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Creative genius

Shiseido's artistic director, Dick Page, is captivated by colour, and it all starts in his painting studio, interview on MiNDFOOD.

In my line of work I get to meet all sorts of people. Some famous, some not so famous. Some interesting, some not so interesting. Some hard working, some not so hard working. Fortunately for me, British make-up artist and Shiseido’s artistic director, Dick Page, is famous, interesting and hard working.

I was first introduced to Page at the launch of Shiseido’s new lipstick line in Soho, New York. Organisers re-created a behind-the-scenes set of a working fashion show, right down to the lights and cameras – there was much action.

This is the first global colour collection created by Page and it kicks off with 20 vibrant lipstick shades. Its point of difference? It hydrates to give ultra-moisturised lips and uses translucent red pigment, a colour compound of dye and powder.

Page is not your typical make-up artist. I say “artist”, as his process for creating images, whether for a runway show, advertisement or make-up line, is much like an artist’s. He has a painter’s eye for colour and detail, which has established him as an industry leader. He has been involved in creating some of the most recognisable pop culture images.

These include the latest Louis Vuitton advertisement featuring Sophia Coppola and her father; the DKNY advertisement featuring Karen Elson; the Marc Jacobs campaign featuring Victoria Beckham; and covers for W, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar and Pop.

Page has worked with uber-famous photographers Richard Avedon, Juergen Teller, Michael Thompson and Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin and celebrities such as MiNDFOOD cover stars Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.

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I meet Page for a second time in New York at his favourite breakfast haunt. He is softly spoken, almost awkward and enjoys creating a life with less chaos.

He tells me what he will be cooking for Christmas dinner and how he bought a little place on Long Island: “It was $150,000, a weekend escape close to the water. I can go kayaking. We have an old boat and every weekend we try to get away.”

I imagine that Page’s laid-back approach to life is what makes him stand out, his point of difference, amid an industry that is spinning around him.

Shiseido and Page are a good fit. That quiet, detailed, creative approach works, and you can see that both sides have huge amounts of respect for each other.

“As a child I was always drawing and writing. Dad left us when I was 12, so I worked in a slaughterhouse after school at 13,” he says. This matter-of-fact approach is how Page has become so successful.

“Often, it’s not until I’m on holiday and I see a magazine or campaign that I have been involved with and I think, ‘Oh, that’s right, I did that. Didn’t come out too bad,'” he says.

Growing up with three sisters in Sutherland, UK, left Page wanting more out of life.

Of leaving home he says, “It was the late ’70s and it was about punk music and fashion. I started cutting friends’ hair, making clothes, I made it up as I went along. I can’t believe I got away with it all. You don’t take no for an answer, you just keep pushing it and see where it takes you. I never started out with a plan, I just had fun and worked hard along the way.

“People can get dazzled by the idea of celebrity, but anyone who is [brusque], who treats you like shit, I won’t give licence to let anyone treat me like that. I don’t need it and I won’t work with them again.

“Posh [Victoria Beckham] is hilarious. She’s a product, she’s fun and she has no illusions.

“Working with Marc Jacobs is intense; anything can happen. He takes the full 360-degree creative process on board and anything can change right up to the last minute. It can be frustrating working on the shows, as they take six days, including tests.

“Drew Barrymore is so sweet and adorable. Considering what she has lived through, she is very nice.

“Julianne Moore is a working mum who lives here in New York and is great to work with.

“Catherine Zeta-Jones has a great sense of humour. We grew up in a similar area so we understand the same sort of humour.

“Working with Richard Avedon, a real master, was an amazing, very intense experience as the lighting came from one side so the make-up was about painting shadows on one side of the face. He was exciting to be with.”

Page’s signature style is minimalist – a look that is very natural and as untouched as possible.

He has been doing Kate Moss’ make-up since she was 15, though he isn’t a fan of working with models that look child-like. “Choosing models that look like children, I have a real problem with it,” he says.

Since 1997 Page has been working with Shiseido in Japan on its premier domestic line of cosmetics. In 2007 he was appointed Shiseido’s artistic director. Page’s key role is colour creator and product developer for the brand worldwide.

“In creating a look, I start with a creative process that involves painting,” Page says. He begins with watercolour paper and creates different paintings and swatches, mixing his media with photo samples, as would an artist.

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