Smashbox holiday sets by Yago Hortal

Months ago I spied a holiday collaboration between Smashbox and Barcelona-based artist Yago Hortal and knew I needed to get my hands on some of the items.  "Art. Love. Color." is a huge collection that includes 12 (!) individual makeup sets, all adorned with Hortal's gloriously bold abstract paintings.  I of course the chose the palette that most prominently featured his work.  There's a veritable rainbow of thick stripes of color that seem to pop off the surface.

Smashbox Art. Love. Color. holiday 2015 palette

Naturally I loved the little insert that was included.  One side featured another one of Hortal's paintings while the other provided a brief bio of the artist.

Smashbox Art. Love. Color. palette insert

Smashbox Art. Love. Color. palette insert

The palette shades look just as vibrant as the artwork.

Smashbox Art. Love. Color. palette

Smashbox Art. Love. Color. palette

The way the outer case was printed mimics Hortal's thick brushwork - it's not totally smooth but rather has a textural finish.

Smashbox Art. Love. Color. palette

Smashbox Art. Love. Color. palette

Here is the original 2013 painting used on the palette, along with some of the other sets.

Yago Hortal, SP 37, 2013

Smashbox Yago Hortal palettes and brush set

Yago Hortal (b. 1983) graduated with a BFA from the University of Barcelona.  Even at such a young age his work has already been shown at galleries across Europe and New York City.  As for his use of bold color, he says, "I think people cannot live without color...imagine a life in white and black, it would be boring.  We need color, I think, to feel ourselves alive."  I couldn't agree more!  I loved this video Smashbox made since you can see how he created these colorful masterpieces.  The packaging is gorgeous, but seeing the actual paintings on the larger, monumental scale they were intended to be is pretty amazing.


In an interview with Allure, he elaborates on his exploration of color:  "My color palette is derived from pigments that make me feel strong emotions. Mostly, I use pure colors, as they have the best intensity and vibration. I mix it by instinct...I lived in a multicolored house my entire life. My parents made it a point to always repaint, again and again, up until now, actually! Living while constantly surrounded by ever-changing colors was significant to me, and it is still an essential part of my life as an artist."  He also cites Kandinsky, Miró, and de Kooning as influences, all of whom I can see in his work.

Let's take a look at some of his other paintings that were used in the Smashbox collab.  Here's the one used on the palette insert.

Yago Hortal, KL32, 2011

These four sets all feature a painting from 2011, which is fairly similar to the one used on the palette.

Smashbox Yago Hortal sets

Smashbox Yago Hortal sets


Yago Hortal, KL46, 2011

The painting for two sets was tricky to match up, as it's been rotated and enlarged so you're only seeing a small portion of it on the packaging.

Smashbox Yago Hortal sets

Yago Hortal, KL49, 2011

Same with these two primer sets, but I was determined to find it and I did!

  Smashbox Yago Hortal sets

Yago Hortal, SP18, 2012
(images from and

I have seen many a colorful abstract painting, but none quite like Hortal's.  I'm not sure whether it's the thickness of the paint (I kind of want to stick my hands in it), the particular colors he chooses or the way he deftly swirls and pours them, but something about these paintings ignites something deep in my brain.  Obviously, all humans react to color but I've always seemed to be more sensitive to it than most, and Hortal's work heightens this response even more - his paintings have a rather stimulating effect on me. Whereas taking in a Rothko or Morris Louis makes me feel more contemplative and peaceful, I feel energized looking at something by Hortal.  As an extension of this, I think his work was a great match for a makeup collaboration as I also feel the need to go play with my makeup stash when I look at his paintings.  The artist was equally enthusiastic about teaming up with a cosmetics line.  "I love a wonderful pop of color on the face! I had the pleasure to meet the Smashbox makeup team at the shoot for the campaign, and I was amazed with their work. It is truly wonderful to see how makeup is such an art form, how it mimics the tones and mood of paintings and translates it to real life... [Smashbox has] a wonderful appreciation for artists and a great eye. It was very exciting for me to chat with them about the possibility of a collaboration. After some initial conversations, we decided to move forward, and now it's a reality. I am truly very happy with the result, and I am proud to have collaborated with such an awesome team. I have to say that I am very picky with the collaborations I do, as they should ultimately be a wonderful marriage between the artist’s vision and the company itself."

