The Kanji Cosmetics Project – Skin’s Signs

Late last year, I had a wonderful collaboration with two amazing artists on a very interesting, conceptual still life project.  We started the project with seven kanji signs: Love, Life, Harmony, Dream, Happiness, Flower, and Strength.  The idea was to create these signs using cosmetics in an interesting, visual way.  The thing I liked most about this project was the complete creative freedom that was given to us by Hea7en Magazine, where it was run.

I almost didn’t take this on as the actual doing, writing, creating of the kanji symbols in cosmetics to me was very daunting.  In comes my savior, Moani Lee.  Aside from being an amazing makeup artist, Moani also brought to the table the ability to write/create the kanji symbols.  As this is a beauty cosmetics story, I would need someone that really knew the cosmetics and how they interacted with each other.  A story board might also be nice…Problem solved.  Moani came through on all fronts.  She story boarded the project, which was genius….and we got started.

Moani and I got together and went shopping for the accessories that we needed down the street in the Flower District of New York.  I love having that street so near to me as it provides so many great props for shooting different genres.  So we walked out of the store with about $50 in props, that on another day, wouldn’t have caught your gaze, but I knew they would be perfect for our shoot.  So while Moani worked on creating the cosmetic art for me to shoot, I worked on lighting the scene so that each one would have it’s own look and feel.

The last piece of the puzzle was the graphic design work.  We wanted something on the opposite page that reflected what the kanji symbol looked like, but we didn’t know where to go or how to do it.  Enter, David H…

David is an incredible graphic artist.  He took to the project head on and created seven beautiful kanji masterpieces for us to use opposite the photography.

MAC Shirelle Nail Laquer

It’s a tough call, but I think “Love” was my favorite.  It just pops off the page visually.  This isn’t a digital creation.  Moani created the base symbol out of glue, let it dry, then “wrote” on top of it with the nail laquer so that it would be raised higher.  The higher it was, the better for me to light it and get the three dimensional look I was going for.

MAC Studio Sculpt SPF 15 Foundation.

Here’s, “Life”, aka “Sexual Chocolate”.  If this wasn’t foundation, I’d think it was pudding that I should dive into and love. 🙂

Mac Gloss Lipmix

I Ioved,  “Harmony”, but it was a hell of a lighting challenge.  How do you light something that’s clear and put directly on a mirror?  Very carefully…I probably took the most time shooting this one as it wasn’t an easy light.  In the end, though, I loved the outcome.

MAC Iridescent Powder  / Loose in Golden Bronze mixed with MAC Matte (Creme Matifiante)

MAC Baby’s on Fire (Dazzle) Lipstick.

Photographically, this is the one that I had the most fun with.  The base that it’s sitting on is this silver dish shaped like a leaf.  Obviously it reflected everything, so I thought to put a red gel over the top of me so that it would warm up the entire photo.  You can actually still see my hand near the top left third of the photo.  Distorted, yes, but still there..

MAC Electric Eel Eyeshadow / MAC Vibrant Grape Eyeshadow / MAC Mascara in Black / MAC Golden Lemon Pigment / MAC Neo Orange Pigment / MAC Fuchsia Pigment.

Flower was a real challenge for Moani as it had to be built upon and you can’t really clean it up if you make a mistake.  She did a wonderful job adding in all of the different colors and making this symbol.
MAC Mineralize All-Over Lotion

Here’s Moani working on “Life”, or as we nicknamed it, “Sexual Chocolate”. 🙂

Me downloading the images manually as the tether decided not to work that day…I dunno, would you trust this guy?   😉

On the right, in the foreground you can see a little bit of, “dream” and a nice closeup of the coffee that fueled us…

It turned out to be a fun, creative day.  I’d love to give props to my two partners in crime here, Moani Lee and David H for making this a wonderful story.

Special thanks to Joe Lombardo for bringing this story to Moani and I to shoot.  He was the catalyst that brought all of us together and got the creative spark going.  He’s also the photographer for the wonderful behind the scenes images you see here.

THE Team:
Photography: James Weber
Makeup/Styling/Story Boarding:  Moani Lee, www.moanilee.com
Graphic Artistry/Layout/Design: David H,

Retouching:  La Boutique Creative Retouching, http://www.laboutiqueny.com These guys did an amazing job,  I’d highly recommend them.  They’re a very professional organization.

Hea7en Magazine Issue 4
:  There are many other wonderful artists here in this issue.  I was kind a blown away when I first saw it.  It’s art and photography rolled into one..

Thanks and see you again next time…

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One thought on “The Kanji Cosmetics Project – Skin’s Signs

  1. […] on the right are not digital creations (shocking, I know!). But Weber tells us how each was made on his blog. The results are gorgeous…Check it out below: MAC Baby’s on Fire (Dazzle) Lipstick MAC […]

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