“Designing Halloween makeup looks for friends and family is one of my favorite things to do,” says Baker, who has taken home Oscars for designing the looks of the creatures in seven films, including “An American Werewolf in London,” “Harry and the Hendersons,” “Men In Black,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Wolfman.”
He’s long wanted to design his own makeup kit for Halloween after seeing what’s sold in stores during the season. “Most of the stuff you buy features a design on the package that’s impossible to re-create,” he says. “Even Rick Baker can’t do that makeup with that product.”
MAC Cosmetics gave Baker the chance to give consumers something better this year, by creating a collection that can be used to reproduce three looks – a zombie, the Bride of Frankenstein and a spider queen from the Day of the Dead (see the designs and Baker apply the makeup below).
The products include powders, eye liners and pencils, chromacakes, paintsticks and acrylic paints. Pricing varies from $15 to $44 per item. The collection is available through the end of the month at MAC stores.
Baker had initially hoped to produce an elaborate kit with a how-to-DVD showing the step-by-step application process, and products MAC hadn’t offered before.
But creating a complete new set of colors would have taken too much time to manufacture, and wouldn’t have been financially feasible for such a limited line.
At the same time, MAC still wanted Baker to adhere to the company’s style, which emphasizes beauty, not beastly looks.
“MAC said our customers are women and they want to look pretty,” Baker says. “My job usually entails making someone look worse, older, uglier, fatter or hairier.”
That meant steering clear of products with rough finishes, and makeup for men, who don’t normally shop at MAC.
To design the final kits, Baker selected products from MAC’s catalog he could use to pull off his final looks. He was able to produce two new product, one of which, a brown paint he wanted to call “Monster Muck,” but MAC branded “Monster FX” instead.
The final looks also couldn’t require prosthetics or the kind of rubber material that Baker is known for using because MAC’s products don’t adhere well to plastic. The designs also had to be fairly simple to replicate. The zombie, for example, was produced with just black and white paintsticks.
Given Baker’s high-profile status as a makeup artist in Hollywood, it made sense for MAC to want to do a deal with him for a new product line. The company had actually started pursuing him three years ago, but Baker kept telling the cosmetics brand that his type of work didn’t fit in well with what MAC is known for, thus creating an interesting case study for brands looking to tie-in with entertainment.
But Baker accepted the challenge, creating designs that could be produced with paint, clever use of highlights and shadows.
Baker doesn’t expect most consumers to be able to completely replicate his designs.
“You could do this in two hours, but “it actually took me 53 years,” Baker says. “I started when I was 10 years old.”
But Baker has been excited to see what consumers of his Halloween line come up with through images they post as part of MAC’s online contest via its various social media feeds, including Facebook and Instagram.
“It’s all about the aesthetic,” he says. “You can have all the foam and rubber but if you don’t have the design, it doesn’t matter,” he says.
Baker has long been inspired by the designs from Universal’s early monster movies from the 1930s – “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Phantom of the Opera” – especially of how Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney were transformed into creatures through makeup in those films.
“Those inspired me to do what I do,” he says. “You could ask a kid to draw Frankenstein and that’s the one they’d draw.
“When I was a kid I thought I wanted to be a doctor,” he adds. “But then I realized I wanted to be a mad doctor. I was fascinated by the concept of creating life.”
Baker recently wrapped on Disney’s “Maleficent,” his first film since “Men In Black 3,” in 2012. Film jobs are harder to come by these days for Baker, 63, because “people think I’m retired,” he says.
He landed “Maleficent” only after Angelina Jolie requested Baker to work on the film. Disney had thought Baker was retired, but Jolie objected, saying, “I just saw him win an Oscar for ‘The Wolfman’ (in 2011),” he says. “I have a couple more movies in me.”
One of his dream projects would be transforming Bryan Cranston into Lon Chaney. “He has the perfect face for it,” Baker says. “I would do that movie for free.”