All Photos by Alexander Saladrigas for Models.com
Article by Steven Yatsko
“I feel like my exterior finally matches my personality,” says model and artist Taja Feistner, who unveiled to Models.com her new, bleach blonde pixie cut this month. A personal decision partially tied to her artwork, “I began to understand how images created by a small industry of people were affecting the way the entire world perceived beauty.” It’s a topic recently circulating the fashion discussion, though one everlasting in the industry itself. While doing gymnastics navigating fashion’s complicated societal baggage, it can be said of those actually working in it, they are in someway hoping to find their own authenticity, regardless of its oft unrealistic commerce persona projected–a sort of Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. Simple things then, like hair, can come in defense of feeling one’s best self.
After dropping out of the University of Iowa for Fine Art, Taja, an Iowa native, made the decision to save up money in order to move Los Angeles to be a freelance artist. “I was working two to three jobs at a time in Iowa City, one of them being a little American/Italian restaurant with notoriously great fried chicken. Long story short, I tell everyone fried chicken changed my life because if it weren’t for my mother agent loving that restaurant I probably wouldn’t be here. It blows my mind that her simple decision of what to eat for dinner that night changed my life completely, within a few weeks of that day I was living and working in Los Angeles,” she explains of her modeling origins. It’s an anecdote that eventually leads to the present, and a style renovation in the way of a transformative haircut. “The haircut was absolute magic. I looked for so many years for the perfect reference but didn’t find it until I met [hair stylist] Joey George. The first idea he showed me was the one,” says Taja of its initial conception. Then Joey collaborated with Aura Friedman to land on the right color that would capture her best.
Sometimes drastic cuts happen for top shows or editorials, ahem Guido, but occasionally the reason is more nuanced. In her case she says, “The change in my hair is an indirect product of a collection of art pieces I’ve been working on since I started modeling. Through both I’ve made the decision to express a different perspective on beauty,” expanding saying also, “Art became my escape from the pressures and standards of my job.” Taja’s intricate collages are created from shredded fashion magazines and the process is as important as the end result, “Blindly I draw each piece from the bag and glue it to the canvas based on a few seconds decision of which side should face up. The sum of hundreds of these back to back “this or that” decisions make up the final piece giving it it’s own DNA that can never be repeated. This can represent gene selection determining one’s appearance and a perception of beauty that appreciates the uniqueness of each of us. It can represent the sum of decisions that make up our lives and the imprints each one makes on our life story.” Her unique method, paired with her own experiences create an abstract impression, one that at the same time is both random and systematic. So what’s next on her art and modeling agenda? “Now that I’m applying the balance of accepting what I’ve drawn from the bag and relying on my gut in decision making, I’m at a place where I’m thinking less about where I am going and focused more on enjoying the process.”