Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben Carranza.
Ben, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My journey begins in Long Island, NY where I was raised. My father moved to New York from El Salvador when I was ten years old in 2004; growing up in two different countries with very different cultures really shaped the creative I am today. I grew up away from the city environment but was able to take a train whenever I wanted to experience it, as I grew older my infatuation and love for Manhattan grew much bigger and I dove myself into figuring out what New York City was all about. Learning about fashion, art, architecture, design & all sorts of cool things that New York brings out shaped the path I was going to follow.
After graduating high school in 2012, I had a solid idea that I wanted to pursue fashion as a career little did I know it wasn’t going to be my main focus in the future; at this point in my life art and photography were not part of my life. I had been drawing all my life from comic books, quick sketches, graffiti but a few bad experiences and teachers made me loose hope in my talent. Photography had always been a love of mine, my father practiced photography as a hobby and had a canon af-1 film camera (which I now have and use) and a canon digital camera as well. He would constantly put the camera in my hand and would teach me few pointers but above all he would always tell me that it was about capturing things I thought were beautiful or worth capturing.
I went to college in Manhattan and while pursuing a career in fashion I became friends with this one guy named Mel who goes by meltheking on Instagram who would always have his camera on him and at the time had a good presence on Tumblr; hanging out with him inspired me to pick up my camera and begin sharpening a skill that I did not know I had. Few years later I took a trip to LA with one of my closest friends Justin Starling who is an amazing music artist and he asked me if I could take pictures of him while being on the trip & that was the moment I fell in love with the craft and art of photography. To this day, I don’t know if it was being in California with my friends and or the perfect locations that we were lucky enough to experience that put that in my heart to pursue photography. Fast forward a few years after that in 2017, I decided to quit my 9-5 and pursue photography full time.
While pursuing photography full time, I found myself in need of something more. I loved photography but there was something that was missing and I couldn’t figure out what it was. Through life, I had always attended art shows, Art fairs & anything art-related; I had giving up making art and drawing but I never distanced myself from art itself, it always stayed close to me. I had been styling my friend Justin for some time and one of those times I decided to customize a denim jacket for him so I painted a few words and symbols on it and passed it on to him & to my surprise it was a hit with everyone who saw it. I made a few more for him and the feeling on painting something and drawing brought me so much joy that I went out and bought paint and pastels chalks to experiment with. I spent two weeks straight, day after day painting and drawing & found my signature painting which is a simplified skull w a broken heart. The name toughlovespreadlove came to me randomly one night and it is a tribute to both of my older sisters who basically raised me among my father who I look up to and love very much. One of them showed me tough love which I think is very necessary as a human to learn from it and realize that it is a form of love nonetheless. Tough love is around us as we mature and we must embrace it. My oldest sister on the other hand has shown me to spread love to matter what, both sides are like ying and yang, they work well with each other, they balance each other. The message I try to portray in my art is for people to look at see themselves in my work, I paint emotions, experiences and most recently personal views.
Doing all this in New York was amazing but I had been traveling back and fourth to California for a few years, taking week long trips or even weekend trips and every time my love for California, LA specially grew greater. Something about the weather, the people and the west coast culture just felt like home. I had been speaking it to existence to everyone around me that I was going to move to California; so much that I know some people stopped believing. Until my friend Justin who I work very close with said he felt the need to experience California as well for longer period of time than usual & that was it, that was all I needed; I packed my bags, sold my car and bought a one way trip to LA. We landed July 28th, 2019 and since then I have met such an amazing group of creative people who I surround myself with, I’ve been able to show my art four different times throughout LA, have photographed incredible models, artist and events was flown out to Ireland to document a tour and all of that is just the beginning of my journey here. I love LA and I believe this is the place where I will continue to make things happen for myself and I will always rep New York wherever I go because that will forever be my first love.
Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely has not been a smooth road but I enjoy the journey. I consider every experience I’ve encountered a learning experience, I either win or learn but I never lose. Chasing your dreams and fighting for what you love is never going to be easy, understanding that is the first step before doing anything. in the words of the great Mitch from paid in full “a dude like me, I love the game, I love the hustle.”
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a portrait photographer and a contemporary artist. I believe that I specialize in both photography and art at the same time. When I’m not doing one I am doing the other, it is part of who I am.
When it comes to photography, I specialize in portrait & editorial style photography. I’m known for my raw style and use of bright colors in my pictures as well as incorporating cool fashion into it. I tend to work with interesting models and music artist who in my eyes stand out. I am most proud of being able to bring a different take on what’s out there right now. My style is very raw, my edits are minimal, my locations tend to be different in the way that I try to stay away from the popular areas; I rather shoot in a grungy street during sunset than in Beverly Hills on a sunny day w palm trees all around.
My art is very emotional. I paint what I feel, what I’ve experienced as well as my point of views on certain topics. I consider myself an abstract and contemporary artist because my art could be very abstract depending on how I feel and what I’m trying to portray and contemporary because I also like to experiment with different techniques that are not the traditional way.
I am most proud of having my own voice and style in both these art forms. It is very easy to be influence by what’s hot and trendy and follow that for momentary success. I want my work to last longer than my lifetime, to progress as I grow, to also change as I grow older but at the same time maintain the foundations on which I started.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
THE WEATHER, THE PEOPLE, THE CULTURE. There is a movement going on right now in LA where this is the place to be if you want to work and be as creative as possible. I’ve met so many beautiful souls and creative geniuses so far who all have the same purpose which is to create and help each other reach our goals.
I can honestly say the only thing I hate about LA is public transportation & the nonexistent corner delis.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @bcxnyc and @toughlovespreadlove
- Twitter: BCNewYawk
Pictures taken by me (ben carranza)