Alexa Meade on Why and How She Began Turning People Into Real Life Paintings

Alexa Meade turned her first person into a real life, three-dimensional painting in April of 2009. Now, four years later, she is known the world over as the artist who uses the human body as her canvas, creating photographs you would be hard-pressed to differentiate from two-dimensional paintings.(Note: the video above contains some body-paint nudity)

We first shared Meade’s work with you in 2010, almost a year after she stumbled across this form of photography that took her entirely by surprise. Now she’s back in the spotlight thanks to a TED talk that went online in September and has since accrued over 600,000 views on the TED website alone.


The talk is interesting for two reasons: first, it offers a behind the scenes look at how Meade does what she does, and second, it goes into detail on the humble beginnings of Meade’s photographic career.

You see, Meade’s dream wasn’t to be a photographer. In 2009 she was on the cusp of graduating college with a degree in political science, a degree she intended to put to work on Capitol Hill.

Giving up on her political dreams in order to explore this new-found talent required that she move into her parents’ basement instead of an apartment in DC, and begin experimenting with painting for the first time since the summer camp days of her youth. Looking back now, it’s easy to see that she made the right decision, but at the time it couldn’t have been an easy choice.

We’ll let you hear the rest of the story from the woman herself. Whether or not you’ve ever stumbled across Meade’s work in the past, this isn’t one you’re going to want to miss out on.

(via Huffington Post via SLR Lounge)

  • Peter Acker

    This is quite awesome!!

  • Tyler Magee

    Some peoples creativity is just mind blowing. Love this video

  • Max

    Nice idea but she sounds like she works for Apple with her arrogant self promoting shpeeel.. like the idea but the woman is ingratiating and sickeningly gushing.

    Was not able to watch the whole video.

  • Sarah

    I agree. Awesome work but I can’t take her seriously with the way she is talking about it.

  • Lynda Bowyer

    Love the concept but yes, the way she talks is so very “saccharin sweet”. I made it to 2:41 before I got fed up. I’d rather the pictures do the talking…

  • Bill Chan


  • Jeramy Bailey

    Nothing quite like a TED presentation to turn the extraordinary into something best suited to induce vomiting in the case of poisoning.

  • Renato Murakami

    The art itself is great, and I think it’s also great that she talks about it…
    Problem is, the TED Talks format seems not to fit it right.
    Like, an interview would have served the purpose better.
    Because that’s kind where TED Talks sometimes go wrong… if it’s a one time idea that leads to one great project but doesn’t actually seem to lead the audience somewhere, then it kinda becomes a showcase or show & tell kinda thing.
    The stuff that brought me to TED Talks are stuff like Paradox of Choice or the Future of Education.. those are broad ranging ideas that affects several areas and make us rethink current practices and concepts.
    But anyways, still all good.

  • Ninh Hoang

    Incorporating painting and photograph was something I had thought of doing as well so seeing someone actually doing it in such a creative way is so inspiring. And I don’t get why some people don’t like the way she talks..watched it over and she sounds excited talking about her discovery and what she likes doing.

  • Vincent Labrecque

    You girls are jealous, cmon – putting a guy name only to get covered lol!

  • FongDong

    Gary Fong would tell her she’s using the LightSphere incorrectly…

  • Rob Elliott

    I’ve watched this now and I have to say… the “speech” she gives sounds like what we did in grade school, rather then taking from the heart.

    If she keeps talking she’ll get better.

  • tomdavidsonjr

    Fong is nothing if not a relentless self promoter. I doubt he would care if she used it backwards on the lens, as long as everyone knew it was a Fong bong…