Cool Friends: Wade Jeffree & Leta Sobierajski
Meet Wade and Leta, the NYC based creative duo designing everything from large-scale installations to perfume ads. Their bold, color-blocked style is hard to miss — self described as, “music for your eyes”. You might have even passed by one of their pieces when walking around the Seaport District last Summer.
What led you to your career as artists and designers?
In April of 2014, we met through OK Cupid, a dating website. It was both of our first times ever using a platform to meet someone romantically. We knew that when we met each other, we were both on ambitious paths. Leta had just taken the dive into independent work, and Wade was working at his dream studio. Romance came first of course, but because we were constantly sharing our ideas and our hopes and dreams with one another, our goals began to merge.
Our very first project together was a series of portraits we named “Complements” that we used as a collaborative outlet. The series defined what we like to call the “universal strangeness of love,” and was documented in a set of 57 images. This really became the thing that started it all; while we spent our evenings together at home creating and photographing together, we organically began to discuss collaborating on other projects together—branding, packaging, other art direction and photography—and gradually our side projects began to shift into professional ones. In 2016, we got married, which also allowed for Wade to earn a green card, thus allowing us to begin a studio together where we could collaborate on projects full time.
In the six years we’ve been together, we’ve done such a wild range of projects, from a set of 8 sea-life inspired sculptures that we installed at the Seaport District in NYC, to creating and photographing campaign imagery for one of our favorite fragrance companies, to a dance party thrown at design incubator A/D/O complete with dancers, indoor installations, and a hand-built maze, to our first international exhibition in Tokyo. We’re honestly all over the place, and it’s been a constant challenge to define what we do. It’s the key reason we call ourselves a creative studio, to be honest.
Ultimately we both started in the fields of graphic design with a focus on branding but from the first day we started collaborating with each other, we didn’t want to be limited by our choice of discipline. If it sounds exciting and poses a challenge, then that’s what will attract us and motivate us to pursue it. We live in a time where information is plethorically accessible and we’re only one YouTube tutorial away from expanding our skill sets to accommodate a new idea.
What's your favorite part about the New York creative community?
I’m sure we’re not the first people to say that it’s the energy! New York is a place where you can do just about anything, and the people you’ll come across at an opening, a meeting, or even just through an email will expand your views on what is potentially possible here. The creative community spans so many disciplines, from food to fragrance to textiles to anything imaginable, and everyone is willing to cross-pollinate ideas to create something new and collaborative.
The other thing is accessibility—this eclectic vibrancy of our city gives us access to anyone and anything we need in such an immediate time frame. It’s also influenced us to work at the high-speed pace of everyone else around us. Here, a one-month—or sometimes even one-week—timeframe actually feels slow. There is a collective momentum which exists here that pushes everyone forward. It’s either ride the wave or leave the city. While it may be different in other cities, New York causes us to want to identify ourselves by means of the work that we do—we define ourselves by it in the pursuit of “live to work and work to live.”
Can you talk about what it's like working with your partner?
It’s about trust without fear. Working as partners gives us this unbridled confidence and credence with one another. We open ourselves wide open to one another, giving ourselves the opportunity to be vulnerable, truthful, and imaginative without fear of criticism or failure. It opens the door to the pursuit of ideas that one of us individually may write off as impossible or impractical.
Working together, there’s another perspective brought to the table, making room for different strengths, and different ways of communicating; our conversations help the other adapt and get better in what they’re lacking. It allows us to strengthen our perspectives on life and how we perceive what work is. We don’t define those two into buckets but instead choose to see them as one from a primordial state.
We believe that our work and life are intertwined. We want to grow with our work. This is in many ways why we love to build not just design moments but more so experiences for all. For us to witness people engaging with our work is really special—it reminds us that we’re doing this not only for ourselves but for the people around us and the communities we build together.
(we highly recommend checking out their website for a fun time)