Sofia Bue Brings Bodies of Art to Kickstarter

Meet Sofia Bue. Special effects artist, two-time World Champion, and much-loved Weta Workshop crew member.

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She’s also a world-class painter. But it’s the funniest thing: her canvas just won’t sit still.

That tends to happen when your canvas is the human body...

Bodies of Art, the debut art book by Weta Workshop technician Sofia Bue, is live on Kickstarter now. Its pages showcase Sofia’s award-winning bodypainting through a series of gorgeous photographs, showing the human body in an extraordinary new light.

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Three years in the making, Bodies of Art is a collaboration between more than 40 artists, models and photographers. Each shot has been painstakingly painted, posed, photographed, and then rinsed off: a moment in time. To craft each look, Sofia uses a range of materials, from skin-safe body paint and powders, clay to create texture, sculpted prosthetics, and latex.  Accompanying the photographs are atmospheric behind-the-scenes images and stories about their creation, the creative process, and the conceptual thinking that goes into each human work of art. Says Sofia:

“I had all these ideas with lots of different dimensions, and I wanted to have a thread between all of them. The book was a way to not only create my artworks and document them, but talk about the process that I go through as well; not just the creative process but also what happens on set, and the conceptual thinking behind the work. Each image has an accompanying story that’s quite poetic. It’s an art statement, but without telling people how they should feel; we’re just exploring the image a little bit deeper.”

Many of the works have been photographed in the outside world, including inspiring environments like the Wellington Botanic Gardens. As Sofia explains: “A lot of my concepts and artworks are very organic and nature-inspired, so it makes sense to photograph them in nature.” Over on Kickstarter, backers can get their hands on selection of these images as art prints, along with their copy of the book. As for the book itself? Bodies of Art runs at more than 150 pages, printed on high-quality thick matte art paper with an embossed hardcover. With layout by Weta Workshop senior graphic designer Monique Hamon, the book is a piece of art in its own right.


Hailing from Denmark originally but now a true-blue Wellingtonian, Sofia has a background in make-up and special effects. After meeting Weta Workshop co-founder Richard Taylor at the New Zealand Body Art Awards, Sofia was invited to lend her bodypainting skills to the spectacular charity fundraiser, Project Born. Fast forward five years and she’s since lent her deft touch to Thunderbirds Are Go miniatures, prosthetics and make-up for Ghost in the Shell, as well as travelling throughout New Zealand to show the beauty of bodypainting to delighted Kiwis. Idle, Sofia is not. Her hard work has earned Sofia some incredible awards, too: she has won the World Title in Special Effects Body Art and Make-up twice.

Of course, no woman is an island. On hand to help Sofia bring Bodies of Art to life were a collection of more than 40 people, including many of her Weta Workshop co-workers. To help Sofia commit her ideas to print, she advertised for a consultant writer. Answering the call: wordsmith Ben Egerton, currently working towards his PhD in creative writing and poetry.

“At first I just needed a sounding board, but over time Ben became as invested in the project as I was! The writing side has been a 50/50 collaboration between us. And that’s what I love, when we can work together as a team – being able to bounce ideas back and forth between us.”

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When you’re a traditional painter or sculptor, you can buy your canvas, your clay, your paper. But you can’t exactly walk into a shop and pick a human body off a shelf. Is it hard, then, to find people willing to strip off in the name of art? Sofia laughs. “You would think so, but I have people lining up to be painted! That’s probably the most common question I get: ‘do you need any models?’”

And that leads Sofia to a more serious point. Bodies of Art is a celebration of the diversity of the human body.

“It’s all sorts of people, it’s not just your traditional runway models that volunteer. And I guess that’s what I’m trying to promote in the book: for us to be more in touch with our own bodies and see them as completely natural. My bodies are my canvases and they’re all shapes and sizes and ages.”

That message, hidden within the pages of this gorgeous book, seems to be resonating. At the time of writing, Sofia had smashed her funding goal of $15,000 with the help of 143 backers. With just two-and-a-bit more days to go, she’ll be looking forward to the wrap party this Friday where she’ll celebrate with friends, family, supporters, and Weta crew. And because there's no rest for the wicked, she'll be showing off her bodypainting skills live in person, too. If you’re in Wellington, come along for the final countdown!

Congratulations Sofia!

Bodies of Art closes on Kickstarter this Friday. Click here to back!


Wrap Party at the Roxy

When: Friday 9th June, 6pm-9pm
Where: Roxy Cinema, Miramar, Wellington
All welcome! Click here for details or join the event on Facebook.

The artist herself, all painted up.

Absolucion. "Absolucion is about standing up for yourself and symbolises courage and endurance. And endurance is exactly what it took for model Tristan Carter as he had 22 litres of milk thrown at him, outside on a dark autumn night." 

Equilibrium. "Equilibrium means a balance between opposing forces. It symbolises love and harmony. This piece took 7 hours to paint and was photographed in Wellington's botanical garden."

Neglegere. "Neglegere shows the beauty in the old and the forgotten. I used kaolin clay and pigment powders to create an illusion of peeling paint.

Photo credits for this article:

Photographers: Matt Barnes, Mandi Lynn, Ricardo Vacas Barbero and Helen Williamson. 

Models: Sophia Stace, Tristan Carter, Mac Hopper, Jasmine Cherry and James Carroll.

Copyright 2018 Weta Workshop