Kristin Olsson: My Face Painting Journey

our instructor Kristin Olsson wearing a unicorn face paint holding face painting brushes
Kelli Zermeño, Kristin Olsson — 27 August 2018 —



If you’ve spent any time at all on our website or as a student, you know the name Kristin Olsson.

She is quickly proving to be quite an asset to the School!

The very first graduate of the School, as well as achieving the Honor Student status, Kristin has jumped into her role as a certified International Face Paint School instructor with both feet!

an image dispayling five different flower face paint designs
Tip: Want to start face painting but have no idea where to begin? Check out our Ultimate Face Painting Tutorial for Beginners.

She worked for months as Olga’s right-hand lady. Learning the ins and outs of the School and everything it means to be an instructor.

She brings with her an inherently unique talent and perspective. Kristin has only been face painting for 2 years!

She has risen from novice to accredited and certified expert instructor in just 2 short years!

I don’t know what else to say to y’all to convince you about the amazing talent this woman possesses!

Listen to what Olga herself had to say about Kristin.

Kristin almost immediately attracted my attention when she was a student at my School.

I was impressed with how thoughtful she was performing each of her homework, analyzing each detail. And I was also amazed by her humongous passion for face painting, which is why she is so productive and has grown immensely as an artist in such a short time.

Kristin is one of those rare types of clever artists who use their logic mind a lot. That’s where her inherent teaching talent comes from, I guess.

She can break down in pieces intricate artwork and make it so easy to understand and reproduce! She naturally sees balance and harmony in art. And she is such a hard worker! That’s the secret of her success — a lot of dedication, a smart mind, and consistent practice.

Last but not least, Kristin is one incredibly kind and open-hearted person with a contagious enthusiasm. I had no doubts that she will be a phenomenal face painting instructor.

Honestly, I couldn’t ever imagine a better candidate for this post in my School! And seeing the amazing improvements that students guided by Kristin are now achieving is proving again and again that I made the best choice!”

Olga Murasev

— How did you step into face painting? Tell us about your journey. Was it difficult to make this decision?

I have a background in art and design and work as a graphic designer on a daily basis. In 2016 we were going through a challenging time at work with re-organization and a huge project that was extremely demanding, but not very creative.

I really wanted to find a creative outlet and something fun I could do with the kids, so I did a face painting course with a local face painter, Cathrine Enger Johansen.

It was love at first stroke, and I was offered a position to work for her that very same day. I invested in a small kit and practiced like crazy before my first gig a couple of months later, in December 2016.

It was one of the busiest gigs I have had to this day — but I loved every minute of it!

What totally blew me away was the sheer joy on the children’s faces. My painting was not very good at the moment, but the kids absolutely loved it – it was truly magical!

After that, I practiced regularly and quickly found that being able to have this creative outlet made some of the more routine based projects at my work more fun to do as well — it all balanced out.

— How would you describe your artistic style in face painting? What designs do you love to paint? What is your signature style?

I use a lot of bright colours and bold outlines — and unlike many other artists, I really like using black for outlining. I love incorporating stenciled textures and patterns in my work as well.

My background as a graphic designer is definitely an advantage for me as I am used to breaking down different elements and placing them together in a balanced composition.

I love to experiment with different styles, and I always try to tweak my designs a little OTJ (on the job) in order to come up with better placement, better flow of the lines or various ways to enhance my work.

three images of unicorn face paint designs

My signature design at the moment is a unicorn design I designed a little while ago.

I really disliked painting unicorns, and so I did what I usually do when this happens — I practice and practice until I feel like I have come up with a version I feel comfortable painting.

I often had little girls wanting unicorns, but either they had bangs or a forehead with very limited space so I decided to create a fast cheek design. And all the little girls love it — if one girl gets it then they all want it!

two belly paint designs - one with a baby sleeping on the moon and the other with two bunnies

— What has been your most exciting experience in face painting so far?

I have had a long-term dream of getting into teaching, even before I started face painting. The possibility to work alongside my dear friend and mentor Olga at her School is definitely one of the highlights so far in my face painting career.

Check out this impressive before and after by our oldest graduate Dottie Kastl who was trained on the Elite Course by Kristin Olsson!

Another event I am really excited about is the UK Face and Body Paint Convention in October this year where I will be teaching not one, but two different classes!

Another winning piece by Kristin. One of her strong sides is the ability to use various styles. That’s because she is never afraid of experimenting!


— Have you received any recognition or awards?

My art was recently featured on the cover of Q Magazine and Wet Paint Magazine, which was a huge honour!

