Posted by Irene Ojo-Felix | November 26th, 2019

Industry, Now



Portrait by Ben Hassett for

#IndustryNow The cycles of social media impel us to embrace then move on from trends and discourses faster than ever before. The life span of a single work––an editorial, a campaign, a show, a stint––is shorter for it. Fashion’s only unconditional term is the future: operating a year ahead, after all. So, in an industry where change and relevancy are the full stops at the end of every sentence, wanted to highlight individuals who add permanence to the community–some at their start and some at their top. Photographer Ben Hassett gets up close and personal for with the creative forces often behind the scenes. They are the Industry, Now.

Breaking things is not usually looked upon fondly but for the former editor in chief of Paper Magazine Drew Elliott, unexpected destruction is the pop formula of success. He’s taken that motive personally, leaving publishing altogether and unexpectedly taking on his new role as the senior vice president and global creative director of beauty behemoth MAC Cosmetics. Yet prior to momentous change this past year, his legacy of breaking the internet with Jean-Paul Goude-photographed covers of Kim Kardashian and harnessing viral moments amplified the brand he was in charge of, a factor that his newest association is surely all too aware of. He’ll now have to use his savvy expertise of transforming info into inspiration for the next iteration of one of the world’s most recognized makeup lines in the world. Time to break the mold again.

What has allowed you to stay true to a personal vision as the industry trials ways to adapt to modern challenges?
As much as people get upset about how social and digital has disrupted the art of fashion and publishing, for me, it has actually been the facilitator to allow my personal vision to become a reality. I studied popular culture at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, I wanted to learn what made things popular. Whereas once, it took movie studios, magazines, or brands to create something that was popular, it has now been placed in the hands of creative people and ultimately, the fans, to self distribute. When I started interning at PAPER when I was 19 years old, I knew that this community and content was something that the world needed more of, the issue was the cost of distribution. The internet and arguably social media was the point of inflection. Our ideas, images, videos, and projects could now take the global stage. We did not have to adapt to modern change, but rather wait for it to present the opportunity that now popularizes the underground, the under-represented, and has allowed to niche culture to become viral.

What was the turning point in your career?
When I returned to PAPER 5 years ago, I was faced with a task that seemed almost an uphill battle. How do you take a magazine called PAPER and turn it into a digital/social brand? We quickly realized that the way that we could do this was to leverage the power of the internet in an intellectual way: explaining virality, elevating internet icons, and reverse engineering content for the pages of our magazine to be digital super-moments. #BreakTheInternet was born.

What’s your favorite part of the process?
My favorite part of the process is the calibration and collaboration with creative and science that interests me. No longer can you just make beautiful images or shoot a famous person. It is when counter-culture meets pop culture that the internet ignites. Editors like ad executives used to sit in a comfortable place where what they made became the trend or the incentive to buy. Today, we sit in a very different place, the consumer, or better described, the fan is in the driver seat. It is not to say that we need to make things that fans want to see, but part of my process is building something that sits just left of the algorithm that will shake up the digital space. I am a numbers person. I like the data and analytics from a creative perspective. How are we going to make an image that matters? How are we going to write an article that makes a difference? Part of our process is considering how we entertain our audience. We do this not for ourselves, but for the fans.

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One Comment to “Industry Now: Drew Elliott”

  1. Raissa says: