VOGUE’s “Fashion’s Night Out 2018” will be held for one night only in Omotesando, Aoyama and Harajuku on Saturday, September 15. This will be the tenth time this event has been held in Tokyo. This time, a photo spot created by Wade and Leta, a young creative pair who are garnering worldwide attention will appear on the B1 floor of Omotesando Hills’ main building for this day only. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, Wade and Leta are involved in a wide range of activities including art direction, graphic design, photography and more.
We interviewed Leta Sobjerajski, who is currently staying in Japan, regarding the creative work she does with her husband as part of the Wade and Leta team, from their production work on the campaign visuals of luxury brands to their invitations to lecture as opinion leaders around the world.
---- When did you become interested in the art and creative world?
I loved drawing since I was young. When I was 10 years old, I saw TV animation "Sailor Moon" and "Dragon Ball Z" for the first time, I got hooked up in that world and continued to draw animation characters all the time. In addition, on the 12th birthday, I bought Photoshop 7.0 and I scanned my own drawing on the PC. In junior high school and high school we received arts, architecture and drawing classes, and in high school third graders we created books we designed by themselves as graduation work of page layout class. From that time on, I began to be interested in work related to design.
---- Leta, you are involved in aspects of production like art direction and graphic design together with your husband Wade, fusing both of your sensibilities together in a variety of areas. Tell us about your career thus far, and how you met Wade.
After graduating from school, I first entered a motion graphic production company for TV and advertisement. Although it seemed possible to get to like the job content, I felt the limit of creation to work together with a big team. Though I gained experience at three design studios, I felt that I could not express "personality" in any studio and decided to independence. After that, I met Wade and talked about ideas with him, and while I was making it together, I became a positive and open-minded personality. And, after he became independent, we united with two people, and now I am able to challenge various things with him.
---- How do you divide up the roles you play when creating work together with Wade?
Wade is a lot more skilled at graphic design than I am, and he has an expert branding sense when it comes to thinking about typography and brand messages. As for me, I come up with the overall composition and consider the balance between colors. Our work combines his strategic thinking and my own emotional perspective.
---- Tell us about the “Complements Project,” the first project you did with Wade.
As soon as we met, Wade worked for a design company, and I was working at home as a freelance. First of all I wanted to do creative activities together, when I had about 1 or 2 times a week, I started shooting in an apartment where I live with two portraits. Most of it is a portrait photographed with unique idiots posing absurdly using close accessories, but when I uploaded it to Instagram, there was a tremendous response.
People who saw portraits experienced our "emotion" from the photographs, and the reaction that we were encouraged by the relationship and motivation of the two increased day by day.
---- Tell us about how you approach the creation of your work.
Sometimes I might be out shopping and find an interesting shape that sparks an idea, or I might refine my ideas while sketching. By sketching, I mean that I write down a question I have in my mind and then start drawing sketches in a dialogue with myself, which leads me to an answer.
When I first started out on my own, I had to use various actual materials to create what I wanted to see—I wasn’t able to envision the finished product. Nowadays, through various work I have done with clients, I’m able to imagine what the final product will look like by sketching it out.
---- What kind of ideas have you come up with for the “Utopian Zen” photo spot that you are creating for Fashion’s Night Out this time?
Well, although the photo spot itself really isn’t that large, I wanted to create a place that brings a completely different space into being, where people will be transported into a world of the unknown through art. We added the concept of “Zen” to “Utopia,” expressing this through the world of graphics.
For the motif, I was inspired by the temples of Ryuanji in Kyoto and Meigetsuin in Kamakura. We use monochromatic lines on the floor to create ripples like those in the rock garden of Ryuanji, and the circle in the background was inspired by the windows of Meigetsuin. We mixed elements from nature like rocks and plants found in Japanese gardens, with geometric patterns from the 80’s and 90’s that I’m fond of.
By using layers and overlapping graphics, we were able to express a world that’s out of the ordinary. I’d be glad if everyone could come see what we’ve done for themselves, viewing it from different angles to enjoy fueling their imagination.
---- Can you tell us about what led you to become interested in Japan, and how you feel about Japan now as a result of living here?
As I mentioned, I became interested in Japan through TV anime. Also, my mother was a university professor, and she had set up an exchange program for Japanese students to come stay at our house. This motivated me to understand Japan at a deeper level. This time, I’m staying in Japan for three months, and again I’m so amazed at how the Japanese people have this sense of gratitude and respect for all kinds of things. By comparison, New York is a noisy and bustling place, and everybody seems to be thinking only about themselves!
---- What are your impressions of Omotesando as an urban area?
I really like the Omotesando and Harajuku areas, and go there often. I feel that these areas form the hub of design, fashion and art, and I feel stimulated just by looking at the people in these places.
---- What do you want to communicate through your art, and what kind of things do you want to get involved with in the future?
I want to give “emotion” to people. My hope is that the work we do will strike a chord with people in some way. Our ultimate goal is to continue our current activities, widening the scope of where we go.
Lately, we’ve received more invitations to speak publicly as guests in different countries, outside of our production work. We’ll be lecturing in Australia, Russia, Canada and so on from October. I’d be grateful if those around us could feel something from the activities that we like doing.
Wade Jeffree & Leta Sobierajski
Based out of Brooklyn, New York, Wade and Leta are married and are involved work as designers and art directors. Their designs express a twisted sense with vivid colors. Wade and Leta go beyond using photos and art, mixing various elements like fashion, technology and traditional graphic design to create their happy and emotional visuals.
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