Everyday Input: Bobby Ross
Every month we post an interview about someone’s everyday input. We do this because it gives us a glimpse into how these people learn and live. We discover the books they read, the websites they frequent, the podcasts they listen to, and the input they use to unwind. You just might find something to add to your queue.
This month, we have Bobby Ross.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Bobby Ross, I love cats, science fiction, and the 80s, and I’m a videographer/photographer in Tulsa, OK. I play in a band called The Fairweather, almost all of my shoes are Adidas, I’m a Christian, and I’m also a music/audio producer whenever I get a chance to wear that hat, and I love working on podcasts. It took me a long time to figure out the things I like doing in my life, so I’ve tried quite a few things in my twenties, using the scientifically proven “spaghetti method;” throw it all against the wall and just see what sticks! I’m also a person who defaults to defining himself by career rather than character, so I work really hard and internalize my failures easily, though I’m trying to improve on that by taking God more seriously and doing more things just for fun with my wife and my friends.
What websites do you frequent most?
Lynda.com! I love media and design, and since I’m in the YouTube generation, it seems like most of the skills I use to make a living have been peer-taught. It’s a good day if I’ve learned something new. In that vein, I also have a CreativeLive.com membership, which is about the best site for satisfying my curiosity I’ve yet to come across. Basically creatives from all fields do live streams, and you can pay to buy previous courses, OR stream whatever is currently live for free, so I usually just turn it on and see what’s being taught at the moment — great for stimulating curiosity for other forms of art!
Recently I’ve also discovered a beta for Nail The Mix, which is a rad monthly service where prominent producers in metal and hardcore send you the actual tracks from their records, and you get to mix them yourself, and then at the end of the month they live stream themselves mixing it. Just about the best resource I’ve come across for seriously upping your mixing game, especially if you work in this genre.
…And then there's Amazon. I’m a sucker for 80s and 90s horror and sci-fi movies, and I love old movie posters and kitsch. Plus, new camera or music gear stays way too close to the front of my mind than it should, and that can be quite a time sink...
Who are your favorite writers?
C. S. Lewis, especially when I’m starting to lose faith in humanity. Clarity of thought is an incredibly comforting thing. Jon Acuff gave me the push over the edge to start actually pursuing being a creative person full-time, and I highly recommend him if you have a dream job and want to start working towards it. Hemingway, London — the adventurers, the soldiers, the legends. Also I’ll never give up Lovecraft, Poe, Burroughs, Card, etc… I have no shame!
What are your top three books?
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis- it’s sad to say, but only in reading this did I start to realize as a teenager that Christianity can make real sense, and that is was possible to arrive at a real belief in God without resorting to, “Because the Bible/mom/Pastor told me so.” It encouraged me to test God for the first time, and He has held up quite well ever since. It’s also a place I go just to get back to the basics when my faith starts feeling a little too complicated- whether it’s religion or art or a game, a solid foundation and grasp of the basics is more important than anything else, and helps you to think more clearly.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Any person in a creative field needs to read this, over and over and over. I have it on audiobook and just listen to it in the car when I’m driving pretty much anywhere, or I’m on a plane, or whatever. It’s the best exploration of what’s required to be a good artist ever written, in my opinion, and is another great resource for decluttering your brain and returning to a simpler state when you start feeling like your work and life will eat you alive.
For Whom The Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’re familiar with the phenomenon known widely as ‘book hangover,’ in which you’ve been emotionally impacted by a book, and sometimes for days you’re still in a fog thinking about it. Well, this one gave me the longest Book Hangover I’ve ever had, so it makes the list by sheer force. Hemingway is so terse he seems angry, and so poignant he seems prescient, and I feel like I’ve lived a little better life whenever I read any of his novels.
What are your favorite podcasts?
