By Thomas Bradley

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In this series we will look deeper into a work that was especially admired in our community: Bizarre Beauty for Refinery29, created by Leta Sobierajski. The five photo Instagram series is a colorful exploration of the relationship between a person’s sense of beauty and inanimate objects. Sobierajski‘s multidisciplinary design work has captured the attention of the Behance community (as well as clients like Google and IBM) with its brightly bizarre compositions. The Brooklyn-based designer and art director took time to share some of her insights into the creative process with the Behance team. 

What was your inspiration for this project?

Bizarre Beauty was inspired by daily beauty routines and surface-level obsessions. The series contained objects representative of independent, odd, and beautiful situations which highlight what makes a person feel beautiful through the use of inanimate objects. The notion of surrealism plays a part in this project too, and creates situations that trigger imaginative situations with personification. I’m also heavily influenced by Josef Albers’s Theories on Color Studies; creating experiences through the sensory relationships of color is what helped me tie everything together in this project with a reoccurring palette of saccharine colors.

Can you describe your process in creating this project?
Before making, it’s important to devote adequate time to research and sketching. I end up writing a lot about my ideas before I even start drawing pictures to go along with how i’ll exactly execute my concept. After ideas are selected, I determine a palette that will remain consistent throughout the five images.

Because the project called for a physical interpretation, I needed to know how everything could fit together, and what sort of equipment I would need. I spent a lot of time running around New York City looking for the exact props I wanted—a cactus from the Flower District, a wig from a specialty wig shop, a lamp from Ikea, and jewelry which I borrowed from Love Adorned, in SoHo. Unfortunately, the wig came in a  very shapely bob, and I had to follow several YouTube tutorial videos to learn how to straighten synthetic hair (you have to pour boiling hot water over it!).

Did you expect it to be as popular as it’s been on The Behance Network?
No, not at all! It has been a delight—thank you to everyone who has appreciated it!

Did you go through many versions and iterations before coming up with these final pieces?
In the sketching period, a lot of different ideas will surface, but many are eliminated for various reasons—some don’t fit the theme, some are repetitive, some are too difficult or expensive to produce, and some simply aren’t good enough. I tend to make long lists with thumbnail sketches scattered throughout my notes. I prefer writing my thoughts down first before even making a visual interpretation—It helps me adhere to the rules or the brief I have established for myself.

Do you feel that this project is “done,” or is there anything you’d like to improve on or change in the future?
I think that each portrait is complete, but more could certainly be added to the series. I don’t want to dwell upon what I could have done differently. Fortunately, the ideas that I couldn’t apply for this project can be relevant for others!

Did anything interesting happen as a result of the success of this project (fans contacting you, job opportunities, blogs picking it up, etc)?
I have been doing many more Instagram collaborations as a result of the Bizarre Beauty project, and i’m glad! It gives me a chance to spread my ideas out into a detailed story rather than being condensed into a single poster or photograph.

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Read more here:: Behind the Project: Bizarre Beauty for Refinery29