Beauty and the Bottle
Painter Ryan Caldwell has made a name for himself crafting beautifully detailed personalized works of art on unusual canvases: beauty products. He’s been a regular at in-person events with Chantecaille for some time, but now his work can reach a broader audience through the 25th Anniversary Bespoke Collection he’s created for us. The limited-edition decorated bottles of Pure Rosewater and Bio Lifting Serum+ and Lip Veil cases are gorgeous collectibles that take your self-care routine to new, beautiful heights. We chatted with Caldwell to learn more about his process, what inspires him, and more.
Caldwell at work
We are so excited that we get to present your work to our customers this way!
It's so exciting for me too, because, you know, I've been doing events with Chantecaille for a while now and it’s aways a really fun, interactive experience between myself and the customers. But creating this collection has been an entirely new way to look at painting the products.
How did you find this type of work? Painting cosmetics and skincare packaging is a very specific medium.
It really is. I had always been painting as a fine artist, and then the opportunity came up with Goyard to help them decorate their handbags with personalization and embellishments, which is very measured and technical. My style is really more flowy and natural—I love the florals and botanicals and natural elements most.
Limited Edition 25th Anniversary Bespoke Bio Lifting Serum+
What is your process like? How do you look at, say, the Bio Lifting Serum bottle and decide what looks great on it?
Honestly, my mind just does it. After doing so many bottle painting events and fielding so many requests it's become really intuitive, knowing about the size of the art and the placement of things. I’ve actually noticed that the more I think about it, the more I dislike the outcome! If I just go with my intuitive state and what feels natural, it all works. And when I’m at an in-person event and someone has a request, it all just kind of comes together.
Custom-painted skincare jars
Is there a color palette that you always stick with? Or is it project specific?
It really depends on what the client wants when I’m painting. I like bright colors and florals and pinks, and yellows. Recently I was painting something for someone and said “I want florals. But my favorite color is black”. And I thought, that’s original! What came out of that conversation was the idea to create some black flowers, so I painted cherry blossoms with a grayscale in black. And it ended up looking really, really cool. So, you never know.
Mini Pure Rosewater detailing
Our Rose de Mai is a really specific sort of flower. Was it difficult to figure out how the Pure Rosewater bottles you decorated for us would look?
I definitely researched the look of it and I did a lot of versions! It’s so crinkly and delicate. I think I even started overthinking it, over-analyzing the entire flower! When I do that, sometimes I can kind of get off track a little bit. But one of my favorite things to paint is roses, so it wasn’t too difficult for me. I love to paint the Pure Rosewater because I think the the glass bottles are really special and something that you can display.
Caldwell at an in store painting event
Your Instagram features a lot of the work you do at events and commissions—are there common requests that you get all the time?
People really love to have their dogs or their cats painted on their products. It’s really sweet, I’ll often do a pet portrait on a cap so that the customer can move the artwork from jar to jar and keep the painting. I love that. People love their animals!
Floral painted skincare
Painting people's personal care items is such an unusual placement for art—do you ever think about how your work is walking around in handbags or sitting on a vanity table in someone’s home?
It's so funny, I had never really thought about it until Alex Chantecaille said to me, “How amazing is it that your artwork is going into all these people's homes and it’s something that they see and use every day?”. But ever since she said that I think about how there's like a little piece of my artwork all over the place. It's really nice too, because they'll have a lot of repeat clients come back and they tell me how they think about me all the time, and they can't wait to get more pieces or gift one to a loved one. I've had brides get a personalized lipstick for everyone in their bridal party or use them as a place setting at a luncheon. People get really creative with different ways they can give the items purpose. Someone once had me do a little pet portrait on her face cream jar and when it was empty, she took the lid off of the jar and had it framed.
How many pieces can you paint at an event?
It depends on what I'm painting but if I push myself, 40 or 50 pieces. And then my hands start hurting, ha!
Customized Pure Rosewater bottles
Where do you find inspiration?
I get inspired all the time. Even if I’m just out taking a walk, if I see something that inspires me, I will snap a picture of it quickly. And then of course, I get inspired from other artists all the time. I love that social media is such a great platform for artists—I always draw inspiration from someone who’s created something I never would even have thought of doing and kind of put my own spin on it.
Some of my favorite artists are the Impressionists—Manet, Monet, Van Gogh. I think that's clear in the art I produce, which is very flowy and organic in vivid colors. I try to get to museums whenever I can— I'm lucky I live in San Francisco and we have such a great art scene here. My favorite museum is Legion of Honor, it's the most beautiful space in Golden Gate Park.
Traveling also really inspires me—I went to Mexico City recently and I was blown away. It's just the most beautiful city and so artsy and everything's just beautiful.
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