Makeup maestro Rick Baker did something a little different for Halloween this year: he created a collection for MAC Cosmetics, along with three unique looks using the products. We've been following this collection since it was first announced, and watched eagerly when MAC released demo videos with Baker. Now we spoke to the man himself, who told us about the pros and cons of doing monster makeup with a mainstream company and how he chose his looks. Bonus: check out the amusing Maleficent anecdote at the end.
Why create a collection for MAC?
It’s Halloween! That’s my holiday! Halloween is a big deal with me. I always thought it would be cool to do some kind of Halloween makeup kit. I envisioned something that was more for the general consumer, but I had a relationship with MAC because I had done a master class with them where I made myself up with paint makeups. I got to know a lot of the products.
I like MAC products. Frankly I don’t usually use MAC products in the [projects] that I do because I deal with rubber and things, and they don’t make that. But I love doing paint makeup, and I became good friends with Karen Reddy-Medieros, the artist relations person. We were talking about Halloween and how I had to get back to California to do my daughters’ makeup for Halloween, and how I hoped to one day do a Halloween makeup kit with instructions and a little DVD. But I want it to be good product. I asked her if she thought MAC would be interested in making the makeup. Then this all came about. It’s not exactly what I had in mind, but it’s a beginning and it’s a reason for me to do some fun makeups.
What kind of products did you create for MAC?
Because of the time frame, and the lead time you need to make makeups, I pretty much had to stick with colors they already had. The good news is, MAC has a lot of colors. I first decided on the looks I wanted to do, and I did some Photoshop paintings and painted them the colors I wanted. Then they sent me big boxes of all the stuff they make, and I went through and picked colors that looked like colors I used. So even though I didn’t get to make the colors, I did get to choose stuff that was close to what I wanted. Then it was a matter of choosing which products to use where.
This Chromacake is basically what I used on my own makeups. It’s a water-based [cake makeup] and that is what I wanted to stick with because it is easier to clean off, especially if kids are doing their makeup. The problem is that they only have certain colors, and they are so big. I wanted a much more “friendly” size, for a few Halloween makeups. So I looked into other products they had. I thought we could do a lot with eyeshadows and stick them into a palette. These acrylics they have are really cool. They are very pigmented and I thought they would work out beautifully for Day of the Dead. It was just a matter of mixing and matching stuff that they had. For the Bride, all these scars on her face are all done with [lip] pencils and a little white highlight.
The Monster FX is the one thing I got to kind of “invent” for this. I wanted to call it Monster Muck.
That is a more fun name, but not very MAC-friendly.
Frankly, MAC didn’t know what they were getting in to when they got me!
Most fashion and beauty makeup is all about making things smooth. With what I do, it’s all about trying to break up the evenness. Especially for the zombie look, I needed something to break it up. So I came up with this stuff, which is basically a water-based mixing medium with this dirt-colored pigment in it. With black and white makeup, I could color it and also kind of “break it up” and model it, get a texture that I couldn’t get with just [the makeup alone].
There’s not a lot of gore in these looks.
I didn’t really want to do a bloody zombie. I wanted to do it old-school. One of the makeups I did originally - which we changed out for the Bride and I’m glad we did - was a very realistic skull makeup. But I remembered this split-face makeup in the Dick Smith Monster Makeup Handbook and I thought it would be fun to do a version of that, kind of “wipe off” half the face. MAC doesn’t have a blood, so I looked through their lip stuff and tried some stuff but it just wasn’t right. They wanted to keep it MAC products and I didn’t want to do it without the blood.
But I’m squeamish. I can do bloody makeups and it doesn’t bother me, but if I see a well-done bloody makeup, it affects me. I’m not one of those people on the freeway who looks at the accidents. I would pass out.
I had to remember, I was doing this for MAC. As it was, this was way beyond anything they wanted to have and I had to push for it.
So you are interested in putting together your own makeup kit, like Dick Smith?
Yeah, but I want it all to be paint. I like showing people how to do this stuff. I like showing that you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment or materials to do something cool. If I had to pick any two pieces from this collection, I would pick these black and white Paintsticks. With those two colors, you can make some pretty cool makeups.
Are these looks easy enough for a non-artistic person to pull off, or do you need to have some artistic background?
That was something MAC said, that maybe these are a little too advanced for Joe Average. I told them I wasn’t going to dumb the makeups down; maybe it will inspire them, let them go beyond their comfort level. And that is a lot of the responses I have been getting: “I don’t know if I can do this, but I sure wanna try!” That’s what I was hoping for. I have seen on Instagram and stuff that people have been trying, and most everyone is doing a really good job.
Someone asked me how long it took me to do the zombie makeup. It took me like three hours - it’s not a quick makeup. But then I thought about it again and responded: “It took me 53 years.” I started [doing makeups] when I was 10 years old, and I’m 63 now. Don’t expect to what I can do, having that many years of experience.” I did it a number of times to get it to look like this. I work hard, I practice, and I am always trying to make things better.
What is your next project?
I don’t have a job at the moment! I got to a point, a number of years ago, where [in order to keep my full-time staff employed] I took some things I didn’t necessarily want to take. I lost my parents over a couple of years and realized there is an end in sight and it’s not that far away. I want to spend the rest of my life doing what I want to do. So I only took jobs I wanted to take. The problem is that people thought I was retired. So I don’t get the calls anymore, and a lot of my competitors perpetuated that myth. I did Angelina Jolie’s makeup for Maleficent because she requested me. She told Disney she wanted me to do her makeup, and they said, “Rick Baker is retired.” She said, “No he isn’t! I just saw him win an Academy Award for The Wolfman.” But Maleficent was the last job I had. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff for myself and having a blast, but I hope to have another film or two in me!