You have no items in your shopping cart.

Product was successfully added to your shopping cart.

Bruised Behind The Mask

Geneva Cowen

Author Geneva Cowen | Artistic Director for Sam Villa

When stylists get behind a cause the power is immense!  We touch many lives and we are great listeners.  Our guests pour their hearts out to us in happy times as well as sad times and we know what type of mood our guests are in the minute they walk in the door and sit in our chair.

Fashion photographer Daryna Barykima and stylist Cameron LeSiege introduced us to a powerful collection that was thought provoking and the Sam Villa team felt was an important topic.  Their subject?  Domestic abuse.  Geneva Cowen, Artistic Director for Sam Villa seized the opportunity to interview Daryna and Cameron to learn more about their inspiration behind the photos and to learn how we as stylists can make a difference in our communities.

We also took this opportunity to explore what it’s like to work and collaborate as a team to create a collection.  We think you will find their story interesting and compelling.  There are some great takeaways for anyone thinking about putting a team together for creating a collection. Scroll down to read the full interview with Daryna & Cameron.

Behind the Bruised Mask - Domestic Abuse Campaign

What was the intent behind the concept? What did you want to see happen by creating this work?

DARYNA:  In this series I explore one of the ubiquitous social issues – domestic violence.

When I first moved to the United States in 2011 from Kyiv, Ukraine I was shocked by the scale and tragic social impact caused by this social problem. The level of effort put into raising awareness also impressed me along with my desire to help victims cope and overcome. Unfortunately, in my country these subjects are not spoken about, but are suppressed.

In this series, domestic violence is shown as a facade behind which is the damage and devastation of abuse. My character is portrayed as a fragile porcelain doll concealing her bruises behind a mask of normalcy. Every morning she ‘glues’ herself together. Every evening there are more shattered pieces. This cycle repeats again and again, becoming more and more degrading with every incident.

I was inspired to create my concept of domestic violence by a recent news story of the 212-pound NFL football star, Ray Rice who battered his 115-pound girlfriend and then dragged her limp body into the lobby. He received only a ‘slap on the wrist’ for this act of violence.

We wanted this work to spread around the Internet, to go viral, if you will, bringing awareness to the cause as well as exposing our talents.


GENEVA TO DARYNA:  When featuring controversial subject matter there is always the risk of being misunderstood.  How important is it to take creative risks?

DARYNA:  As an artist I try to visually capture the essence of contemporary society. The themes I explore through my images are those that depict the often hidden but devastating effects of modern life. My goal is to create controversial images that provoke. Through the use of bold colors, photo manipulation, and retouching techniques, I translate my vision and build the vernacular between the artist and the viewers. There is always the risk but the risk is essential to tell your story.  It is worth it.

I feel it is very important to go with your gut, stay true to yourself, express what you truly want to say and embrace the risk of not being understood.  In my opinion if artist is making a statement, he or she will not be able to satisfy everyone. And the major risk is that your vision may be rejected or misunderstood by your audience. It is extremely important for me to take the risks and express my point of view, without trying to please the audience, when I work with controversial subjects.


GENEVA TO DARYNA:  The financial commitment for editorial projects can be intimidating for new artists.  You are in a small town (Jacksonville, FL) and you have been able to create a beautiful campaign that will have national exposure.  What would you tell others about getting involved with someone at your skill set – how would the process begin in something like this?

DARYNA:  I believe an editorial can be created with resources you already have!  It is not always necessary to use high-end designer clothing to accomplish something beautiful.  The clothing for this campaign was all vintage – the styles were chosen according to the theme.  I personally had my hand in everything, and my assigned task was the clothing.  Our model, a college student, volunteered as well as our make up artist who trained in special effects as well as regular make up.  What I am trying to say is, to produce a beautiful image you should not have to spend a lot of money.  There are always resources at hand to get the job done.  In the end, what matters most is the message behind the image and how the viewer reads the message.


GENEVA TO DARYNA:  How long have you been a photographer?