Overall, I'm pleased with the palette and collab in general, but I also wish I could own one of Hortal's paintings for my office to gaze upon whenever I'm feeling uninspired/bored/tired, which is basically all the time at work. 

What do you think?

Donald Robertson for Smashbox

It's been a while since Smashbox has collaborated with an artist, their previous partnership having taken place in early 2013 with Curtis Kulig.  Most recently the company teamed up with Donald "Drawbertson" Robertson for a collection of lipsticks and eyeliners.  Back in the fall Robertson had designed a limited-edition lipstick case for Smashbox (as well as a Cadillac adorned with a lipstick print) but it was this larger collection that got my attention.

I picked up 4 of the 6 lipsticks - really wish I could have gotten all of them for the Museum, plus all the liners.

Donald Robertson for Smashbox lipsticks

Donald Robertson for Smashbox lipsticks

Donald Robertson for Smashbox lipsticks

Donald Robertson for Smashbox lipsticks: Magenta, Fireball, Paris Pink, Punch Drunk

Donald Robertson for Smashbox lipsticks: Magenta, Fireball, Paris Pink, Punch Drunk

Donald Robertson for Smashbox lipsticks: Magenta, Fireball, Paris Pink, Punch Drunk

Here are the other two lipsticks, plus a tote bag filled with other items.  It would have been great if the tote bag was sold separately.

Donald Robertson for Smashbox(images from

What I like about the Smashbox collab is the fact that Robertson created new drawings specifically for the collection - no re-using old images here.  In an interview with Glamour magazine (where he previously worked), he states,"We needed to top the Caddy covered in my lip paintings that we did for Art Basel earlier this year, so we decided to do a mini art show with the lipsticks and liners. They’re [like little presents] wrapped in tiny Donald paintings.” 

Donald Robertson for Smashbox original print

Donald Robertson - original print for Smashbox(images from

Not only that, Robertson also made five large-scale paintings for Smashbox's grand reopening party on February 5, 2015.

Donald Robertson - painting for Smashbox grand reopening

Donald Robertson - painting for Smashbox grand reopening

Donald Robertson - painting for Smashbox grand reopening

Donald Robertson - painting for Smashbox grand reopening

Donald Robertson - painting for Smashbox grand reopening(images from

Here they are on site:

Smashbox grand reopening - Feb. 2015

Smashbox grand reopening - Feb. 2015(images from

Robertson's remarkable career is basically my fantasy.  Early on he was one of the founders of MAC cosmetics, then became creative director of Condé Nast America and helped launched Marie Claire. After that, he went to work for Estée Lauder, where he currently serves as creative director for all brands.  Thus, he is extraordinarily well-connected in the fashion and beauty industries.  (Hey, Donald, do you think you could hook me up with an Estée exec about getting a real space for the Makeup Museum?  Or talk to someone at a publication about getting the Museum featured?)  I loved the pieces he did for Vogue Korea:

Donald Roberston - Vogue Korea

Donald Robertson - Vogue Korea

And this portrait of Estée Lauder for Bergdorf Goodman:

Portrait of Estee Lauder for Bergdorf Goodman by Donald Robertson

And look! You can buy this bag starting Thursday.  I must admit I am tempted despite the Smashbox goodies I purchased.

