|Born and Raised in New Orleans Louisiana, Craig Tracy has always been an artist. Craig credits New Orleans with its authentic and vibrant culture as a significant factor in what is at the heart of his passion, creativity and bliss. His family's photo album is filled with images that captured moments of the family members ritually painting each others faces for Mardi Gras, what is perhaps the largest costumed celebration or carnival in the world where individuality and self adornment are considered standard practice. "There was never any question regarding my being or becoming a professional artist. It was always just obvious and understood." As a child, Craig's loving parents nurtured his creative development. They also gave him the gift of freedom to mature as an absolute individual. His parents were living in a special time, in a place filled with radical changes. Categorized best as working class hippies, their nonconformist principles were instilled firmly in the young artist. It's safe to say that "Flower Power" and "Power To The People" are vastly responsible for his unique perspective on art and life. Coincidentally, it was that same hippie movement that reignited the soon-to-be interest in and practice of Body painting in the western world.
Craig's early years were filled with drawings and paintings of idealized love and beauty. He continued to expand his artistic horizons well into his teen years and at fifteen he received his first airbrush as a gift from his parents. Airbrushing would become the technique that would dominate his next twenty years of painting.
One year later at sixteen, in his third year in high school, Craig was working nights and weekends as an airbrush artist in a local shopping mall. There he primarily painted custom t-shirts and other personalized gift items. It was an important time for the young artist as he quickly learned how to paint almost any image on a vast multitude of surfaces. "Anything, on anything, was what those days were like. I'd often paint fifty to eighty hours a week and in doing so, I learned some very important and useful skills,” states the artist.
A graduate with honors from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Craig was a professional Freelance Illustrator by the age of twenty. This period of work dealt primarily with Airbrush Illustration for advertising agencies and editorial publishing houses. "I actually hated being an Illustrator. I was so disappointed by just how mind-numbingly boring and lonely it all was. The isolation created a cabin fever vibe and the fact that I was painting mostly commercial and industrial images seemed empty to me. I had no real interest or connection to the work and it seemed to suck the passion and energy right out of me." Six years later he retired from Illustration altogether to venture back into painting murals, t-shirt designs and just about anything and everything possible.
It was this regained freedom to paint for both himself and other individuals on a limitless variety of surfaces again that lead him to his inclusion of faces and then full bodies. "It really clicked, from the very first time that I painted a face, it was strangely powerful. I later realized that I had quite literally fallen in love with Body painting. It did however take me years to properly process and respect such an uncharted and ancient art form. It was similar to how people don't take things seriously because they have no example to follow. Rock and Roll or Rap for example; It was hard to take these two seriously at first, but we see how that all turned out. I personally didn't take Body painting seriously for five or six years. The day that I finally asked myself ‘why?’, why I liked painting on people so much, that led me to... well,,, What if I take this passionate interest seriously? That one question and a quick Google search changed the course of my life." - Craig Tracy
Craig was at this point feverishly enthralled with the idea of becoming a fine art Body painter. He researched by searching, or rather surfing the web with a renewed passion that surprised even him! He also started collecting Body painted images from other artists that he respected and admired. "I wanted this work to surround me in my daily life. I found tremendous inspiration from having these images hanging in my home, beautifully framed and displayed in the majority of my living space. If I were to expect that others would purchase my images then I should have the respect to collect this beautiful work as well." His personal collection of Body painting works from other artists continues to grow and delight all of his waking hours.
His collecting of images was soon followed by his first serious creation of images. These painting, his first series of body paintings, "The Nature Series" a collection of fifteen unique images were very well received. Certain images from his nature series have become iconic, as they are visually, emotionally and creatively relevant. The artists’ belief in the concept that not everything has been done and that we the living have room to grow and explore are fundamental principals that are clear and present in these first works. Shortly thereafter he ventured to Europe to meet and share with fellow Body painting Artists. The World Body Painting Festival, held annually in southern Austria with over one hundred and eighty artists from forty different nations, brought them all together. With 2005 Craig's participation in the festival and painting alongside his very good friend and Artist, Jeral Tidwell as a creative Body painting team, they were awarded a first place honor. Craig has since been a judge at the festival several times and he credits the WBPF as being one of his life's greatest passions. He attends the event every year.
Considered a cornerstone in Body paintings progressive movement, today Craig Tracy Body paints exclusively as well he owns and operates the very first art gallery in the world dedicated to fine art Body painted images. The gallery allows even the most seasoned art collectors and novices alike to see and experience first hand what Body painting is ultimately capable of expressing. With a passionate and pioneering spirit Craig personally meets and educates hundreds of people each week in the gallery. The Craig Tracy Gallery is filled with spectacular photographic, paper and canvas prints as well there are numerous videos of the process and books that focus on this art form. Please feel free to visit the gallery if you are ever in or near New Orleans. You will not regret the experience.