'I'm still pinching myself' - make-up artist wows judges at UK competition

Once Upon A Body wins third place at national competition

Niki Etheridge, a creative make-up artist from Attleborough, impressed judges at the UK Face Painting Convention, coming third place in the Creative Artist of the Year category - Credit: Niki Etheridge

A creative make-up artist from Norfolk has impressed judges at a national competition with her whimsical designs.

Niki Etheridge, from Attleborough, reached third place in the Creative Artist of the Year category at the UK Face Painting Convention, against competition from other artists across the UK and Europe.

The success comes only two years after she began focusing her talents in this field during lockdown.

Once Upon A Body make-up artist reaches third place in national competition

This Mardi Gras-inspired design took three hours to complete and helped Niki Etheridge reach the final round of the competition - Credit: Niki Etheridge

Miss Etheridge, 34, who works under the name Once Upon A Body, creates the make-up designs on herself using a mirror. The process can take several hours to complete.

She said she was thrilled to have placed so highly in the awards.

"I'm still wrapping my head round it," she added.

"I nearly missed the deadline to enter as I was doubting myself but my boyfriend encouraged me and said I had nothing to lose.

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"I've been doing special effects make-up and body painting for the last eight years working with models but because of lockdown this stopped as I could no longer work with people face to face.

"I moved towards digital creation and doing designs upon myself and kept on practicing and progressing to bigger, brighter and bolder designs.

"Lockdown ended up giving me a boost so something really positive came out of something really horrible."

Miss Etheridge submitted two designs to reach the final of the competition. The first round was Mardi Gras-themed and after progressing to the final the artist had to create a design on the theme of  'Around the World in 80 Days', with the final design taking a pain-staking six hours to complete.

"I had to research the first design as I didn't know much about Mardi Gras and for the second I decided on a steam-punk influenced design.

"I had so many ideas and wanted it to be big and in-your-face. I drew out the designs but sometimes I'll just go with the flow."

Once Upon a Body reaches third place in national make-up competition

Niki Etheridge, under the name Once Upon a Body, also does special effects make-up for clients - Credit: Niki Etheridge

Her work is gaining a following on Instagram, where there is a large community of make-up artists, and she now offers lessons over Zoom which are proving particularly popular with people in the US and Canada.

"Things have been really picking up for me on social media and I'm getting more and more companies contacting me for work said Miss Etheridge, adding: "Hopefully winning this competition will open a few more doors for me."

You can follow Miss Etheridge's work on Instagram here.