The new Scandinavia SSAW Magazine continues its tradition of inventive content and debuts its latest issue with a unique collaboration between photographic duo Boe Marion and artist Alexa Meade. Creative director Jakob Hysén Hedberg art directs as Zuzanna Bijoch poses beneath layers of paint and wild hair & makeup by Karin Westerlund and Lok Lau. Meade’s signature style transforms Zuzanna into a living breathing painting and the expressive images with their layered on styling by Oscar Lange and rich colors are unlike anything else you’ll see on the newsstand. Talking to the team behind the shoot we get an insight into how this special story came together.
How was it working together with another artist like this?
BOE MARION: Jakob Hysén Hedberg, Creative Director at Scandinavia S/S/A/W presented this idea to us a while back, he knows we love complicated ideas that takes a lot of effort to manage and that way this was a perfect fit.
We are always working together as a couple (Boe and Marion) but it always feels like one unit in the end, we never remember who shot what. Working together with Alexa felt very good but also it is of course hard to cooperate cause you have a lot of respect to the other artist’s identity. This counts also for every team of artists involved, hair, make up, model and stylist.
We believe the result shows a side of us and a side of Alexa that none of us could have accomplished on our own.
How was it to combine your art with fashion photography?
ALEXA MEADE: I typically do all of my own photography so it was really interesting to see my work through someone else’s eyes as captured by their camera lens. It was really interesting to see the amount of care and artistry Lok Lau put into getting the hair just right. It set a tone beyond what I could do with just brushstrokes.
How come your painted models look 2D?
ALEXA MEADE: A big secret has to do with the way I capture light and shadows. Photoshop is not a part of my practice. however, photographers Boe Marion will typically touch up their personal work and they wanted to do so in this particular collaboration. Looking at the before vs the after photos I have a hard time seeing where things have been digitally altered to look more like a flat painting.
Was it any different to paint a top model compared to your normal models?
ALEXA MEADE: A challenging line I have to walk in painting a person to look flat is capturing a likeness while maintaining a degree of abstraction. If I get too perfectionist in painting too true to life, I run into an uncanny valley problem. It no longer looks like a painting so much as a person wearing paint. The more gestural and loose I can make my brushstrokes, the more paint I layer over, the more irreverence I can put into the juxtaposition of colors, the more the person appears to be transformed into a flat painting. However in that type of portrait it’s very easy to unwittingly have a likeness to the model get looser as well. Every time I put down a brushstroke, I’m covering my original reference point with my new interpretation and I have to go off of memory of what was below when I go back to fix a brushstroke.
One stray brushstroke can dramatically alter the appearance of the true features and I need to be careful as I paint to maintain a truth to the subject. Usually I can keep my interpretation of the subject loose as it’s about the abstraction of a person as opposed to being about a specific individual. However, when painting such an iconic face as Zuzanna Bijoch, I had to be really cognizant of how I walked the line between maintaining recognizability as well as upholding the illusion of flatness.
Can you tell us about the shoot?
ZUZANNA BIJOCH: The shoot was an amazing experience. I knew it will be a very special project. I was extremely excited to be part of it. Watching Alexa painting my face, her looking at the light, shadows and reflections was truly inspiring. I’ve never been covered in paint from head to toe before and as much as i love the visual aspect of it its def not a comfortable everyday look !
Where you familiar with Alexa Meades art before the shoot?
ZUZANNA BIJOCH: No, the first time was just before the shoot and the moment I saw her work i was really amazed. I love when fashion joins art, and working with Alexa was such a unique experience. She is a wonderful and extremely creative person.
Who is your favourite artist?
ZUZANNA BIJOCH: It’s hard to choose because art is such a broad spectrum with so many different mediums. If I had to name a few of my favorites they would be Marc Chagall, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Wassily Kandinsky
Purchase the issue here: http://scandinaviassaw.com/scandinavia/order/