Nina Greville is a make-up artist living in Yorba Linda, CA.
Her company, Tickled Pink, provides make-up artists, airbrush tattoo artists, face and body painting artists for projects and events in Los Angeles and Orange County.
They teach make-up techniques as well as host face and body painting classes. Nina’s two daughters who were her models and inspiration, one now a senior at Esperanza high school and the other a freshman at Santiago College both work in the family business and are competent face painters and airbrush tattoo artists. For more than 20 years Nina has been hooked on make-up. In high school she studied art and applied make-up for the drama department. She went on to study Performing Arts at Itchen College Southampton, in her native England, where she learned how to apply make-up for the stage.
It wasn’t until after the birth of her daughters Natalie and Alexandra in the 90’s that Nina discovered the art of face painting. Intrigued by the bright colors, creative freedom and opportunity to interact with young children, she was determined to master the art form. She honed her craft painting on any willing canvas, some unwilling ones too, according to Greville who confesses to having bribed her children on many occasions with candy if they would let her paint them. In 2001 she and her husband Lee grasped the opportunity to move to the USA with his job in marketing for the AM/PM brand of British Petroleum. Without a work visa and not wanting to stagnate, Greville turned her skills to running the art program for her children’s school as a volunteer.
In 2003, a change in the law meant she could get a work visa. Nina wasted no time and founded her company, Tickled Pink. Seeking local exposure, she reached out to Sandy Segestrom-Daniels, founder of Festival of Children, to provide face painting at their annual month long event at South Coast Plaza. Greville says, “Sandy and her team have been incredible, they were instrumental in the initial success of Tickled Pink. Their continued support and partnership is greatly appreciated.” The feeling is mutual. This September Greville and her team were honored during closing ceremonies with a plaque recognizing their dedication and talent, described by Segestrom-Daniels as “a gift to Festival of Children.”
Nina has an extensive list of clients for face painting for children’s parties. Celebrity clients include: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen, Natalie Maines, Brad Garrett, Dave Grohl, Flea, Jeff Probst, Laura Dern, and Joely Fisher, who hired Nina, introduced her to friends and continues to be a loyal client.
Wanting to broaden her client base, Nina mastered the skills of airbrush make-up and body painting, trained her staff, and expanded the list of services available. The next six years would bring continual growth and interesting projects such as Body Painting at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Playboy Mansion and the Tori and Dean reality show Home Sweet Hollywood. Now an expert body painter, Nina describes the art form to be her absolute passion and obsession.
The economic recession proved to be very challenging, “Bookings slowed drastically” recalls Greville. Wanting to improve her beauty make-up skills and enjoy a regular income, she sought employment with cosmetic brand MAC Cosmetics, one of several independent divisions of the giant cosmetics firm Estee Lauder (whose brand line includes Clinique, Bobbi Brown, and it’s signature Estee Lauder brand). When asked “why MAC?,” Nina describes passionately her first experience with the brand, “I had been in the U.S about a week when I first saw MAC, I was blown away, of all the cosmetic brands, to me it was the most creative in the market place. I knew instinctively that I would work for them one day”. MAC hired Nina at the Cerritos store. She progressed quickly to become Product Specialist and was selected to be on Impact Team, where she would travel to various stores offering support and facilitating events. Nina was a manager at the Brea location and has worked at Santa Ana, Santa Monica, and Riverside. She was hand picked to assist the Dream Team to body paint at industry level events for the brand at South Coast Plaza and Town Square Las Vegas in September and October 2011.
Considered an expert in her field, Greville was recruited to be a panelist on the educational advisory board for Vital Link and the Orange County Board of Education to assist with defining the curriculum and identifying gaps in education based on industry trends in the field of make-up artistry.
Greville, who is now an American Citizen, enjoys the balance of part-time MAC Artist and part-time business owner and cherishes her ability to be able to give back with her involvement in CHOC, Smile Train, and Festival of Children. When not working, she enjoys trips to her vacation home at Lake Mojave with her family.
SOCAL: While you have had a passion for make-up since at least high school, was there ever a time you wanted to be on the other side of make-up, that of being a performer?
