Leta & Wade
Photography by Meredith Jenks
LETA: Everybody in New York City is perpetually single.
WADE: That's why I always tell them to go on OkCupid but no one wants to do it.
LETA: After a night of drinking with my girlfriends they were telling me, ‘You HAVE to join OkCupid!’ as a reply to my ‘Men in New York suck, they're all terrible.’ I made an account and within that week, Wade got in touch with me. I had written in my bio, "I am a graphic designer, and if you don’t know who Josef Muller-Brockmann is (a Swiss graphic designer with a loyalty to gridded design), I don’t want to talk to you.” I only wanted to date graphic designers — I wanted to be with somebody who had the same interests as me. Maybe some people see that as stifling. As somebody so like-minded, he efficiently wrote, “It seems like we have very similar interests. Here is my phone number — contact me if you want to meet.” And that was it!
LETA: We went on a date two days after he wrote to me. I was more nervous than I have ever been in my life — I have not been this nervous for a job interview or for a test or anything! The notion of meeting an absolute stranger via the internet with barely any expectations is incredibly intimidating. I was shaking and I had to take a shot of vodka before I went to meet him because I was so scared and needed to calm my nerves, but the date ended up being amazing. We talked for an hour and a half before we even got our first drink. We spent the entire evening together — conversation turned into drinks, drinks turned into dinner, and dinner turned into more drinks. We didn’t want the night to end. Once we said goodbye, I turned around to begin walking back to my apartment and after no more than 10 steps, I got a text message saying "So when are we meeting again?” I never thought that something like that would happen in my life. When I first began talking about my relationship, I felt embarrassed when I admitted to using OkCupid, but honestly it is the best way to meet someone. I guess I was involved in so many shitty little flings and relationships that I didn't think that something like this was possible, and that falling in love could be so quick and easy. It was hard for me to believe at first.
WADE: I will take all the complements.
LETA: He was so confident and straightforward about everything. I mean, I have met a lot of guys in New York who just completely beat around the bush or don’t call you after two dates. For this guy to just text me after I walk 10 steps away from him, it was a totally different type of feeling.
WADE: Straight shooter.
LETA: I felt flabbergasted that something like this could exist.
I only wanted to date graphic designers — I wanted to be with somebody who had the same interests as me. Maybe some people see that as stifling.
LETA: I felt so unproductive today; I was sourcing inspiration for a shoot that we are going to be doing and it consumed my entire day. At 4pm I was like "Oh! Shit, I am not being efficient and I am wasting time." But ultimately, I think that's one of the perks of being freelance: I have time to get an idea through its various stages. I have time to actually develop an idea without rushing it. I went to Purchase College and studied graphic design and throughout my time there, I started getting more and more tactile — I worked in the woodshop a lot, and I tried to limit my time on the computer. My senior project was a stop motion piece which I wrote a script for and created my own props for. When I graduated I thought that I wanted to go into commercial motion graphics. I began working at a small studio with a very hands-on and DIY approach which was applied to stop motion and live action videos, as well as branding and editorial work. From there, I went to another motion graphics company that was much larger and was miserable; then when I went to the third studio, I realized that it wasn’t for me and that was the catalyst for becoming freelance. I realized that I needed to set myself free from the cage of a full-time job. It's difficult to stay inspired all of the time and constantly be thinking of ideas on your own, but sometimes it's really nice to have free days to just find an idea.
I have time to actually develop an idea and make it better.
TWP: How is it living together?
Leta: I think that's kind of the New York City mentality: when you are a couple it just seems so much easier to move in together as opposed to living in separate places and running back and forth — especially if you are working together. I can turn over in bed and just say something to Wade without it needing to have context. It's also more than that — for the relationship, it's about being comfortable, being naked in front of each other, and being naked around each other for a significant amount of time not just when you are having sex. That’s true comfort!
Go for it
LETA: I have learned it's definitely a hindrance if you take the time to worry about what your actions are, who you are obsessing over or what you are obsessing over. Stop thinking about it and actually fucking do it.
TWP: Do you guys ever have a hard time focusing?
WADE: We definitely get distracted sometimes — we watch too many adorable bulldog videos.
LETA: When we are shooting Complements, we are doing it in the evening, and so it feels like there is an infinite amount of time in which we can do it, since we know we will get it done before 2am … ideally.
