Anja Verdugo wears many hats. Well, not literally but she does wear many different hair colors and the artist/photographer/designer's massive creative output has established her as a fixture in the Portland design community. Over the past few years Anja's photography has garnered particular momentum and Verdugo has worked with a plethora of Portland designers and shops, shooting lookbooks for the likes of Yo Vintage, Summerland, and Eden.
Most recently, Anja revealed Bored Girls, a series of pastel portraits featuring complete babes looking completely bored. The project began spontaneously from one unplanned shot, and has since expanded to nearly 50 portraits. You can go see all the Bored Girls at Verdugo's current exhibit at Duplex Gallery.
Verdugo sat down to talk Bored Girls with me and to reveal a little about her process, inspirations, and personal bored moments.
Can you tell me a little about how the Bored Girls series developed? How did you first conceptualize it and how did it gain momentum?
ANJA VERDUGO: I was shooting some photos for fun with Ally Ford, and in one particularly pastel portrait, Ally made an amazing bored face. I shot photos in a similar, colorful style with a couple other friends, and then decided to expand on boredom as a theme. Every time I posted a new Bored Girl portrait online, I’d get a huge response from other people who wanted to take part, so I took as many portraits as I could until the show opened.
The emotion "bored" manifests itself differently on each model's face. How did you prompt your subjects for the shoot and encourage boredom?
Usually, I like to joke around a lot and make people laugh, but for these photos I spoke quietly and slowly, having the girls think about situations that are really boring. Once they were in the right frame of mind, I guided their poses, angles, and gaze until the right expression was captured.
You stay busy with multiple creative endeavors, do you ever have personal Bored Girl moments?
My top three worst moments of boredom are as follows (luckily I never do these things anymore):
1. Taking a really long city transit bus ride in the dark, with no entertainment.
2. High school math class, especially if none of my friends were in the class with me.
3. Waiting in line at the post office.
Tell me a little about Bored Girls' color story and the studio setup for these portraits. How is this project different from your other portrait work?
I love pastels, so they’re very prominent in the series. The first few portraits had a 1960s/1970s college girl yearbook vibe, which inspired a lot of the styling and colors. The studio setup was simple, using one light and colored paper backdrops. This series was unique for me because I got to shoot many friends who have never modeled before, whereas I am usually shooting models for designers or shops. It was a funny and cool opportunity to photograph a lot of my favorite people.
Have you considered further developing this project? And what else is new on your horizon?
I’m not currently seeking out new subjects for Bored Girls, but if someone really, really wants a portrait they should get in touch with me. Spring is here, and it’s my favorite season, so I hope the flowers and colors will inspire new projects!