MAC's Frosted Fireworks was already a fun collection, but they managed to sneak in an artist collab in their holiday lineup too. And amazingly, the artist actually responded to my interview request and kindly answered my questions! We'll get to that in a minute, but to see how Bob Jordan's beautiful designs fit in to MAC's holiday collection, we'll take a quick peek at those objects first.
I picked up the eyeshadow in Silver Bells, highlighter in Let It Glow, highlighting palette, lipstick in Once Bitten, Ice Shy, lip gloss in Set Me Off and the Firelit Kit. Maybe it's because I always have the '90s on the brain, but Frosted Fireworks seemed straight out of 1996 or thereabouts to my eye - both the finishes and retro star patterns are reminiscent of the second half of the decade's obsession with frost and penchant for kitschy takes on MCM designs.
And now for something very special! Here's my interview with Brooklyn-based graphic designer and artist Bob Jordan, who created the bright and exuberant designs for MAC. Bob has a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from Maine College of Art. He founded his design firm, Factory 808 Designs, in 2014. While he had never made cosmetics packaging before, I think he absolutely nailed the MAC collection. I'm so pleased to have some of his work in the Museum and hope to see more makeup creations from him.
MM: Tell me a little bit about your background. Were you always interested in art? How did you end up in graphic design?
Bob: I grew up in my grandfather’s woodshop helping him out. He taught me how to solve problems and think creatively. When I was a teenager, I realized I could draw. Those two things became the foundation for everything I do now. I got into design because it allowed me to be multi-disciplinary in my creative approach. There are a lot of mediums I like to work with and I use them all in my projects. Most importantly, I get to draw. It doesn’t matter what I’m working, everything starts with a pencil and paper.
(image from @factory808)
MM: Who or what influences your work? What other artists and designers do you admire?
Bob: My first influence -and still favorite- is Chuck Close. I’ve always loved his use of color and shape in his compositions. I admire his resilience and his determination to continue to create his art even as a quadriplegic. I have a lot of respect for his process. I also love Sister Corita Kent. She was a pop art nun who fought for social justice causes and was also a teacher at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles. Most people would know her as the LOVE stamp designer from the 1980’s. Her 10 rules for Students and Teachers is timeless.
(image from cbsnews.com)
My other major influence is my home and community in Brooklyn. I am inspired daily just by simply walking outside. You get to see both known and unknown artists' work here. There’s a particular energy that resonates with me. Obviously it's tough to look into the future, but I know that it will always be a huge influence on my work.
MM: How did the collaboration with MAC happen? Did you approach them or vice versa?
Bob: The collaboration with MAC was very organic in its development. The head of digital at MAC as she is constantly on the hunt for collaborating with local NY designers on product and packaging design. Discussions began before COVID and went in the summer. It was some thing that we waited for the right time to do.
MM: What was the process like? Did they give you free reign or any sort of direction?
Bob: This process was a pretty open. There was a some seasonal themes and color ways that it needed to adhere to but there was a considerable amount of freedom. I’ve always found these types projects to be very difficult but the most rewarding.
MM: What inspired you to create the designs you did? What was your vision for the collection?
I was someone would had left the city during COVID and spent 9 months in the woods. It was a humbling experience and it allowed me to focus on some other projects but I was also missing the vibrance of the city. I had to come back and just walk around and soak up all the colors and energy. I would walk around during the day and then draw at night. I did that over and over til I found where I needed to be.
MM: How was the experience designing makeup packaging different than other projects you've worked on?
Bob: Designing for makeup packaging is not that different from some of my other work. I design a lot of packaging for cannabis products and there are many similarities. A lot of it is actually makeup packaging that is used so I’m used to working on small products. This was actually a lot easier because I just had to focus on the art and didn’t have to worry about any state regulations.
MM: Would you work with a cosmetics company again?
Bob: This was actually my first experience working with one, the opportunity to work with one just hadn’t come up in the past. I would definitely consider working with a cosmetics company again, but as with any project, I would need to make sure it's the right fit.
MM: Please share any thoughts you might have on makeup packaging or cosmetics in general.
Bob: I really hope that makeup packaging becomes more sustainable and minimalistic. I feel that way about all packaging. Working on cannabis packaging has really opened my eyes about how much packaging waste there is. I love designing packaging and I want to make sure that I’m doing my part. I would love to connect with cosmetics and any other companies whose mission it is to create sustainable products. That's the future. It has to be.
(image from 808designs.com)
Bob, thank you so much for talking with the Makeup Museum! This was certainly enlightening and so interesting to hear the details behind this collection. And for Museum visitors, which piece is your favorite? I love both but I think the Peace design is my preference.