Krista Kalamity is a face and body artist who owns and operates Transmogrification Station. A native of Peckville, she graduated from Scranton High School and lives in Scranton with her son, Casper, 15, and flame point Siamese cat, Spaceghost.
Meet Krista Kalamity…
How did you get into art?
In grade school, the art teachers at Valley View were amazing. I’ve always loved colors and the fact that I can have an imagination. Cartoons were always my favorite thing. When I found out I could watch cartoons on TV and draw them at the same time, I thought that was amazing. Probably my start came from watching cartoons.
What other types of art do you enjoy?
I love watercolor. I’m not the best at it, but I have a lot of fun with the different colors you can come up with and blending one color into another. I also love chalk art. I was working at the Keys on Penn Avenue. There is a chalk board on the wall, and every week I would do up the menu with different designs. I also do embroidery and sewing. My grandmother taught me to sew when I was younger, so I kind of dabble into a lot of different things.
Of all the arts you’ve tried, how did you end up as a face and body painter?
In high school, I would always draw on my hands and arms. One thing I always wanted to do was get into tattooing. I never had the money for an apprenticeship, because to get a really good person teaching you is a couple thousand dollars. My mentor, her name is Rachel; I met her about 10 years ago. She was doing face painting. We ended up just clicking, and she asked me if I wanted to do face painting. It was the next best thing to tattooing, plus, unlike tattooing where you have to be 18 or older, little kids can get it done too.
How did you come up with your business name, Transmogrification Station?
I was trying to come up with a magical, shape-shifting type of persona. I asked some friends. My buddy Rob came up with Transmogrification Station. There was an old comic from Calvin and Hobbes where he’d go into a cardboard box that was called a transmogrifier. He’d walk in and turn into something else. Even though it’s a mouthful, it’s fun to hear kids say. It definitely fit what I was going for.
What is Transmogrification Station’s motto?
My motto is “face painting and body art for all kids at heart.” Young or old, anybody can do it.
What is your favorite part about your job?
All the different things I can come up with. I had a party a few weeks ago at Nay Aug Park. There was an old man sitting in my chair, and he told stories about Nay Aug and how he used to live here. He said he wanted a frog leaping over his head with lily pads and the sun. The things people come up with on a whim, I can paint. I love being able to put someone’s idea and thought on their skin in a way they can see it.
If you could give advice to an up-and-coming face and body artist, what would you say?
If you see my setup, all the paint that I have is for the skin. It’s makeup that’s made for your skin. There are some artists who do amazing work but use sharpies. You can break out. Some people use acrylics that have metals. You never want to use acrylics. You want something that’s going to be safe, especially with kids, who can break out so easily. If anybody wants to get into it, spend the money on the right stuff.
What inspires your designs?
A lot of different cartoon artists and other face painters inspire me. The face-painting community is great. We’re all about sharing designs. If somebody comes up with a design that’s quick for a kid who doesn’t want to sit still, we’re allowed to use it as long as we credit them.
What are some misconceptions about body paint?
I think a huge misconception in the body art world is that you don’t have to be completely, physically fit. You don’t have to have the biggest breasts or tightest butt, and it still makes you feel good about yourself no matter what. Another big thing is people think, “Oh, you’re nude. You’re such a terrible person for posing nude.” It should be about the art aspect, not what you’re looking at underneath. We just want to have fun and show off what we’re capable of as artists without people thinking it’s a sexual thing.
You put in so much time to art, but it is temporary. Why do you enjoy that aspect, i.e. body art, which comes off in the shower, and chalk art, which washes away.
I’ve thought about this so many times. The thing that drew me to being a tattoo artist, when I was younger, was that my art would be on somebody for the rest of their life. That’s an honor to come up with a piece for somebody. Through the years as I really thought about it, there are so many people who regret getting a tattoo even though they were so set on it. I kind of like doing something that’s temporary. It’s in the moment; it’s right here and now. I’ve painted on my legs so many times. I can wash it off and start again. One week they’ll think something looks awesome and it’s so cool, but the next week they’ll think something else is more awesome.
What is your favorite part about being a mom?
My son, Casper, and art are the two things that keep me going. If I have the worst day, he’ll come over and hug me and say, “Hey mom, what do you need?” He’s one of my best friends. We talk about everything, and we’re super honest with each other. He is a great kid, likes video games, plays music, he sings and does sports. He is very well-rounded.
What other hobbies do you have?
I love to hike and camp. Ever since I was 8 or 10 years old, my parents would take me camping for a week each summer. I played in the river and waterfalls. Nature is a huge thing for me.
Have you had a defining time or moment in your life that helped shape you into who you are today?
Having my son. I used to skip school. I wasn’t a terrible delinquent, but I had my son at a young age of 18. I decided to step into the role. We do so many things together, and he really grounded me. I’m a kid at heart, but I have to be an adult for him.
Photos by Emma Black