DARYNA:  I have been around and have been playing with photography for as long as I remember. I graduated from photography school and moved to the US in 2011.  I began working on fashion photography and was totally thrilled with the industry as it gave me so much creative freedom!  I had the passion from early age as my father and grandfather worked with photography as a hobby and also developed film.  I think it is in my genes – it came very natural to me.


GENEVA TO CAMERON:  How did you and Daryna find each other and cultivate your relationship, how long have you been a hair stylist?

CAMERON:  I have been in the hair industry for about six years.  When I began, I was working with Paul Mitchell and building my confidence in styling, cutting and color.  I really struggled with styling, particularly with up-styles for weddings.  I am always up late and I would spend long nights practicing on my mannequins especially prior to a brides’ appointment and I built my confidence level for styling on my own.  That is why today, my biggest passion is styling!  A couple of years ago I started working with the Paul Mitchell school from which I graduated in Jacksonville, Florida and it opened me up to another level of professionals.  This last year I was involved with a competition and I met Daryna who was one of the photographers.  I bugged her to death to work with her more and since then we have been working together quite a bit – I am very grateful for that!


GENEVA TO CAMERON:  Do you feel when you are part of an editorial team a lot of it is about the relationships within the team?

CAMERON:  Completely!  I would say that it’s all about the relationships you build within your team.  I know everyone we work with – make up artists, wardrobe stylists – it has to be about teamwork. Everyone has to be involved with the process.


GENEVA TO CAMERON & DARYNA:  Do you feel the more you work with your team the relationships get stronger and the outcomes are reflective of the relationships?

CAMERON:  Daryna and I compliment and push each other in ways that constantly make us better at what we do.  Many things Daryna sees in fashion as well as in social messages are inspiring to her.  She comes to me with ideas and we collaborate to create a storyboard for most every shoot. Sometimes she sends me looks that I am not 100% comfortable with and it goes back to my beginning in the salon – that lack of confidence I had.  Discomfort is a good thing for us because it means we are growing and pushing each other.

DARYNA:  I may ask Cameron, “what do you want?” and he may send me a crazy image with custom background and lighting – and I’m like, ‘OK, let me try to do this!” and it all comes together.  Cameron is the first person I talk to and I think he makes so much sense because to me hair is extremely important in an image.  Hair is the deal breaker for me – it can more important than the make up to a certain point.  When I have an idea to share with Cameron, we stay up late at night texting back and forth to collaborate for the look of the hair, make up and wardrobe.

GENEVA:  We work that way, as well.  I have been doing hair for 22 years, and the times when I am most uncomfortable is when I am learning the most. I think we all would agree no matter what you do it’s always about the ‘push’ to get to the next level.  Developing your skill set requires some discomfort. This collection is one of those where you know the ‘push’ was there…the outcome is beautiful! It’s a magical piece, you all did a brilliant job and we thank you for the opportunity to showcase you!


GENEVA TO CAMERON & DARYNA:  What are your professional editorial goals for 2015?

DARYNA & CAMERON:  In 2015 we want to shoot more published editorials as well as collections, build relationships with professional magazines and hair care brands and become permanent contributors.  Also, an amazing NAHA collection is currently in the works! To share a secret with you, we are thinking of establishing our own little magazine to expose emerging talents in the beauty industry, just like us, and give them exposure, confidence and inspiration.


GENEVA TO CAMERON:  How do you feel about aligning with an organization could help bring awareness?

CAMERON:  We hope that aligning with PBA inspires salon professionals on a large scale to hold fundraisers for local women’s’ shelters in their community and learn more about how they can help.  PBA and the “cut-it-out” program have provided an easy and free of charge way for anyone to get involved, by registering online to receive posters and safety card kits in addition to educating people on other ways to help.

To learn more about domestic violence and how you can raise awareness in your salon and community visit the Professional Beauty Association’s website “what you do can save a life – get involved today”.

Be sure to follow Cameron and Daryna on Instagram!

Leave your comments and questions below. We would love to hear your stories about building an awareness for a cause in your area!

Photo Credits:
Model - Carolyn Jernigan
Hair - Cameron LeSiege
Make Up - Lilia Budnik
Special Effects Artist - Hillary Warren
Photographer - Daryna Barykina