Examining beauty and cosmetics from a different perspective than traditionally seen in media, Beauty Papers’s fresh approach shines through in everything from their Instagram content to the website navigation. The UK-based, bi-annual print magazine, is the creation of Valerie Wickes and Maxine Leonard – an answer to the demand for diversity in the world of beauty. Right from its launch in June 2015, Beauty Papers has received significant praise and attention for its concept, going against all odds in the declining industry of print magazines. The issues are printed in runs of several different covers, and are packed with beautiful editorials, captivating imagery of creative make up, and hyper close-ups of beautifully realistic skin textures. We spoke to editor-in-chief Maxine Leonard about her vision and the journey so far.
As well as being the editor-in-chief of Beauty Papers, you are an established make up artist. How did the expansion into publishing come about?
I worked with Valerie on an advertising job in Paris. The idea for a new kind of beauty magazine was something I had sat with for a while. I was frustrated with the lack of diversity and felt there was a real need to voice a different approach. Valerie felt the same way and during a conversation on the way home, Beauty Papers was born. We launched in June 2015.
What are the main factors that you and Valerie Wickes (creative director of Beauty Papers) bring to the project?
We share the same passion and frustrations, we are intrigued by the dynamic clash of accepted and controversial ideas.
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Which three words would you choose to describe Beauty Papers?
Smart, funny, inspirational.
The editorials are reserved from product pushing and commercial content. Is that a key focus when creating them?
The shoots are a collaboration between the magazine and artists commissioned. Beauty Papers is a place for creative expression, provocation and culture. We credit all brands and products, but the focus is creative led – not product driven.
The magazine saw a lot of attention right from its launch. What do you think people find so appealing about it?
We wanted to reignite readers’ appetite for ambiguity, contradiction, and the reality of beauty. We also look at beauty from cultural and intellectual perspectives. Diversity and the freedom to create has been slowly eroded from the fashion and beauty industry. Society needs choice and artists need a platform to express and challenge.
“We wanted to reignite readers’ appetite for ambiguity, contradiction, and the reality of beauty.”
The website is also beautiful, design and content-wise. How do you balance the online/offline content?
Online was never a focus when we started, our concern was the magazine. We are finding our voice and growing slowly to create a balance between the magazine and online. We are overwhelmed with content daily. We see the online as a vehicle to promote the contributors, their personal projects and to give artists at the start of their journey a space to create and play. We have also launched a shop, which gives everyone a chance to purchase and ignite a passion for art and design.
The magazine and website feature interviews, photostories and artwork by a variety of artists. What do you look for in the artists and contributors?
We seek like-minded artists and those that share our belief, we love the idea of building a creative community.
Who are your favorite people to collaborate or work with?
All of our contributors work in a very different way. Each journey differs, which is what is so exciting.
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Do you have a favorite person to put make up on?
My approach to make up is more emotive. This changes depending on the person.
Make up can serve very different purposes. As a make up artist, what is your most instinctive way of approaching it?
Narrative. My approach editorially is to work with the team and understand what it is we are trying to say. I prefer not to over reference and work on set, where the magic moments happen.
If there was one thing you could change about the beauty industry, what would it be?
Screw the formula!
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