Ink Tone Swep Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Best describe who you are and what you do.
I am a photographer and visual artist, and I provide creative services through my business, The Ricketts Company. Services include photography, video, animations, creative direction, and so on.
Commercial media is often formulaic, predictable, offering an assembly-line like box clinging to a “seen one, seen them all” regimen. Your commercial projects with brand behemoth’s like Finish Line and True Religion avoid this completely, however. How?
The easy answer, I think I’m a little crazy. But in all honesty, I believe I’ve also been the type of person to follow my own path by doing things a bit different, creatively speaking. A lot of my work starts off with a question: ‘What if?’ For instance, what if someone was falling out of the sky? What if a motorbike came crashing in on my face? Or any other unlikely scenario. Questions like that allow you to think outside the box and create work that stands out from the norm.
Your work is largely post-modern Hip-pop art, with nods to Shepard Fairey’s brand cynicism, Justin Bua’s highbrow hood genius and, arguably, a Salvador Dali-like ability to marry objects, color, and surreal shock to make a value added statement. That’s my take, at least. What’s yours?
I think you made a brilliant observation. Most of my inspiration comes from surreal artists like Salvador Dali and René Magritte, but at the same time I’m involved with pop-culture. So whether I’m creating an original idea or taking a photo of a celebrity I aim for cohesiveness between everything.
How did you gain and grow at Tyler School of Art?
I would say my biggest take away from Tyler was learning how to convey a message or tell a story through my work. One of my professors once told me: I created good stand alone images but at the same time they all looked like experiments, waiting for me to finish a series. I still create stand alone images because I think it’s important for an artist to play with their ideas, but I believe I can now put more thought into a complete body of work and even go back to a stand alone to create a new series all together.
You hail from Philly – as brotherly lovely as Love Park, where the thugs be – a conscious chocolate city with a sizable Muslim presence that birthed too many cross-cultural urban legends to name: Will Smith, Eve, Stevie Williams, Beanie Sigel, Jill Scott, The Roots, Kevin Hart. Who did the city raise you to be? How does it continue to inform your work?
I always find it interesting when talking about Philly and how it’s helped me grow as an artist. Philly taught me how to survive and to go after everything I want; instilling in me a grand work ethic and hustle. I also believe that Philly raised me to be a leader, which is why I continuously aim to reach greater heights by taking the initiative to lead projects. The goal is to one day be mentioned alongside the above names.
In many public schools across America art class has been removed due to budgetary constraints, supposedly. As such, how will that curriculum change affect the next generation of creatives and their art work?
I don’t think it’s good how so many schools are cutting art classes, and the next generation of creatives could definitely benefit from the exposure in school. However, I believe the internet and social media is the new art class in a way. There are lots of people who do tutorials or walk throughs of their process. And learning about fundamentals, or artists from the past, is easy. I would say the only downside to that is the individual has to first want to learn or get better with art. With school it’s almost forced upon you and by taking an art class, a sleeping artist can be awakened.
As a photographer who, what, and where are your current muses?
Good question. I’m not sure.
Do you have a signature piece that you are best known for, or that best defines your work? My personal favorite is the hand reaching out of the Nothing To Steal bag trying to grab the Jordan kicks.
If I had to choose a signature piece, it would be my image “Stay on Your Side”. It depicts an individual sticking their head through a vibrant red bush. It has made its way through social media, won an honorable mention through a contest, and was just on display at the Walnut-Locust train station in Philly.
Share with us any exhibitions, ventures, projects, and work you have on the horizon.
Secret Stuff (Laughs!)
Let’s end on a metaphysical note: If all things in the states remain constant, in what state will things constantly remain?
If I’m interpreting this correctly, I would say the state of being. This is because a state of being is a quality of your present experience and if all things remain constant, your present experience will constantly remain to be.