Interview with Pablo Ruiz, Featured in Issue Six
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work
I am a Spanish photographer living in London. I studied Media Communications in Málaga (Spain), my hometown, and one year in Nijmegen (The Netherlands) as part of the Erasmus exchange program, which was a life-changing experience. After one year and half working in TV back in Málaga, I decided to move to London following the idea of living abroad again and getting new personal and professional experiences.
It’s been 5 and a half years living in this incredible city, working in different jobs and also doing some photo and video projects at the same time. Recently I decided to focus more on my passion and, although it’s not easy and it takes time, I’m already seeing results and I’m excited to see what’s yet to come. As for my work, it’s mainly about the people and places that surrounds me. London gives me a lot of inspiration; it’s a city full of beautiful spots to capture and a city that gives you the opportunity to meet a huge variety of people. So that’s all I need, plus my camera, of course.
What set you off as an artist?
I don’t think I consider myself an artist, I’m just a person who loves taking pictures (actually I’m still getting used to call my self a photographer). Photography has always been a hobby since I was a child. I got my first camera when I was 10 and since then I loved taking pictures and the idea of capturing different moments of my daily life and keeping them as memories. I think this is related to the fact that I used to be a person very attached to the past.
With the years I realised that I also loved creating images that are not only beautiful and pleasant for people to look at but also that transmit something. When I got back home after my Erasmus experience I was sad because it was over and I missed a lot my life and the people I met there, so I decided to make a video. I used some shots I took off different empty streets and places of the city during the night. The reaction I got from my friends that I had been sharing this experience with was impressive and it made realise how powerful an image or a series of images can be and how rewarding it is to create something that transmit emotions to others. So if that is being an artist maybe I am.
Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work
As I said before my photography is about people and places. Sometimes it is planned and sometimes it’s not. I like looking for nice locations and taking my friends there to take pictures but also using my phone on a daily basis and take pictures of random places with random people. That’s basically my work. But it’s true that lately I’m exploring and going a bit deeper when doing photo shoots, looking for that result of creating an image that catches your attention and transmits something meaningful.
How would you describe your approach to creating?
I always thought that creating something artistic was very difficult and that I wasn’t able to do it because I couldn’t come up with any ideas. But this has changed over the years by practising and not letting that wall stop me. I love art in general, I like going to museums and galleries and seeing what other people can do. The truth is we are all able to create things (that’s what make us humans) and whatever you create is going to be influenced by your personality, your life experiences, your circumstances and your way of living your life, so all of these things are going to make whatever you create special and unique. Basically, in order to create something I let myself get inspired by the people I meet, the places I visit and the things I see daily.
Describe how you make your work? Is there a clear idea of how each work will look from the beginning? Not really, most of the time I just know where and who I want to shoot but that’s it. The next step is going there and start taking pictures. But I think this is changing too, for example in my last milk bath photo shoot I got inspired by a picture I saw online, then I did some research looking at others photographers similar work and I started to have an idea of what I wanted to do. I think not having a clear idea of how your work will look gives you more freedom and more chances to explore and try different things than concentrating on achieving a single image.
Was there another form of art that inspired you before you started using digital resources? As I said, going to museums and galleries to see exhibitions and also studying art has inspired me a lot. But also music has been a big part of my life. I studied piano for ten years and this gave me the chance to learn how to express my feelings and emotions through music. I find it difficult to express myself with words – I’m actually struggling to answer all these questions! – but I found a way through music and then through images.
Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking? I recently discovered minimalism as a way of living. It has changed my way of thinking by simply making me realise that we don’t need that many things to be happy and that consumerism is a big problem in our society. The less things you have the more time you get to spend with the people you care about and doing the things that you love. The next step was meditation and training myself to enjoy the present and not thinking that much about the past or worrying about the future.
Describe your fascination and use of colour
I have always preferred creating images in colour, using it as a key element setting the mood of the picture. I think that a normal picture can be turned into a great picture just by editing the colours. I love editing, playing with filters and colours till the image looks like the idea I have in mind.
What are you passionate about besides your work?
I think I have named most of them through the questions. I love travelling, discovering new places, meeting new people. I love art and London is the perfect place to explore it with so many museums and galleries. I love music, listening to it and playing it (although I don’t do it very often). I love food, eating healthy and doing exercise. And since few months ago I love meditating and taking that break during the day to train my mind too.
What advice do you have for other creators?
Try, try and try. If photography is what you love, take your camera and go out to shoot. Ask your friends to model for you and try to meet people that are passionate about the same things as you are.
What do you believe is the role artists should play in communities and society. Artists and their work have always been a way to portray the history and society. I think artists have the power to communicate and transmit ideas and emotions that can help people understand the world we live in better. In communities for example, artists have the chance to make them visible, which I think is very important. Also sometimes, what their work aims to do – and I’d like to include myself here- is make us forget about all the things that are going on in our life at least for few seconds.
Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?
Actually, yes! I’m participating in the group exhibition Summer Saloon at the Islington Arts Factory from the 21st of June till the 14th of July. It’s the second exhibition I have done in London and I’m very excited. I’m exhibiting two images from the milk bath photo shoot, which I’m planning to repeat with different people and explore a bit more since I’m very happy with the result. Hope to see you at the exhibition!