Digital Preservation of Kevyn Aucoin’s Historic Journals

July 22, 2020  19:47  |  Beauty Fashion

Makeup Museum today unveils images from a new digital archive of journals kept from 1983 to 1994 by legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin. Aucoin worked extensively with iconic photographers such as Steven Meisel, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, Herb Ritts, and Francesco Scavullo, models Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Paulina Porizkova, and celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Tina Turner, Liza Minnelli, and many others. Aucoin’s journals chronicle his life and work, complete with behind-the-scenes images from photoshoots for VOGUE magazine and brands such as Shiseido, Chanel, and Revlon.

Digital Preservation of Kevyn Aucoin's Historic Journals

Red exterior of Kevyn Aucoin’s 1984 Journal (with Animal Rights Activists sticker and personal photos affixed). Photo – Makeup Museum ©

Aucoin (born in 1962 in Shreveport, Louisiana) moved to New York City in the early 1980s where he was soon hired as a lead makeup artist by VOGUE magazine. Before his untimely death in 2002 at age 40, Aucoin had worked with countless models, celebrities and pop culture figures, and published world-renowned books about makeup artistry including The Art of Makeup, Makeup Faces, and Face Forward.

“Kevyn’s imprint on our industry is still very much alive today,” said Rachel Goodwin, Makeup Artist and Makeup Museum Co-Founder. “He opened the door for new generations of makeup artists to walk through, and legitimized our craft in a way no one had done before.”

Throughout his life, Aucoin maintained scrapbook-like journals to document his meetings, contacts, career highlights, and personal milestones. Seven journals, one each from 1983, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1994, and two from 1993, had been lovingly stored by his family. Because of the challenges with the conservation of paper-based documents, the Makeup Museum worked with the family to create a digital archive of the journals to ensure the preservation of this important set of historical artefacts.

“The journals are so special because they show what was important to him. He loved what he did and he loved the friends he made along the way. It feels to me that he documented everything because he was so in awe of the life he was living, and he might need to glance back for a pinch-me moment when he doubted if it was all real,” said Samantha Adkisson, niece of Kevyn Aucoin. “We are so grateful to the Makeup Museum for digitizing these journals. The process of preserving them alone is very difficult, so the Makeup Museum was a blessing in this endeavour.”

Full-page images from the journals have never been published before, and the polaroid images therein represent one-of-a-kind images from photoshoots with the world’s most iconic photographers like Avedon, Penn, Meisel and more.

The journals also served as space to safe keep mementoes from Aucoin’s meaningful life moments, like his backstage pass to the 66th Annual Academy Awards show in 1994, his Madison Square Garden ticket for Barbra Streisand’s The Concert, a newspaper clipping of an article about his parents founding the PFLAG chapter in his hometown, animal rights stickers, birthday cards and family photographs.

“Kevyn’s journals reveal that none of the extraordinary experiences in his life were taken for granted,” said Troy Surratt, Protégé of Kevyn Aucoin and Advisor to the Makeup Museum. “The journals are beautifully detailed documentation of days filled with a lot of gratitude, and I’ve always believed that Kevyn was fully aware of the importance and magnitude of the work that he was doing. He was thrilled and proud of all that he had accomplished.”

The Makeup Museum will showcase exclusive images from the new Kevyn Aucoin digital journal archive on Instagram and in the newly launched Makeup Museum mobile app on Apple iOS ($2.99). Users of the Makeup Museum mobile app have exclusive first-look access to digital content, including special artefacts available through Augmented Reality such as the rare Salvador Dali “Bird-in-Hand” vintage compact, and skincare prescriptions from Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy. The Makeup Museum will continue to unveil special artefacts with in-depth educational insights each month on the mobile app as part of the Makeup Museum’s ongoing digital initiatives.