BMF followers and fans have seen a lot of Ross Collab lately -- and with good reason. The Foundation recently announced it is bringing on Collab as a spokesman for its relaunch of Bob Mizer's Physique Pictorial. You've seen his work in the pages of our spring issue. Now, we sit down with the photographer, model, and artist to learn more about his background, his artistic processes, and why Instagram is so important to his brand.
How long have you been a practicing artist?
I've been a practicing artist for about 6 years.
Who are some of your artistic inspirations?
I'm currently inspired by the photography of Sam Stoich and the late Ren Hang. I'm inspired by the painting and photography of Brooklyn-based artist, Courtney Dudley. I'm inspired by the work of my partner, Cole Witter.
How would you describe your style?
For now, my style is young and new. I tend to make decisions quickly and trust my gut. If it doesn't look right, I change it and move on. I'm approaching much of my art with big eyes and an open mind. I have a lot of things to learn, techniques to try, mistakes to make.
How would you describe the themes and thematic elements that have found their way into your works?
Right now, much of my work is a study of male form. Through this study of form, I find myself studying sexuality, openness, and queerness. Being a gay man, I'm exploring a world and telling a story that I feel I can relate most to.
Besides photography, what mediums do you work with?
Over the last year I began to explore drawing, painting, and sewing. I also recently shared an installation in my studio titled "The Glorious Hole" that involved a live model.
How do you find your models?
I find most of my models through Instagram. I hand people my card on the subway with the hopes that they'll go home, look me up, and reach out. I also work with friends I have in the city, many of whom are models, singers, dancers, actors, artists, etc.
Focusing on your male subjects -- Why do you believe portrayal of different types of men in your works is important?
I believe this portrayal is important because I think all bodies are beautiful, despite age, race, body type, etc. I think mainstream consumerism and American capitalism has created industries built around specific standards of beauty and I think it's time all of that comes tumbling down. No one should be made to feel bad about themselves for any one physicality of their being. Why does it matter? To who? And how does one physical aspect of our shell really have any bearing as to who we are as a person? I get a chance to open minds to other types of beauty through my work.
In what ways are your works similar to and different than those of Bob Mizer?
I think my work is similar in the sense that I am studying muscle, shape/form, portraiture, etc of men mostly. I think my work is different in the sense that I'm exploring my queer narrative through many mediums at once. I'm also living in a very different world with different rules and restrictions. I know this has made my work different from that of Bob Mizer.
How do you promote your art in the digital age?
I promote my art mostly through Instagram. I also do a lot of self-promoting wherever I go, whenever I'm talking to people.
Why is freedom of artistic expression so important in imagery that can be considered to be sexual or erotic in nature?
If we aren't free to express ourselves on a piece of paper, then where are we free? Sex is just one tiny little aspect of human life, a beautiful and wonderful aspect, but a tiny one. I don't think it should be taboo or hidden from anyone. Let's embrace sex. Let's be excited about sex. Let's be SMART about sex.
What advice do you have for budding photographers and artists?
Make work that feels good to YOU. Don't talk about it. Do it. Make it. Share it. Move on to the next thing you'd like to make. The work you're making right now isn't as precious as you think it is. Also, have fun with the process. There's no right or wrong way to do things, so, be patient with yourself and and have fun.