Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos by Cara Archer + Fatema Sitabkhan
Having recently attended an event to celebrate the many businesses that will be a part of the upcoming Gathered SA Markets, I was fortunate enough to meet Cara Archer – a lovely South Australian woman, who specializes in body art, henna art, and face painting. Personally coming from an Indian background and loving the art of henna since I was a little kid, it was a no-brainer that I’d be getting my hands decorated by Cara. All it took was 15 minutes to have my hands transformed to traditional works of art and once the henna peeled off, it revealed an earthy maroon color that attracted a lot of compliments over the next week!
I wanted to give Cara’s business the exposure it deserves, so I reached out to conduct an e-interview about her business – Cara Creative -, the services her business offers, and a general overview of how this dream became a reality:
Tema: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, Cara?
Cara: I grew up by the beach in regional South Australia. While living in Port Lincoln with my family, I started my face painting career at 14, alongside my mum who is also a face painter and artist. I moved to Adelaide in 2009 to study Architecture. After 6 years of studying, I completed a Bachelor degree in Architecture, a Masters in Landscape Architecture and Masters in Urban planning. Throughout uni, I worked a few face painting jobs, slowly building up my business. I loved being able to use my skills in art to support me financially, so upon completing my studies, I decided to work full time in my business and expand into body painting, airbrush and henna art. When I am not creating art, I am a keen cyclist and rock climber. I love taking long trips on my bike – my longest cycle tour was last year, when I cycled and camped from Scotland to Spain with my boyfriend.
Tema: Are you self-taught in your skills around the different kinds of body art that you do?
Cara: I am mostly self taught, yes. I first learnt to face paint thanks to my mum and aunties, who are also face painters. I used step-by-step books in the beginning and copied what my mum did. When I moved to Adelaide, my skills increased dramatically, as I met many other skilled painters and learnt from them. I have attended conferences in Australia and abroad to learn from some of the best face and body painters in the world. Last year, I was fortunate enough to attend the World Body Painting Festival, where I spent a week learning from the best in the world and assisting world no 5 in the World Body Painting competition. I first picked up a Henna cone just over 2 years ago and have taught myself through a LOT of practice. I use Instagram as a main source of inspiration for the expansion of my skills and development of my designs in henna, face painting and body painting.
Tema: What are the kinds of body art that you primarily specialize in?
Cara: I do face painting, body painting and henna art. My face and body painting is done with brush and sponge as well as airbrush. The airbrush is a great tool for face and body painting. The paint used for airbrush is waterproof, which makes it much more versatile.
Tema: What do you think are some of the more popular of your services?
Cara: Henna is definitely the most popular service at the moment.
Tema: Where do you find your inspiration to create your designs?
Cara: Instagram, other henna artists, illustrators, natures patterns, and tattoo artists.
Tema: Can you tell me a bit about the lessons that you offer to your customers (via your website)? What drives your passion to share your skills?
Cara: I offer private beginner lessons in face painting, body painting and henna art. I love seeing people skills develop and knowing that my advice and experience actually helps them. It is amazing to see a beginner body artist develop and improve. It is incredible how much someone’s skills can improve in just one session, just by sharing what I have learnt in my years of practice.
Tema: What do you think was one of the biggest challenges of setting up your business from scratch?
Cara: Setting up this kind of business relies on repeat customers and building a customer base – this takes a lot of time to establish.
Tema: What is it about being a South Australian and local business that makes it all the more special?
Cara: South Australia (being the festival state) is the perfect place to run a business that thrives on festivals and events.
Tema: What are some markets / events that you’d like to highlight as your regular / go-to’s?
Cara: Catch me every year at Gluttony Fringe (unfortunately, we have to wait nearly a whole year for Fringe again)! My events are really varied, so I update regularly on Facebook and Instagram with which events I’ll be at. The next market where I’ll be making an appearance is the Gathered SA Markets on April 14 + 15!
Tema: What are you hoping for 2018 to have in-store for you and your business?
Cara: I would love to do more body painting and henna art. My goals for 2018 is to do a full bridal henna design as well as a large henna body piece.
Tema: What is one solid piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring individuals who want to set up their own business?
Cara: Get started now! Done is better than perfect. Don’t wait until something is perfect before getting it out there. Doing a “soft launch” by sharing with family/friends and getting feedback to continue and improve is a great way to get started.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers to know about your business?
Cara: I love seeing henna stain pictures! If you get henna from me, please send through a stain photo via any of my social media links (listed below) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org !