By Laura Bijnsdorp
Lucinda Audain, today known by many as the artist La’Rich, has found a way to transform people with her art. These transformations, made by the tips of her paintbrushes, transport her subjects and spectators to realms built on her imagination.
With her company Funtopia, Lucinda is sharing her talent with the dozens of teenagers who work with her. Under her warm-hearted, yet disciplined wing, La’Rich guides, trains and teaches these youngsters skills they can use to improve their art, career and most importantly their life.
Thus, upon closer inspection, you realize that the magic of her art does not just dry at skin’s surface, but seeps through, travelling deeper affecting the mood, character and spirit of those around her.
How would you describe yourself growing up?
Normal! I grew up on Groene Steeg, Philipsburg and had a pretty uninteresting childhood. I was very quiet and shy. I loved to read fiction and often fantasized about being one of the characters in my books.
How did you become ‘La’Rich, the artist?
My art blossomed when I started taking art classes with Ruby Bute. Through her I also met Mosera and Youmay, whom both taught me more about abstract and radical art.
When it was time for me to go abroad to study, it wasn’t possible to get study financing to pursue arts, so I chose business and facility management instead. It wasn’t until I almost finished my studies in 2006, that I realized I needed art to be happy. During a school exchange that took me to Northern Arizona University, I had the opportunity to delve into new painting techniques and connect with other inspiring young artists. My passion for the arts was revived and I gave myself a new artist name: La’Rich.
How did Funtopia, your company, start?
I moved back to the island in 2008 and I took a job as facility manager for the general affairs government department. On weekends, I started doing face-painting gigs here and there. Slowly but surely I got more and more clients. People began asking if I did body paint, and as the company grew, I started dabbling in other forms of party entertainment. I even had to hire others to help with the workload; Funtopia was born.
I was good at my government job, and of course, it is nice to have a steady income, but after four years, I had enough of the bureaucracy surrounding the job. So I quit with the intention of focusing on Funtopia full time.
Instead, I started to work for Brenda Wathey, who needed a creative designer. I learned a lot from her and enjoyed the work, but Funtopia’s growth did not stop. Finally in May 2014 Funtopia became my full-time job and priority.
Today, Funtopia’s network has over 40 entertainers and besides body painting, we offer dancing, clowns, stilt walkers, living statues and more.
What do you enjoy most about body painting?
I love creating new images through body art. It is not just the body paint, but also how the model uses it, how it fits in the setting and finally how all aspects together create a ‘world’ of its own. Body paint can change a person; it can strengthen what they already feel on the inside or transform them into a whole different character.
It is also really rewarding to see the surprise on people’s faces. For example, a kid who all of the sudden looks and feels like batman, or a mother-to-be, who loves her body-painted belly for a pregnancy shoot. In these moments you exchange something with the person you painted; this connection is amazing.
You work with a lot of young people, why?
My work always attracted a lot of young people. It started with a few youngsters that were eager to learn more about what I was doing. Now so many teens want to join Funtopia that I have to hold auditions every year.
Some of my first employed teens are leaving this year to further their studies, and although I am sad to see them go, I am also really proud of them. I think that through Funtopia many have really gone through a positive transformation.
Sure, Funtopia is a job, where you work and get paid, but it also provides much more than a pay check for the teens. We do workshops every week in the arts and other life skills such as customer service. These skills don’t just improve their talent or career opportunities, but also help them become more thoughtful, responsible and well-rounded people.
We heard there might be a Funtopia Foundation in the works.
Yes! At the moment we don’t have the capacity to take on more teens, but I would love to give all youngsters the opportunity to learn and hone their skills in the arts, if they wish to do so.
Funtopia Foundation’s goal is to set up a system where we can hold free workshops for larger groups of teens, teaching a variety of skills-sets from painting, to acting, to sewing or budgeting.
What does beauty mean to you?
Sure, initially you might think that art only affects the external beauty of the world, but it can also be used to transform or enhance the interior. Art can make people think, discuss and it opens their minds. True beauty is in the spirit, and art can be a tool you use to express that.