Donald Robertson - Bergdorf Goodman exclusive Estee Lauder bag(images from

Thanks to the seemingly never-ending stream of new illustrations that he posts on Instagram, Robertson quickly became known as the "Suburban Andy Warhol", although his massive legion of admirers took him completely by surprise.  “People say I am reminiscent of Andy Warhol because he started as an illustrator and then transitioned into art. I am kind of in that position now. Andy’s output was maybe monthly. I like putting out three or four things a day,” he says.  “This is a 100 percent unexpected thing... I’m just some schmoe-y guy who lives in suburbia.”  He's humble, but the amount of energy he must have to produce so much on a daily basis is awe-inspiring.  I get tired just reading about his artistic process, which he describes thusly:  "I get up every morning at around four and do my art exercises. I'll fly through Instagram and sort of get a feel for what's happening in the world! Then I'll just pick a medium like paint or sharpies or garbage bags or walnuts or whatever catches my eye! Then you can't stop me. It's like flood gates opening...I can't imagine doing one thing and then just sitting back. We are constantly being bombarded my imagery and ideas. It's like my performance art. I'm always reacting to stimulus coming at me all day."  Take, for example, this quick sketch of Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé (plus their respective beaus) at the Met Gala.

Donald Robertson - Met Gala 2015(image from

I have no idea how he does all these timely illustrations in addition to working a regular full-time job. Oh, he also has 5 kids.  Besides possessing a unique artistic talent and incredible energy, he's funny to boot.  I found some great quotes in this interview with W magazine:

“This is my revenge on photography which has sucked up all the attention since the 1930s, when illustrators had their own magazines.”

"In life drawing class, they would put a normal fat model up there, and the teacher would come over and my drawing would be tall and skinny, and they would say ‘You fail.’ And I would be like: ‘You know what, I like my drawing better.’”

“I get away with nipple murder on my feed. And everyone keeps saying ‘those are nipples’ and I’m like ‘Yes they are.’ So, now I am just pushing it. It’s like nipple carte blanche.”

Robertson cites Wes Anderson and Damien Hirst as his chief influences, "because the thing about both of them is everything they do feels really hands-on. You can see their hands in their work.”  

Donald Robertson - Royal Tenenbaums

He also admires the work of John Currin:  "If I had one superpower it would be to be able to paint flesh as well as the artist John Currin - he is my superhero! 'Paintbrush Man'."

As for the subjects of his sketches, he says, "I call it 'tongue in chic.' I’m not just drawing stuff; I’m painting ideas or poking at trends that the world is vibin’ on."  He also notes that Instagram and his children inspire him.  "Instagram inspires my design. I react to it. It is my art exercise. That and my children. I watch what they are interested in and they have opened my eyes to whole new worlds," he says.

Donald Robertson - portrait of his wife and twins(image from

I really can't see anything not to like about Robertson's work.  It's slightly abstract and painterly, yet definitely embraces the culture of celebrity and high fashion.  He's not afraid of color, which I personally love, and I'm especially fond of how he arranges many of his subjects in orderly rows.  Rather than being dull, the repetition of these figures has an army-like effect - when I look at his drawings I'm imagining Amazonian fashion warriors marching into battle.

What do you think of Robertson's work and the Smashbox collection?

Love fool: Smashbox spring 2013 collection

This collection caught my eye as I was browsing at Sephora, as I was immediately drawn to the graffiti typography.  Sure enough, Smashbox's newest release is the result of a collaboration with artist Curtis Kulig.  I picked up Be Legendary lipstick and Entice Me eye shadow palette.


I'm noticing a lot more companies designing the inside of the boxes as well (see previous examples here and here).





The plastic lettering lifts up so you can apply the shadow more easily.


With flash:


Here's the lipstick.





Raised in a family of artists in North Dakota, Curtis Kulig moved to L.A. when he was 19 and later relocated to New York, where he currently resides.  Early sketches included animals and human faces, but soon developed into words.  Of the "love me" tag, there was no formal decision to create it.  He says,  "I just did it.  And I kept doing it.  And it's just something that I continue to do.  I've done it over and over so many times, obsessively, that this is what it's become."  Indeed, examples abound in NYC.

