We had the good fortune of connecting with Kenneth Ruddy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kenneth, how do you think about risk?
Risk is an absolutely essential part of life, especially if that life is to involve a creative pursuit. Without risk and the desire to push yourself, life can be complacent and unmotivated. It was that fear of complacency that led me to take some of the larger risks in my life, whether it be moving to California after college or pursuing a freelance photography career. That fear was opposed by a natural fear of failure, the biggest bridge to cross when taking risks. Overpowering my fear of failure has allowed me to not only explore art in more meaningful ways but to also discover a truer sense of myself as an individual. I’m so thankful to myself for taking the risks necessary to get here and look forward to where my future ones will lead me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I was recently described with a term that I think solidly represents my artistic goals: ‘delusional confidence’. A wistful understanding that what I create might not appeal to all but that I still imbue it with myself. I think that, no matter the medium, my work exists in this heightened, fantastical, ‘delusional’ world. When I started as a photographer, I loved working with vibrant, unrealistically edited pieces. The union of reality and “un-reality” is where I choose to exist and I hope that comes through with all my work. It wasn’t easy pursuing this. There are many guidelines for what constitutes marketable photography for a beginner and, much of the time, I felt myself purposefully pushing against those boundaries. It was hard to find work because I hadn’t made a name for myself and I constantly doubted where I could go. Weirdly enough that doubt became my biggest boost. I made it a goal to prove to myself that I could do this and figured, if I portrayed that confidence, others will see what I see. I’m so happy to have been able to find myself over and over again within my art and am even more excited to see what discoveries I make in the future.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When I first visited, I was taken to Daikokuya in Little Tokyo. I still think it’s the best ramen in town and has become tradition for me to pass it along to any visitors. I’m also a big nature fan. Nature can be a little tricky to come by in LA, but an afternoon in Elysian Park or a drive out to Dockweiler Beach is always a good time. Living in East LA, I’d be taking them to my favorite spots around there; Gold Line for drinks, Ave 26 for street tacos, Wax Paper for some sandwiches, etc. At least once, though, we’d be hitting up my favorite cafe, Stories. It’s got a great atmosphere, is always filled with interesting characters, and is one of the few spots I can really focus on my work.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There’s a countless slew of faces that come to mind. First and foremost, my parents were essential in encouraging me to follow various avenues of creativity. And without the support of all the friends and collaborators I’ve met on my journey, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today. However, the specific name and face that echoes is Tom Copeland. He was the former director of the Texas Film Commission and my professor for a short film class in college. Tom was honestly the first person I felt really recognized and encouraged me in the field I so desperately wanted to be accepted in. He helped produce my first short film, for which I am eternally grateful. Yet, for me, the most important thing he did was see me for the artist I saw myself as. It’s hard to understate how meaningful that is for young artists to have and, whenever I’m in doubt, it helps to remind myself that people like Tom Copeland believe in me.