Paintopia Chats to Cameleon founder - Eugenie
It's no secret that Paintopia loves the bodypainting brand Cameleon! We are the sole distributor for it here in the UK and it's fabulous founder, Eugenie, has supported Paintopia from it's very beginning as a teeny tiny festival way back in 2012.
So, when we started our Paintopia Chats series it was always the plan to chat to Eugenie and share her vision and enthusiasm for her brand and the bodypainting world with you all. Actually convincing her to be interviewed was slightly harder though as she's actually quite shy!
However, we are thrilled to let you know that she got past that and below are her fabulous answers to all our questions! We hope you enjoy reading them and learning more about this lovely lady and her beautiful brand!
Cameleon is one of the bodypainting industry's most established brands, available all over the world and used by students in colleges right through to World Champion winning artists. What led you to create this colourful brand of paint and did you ever imagine it becoming as popular as it?
Never did I expect the brand to be popular, I only wanted to create a product that was safe and colourful. My first product was an airbrush paint, our Airline products. I was so committed to have a brand that would have a great airbrush paint.
I had the help of 2 great body painters to test the first line. I could never have done the launch in Austria without the support of Alex Hansen, who took me by the hand and tested and advised me what to do and how.
You are super supportive of your Cameleon distributors and artists, often referring to them as part of your family and you are always there for any of them when they need your advice or assistance with something. Can you introduce us to some of your pro artists so we can learn a little more about them.
I had nothing else to offer this team apart from products and myself.
Also my family situation changed drastically, but my team stood behind me and my two boys as a shield to protect us and the new brand. It made me realise that they are the most important part of the brand. Not just to ‘promote’ but to advise me and sometimes tap on my shoulder when I did not see an end of the tunnel of commerce.
Alex Hansen supported me and the brand the first years and of course he was a big name and world champion already. Meanwhile he moved on but I still value his support and help.
Yvonne Zonnenberg was the best other part of my brain. She still is a mind-picker and sometimes ‘kick in the butt’ for us. Her always subtle suggestions or test results of new products make clear some things won’t work or would be great for face and body painters. Her workshops on special FX and Face painting are a constant source of learning for me. She is definitely family.
Emma Rasanen is a talent from Finland. She is to modest for what she achieved already and has been an inspiration to a lot of products already. Her input made Queen Cosmetics into an adult brand. Not just for painter, but also Make up Artists and Drag.
I would never forget the first time I saw Sanatan Dinda. He and his lovely Panchali did not win that year, but they sure won my heart and there was a recognition of idea’s, that since then never changed. I love them!
And most of all I am supported by Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco (Living Brush Bodypainting). I met them at the worlds, in Austria, they where a fan from the first encounter ( of Cameleon). When they won the first time the championship, I was in awe. They came back with feedback that instantly created a friendship. But I also got them annoyed, by not mentioning them as my team. I was to shy to even suggest or ask, but they immediately committed to Cameleon as a team and with support and we never looked back. They introduced me to techniques and applications I never thought of, asked for new colours and keep a finger on my pulse ever since.
Madelyn with Gracie Bodypaint Model at a Cameleon workshop in the UK.
Paintopia and Cameleon have had a long relationship now, going back to when the very first Paintopia Festival began in 2012 when you very kindly came over to the UK to support it, and you have supported everything Paintopia has done ever since for which we are hugely grateful. In 2014 Paintopia took on distributing Cameleon for you in the UK and the partnership has grown from strength to strength. Some particular highlights for Paintopia have included supplying Cameleon for hit films and television shows both in the UK and abroad and it being the brand used and endorsed by 2020 World Darts Championship winner Peter Wright on his famous mohawk hairstyle. What are your favourite memories of the Paintopia Festival and what have been your favourite memories from working with Paintopia over the last few years?
My favourite memory is the first time I stepped into the hall, seeing all the painters with such fun and it grew into one of the best festivals there is. The laughter and atmosphere was enormous.
It was a great opportunity for Cameleon to introduce new items to the artist and to show it. From the first year, Paintopia was a big influence on embracing our brand. To see, touch and feel it. Attending Paintopia helped Cameleon grow in the UK and Ireland.
And to have made a friend for life that means not only for Cameleon but also for me personally, in Jennie Roberts, I don’t know how to express my gratitude for the support she has given me and our brand, all these years. The advise, the feedback, the new things. So very grateful.
What were the first Cameleon products that you produced and are they still in the Cameleon range today?
My first products where Airbrush paint of course. And the line grew into an adult range of water based and activated colours that we have right now in 33 variations.
