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Take 10: Zesty

By Terri Stone

Leta Sobierajski and Wade Jeffree are partners in life and in design. As a creative studio, they make work that’s bold and unexpected, even eccentric. So when we asked them to create something that incorporates ten Adobe Stock images, we didn’t know what we would get, but we were sure it would be thought-provoking.

As with our previous Take 10 Challenges, we gave the duo ten images and a theme—in this case, the word zesty. True to form, Sobierajski and Jeffree rewrote the challenge rules, rejecting some of the original images and choosing others. “Questioning the brief is always going to lead you to more interesting places,” Jeffree says.

We gave Leta Sobierajski and Wade Jeffree these 10 Adobe Stock assets.

That doesn’t mean the two are control freaks. They believe that what may seem like roadblocks are actually part of the creative process. “We may have a moment of panic when something doesn’t work out,” Sobierajski acknowledges. “But then we get ourselves together and re-route.”

“You have to be quick on your feet and pivot toward something new,” Jeffree agrees. “The best results come out of that because you haven’t been overthinking it. It will be fresher.”

THE PROCESS

They began the challenge by contemplating the meaning of zesty. “It speaks to energy and food, and we eat a lot and have a lot of energy,” cracks Jeffree. Sobierajski adds, “It resonates with our personalities. It’s a little zingy.”

The designers usually include physical elements in their work, even when the final deliverables are digital. It was clear from their initial sketch that the Take 10 challenge would be no exception.

The sketch shows Sobierajski and Jeffree interacting with an abstract set.

Sobierajski and Jeffree envisioned a dimensional abstract landscape, taking structural inspiration from Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Oskar Schlemmer, and working with ideas of Cubism, Dada, Bauhaus, and modernism. They identified new Adobe Stock assets that fit their notions of what zesty means; then they moved on to building the abstract shapes out of thick foam core covered in clay. They also designed suits that would render their bodies as abstract as the set.

The plan was to erect the set on the roof of the six-story building they live and work in and use a self-timer to photograph themselves moving around the set. However, high winds knocked over one of the shapes, and when Sobierajski and an assistant pushed it back onto its C-stand, the piece snapped in half. That and blowing snow meant it was time to rethink their plan.

They retreated to their studio space and transformed the room into a giant seamless backdrop, covering everything in white. The set went up, the suits went on, and Sobierajski and Jeffree danced around the abstract shapes while their studio mate shot take after take. “Design is very much a performance,” Sobierajski says, “and we try to hold true to that in everything we do.”

A COMMITMENT TO FUN

Performance is important to their work for several reasons. For one thing, it’s fun. “When things are fun and approachable, we feel like we’re hitting the mark,” Jeffree says, “both in terms of the work being successful, but also in terms of pushing ourselves. There’s a rigidity and structure to some elements in our work, but there’s also this additional layer of purposeful eclecticism and bringing in ideas that make others want to interact with it. Yet it’s still able to communicate a message or concept.”

“We’re also intrigued by finding a way to personify ourselves in our work,” adds Sobierajski. “We think it’s important that design has a trace of personality.”

After the photo shoot, they reviewed the images and chose the best composition. They opened it in Adobe Photoshop CC and began introducing the ten Adobe Stock assets to the scene. While creating the final layout, Sobierajski and Jeffree considered the color, texture, graphic nature, and scale of each asset, and how those aspects played off the other assets and the set.

This animation reveals some of the duo's Photoshop work and ends with the finished piece.

WORDS OF ADVICE

Sobierajski believes that you shouldn't feel restricted to working solely on the computer. "Embrace what your physical surroundings are able to give you,” she says. "How can you marry digital assets with something physical that’s outside of the digital world?"

TAKE THE CHALLENGE!

Are you inspired? Try it yourself! Now you can download these 10 images and create something uniquely you. If we choose your creation as one of our favorites, you may win subscriptions to Creative Cloud and Adobe Stock, and maybe even an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Get the images and contest rules.

For an added shot of inspiration, watch Sobierajski and Jeffree discuss their work and the contest.