(image from

(image from

(image from

"Love Me" also appears in several spots in L.A.

(image from

(image from

"Love Me" has many incarnations, and has also been elevated to "high art" in galleries, rendered in neon lights and and steel:

(image from

(image from

I wanted to find out more about the collaboration, and fortunately, Smashbox provided some great information at their website.   "As major as this collaboration is, as universal as the concept is, it's sometimes hard to believe that it was literally done over lunch.  It took all of a minute to decide that Smashbox Cosmetics and artist Curtis Kulig - with his famous 'Love Me' mark - needed to work together.  The message that Curtis spreads is amazing.  Love is universal.  It's relatable to any human being, anywhere in the world.  But the thing that sets Curtis apart is that he treats that message in such a fun, fresh way.  There's an incredible energy around it, and that's why it's so perfect for us.  Our message and his message have the exact same vibe.  Everything about this collection is true to Curtis, to his art.  The red lipstick is a Pantone match of his signature red.  The eye liner looks like the paint pens he uses.  The design of the eye shadow palettes makes 'love me' the canvas."

The video on the collection, shot at Smashbox Studios in L.A., provides some background on the artist and sheds a bit more light on the evolution of Kulig's "love me" tag.  He says, "Everyone either wants to be loved, and/or wants to love".  He estimates he's written the two words half a million times.  As for cosmetics, he has never applied them himself but sees the face as "another canvas".


Overall, I liked this collaboration.  I thought Kulig's work was translated well onto the makeup, and Smashbox is a good match for his style.   I also enjoy the ideas contained in Kulig's signature - it's a positive, universal message that's powerful and breathtakingly simple at the same time.   As Kulig's friend Harry says, "It's not a bad thing, man." 

What do you think?

Reign over me: Smashbox's fall collection

I was doing my usual Sephora browsing and stumbled across Smashbox's newest collection.  Inspired by the Tudors, the "luxe, sexy, and indulgently sensorial" fall lineup features deep, rich colors housed in elegant faux-leather packaging.  The elaborate crest and tiny crown details truly make these items fit for royalty.  

Reign Jet-Set eyeliner palette and Monarch eye shadow palette:

Reign eyes

Crowned lip gloss and Regal blush:

Reign gloss
(photos from

The outer packaging really is very Tudor-esque - check out the dark oak paneling in this Tudor period room at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts:

(photo from

As for the colors themselves, they definitely are reminiscent of the decadent jewels and other adornments of the royal clan.  Overall I think this is a unique idea for a collection and very well-executed. 

Going against the grain: Smashbox's Mother Earth palette

Smashbox me In honor of Earth Day today I'm looking at Smashbox's new Mother Earth palette.  It rivals Cargo's PlantLove line in that it features both organic products (4 eye shadows and a blush) and packaging made from sustainable materials.  And for every palette purchased a tree will be planted by Trees for the Future, which is also a strategy adopted by Cargo. 
As our planet gets more polluted and global warming increases, let's hope more companies come out with more environmentally-friendly packaging and products.  It's becoming more common now, but it's still not totally mainstream.  I'd love to walk into Sephora and have each and every product be organic and come in recyclable/compostable packaging that also didn't harm the environment during production.  Hopefully this will be a reality in a few years.  In any case, Happy Earth Day! 

(photo from

Smashbox Artist palette

Methinks Smashbox and/or Vogue magazine was reading my blog post on Shu's fall collection a few months back, where I surmised that it would be pretty cool if a makeup company came out with Pollock-esque paint-splattered compacts.   Look what Smashbox has released:

Smashbox artist 

The interior:

Muse inside

The rest of the collection:

Muse face

Sb muse

(photos from

And the accompanying Vogue blurb (which appeared in the February 2009 issue), complete with a picture of Pollock just as my post included:

Pollock vogue

I'm glad to see that Vogue recognizes that the line between art and makeup is getting increasingly blurred, which is what I've been trying to convince people of for years!