WADE: We will fill ourselves with Thai food and then we go for it. But within the freelance stuff, it isn’t really the same thing: if you have got to get something done at the end of the day you just bite the bullet and get it done.
LETA: I have noticed that when I am juggling two jobs, my time ends up being used very efficiently — far more than when there is only one project on the table.
WADE: Saturday is one day we don’t work. On Sundays we are shooting Complements and catching up on other work. In general, Saturdays are devoted to galleries or movies or catching up with someone and getting in trouble. Then Sundays we are back at it. It's part of the process of being here in New York — everyone is busy, everyone is working. We are so accustomed to working all of the time. I love working. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all addicted to our work.
We are so accustomed to working all of the time. I love working. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all addicted to our work.
LETA: Don’t think about your personal projects so much — I think if you keep on thinking about how to improve upon it you are never going to do it. You want to make it as good as possible but by thinking that time will improve your idea, you’ll keep on slowing yourself down.
WADE: People will tend to want to sit on something until it is perfect, but nothing is perfect, so ultimately the idea sits idle and goes nowhere, meaning it is the same as doing nothing, and the idea gets wasted. Get it fucking down, get it out there, and once it's out there, what have you got to lose? You can always refresh something and keep adding on to it; there is no reason that can't keep happening. If a bear shits in the woods, does anybody see it?
LETA: As soon as you start a project, and especially if it's a series, you are going to keep on building on to it. Doing a first round of it is an experiment to build on to in order to continue growing upon it.
WADE: It's being committed enough to get it out there. You must be committed enough to do a trial for long enough that something actually happens, where you get a body of work for a period of time that you are really happy with. Sometimes it may change, but it's fun — change. So ultimately your work is out there, whether it's good or bad — it's there. If something is great and you are behind it, then you have accomplished the hardest part; you can always design or work towards getting something out of it but if it's not there that's the hardest part in most cases. I think we are both driven enough that when something is not right and we need a change it, we change it. We make the change and we do it.
It's fun — change.
LETA: I wanted to apply for European citizenship. When my dad left Poland, he left during the Communist Era, so when he fled, the government revoked his citizenship. Now he is only an American citizen. I am an only child and I grew up with my parents in Upstate New York, with my mother’s side living in Long Island, and my father’s side of my family — most of which I have never met — is in Poland. My parents and I are a very small close-knit family. I think when Wade and I first met he immediately said, "Oh! you are an only child, right?" When people say that it sounds like it might be insulting or accusing in some way, but I realize that it isn’t. I handle relationships and interactions in different ways.
WADE: Leta and I are fortunate that we still have the same sense of humor. It would have been terrible otherwise. I love fart jokes and really stupid stuff. I grew up in Melbourne, Australia — we have six people in my family and we are all completely different from one another. I am the third out of four kids, and I have noticed a trend in families: the third one is always the one doing things a little differently. I am the only one that has moved to another country. Amongst other things I am also the only one who went to university. That’s not derogatory by any means — I am a different kettle of fish, that's what my father would say. I really love seeing the differences in people who come from small families as opposed to big families. Leta saw the difference first hand when we went back to the motherland a year ago — it's an overwhelming experience having such a big family, but knowing it's all love and filled with joy is pretty fucking special. There are now little nephews running around in the family now. I don’t see us having kids for a while, but I say to my family, you guys keep having them and we will we will come to see them!
I am a different kettle of fish, that's what my father would say.
LETA: When we are not working on Complements together, we are focusing on our own projects. We take our work quite seriously regardless of what we are working on. Wade and I will send projects, screenshots, and sketches back and forth to each other all day for feedback. It's hard when you are working by yourself to always go with your first idea; I need feedback that either validates what I am doing or makes me realize what am I doing wrong.
WADE: It's part of the advantage of us doing the same thing in the same industry.
LETA: Wade’s opinion is the one that I trust the most — he has become my most important critic.
WADE: Living with each other helps too. We understand the context of it all. Whether we are bitching about clients, or whatever, there is always detail that someone else is going to miss out on. We are already informed about each others’ situations, so it's a far more efficient process, and we are all about efficiency.
LETA: I don’t think my work would be what it is now had I not met Wade. A week after I went freelance, a lot of things changed in my life very quickly and I think that having support for the things that I was doing, either completely self-generated or commissioned, has kept me level-headed. It is really nice to have somebody to tell me that everything is okay.
It is really nice to have somebody to tell me that everything is okay.