Thursday Edition: Stefan Ruiz
Doubly extra special Thursday greetings, my collector friends! I'm really thrilled to be releasing today's editions, but quite frankly, I'm also totally nervous. It's a little intimidating for me to be writing about photographer Stefan Ruiz, and it's not just because he has some very impressive credentials. (Former Creative Director of Colors Magazine! Insanely successful editorial and commercial career! Monograph published by the venerable Chris Boot!) What makes the task most formidable is that, talent aside, Stefan is one of the nicest, most decent, thoughtful, compassionate, interested and interesting guys I've ever met. There's not really anything I can write that'll do him justice. So, I'm telling you up front: I'm relying on that old "a picture's worth a thousand words" chestnut, which I can do confidently, considering the gorgeousness of the photographs on your left. They are dazzling! The details included on this page offer just a taste of their overall impact — be sure to have a look at the large versions of each one too.
Cairo, Egypt and La Paz, Bolivia reflect Stefan's globe-trotting ways. He could have a perfectly comfortable existence traveling between Paris, London and New York, but his curiosity and compassion have placed him on roads considerably less traveled. When he came by the office to review proofs a few weeks back, he regaled us with tales of his recent (and, from the sounds of it, at times perilous) trip to Zimbabwe. Other projects have taken him from Kazakhstan, to psychiatric hospitals in Cuba, to the soundstages of Mexican telenovelas; and he's made portraits of subjects as various as Texan rodeo queens, Rwandan refugees and, well, yours truly.
I first met Stefan a bit over a year ago, when he was assigned to take my photograph for the amazing Dutch photography magazine Foam. I'll admit that I wasn't familiar with his work, and the cover of his monograph, People, didn't do much to alleviate the considerable uneasiness I have about having my picture taken at all, ever. A quick conversation with Andrew Hetherington made me realize that Stefan is a photographer's photographer, which meant that the people I cared about most would be paying close attention. It also occurred to me that a fella as accomplished and well-traveled as our Mr. Ruiz had the potential to be, well, kind of a jerk.
So I was just a wee bit nervous heading into our first meeting, and I couldn't have been more wrong about... everything. Stefan was totally low key and unassuming, so much so that I quickly relented when he asked to shoot me in the one part of my apartment that I wanted to keep out of the frame — my kitchen was in chaos, a sink full of dirty-dishes as its centerpiece. So it came to pass that people all over the world now know that of any talents I might have, those pertaining to the domestic arts are not among them. What also came to pass is a friendship, and after a bit of gentle cajoling from me, today's 20x200 editions.
Once we chose these two images for Stefan's 20x200 debut, we knew we'd need to make larger prints in order to do justice to their complexity and scale. The smallest size of each edition is 11"x14", which is a good start, not to mention an excellent value at $50. We also have an extra special uber-glorious 40"x50" version, which is pricey ($5000) but absolutely stunning.
As for describing what's so wonderful about them, Stefan does so best in his statement: Often, one of the things I try to do is find calm amidst the chaos, to simplify things. To me, a good photograph works on many levels. It should be interesting to look at and hopefully have some sort of social context. It should make you think, even if momentarily.