, at that time face painted with me. A few years after I started to face paint, people started asking me if I body paint and the interest of body painting grew thanks to the few reality TV shows featuring body painting. Knowing I did not want to mix the 2 businesses, I started a separate one from the face painting business. A more adult and different type of body paint and that’s when Eye Candy Body Painting was created. I had this idea that, because of my background in digital art, I can combine the two, paint and Adobe photoshop. I came up with the concept of tastefully done fantasy body painting when I realized that not only do I body paint very well, I can also digitally manipulate any photo to then create an amazing masterpiece of my body painting art. There is nothing I won’t try to create for a client. I sometimes work with other body painters when the job requires more than my 2 hands. As a team, we come up with anything you can imagine. I am a big advocate of working with other creatives. Because of this pandemic, I have not body painted or face painted anyone since March as I cannot see how I can keep within the CDC guidelines of safety so I feel it’s safe to just wait this out. My businesses are not going to close down, I am just taking a long-needed break from creating artwork for business. Right now, I am taking instruction from Leonard Lewis, an Impressionist Painter. Impressionism is a style of art that is helping me become more loose and imaginative on my artwork. Being a graphic designer for so many years and always having to make everything perfect, this is a welcome release for my imagination. Look for Eye Candy Body Painting and Honey Bunch Face Painting to start accepting clients and bookings again in 2021.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
When I first started my companies, I was working as an Art Director in a marketing agency. It started to become very difficult for me to go to work every single day and create artwork for 8 hours. Artists do not work like that. We create on our own time so to have to do that every day and think up new things daily for over 25 years was becoming harder and harder, I didn’t want to do it. I feel like the real struggle was me going to my real job every day. To make a smooth transition, I overlapped my painting gigs with my job and worked both for a good 2 years, painting on the weekends and at night. I was becoming exhausted and knew I had to make the leap and just leave corporate America. I finally did leave, because my job was suddenly cut short as the doors were closing on that company. So, the decision was made for me. With no real paycheck anymore, I spent my days looking for work, creating my brand and optimizing my websites. Many times, during the beginning, I was so poor, I didn’t know how I was going to pay my mortgage or any bills at all, but I pulled through. Every time I thought that this is it, I have to go find a job in a corporate again, the money miraculously showed up in a last-minute booking. I had very little money for the first 3 or 4 years of this, but after a while, I became popular with the community and between the 2 had enough work to live a very comfortable life with very little overhead, besides paints and brushes.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I think that what sets me apart from others is the experience I have and the extreme attention to detail when I am body painting. It’s the details on body paint that sets the design off and makes it look right. That combined with my very open personality allows people I work with to be at ease with what they are doing.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
I’m the middle kid of 6. When I was really little, I was so painfully shy it literally hurt. I can remember my chest feeling scared. Up until the age of 5, I clung to my mother’s leg and refused to let go. She would joke and say when I was little it felt like she had a 40lb weight tied to her leg for 5 years. My parents became concerned with my shyness and decided to put me in dancing lessons. Once I got on that stage, I wasn’t shy anymore! Mission accomplished, I’ve been very outgoing ever since. Throughout my primary school years, I was the art kid. The one that always made the class posters needed, the backdrops in drama, the go to for anything that needed to be painted or drawn out. I was a gifted child. In middle school, I tested so high in reading comprehension, I didn’t have to take those classes. By the time I got into high school, I was taking art classes every single day, even though they were considered electives. The teachers all knew what I was going to be when I grew up, there was no question.

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