Nina: Yes! I really didn’t realize it at the time but I started acting at age 3. I became an imaginary character called Mrs. Francher on a daily basis. I would put on my mother’s head scarf and lipstick and drive her crazy for several hours a day. I would get most upset if my mother forgot and called me Nina during these episodes. The character was legend in my family and my father made reference to it during his speech at my wedding stating that “Mrs. Francher is all grown up.”
SOCAL: Any other stabs at serious acting?
Nina: I was in many plays and musicals during my school years. The most memorable was the female lead in the musical Tomorrow Just You Wait And See. It was a collaboration between the music and English teacher. There was a scene where I had to kiss the male lead. We never actually kissed during any of the rehearsals. Our first kiss was during the first performance. There was an audible gasp from the audience, as many of my friends were there with my boyfriend at the time. I loved the use of period make-up for this performance.
SOCAL: You work with a lot of corporations. Can you give us some examples and what their objectives were?
Nina: Every corporate event is different. For Blizzcon our clients want their guests to have the opportunity to transform into the characters they play in the game, so we provide the make-up to make that happen. For Remy Martin at MOCA we replicated the amazing David La Chappel artwork that was on the new Remy bottle. This translated into 5 models who depicted different aspects of the art work. They were themselves pieces of art for the enjoyment of the guests. Cisco wanted us to provide make-up to their guests because the rock band KISS was the entertainment for the evening. I’ve never seem so many men looking like Gene Simmons – Demon!
SOCAL: Body painting must be a unique experience, even for professional models. How do you put your subjects at ease? I assume most of your canvases are female. Have you worked on male subjects?
Nina: I try to be as friendly as possible, we get intimate quickly. I try to be as understanding as possible. Often the girls are very slim, they have little body fat and get very cold. They can sometimes faint too! It can be quite a challenge. I try to paint as much as I can with them lying down or sitting and we use heaters and sometime alcohol if the models are over 21. I’ve painted a few males.
SOCAL: Please describe one or more of your most challenging assignments and how you solved it.
Nina: There have been several occasions where we had already started painting a very precise design when officials have been uncomfortable with the amount of skin that is showing. I’ve had to redesign costumes by cutting up t-shirts and adapt designs quickly to meet deadlines. The biggest challenge is when there are multiple people giving creative input. I need the clients to agree on a united vision before I can submit designs.
SOCAL: Did you ever have a disaster or a just plain fall down, funny experience?
Nina: We were once required to paint a nude male. Unfortunately he had not been briefed on the absolute necessity to be fully shaved for the process. We painted over the hair, which was incredibly challenging. We painted ALL of him!
SOCAL: You offer classes in face and body painting and temporary tattoo artistry to the public and have built a team of professionals to work with you on assignments. Please tell us about these two parts of your life.
Nina: I have been very fortunate to find the most talented loyal artists to join the team. Most of my freelancers have been with me for 6 years or more and I’m especially pleased to be able to work with my two daughters on occasion. Apart from body painting, the teaching aspect is probably my favorite thing to do. It’s really rewarding when students get it, love it, and progress quickly.
SOCAL: Do you have any movie or stage projects on your calendar or would like to do?
Nina: The Tori & Dean show is the last thing we did for T.V. I would definitely like to explore those options. I’m not sure I’m ready to be on location for weeks at a time though.
SOCAL: Your website, ninagreville.com has a beautiful gallery of your work. Have you ever had a gallery showing or do you plan one? Perhaps offering some of your art for sale as reproductions?
Nina: That is something I’d love to do. I’ve only seen it done a few times. I think that face and body art is really not widely seen or recognized. Putting together an exhibition would take a lot of planning, but it’s definitely possible.
SOCAL: You’ve had a remarkable journey so far. What’s next for Nina Greville?
Nina: I’m really happy with where I am right now. I’d love for body painting to become more popular with corporations and entertainment companies so that would become the predominant service that we provide. I’d like to become a regional trainer for MAC with my ultimate goal being that of senior pro artist with them. I’d also like to travel more and teach.
To learn more about Nina's services, visit her website by clicking on the image of her team: