Have you ever spent time at a retail job daydreaming about ascending to a role that calls upon your creative voice instead of those perky customer service pleasantries you’ve been trained to dole out? Well, Daria Kobyashi Ritch is living that dream, going from a sales associate job at Urban Outfitters to freelance gigs shooting fashion for their blog—while pursuing her Photography degree at ArtCenter. In the time since, the enterprising student has continued to create content for hipster clothing chain as well as shooting professionally for Nylon.
Ritch, whose mother also attended ArtCenter, discovered her passion for photography as a UCLA undergraduate student and transferred to ArtCenter to hone her craft. In the following Q&A, Ritch speaks about the role fashion plays in her photography and how her ArtCenter mentors have fueled her passion for her chosen field. As she gears up for her Fall 2015 graduation, Ritch reflects on her myriad influences —from magazines to cameras to up and coming photographers—as well as her ambitions to continue her work with major brands and fashion luminaries.
ArtCenter:Who/what are you most reliable sources of creative inspiration?
ArtCenter: What keeps you passionate about your creative practice?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: The people. I love what I do because I get to meet and hang out with the nicest and most talented people. All whom I’d never have the pleasure of knowing if I wasn’t a photographer.
ArtCenter: What’s your biggest “extracurricular” passion outside your creative/professional pursuits?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: I’m an Art Center student. I have no time for extracurricular activities! I wish that was a joke, but I love photography and fashion, so that’s what I spend most of my time doing. Any free time I do have I like to hang out with friends or my family.
ArtCenter: Was there a particular moment in your early life that made you realize you wanted to pursue a creative path?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: Being an artist was never a debate for me. I’ve known since I was a child that I wanted to be an artist. I think I have my parents to thank for that. They are both designers and encouraged creativity all my life.
ArtCenter: What have been the challenges you’ve encountered in your current project?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: I’m currently making a short fashion film with some of the film majors here at Art Center. After weeks of rewriting the script and solidifying what it is we need to execute my vision, it has become apparent that we need some financial support to create the film I’m envisioning. The budget is coming from my limited student pocket and I’m coming up short!
ArtCenter: Describe a creative breakthrough that helped you with the above?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: We are raising money on Kickstarter.
ArtCenter: What’s your most and/or least favorite part of the creative process: conception, ideation, iteration, completion? Why?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: Conception is my least favorite part of the creative process. It is so hard for me to come up with concepts or ideas! Once I have an idea, everything else is relatively easy. I’m extremely anal so I think often times conception is hard for me because I automatically block out ideas before I can even fully think them through.
ArtCenter: What are you watching, listening to, reading and/or looking forward to seeing right now?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: I just got finished watching the new season of Orange is the New Black. It’s a show my mom and I watch together! I wish we didn’t binge watch it though because now I have to wait a whole year till the next season.Ar
ArtCenter: What does it take for you to stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing digitized world?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: I think keeping a presence in social media is so important! I can honestly say most my jobs have come from companies finding me on Instagram.
ArtCenter: What is the name of your company or place of employment and what is your job title?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: Daria Kobayashi Ritch Photography, I’m a freelance fashion / lifestyle photographer.
ArtCenter: In general, how would you describe your career or creative practice as it exists today?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: Since I’m still a student I don’t have time to do as many jobs as I’d like. Most the jobs I do get hired for are related to fashion or editorial lifestyle series on a certain person or band. I’ve been so fortunate to have such rad clients and magazines feature my work.
Aesthetically my work is typically shot on location with all natural light. I mostly, if not always, shoot with film. I love my 35mm camera.
ArtCenter: Can you describe one (or two) recent project(s) completed in the last 1-3 years that have been especially noteworthy?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: I haven’t really done any personal projects in a while to be honest but some recent shoots I’ve done that I’m really proud of are as follows:
- Last term I did a shoot at this really rad location in Joshua Tree with model Staz Lindes. It was a fun shoot because I got to work with two young designers from New York who happened to be in town. The shoot was also noteworthy for me because it got featured in Oyster Magazine. This was probably one of my favorite shoots to date
- I recently did a fun little shoot with Clem Creevy of Cherry Glazerr in collaboration with the brand “Me & You” which will be featured in i-D Magazine soon! Again, this was a really great shoot because it was with a group of really talented young girls. It’s amazing getting to meet and work with people who really inspire me.
ArtCenter: Who are your biggest creative influences or mentors?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: I’d have to say one person who has been a constant source of inspiration for me over the past year is Art Center’s very own faculty, Paul Jasmin. I first took Jazzy’s class my 6th term here at Art Center and haven’t left it since (I’m 8th term). He has been crucial to the growth of my work. He is by far the coolest and most relevant mentor I’ve had. Not to mention he’s 80 years old and still shooting!
ArtCenter: Do you think it’s possible to create positive change in the world through your work? If so, how do you hope to do so?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch:Yes. As a female fashion photographer, I really try to capture women in a positive and true light. I never want to subjectify woman. My work is not sexy. I am interested in real life, not a high gloss, sexualized version of it. I think it is an exciting time for female photographers right now. There are so many young women in the art world right now who are setting a trend for more body-positive depictions of woman. I hope that with my photography I am able to be apart of that dialogue to move beyond the voyeuristic images of overly sexualized models.
ArtCenter: What are you proudest of?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: Shooting content for Urban Outfitters. When I first started Art Center back in 2012, I was a sales associate at Urban Outfitters. I worked at their retail stores for almost 4 years before quitting about a year ago. During that time I was flown out to Philadelphia to be interviewed for their summer internship program in the photo department. I ended up not getting it and I was really discouraged. In our business class at school I had written draft cover letters to Urban Outfitters as well, which I never sent. Needless to say, it was a goal of mine for a while. In April I got an email from them asking if I’d be interested in shooting a beauty feature for their blog. One thing led to another and my images were used on their site’s homepage, email blast, and more. I also have another beauty feature getting posted in July! I am proud that I have come so far.
ArtCenter: What do you wish you could do over?
Daria Kobayashi Ritch: Nothing, I believe everything happens for a reason. Every mistake I’ve made has gotten me to where I am today.
Learn more about Urban Outfitters at - www.urbanoutfitters.com/uk/index.jsp