Cameleon now has a sister brand - Queen Cosmetics - a makeup line that was the brainchild of your youngest son Max and is already developing into a popular makeup line endorsed by some top makeup artists. Can you tell us about the creation and development of this brand and Max's ambitions for it's future.
Oh dear. QC is growing sometimes to quick for my liking. Its a great brand and we honestly took the time to develop it. Max testing lipsticks, foundations and powders. It was fun! But right now we agreed that Max is taking a bit time out of it, to study and have a good base for himself, before we expand the brand the way Cameleon has.
I would love it to have a same base and development as Cameleon, but it's a lot of work to ask for one young man. So we asked Emma Rasanen to dive in with us. As a professional make up artist, Finnish distributor for QC and Cameleon and of course 2nd place World Champion in extreme make up, she knows a lot more about make up than I do.
My guts tell me what I want, Max’s has the inspiration and Emma is the judge who helped us make a decision on products that would never work.
My guts also tell me that the make up, especially the foundations, are a top notch product and exactly what we wanted. Right now we are sampling some new colours and I hope QC grows slowly into a steady brand, that people will embrace.
Eugenie with her sons Max and Pim
Do you have any particular Cameleon products or colours that are your personal favourites?
Yes. The special colors are the ones that have input from people in my team or friends. Like the Color blocks Brierley made, The Wow Factor Palette designed by Karen Huwen and Capulet by Juliet Eve. Just a few to mention. I hold a special feeling for the Bollywood color that Sanatan asked for. ( he loved the pun)
There are a few products that are made with people who are not even ‘team’ but are family. And I just realised that so many of them are British! That is so funny and shows the special bond we have.
Of course I have a special room in my heart for the Queen Cosmetic line with make up for Drag queens that is now so adopted by professional make up artists in TV and Theatre. I am proud of Max to have come up with this.
You've attended lots of bodypainting events and must be missing going to them this year. Can you share some of your favourite trips and event memories with us and tell us what events you are most looking forward to returning to once the pandemic is over?
Not to flatter anybody in particular, but Paintopia was my holiday spending time together with my sons, who attended the festival with me. If that could return I would be so happy. If not than the festivals in the Czech Republic by Lukas Buras is my 2nd best. Because they try to maintain the friendship between competition and artists so well. Lukas visited Paintopia several times with his champion wife Helena and I’m sure it was an inspiration to them.
Sure the World Championship is missed this year, but the personal contact with artists is not so firm as it is at the smaller events. I love going there, to support my team and friends ( including those who are not part of the Cameleon users family) but I like ‘my’ festivals to be a little more intimate.
Eugenie with makeup artist Maria Malone-Guerbaa at one of the Paintopia Festivals.
The bodyart industry has changed a lot since you started Cameleon, especially with lots of people creating makeup and facepaint looks on themselves on social media platforms. What impact has this had on the industry do you think and do you see it further expanding in the future?
I personally don’t love the social media platforms. I see the worth of it, but I prefer to see bodyart myself and not with a hint of filters and funny ears. Sure there are exceptions of painters that are what you see is what you get. But a lot are filtered and I don’t like that.
The short line is of course it's perfect for commercial value, but I’m actually too shy to participate myself to show Cameleon or QC.
It is perhaps time I should, but I need to get over myself I suppose. I have such great artists that do so much better than I could and do. I don't know if the world is waiting for me to join!
2020 has been a challenging year for all facepainters, makeup artists and facepaint brands too. What challenges have you faced and what would be your advice to facepainters out there hoping 2021 will see some recovery to the industry.
Yes we also have had our fair share of losing a lot this year, Not seeing ‘my family’ was the hardest part! Fear of losing my connection to them.
People will of course not buy new products when the going gets as tough and therefore investing in my brands, was challenging.
What I would love to tell people, is to NOT bin their products. Keep practicing! Either on yourself or blackmail your kids! Practice with those brushes!
In my former life, I played the violin. When we where on vacation my teacher said; “ I don’t care how long you are away, as long as you keep your muscles connected to the movement they are used to! Don’t lose your movement! I don’t expect anybody to buy new paint. But keep moving!
What are your hopes and dreams for Cameleon in the future?
To have one of the nicest brands in the world with users that are happy, confident and help us grow.
I don’t want to be rich ( LOL as if!) but my wealth comes from the work of artists. Let my distributors worry about sales, as long as I can see paint, bodyart and meet artists and talk to them and make new products to help them achieve what they want.
I would love to support new artists as we have for the last nine years. To find new talent, to see them grow. That has always be my motivation.
Eugenie with her partner and restaurant proprietor Patrick.