I have won several face painting competitions over the past couple of years, but the one that was the most special to me was winning the Inspiration to Paint challenge in June 2016, only 6 months after I started face painting. The positive and inspiring atmosphere in the group, making painty friends from all around the world was a truly amazing experience.

Want to learn a design by Kristin Olsson?! Paint along with her fabulous step-by-step Arctic Princess tutorial.

— When you were learning face painting, what did you struggle with most and how did you overcome your struggles? What is the most important thing you learned at the school?

One of the main challenges for me has been to transfer an idea from a flat surface to a 3-dimensional space.

I have been working as a designer for many years, but to create a balanced design on a face is something completely different than creating something on a flat surface.

Every model is different, so you have to adapt the design to the person you are painting.

One of the most important things I learned at the School, was how to work with the focal points and how small, clever adjustments could make a design go from decent to amazing without spending any extra time on the painting – this was a real revelation to me!

two images of a boy wearing two face paint designs. one is a bee face paint and the other is dash from the incredibles.
Want to make a living out of your profession? Check out our How to Become a Professional Face Painter and Get Paid guide for valuable tips and advice!

— You are working in a team of extremely talented face painters. Your services are now billed as one of the BEST face painting services in all of Norway. How did you achieve that?

I work in a team of about 20 top qualified painters here in Norway.

A lot of the painters in our team have been students on the Elite Course at the School, and this has been a great benefit for us all.

We all take pride in providing an excellent service to our clients, and the fact that many of us have been or still are students at the school helps us to have a common platform and an understanding of the level we need to achieve.

We also run our own little mini ITP group for the team where we regularly practice and share different designs between us to inspire and help each other improve.

Check out the impressive face painting designs that are created by the Norwegian team – all graduates of the International Face Painting School!


— Where do you get your inspiration from? Who influences you artistically and why?

I get inspiration from everywhere! Nature, music, fine art, children’s books etc.

When I work on specific designs I often use Pinterest for inspiration, and I also keep a sketchbook for everything from written ideas and doodles to more elaborate drawings.

There are so many artists who inspire me:
I love Marcela Bustamantes amazing line work,
Brierley Thorpe´s amazingly flowing art,
Nancy Wu´s super cute character designs and her clever use of stencils,
Matteo Arfanotti amazing compositions and colour combinations,
Olga´s delicate and detailed beautiful designs,
Annabel´s clever boy designs
…the list is so long, I could go on and on!

two awesome and colofrul cat face paint designs
One of the keys to success are definitely proper tools! Check out our The Great Face Paint Shop Guide to find out where you can buy best pro tools and achieve great results like Kristin!

— Why did you want to become an instructor for the School?

I love working with people, I love art, and I love face painting.

When I first started out myself, I felt so lost trying to find all the information I needed. W

hen I discovered the School and heard more about its content from some fellow painters here in Norway, it sounded like the perfect way to learn — to have all the information I needed in one place and also to have the opportunity to be guided by a talented and skilled tutor through the entire curriculum.

I was amazed at the quality and in-depth content of the school, so to receive this opportunity to become a tutor myself was such an honour.

This autumn I also start on a postgraduate in teacher training, which will definitely be an advantage for me in my career as a face painting tutor as well.

an image of 5 flower face paint designs painted on arms
If you aren’t in the mood of painting your own face. Doodle on your arm! Paint consistently and always keep your mind engaged in the creative process. This is the key to stay productive and advance. Check out our Time Management: How to find time to paint consistently and learn how to juggle work, life and self efficiently!

— What three pieces of advice would you give to someone just getting started in face painting?

  1. With anything new that you want to learn, whether it´s learning to play an instrument, a sport or learning how to face paint, practice is the key.
    A little goes a long way — even if you practice for just a few minutes each day you will see improvement.
  2. Join various online groups and challenges — there are plenty out there for all skill levels — and don´t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice in the groups.
    There are no stupid questions!
  3. Remember that we have all been beginners at one point.
    Instead of comparing yourself to other, more skilled painters, make sure to take photos of your own work even if you are not happy with it. If you are going through a period of not feeling happy with your artwork it can be a huge boost for your confidence later to go back and see the progress you have made!

Kristin is an amazing example of skyrocketing success! 😍

Proof that diligence and passion can propel you all the way to the top and beyond!

It’s her humble attitude and passion for teaching others what she has learned and perfected that truly endears her to us.

We know that you will love her too!

The addition of her patient expertise to our School will be a huge benefit to students as she guides them through the paces of our extensive School program.

Want to paint like Kristin? Master your linework! Take our FREE Improve Your Linework in 3 Days Worksop and boost your skills!

Free Online Workshop - Improve Your Linework in 3 Days

 — Kelli Zermeño, Kristin Olsson

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