December 24th, 2014
Beauty is power; it has the ability transform, to captivate and to inspire. The very best beauty images do all three and together Rankin & Andrew Gallimore have created some of the most captivating beauty images in recent memory. As founder of both Dazed & Confused and Hunger magazine Rankin is a fashion household name and as a makeup artist / beauty editor Gallimore is continuously pushing the boundaries of what beauty is. Together the duo has created a striking new book simply titled, Andrew Gallimore by Rankin that charts the course of their collaborations and in doing so explores the definition of what beauty is on a cultural scale. Exploring a host of iconic images, from Dia de Muertos art, to the vibrant cosmetic looks of 80s pop idols Gallimore & Rankin prove that inspiration is all around us.
You two have collaborated for years at Hunger and at Dazed before that – what made you want to do a book together now?
AG: For me it was because Rankin asked me to do a book with him – how could I refuse? I also thought it would be a really interesting project to work on which was primarily about documenting make-up looks.
RANKIN: It was my next installment in my make up series. Andrew was the natural person to do the next book with. We were working with each other all of the time and I knew he would kill it – which I think he has.
How did you select the subcultures & ideas to explore with these photographs?
AG: Some of the shoots in the book were originally shot for Hunger or other projects so had been conceived with that publication (or its theme) in mind and a good third of the book is made up of shoots exclusive to the book. These were generally ideas which I had never been given the opportunity to execute, like the Punk/ Studs shoot, which is something that I had wanted to do for about 6 years. The ‘stained-glass’ shoot came about from going to the Tate Britain and being inspired by a Henry Moore sculpture.
RANKIN : A lot of the ideas came from commissions, themes we were working on for Hunger for example.The Memento Mori series came from a project I’d done on death, where I wanted to create Mexican day of the dead masks. We did them on me first for that project then realized they’d make a good series but on some more attractive models!
You two are really pushing the boundaries of what a beauty image can be – what makes beauty so powerful for you?
AG: I think beauty can be really creative. It’s all about colour, texture, shape and form and the fact that you are applying “make-up” to a face which is 3D almost makes it sculptural. I love to experiment with different mediums of what I decorate a face with. This book with Rankin allowed me to really explore this – from decorating a face with fresh flowers to drawing lines on a face with light… It’s not all about lipstick, powder and eyeshadow.
RANKIN: I guess for me it’s the combination of a human canvas, what you can put on it, the ideas that you can create and then the fact that it’s all just a moment, captured in time. Afterwards the face has to go back to it’s normal stare. So you’re capturing a memory of what it was at that point, where we all came together. I love that momentary aspect to it.
Which image took the longest to execute?
AG: The Huichol style beaded skull. I made some of the shapes as pieces beforehand (which took about 4 hours) and then the actual application and filling of gaps took about four hours too. The amazing model Georgie Hobday was SO patient and amazing to work with on this look – she didn’t complain once! I think it was worth the wait!!
Honestly – I get the easiest part of the whole experience. I get to come in at the end and take something incredible and just capture it. Obviously there is an artistry to that, but the hard work and time is mainly in the make up.
There are quite a few images featuring male models in the mix – do you think the old ideas about beauty being strictly for women are passé?
AG: I don’t think it’s passé because more women do wear make-up than men but in a purely creative sense, of what this book is, a face is a face, male or female… I LOVE the fact that our beauty book starts with a boy in colorful make-up but not drag. I got bored of seeing every shoot with a boy in make-up being either drag or really messy/ painterly… I wanted it to have a narrative and each look on the boys had a relation to light either self-illuminating or in some way had a reaction to light.
RANKIN : I’m really happy we included some boys. It was about time. Boys love dressing up too.
Tell us a bit about the shots featuring the death masks.
AG: The death mask series were, I guess, a continuation of some death masks I had done on Rankin as part of his BBC documentary and exhibition: Alive In The Face Of Death. We just wanted to create many interesting ways of representing a skull , and once we had done the first series, decided to revisit and do more as group shots. I actually don’t think our death mask series is dead yet…
RANKIN: They were inspired by the documentary and exhibition “Alive – In The Face of Death” I made in 2013. It was a direct response to my parents passing. I was trying to come to terms with my fear of death and more importantly my inability to communicate about their passing. The masks were influenced by the Mexican Day of the Dead, we started them on me and it soon became obvious there was a lot more we could do with them. When we were doing them it felt like we were moving into sculpture and we both got really excited by them.
They are temporal living sculptures that are in themselves very fleeting. In some ways you could say they represent life itself. When we combined that with the butterfly wings they became incredibly evocative.
What is the best part of working with each other?
AG: I love working with Rankin because he really encourages me to go the extra mile. I think we “get” each other, I appreciate what he does, as does him, me and that makes for a good working relationship.
RANKIN : Andrew is a genius make up artist, his ideas are exceptional but his execution is always perfect. That’s very unique as normally make up artists are good at one thing. Andrew is also an all rounder and can put his brush and kit to whatever style or genre of make up you are asking him to do. He can be simple as well as complicated.
Add to that how lovely he is and you have what can only be described as one of the best make up artists working right now.
Which transformation did you find the most dramatic?
AG: I think most of the skulls were very dramatic, as you had to first lose most of the girl then build the skull back up. But I also think the 3D black, white, grey squares face was a huge transformation – it was so strange to look at in real life as the optical illusion aspect of the squares almost made the models nose disappear at some angles!
RANKIN: I’m always so surprised by the transformation. Andrew is creating these characters which the real person lives beneath. It’s the fact that it’s a person which excites me the most, as they are shifting and changing at the same time and that life beneath the make up, paint butterflies, whatever it is – is still so present in the image. It’s like the heartbeat, beneath. You can see that in the eyes and that’s what really turns me on.
Andrew Gallimore by Rankin is the fourth installment in Rankin’s beauty book series and features a range of compelling portraiture charting British history through make-up. It publishes in December as a hard-back book and is distributed in the UK by Boutique Mags, priced $60 BoutiqueMags
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