Inspiration: Beneath the Surface

Embracing
the Imperfect

We stopped by the studio of multimedia artist
Quentin Jones to see how her collaboration with
Estée Lauder came together.

Every so often, we’re lucky enough to find ourselves in the presence of someone who is just cool. We meet plenty of awesome women in the Estée Lauder universe, to be sure, but artist Quentin Jones is in a league of her own. This one-time Cambridge philosophy student was bitten by the art bug at a young age, but didn’t think to pursue it as a career until her university years. "I think having studied philosophy was quite useful," Jones explains while showing us her studio in northwest London’s Kentish Town. "You know, the way you think about things and the way you break down ideas and go from one concept and get to another is quite a good training to actually apply to art. And it's something you're certainly not taught at art school."

And Jones would know, because after her time at Cambridge, she transitioned to yet another world-renowned institution of higher learning: the famous Central Saint Martins, where she studied illustration. Oh, and did we also mention she was scouted at age 15 by Next Models? Now, at 32, her artwork has been used in campaigns for high-profile luxury brands around the world. Is there anything this woman can’t do?

Read on to see for yourself, then watch the video above to learn more about our collaboration with this veritable wonder woman, and find out how the adorable cosmetics bags with her signature doodles on them came to life.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
I think my style of work and my aesthetic are hopefully always changing a little. My work is often described as surreal—kind of a modern take on the photo montage tradition. It’s often got stop motion animation in it, and different forms of animation and live footage together. It's all about layering up paint and collage with fashion or beauty images. It’s a very layered approach.

For me, beauty is never too perfect. There's always a little bit of rawness or texture in there.

What does it mean to you to be collaborating with Estée Lauder?
It’s super interesting, because it's a brand that has such a strong identity, and my work's got such a strong visual look. So it's kind of working out how those two things can meet in the middle and how my aesthetic can meet such a strong beauty house in a way that still feels true to them and their customer.

I really went back and looked at old Estée Lauder products as we were thinking about patterning. I wanted to understand the various things that had been important to Estée Lauder in the past. Some of the old compacts from the 1960s and ‘70s were amazing. Then we had to figure out how that meets sort of the more painterly, inky art approach that I wanted to take for the project.

What does video give you that other artistic mediums can’t?
I really like sequences, and I really like problem-solving how to get from one scene to another and what the perfect joining moment could be between them. I just love the timeline. Being able to change a picture over a timeline gives you so many more ways be expressive.

What does beauty mean to you?
Interesting contrasts and juxtapositions. So a really polished image next to something really raw, or wearing the most delicate dress with a pair of sneakers is really beautiful. For me, beauty is never too perfect. There's always a little bit of rawness or texture or something in there.

Do you see a connection between makeup and art?
There's definitely a connection between makeup and art. To begin with, the best makeup artists in the world are truly artists in the proper sense. There are exhibitions made about them, books made about them.

But in an everyday sense, I think anyone who does their own makeup understands the creativity in that. And when you're getting ready to go out, you can totally change the mood of your look just with which makeup you choose. I find I really love doing a graphic flick with eyeliner when I go out. And I think that kind of echoes a bit of what I do in my work, and the sort of graphic mark-making that I find interesting. So there is definitely that connection for me personally, too.

Where do you find magic in life?
I find magic in a lot of places. I find magic in music, I find magic in painting, I find magic in collaging, I find magic in cocktails, I find magic in my son, I find magic in family. The list is endless, but there's creativity in there, there's family in there, and there's definitely fun in there.

What color is your aura?
Growing up, I always thought my lucky color was green. And as an adult, I've become drawn to black, and I don't know if that's a good thing, to have a black aura or not! I dress most frequently in black, I paint most frequently with black. And I love the contrast between black and white. But then I love to offset that with pink, and turquoise, and blue, and... I don't know, do I have to choose one?

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