Photographer Erik Madigan Heck is a Cut favorite. In addition to receiving the International Center of Photography’s 2013 Infinity Award, he’s appeared regularly in our Out of the Box feature, creating high-contrast, technicolor narratives with a focus on reverse silhouettes. He brings his painterly aesthetic to his newest collaboration in the beauty realm, partnering with MAKE Cosmetics to create a series of images shot on Polaroid 59 film. The images, shot in New York’s Hudson River Valley, are richly moody and chromatic, inspiring the eye shadows, lipsticks, and palettes of MAKE’s Post-Impression Concept collection. The Cut interviewed MAKE creative director Ariana Mouyiaris for details about the collaboration. Click through the slideshow for images of the campaigns and products.
How did the collaboration with Erik come about?
When originally working on the design for our website, I had come across his work. I used some of his images in our early mock-ups and thought it would be amazing to work with him as a photographer for one of our collections. Luckily, we were working with an amazing stylist, Kat Typaldos, who had collaborated on our shoots from the beginning, and she’d begun working with him on some jobs. Through a personal introduction and conversation, it seemed like the collaboration would be very interesting; to see how a broad brief on color could translate from an original new series of artistic work through to a final photographic vision of beauty.
Why did you think Erik’s work would make a great beauty collaboration?
I was inspired by the bold, highly chromatic work he produced, as well as his personal vision across projects from his site Nomenus to his more abstract video work for designers such as Ann Demeulemeester and Mary Kantrantzou. It’s so refreshing to stumble upon talent and then be exposed to multiple sides of people’s work through the digital space. His continued collaboration with certain clients made me confident that he could create something that would push notions of traditional beauty collaborations.
What was the process of working with Erik like?
It was a dialogue. A pitching of ideas and discussions that led to two series of Polaroid photographs, shot on his last role of Polaroid 59 film: one monochromatic, shot in Monachyle, Scotland, and the other closer to home, in the Hudson Valley, New York. The latter was highly chromatic, deeply hued, and led to the lush palette of the Post-Impression Concept Collection. We will be launching the first series on our Tumblr later this month for the holidays.
Erik is known for his dramatic use of color. Were you worried that some of the colors wouldn’t look wearable?
The beauty of our collaborations is that we pair a creative outside of the beauty space with a contemporary makeup artist whose work we think is both artistic and wearable. This season we worked with Sam Addington, an amazingly talented makeup artist whose background was also in editorial work, as a beauty editor. She brought her own artistry to the product and made both bold, abstract looks - like Velvet Noise — and others that translated to the face in a more natural way, like Hudson and Twilight.
Our challenge is to take colors that people don’t think are wearable and to make them desirable. Pigment can be incredibly inspiring, but daunting. But different collections approach color differently. And our looks range from modern nudes and flesh tones to more high-impact tones.
Will collaborating with different photographers become something recurring MAKE will do?
While it may not always be [with] a photographer, MAKE forges new collaborations seasonally for our concept collections. We believe in cultivating a community, as well as a shared space for learning and discovery, that’s brought to life by our contributing artists (creatives outside of the beauty sphere) who are next-generation visionaries in their respective industries. They give highly personal, unique perspectives on color and beauty that are then translated into looks by our resident makeup artists, whom we collaborate with to create boundary-free looks incorporating MAKE. These can be seen online through our seasonal photography, as well as how-to videos and GIFs that include downloadable instructions and easy links to learn how to do it yourself.