The Tim Ferriss Show always inspires me, I love the Unstoppable Recording Machine Podcast for keeping up on my mixing. There’s this one called The Real Life Podcast that my buddy Joe Moore does that’s really excellent if you’re just looking for honest conversation between some inquisitive, intelligent dudes about religion and politics and current events- agree or not, it always gets me thinking, and I highly recommend it!
What input do you use when you want to unwind?
Making music is the most relaxing thing ever to me. Recently I’ve been trying to emulate 80s movie soundtracks to varying degrees of success, but I love the way those old synthesizers sounded- something about the late 80s saw this perfect melding of human and machine in music that just sounds so fascinating to me. Music production is so maddeningly deep that I have to keep myself from feeling disappointed that I was in my mid-20s before I picked it up, but it’s that bottomlessness that keeps me coming back every day to engage with it.
Also, taking pictures for my own pleasure is really a great way to quiet down and engage with your surroundings. I used to dislike taking pictures, because- or so I told myself- I wanted to experience the world, rather than just recount a subpar version of it to someone else later, but I’ve really begun to appreciate it, because of how keyed into your environment you have to be to do it. It means you really have to pay attention, and I find that my mind is very quiet and attentive after an hour or more of just going out and taking pictures. I tend to stay in my head all the time- always thinking about my next project — and pretty much the only two medicines that work to bring me out are photography and running.
What’s the most interesting thing you learned recently?
This may be ridiculous, but I’ve recently been learning to use Photoshop (instead of relying exclusively on my wife to do all of our graphics), and have been obsessed with crudely compositing ridiculous things onto images. Pretty much everyone I’ve taken a photo of (and I do events, so it’s a lot) in the past month has somehow mysteriously grown a convincing and impressive mustache, or dog ears, or separate head. Reality in 2016 is pretty much whatever we make it, and that’s endlessly entertaining and interesting to me! I just hope I never accidentally deliver my goof-offs to clients...
What topics are you currently most interested in?
Cinematography is my current obsession. Helping to tell a story through light and perception is fascinating, and the cinematographer’s job is probably my favorite one in terms of film, because while everyone else’s jobs are to show you something and take you somewhere, it’s the cinematographer’s job to actually be you- he’s your eyes, and he controls how you experience the story. From the lens, to the myriad of lights hidden all over the set/location, down to presenting each actor to maximize their impact and delivery, so much of how you experience a story is based on what they show you. Unbelievable.
I’m also interested in exercise, and particularly strength training: I want to stay strong and healthy all my life, and making sure I’m ready for whatever happens in life is a big deal to me, so I’m very interested in paying attention to what my body needs from me, so I can be a well-rounded person! Taking care of your body is a huge aspect of staying mentally focused, too, and whenever my body is out of whack, I know I’ll do poorly in my creative efforts.
Who has had the most impact on your worldview?
My college theology professor. He always said, “Love God, love people, and don’t be stupid,” and it’s stuck with me ever since. We shouldn’t accept things without testing them, and since I believe that God is big enough to stand up to such testing, I think it’s irresponsible to accept readymade solutions to philosophical and theological problems, or to hold too tightly to an aspect of theology just because it’s been repeated to you more than other possibilities. We have such amazing resources for defining our worldview, and so many perceptive teachers- love God with all of Your mind, and trust the Holy Spirit to lead you to better understanding. Doctor Murphy, if you’re reading this, thanks for caring that I think for myself!
Anything else you want to add for the readers?
If you believe that you’re made to do something, whether it’s a burning passion or just a good opportunity (I highly recommend following opportunity over passion), then remember that nobody will do it for you — it’s up to you! get up in the morning, trust God, and get to work. Matthew 6 is your friend: you can’t add a single hour to your life by worrying, God is going to take care of what you need — just do the work, and don’t listen to any criticism that isn’t constructive. Do poor work, do TERRIBLE work, fail over and over again, and eventually, through sheer attrition, you will get better, and you will gain traction. Who you are is more than what you do, but your ability to push through disappointment and display grit in any avenue of life is central to being a good person, not just a successful one.