By Libby Hopkins

SkinwarsNicole_3438R_Pablo Picasso once said, “One never knows what one is going to do. One starts a painting and then it becomes something quite different.” Nicole Hays of Riverview never thought that when she traveled from Arkansas to Panama City for spring break years ago that she would end up staying in Florida.

“I came to Panama City when I was 18 for spring break and I loved it so much that I decided to stay,” Hays said.

While living in Panama City, she answered and ad on Craig’s List for a body paint model for a local nightclub. She went to the club and fell in love with body painting.

“I had always been a visual artist and body painting seemed to be something I really liked,” Hays said.

She started moving around Florida and along the way she earned a degree in theatre performance from the University of South Florida. She also took painting classes to improve her painting skills as a body artist.

Her body art mainly focuses on whimsical, fantasy and steampunk-inspired pieces.

“I love everything whimsical and fantasy, but steampunk is something that intrigues me because it’s a little darker than what I normally paint,” Hays said.

In addition to body painting, Hays also does roller derby and aerial circus performances. All of her talents landed her an audition and a spot on the new reality television show on the Game Show Network (GSN) called Skin Wars. The show will debut on the network on Wednesday, August 6 at 9 p.m. Rebecca Romijn hosts the show where body-painting artists compete against each other to win $100,000.

“I auditioned with 20 other artist and I was super confident at the audition,” Hays said. “I did a Marie Antoinette themed piece with lots of pastels. I was very proud of the piece and I had a good feeling about it too.”

Hays has been doing a lot of traveling since getting on Skin Wars, but she will be back in Tampa to host a watch party on Wednesday, August 6 at Mulligan’s Irish Pub located at 10550 Regents Park Dr. in Tampa.

To learn more about Hays and see some of her artwork, visit

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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.