Avi Ram's art appears in the strangest of places – your skin
Artist is a contestant on the new season of 'Skin Wars' on the Game Show Network.
Avi Ram has been painting for as long as he can remember. He paints everything from portraits to murals to the custom T-shirts he creates for clients at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, store, where he practices the airbrush technique he taught himself 10 years ago in his native Israel. Inspired to try body painting in the first season of the Game Show Network reality competition series “Skin Wars,” he was determined to participate in season two, and armed with a couple of glowing recommendations, he tried out and won a slot.
“In Avi, I saw incredible details, so lifelike and creative,” raves executive producer Jill Goularte, who chose him to join 11 other contestants.
Ram found the competition, which airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on GSN, difficult but exhilarating. “When they come to you with a challenge ... you have to do it on the spot. You have to be creative in, like, two minutes. They take away your phone, music and social media so you concentrate on only that,” he says. “You need to be really creative and do something that people never saw before. You have to have a story behind your work. Sometimes I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I always came up with something.”
Ram has become a fast worker, thanks to body painting gigs in nightclubs where he paints a full body in 10-30 minutes. This served him well on the show; yet Ram knows it takes more than speed to win. “It’s talent, personality, the way you place the pictures on the body – the whole package.”
While female models are featured in most challenges on the show, artists occasionally paint males and unconventionally sized people. Ram has an uncomfortable recollection of an early airbrushing experience. “When I body painted a naked male for the first time, it was strange for me, but I am used to it now, male and female.”
Ram, who moved to the U.S. in 2008 from southern Israel, first lived with a cousin in New York. “I took a big risk in coming here by myself. It was hard because I didn’t know any English. But I talked to people, and learned.”
He’s only been back to Israel once in the last five years, and misses it and his family. “I had amazing memories as a kid, just being with friends and family,” Ram recalls. “My father used to take us to amazing places like dog shows. He used to train animals. My dad passed away 15 years ago but I still talk about him, you will see [on the show]. I also love talking about Israel, and to put it in my pieces.”
With “Skin Wars,” which taped last winter, in the can, Ram has set his sights on live competitions. In May, he placed ninth in the Body Fine Art Competition in Los Angeles. He and Kyle Vest (also on “Skin Wars”) took first place at the Face and Body Art International Convention in Davie, Florida.
In accordance with FBAIC’s “Oriental Express” theme, the duo created a robotic Yakuza-style tattooed geisha, incorporating a locomotive. “This is just the beginning,” says Ram, who is planning to enter the Living Art America competition in Atlanta in October.
Meanwhile, this summer he’ll be painting murals at three Florida elementary schools, making more than 20 walls more colorful. “It’s supposed to be very cartoonish, not very realistic. I love doing kids’ murals because it makes them so happy.” Ram also plans to visit children’s hospitals, “airbrushing T-shirts and hats for the kids. I donate my services. I go every month or two and bring happiness to the kids.”
Ram’s long-term goals include “traveling the world, continuing with airbrushing, doing more events and inspiring people. This is just the beginning,” he says.
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