Clockwise from left: An empowering image made from lipstick imprints; Urban Decay founder Wendy Zomnir, artist Natalie Irish, President of L’Oreal Luxury Products Carol Hamilton; Natalie making art


Natalie Irish’s love affair with lipsticks outshines most passions: The Texas native makes lipstick art by kissing canvases.

Earlier this month Natalie, 31, put her lips to good use when she teamed up with Urban Decay to celebrate the release of their new Revolution lipstick line—which took two years to conceive and launch—and includes 22 colors. Known for their clever concepts and creative packaging, Urban Decay, owned by L’Oreal USA, commissioned Natalie to create nine original works of art using their product as part of their “Kisshibition” art exhibit. Eight were done ahead of time. Celebrities Olivia Munn, Ali Larter, Camilla Belle and Anna Kendrick were among those Natalie paid tribute to. The final piece was created live at the Sephora located in Times Square. The event also benefited The Art of Elysium, a charity that brings the arts to children with serious medical conditions.

“Bang and Anarchy are my favorites,” said Natalie of her favorite Urban Decay lipstick hues, Bang, a bright orange-red; Anarchy, a bright fuchsia. “They’re so intense and creamy. They aren’t sticky and they don’t run. Even the neutrals had enough pigment to have a range of shades and depth to come out in a painting, which was shocking.”

Natalie, who loves taking everyday items and using them for different intentions, fell into lipstick art accidently. “In 2001, I was going to see a band, I put on my red lipstick, blotted it on a tissue and a light bulb went off,” she said, who had taken a thumb printing portraits-in-ink class. She wound up skipping the band and instead sat in front of a canvas instead. Fast-forward more than a decade and Natalie’s lips are earning her much attention.

Urban Decay’s collaboration with Natalie was a logical one. “Natalie makes you look at lips differently, from shape to shade, even the way it’s applied and what you can do with it,” said Wende Zomnir, Chief Creative Officer and a founding partner of Urban Decay, which operates within L’Oreal’s Luxury Products Division, led by Carol Hamilton. “We look at it as must-have items, Natalie looks at it as little art pieces. If you kiss this way, it does this. If you smear it this way, you can create that. Her work is really exceptional.”

Over 1,000 kisses can go into creating a picture, which can require anywhere from half a lipstick to four tubes, depending upon the color, shadowing, image, lip pressure, smearing, and partial lip prints. Paintings can take four days to two weeks to complete; and a thick layer of Vaseline, ice and ibuprofen are needed to soothe and save her overly sensitive, sore and swollen lips.

“Marilyn Monroe was my first one, and a perfect candidate. Her red lipstick and lips were almost as iconic as the woman herself,” Natalie added. Other famous folks she’s brought to life are Elvis, John Wayne and Jimmy Hendricks. “Kissing someone’s face is an intimate process,” she admitted. “I like celebrities who have led tragic lives.”