Urban Decay's Latest Collaboration is a Literal Work of Art
As cosmetics aficionados, many of us believe that makeup is an art form. We paint our faces with the same intention an artist paints their canvas. It's a form of self expression, a way to make a statement. Urban Decay isn't a stranger to making their own statements, and the brand has decided to take "makeup is art" to a literal level: introducing their new collaboration with celebrated late neo-expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat, known for his iconic graffiti paintings in New York during the 1980s.
Basquiat had many layers, much like his work. He was one of the most influential artists during the punk era, and he was eccentric. When he was a teenager, he met Andy Warhol, and their relationship served them both: Warhol improved Basquiat's fame, while Basquiat made Warhol cool again. There is a story that, while joining Andy for a meeting with a potential collector, he left the meeting, unannounced, to draw a portrait of both himself and Andy. He returned later with his assistant and a dripping-wet canvas, freshly painted with the portrait.
Basquiat dated Madonna. He died at 27 from a drug overdose. He painted his work quickly, but not quickly enough to meet the demands he was being presented with when reaching that level of fame. His work was different; he was a pioneer with it — one reason why Urban Decay found the collaboration alluring.
"This collection is important because it's kind of a new way to look at makeup," Wende Zomnir, Founder of Urban Decay Cosmetics told POPSUGAR. "Nobody has done a collab — well, I guess other people have done artist collabs, but he's not as well known as a Warhol. It's this kind of indie vibe we've always stood for."
She went on: "I think what was really impressive was how he was able to take his graffiti and then translate it into a higher kind of art gallery kind of art. The message he was graffitiing about, which is like, these juxtapositions between all this wealth and then poverty in New York and seeing those two collide."
Ruby Rose, the face of the brand, is a fan of Basquiat herself. "I've been working with Urban for a couple of years now, and (Wende) knows how much I love Basquiat," she said. "(This is) a perfect marriage of his color selections, his art, and him as a person, being so outspoken."
The collaboration started after Basquiat's estate approached Urban Decay, and it took over a year to finalize. "It was one of those (collaborations) where, sometimes you're approached with different ideas, and you're like 'Eh, whatever,' but this one I was like, 'Yes!' I've been a fan of Basquiat's for a long time," said Wende.
If you're unfamiliar with Basquiat, his legacy includes the use of crowns throughout his work, which made it a necessary part of the collaboration. "We wanted to pull the crown into something to make it iconic for a lot of people," said Wende. "So we picked (the Gallery Blush Palette) because it's the most universal product we made. It's the cheek and face palette, which almost any skin tone can use," she said.
Each piece in the collection has a special artistic touch, including hangers on the back of the palettes, so you can display your work of (makeup) art on the wall. For the two shadow palettes, the team drew color inspiration from the paintings. "If you look through this painting, you will see that all of these shades are actually located in the painting," said Wende.
In the lineup, there are two eye shadow palettes ($39 each): the Tenant set features eight exclusive bright shades, and the Gold Griot houses eight new neutral hues. The Gallery Blush Palette ($34) offers two pink/purple-toned blushes, a bronzer, and a highlighter. There are three brand-new Vice Lipsticks ($17), wrapped in a canvas print with his art. They come in the necessities: pink, red, and nude. But perhaps the coolest offering are the three makeup bags($18-$35) which are covered in his art.
Keep reading to see photos of the products up close, and mark your calendars for April 20 when the collection will be available for purchase.