From Prague, Czechia
Based in London, UK
Lucas Ross is a Czech artist, yet he only found his calling in visual art after travelling to foreign countries. He works with his own photography that he then edits using a combination of traditional and self-devised. He doesn’t consider himself to be a photographer, though - he places his work somewhere on the border between graphic design and manual collage.
A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you to art?
Long before I was born, my peaceful mind rested on a cloud of sorts, together with a bunch of other solitaires. The space around was illuminated by soft lighting and my mind was choosing what it would become in life. :)
My dad plays the five-string banjo and sometimes paints, my mom restores antiques and old Persian rugs and likes to photograph. It’s entirely possible that I acquired the natural urge to express myself creatively in early childhood from the environment I was raised in. I may have been born with some predispositions, who knows. Nonetheless, my creativity grew naturally depending on whatever interested me at the time. My parents never tried to guide me towards art in any way.
I discovered photography and visual arts in adulthood. In 2009, I had been living in London for some time. I was really into music. I turned my bedroom into a recording studio, kept inventing interesting methods of recording the guitar, learned about the laws of sound spreading, recording techniques, and looked for new sounds. It was a powerful time in my life, I was immersed in music, and on top of that, I was surrounded by this huge city full of variety and individuality.
Some time later, I had the opportunity to go to America. I said goodbye to all my musical instruments and equipment, left them behind in London, and set off. When I arrived to the States with nothing but a backpack, I was impressed by the new environment, culture, and mentality. It kind of fit me. Later I acquired an internship in a recording studio.
However, after some time I started to miss being creative myself, inventing and exploring new possibilities. I was able to satisfy this need when I discovered the camera and began capturing all that novelty around me. It just came to me logically.
I ran around New Orleans with the camera in hand like a fool, carried away not only by the city but also by having a new toy I can play with, explore its abilities, and easily document everything around me.
No one really used smartphones to photograph back then, photo editing happened on computers, there was no Instagram, MySpace had died, and on Facebook, you could see written statuses about what someone had for lunch.…
Then I discovered photo editing in Photoshop. Some of it I later replaced with my own methods of manual editing, applied directly on the printed photo. That opened the doors to more ways to process the photography and express myself creatively. I discovered many artists whose work I saw for the first time back then. I met many inspiring people.
It sucked me in, I let it. And in front of myself, I saw countless new things I wanted to learn.
A: What is your greatest source of inspiration?
L: The place I find myself in.
I am inspired by anomaly and originality. I like mystery, individuality, depth of content. I admire talent, technique, courage, wit, and I am interested in solutions and technologies that are yet to be discovered.
A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?
L: I wouldn’t say a ritual. I am able to create even in chaos if necessary, but I prefer to focus on my work. Sometimes I listen to podcasts or various lectures and interviews.
A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (an artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?
L: There’s plenty of generic advice. It depends on whatever obstacles the person is currently facing on their journey, and those I am not aware of so it’s hard to give specific advice. However, I think that one of the practical tips for life is to find your own talent, handwriting, or anything that sets you apart from the rest that you excel at. It pays to foster those abilities and to not be afraid of setting big goals with them.
A: Your top 3 phrases/words related to art?
L: I don’t have any phrases in my vocabulary I’d use to express my opinion on works of art, it’s always an individual judgement.
A: Your favorite Czech artists?
L: Jan Švankmajer, Jan Werich, Petr Zelenka, Jan Gemrot, Jan Simandl, Štěpán Jirák, David Kolovratník, Leoš Suchan, Karel Saudek, Jan Saudek, František Drtikol, Josef Duchan, Adolf Born, Filip Buryán, Barbora Myslikovjanová, Marek MaComiX Černý, JXR, and many others.
They impressed me by what they conveyed with their works. By their technique, unusual content, humor, individuality, or wisdom.
A: What piece of art do you think embodies the Czech national spirit and culture? Why?
L: The National Theatre. The Czech mentality is reflected throughout its story and it's a significant place for the Czech culture and therefore the Czech nation.
A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is: …?
L: That depends on specific circumstances, I don’t have a single go-to way of starting a conversation. Generally, when introducing an artwork or during a conversation about art, I like to point out interesting facts about the piece or topic. It can be a powerful story of the piece or its author or a highlight of a brilliant craftsmanship.
A: Where can we meet you most often?
L: These days you could meet me in the Epping Forest. (laughs) Sometimes I visit Prague, so maybe there, too.
A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art):
L: The pitcher goes so often to the well that the water turns to gold at last.