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Rising Stars: Meet Ben Cope

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben Cope.  

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I accidentally ended up in LA sometime in early 2005 as a photo assistant and lighting tech, working in the fashion/entertainment side of commercial photography. I had never really planned on being on the West Coast, but the opportunity presented itself, so I went with it. Over the first few years, I worked back and forth between LA and NY assisting different photographers and then decided to settle in here in LA. Once settled in DTLA, I worked with friends to build a creative company and produced fashion events in Downtown as I built my own commercial career as a photographer and director. In 2010 I took over a space that I built out as my personal portrait studio and have slowly built it out into a multi-studio creative complex on the edge of Downtown. My partners and I have since rebranded the space as the South Arts District Studios and it acts as a studio rental house as well as a creative space where we curate events alongside other artist and musicians. The SAD Studio complex is the home base for the majority of my photo work and the playground for myself and a few other artists to work out our creative ideas. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Definitely not a smooth road. But smooth roads are boring. Trying to work in a creative field can be expensive and it’s sometimes hard to get a foot in the door. I have been a single dad throughout the majority of my professional career and my son Ace, now almost 13, has put up with all of it and rolled with the punches. I’ve always kept a long-term perspective on everything and knew it would be hard at first. I put almost every cent I made early on into the buildout of my studio space and kept investing and building, knowing it would pay off eventually. It seems to have worked out and the friends I’ve made along the way have become family. We have each other’s backs when the road gets bumpy. 

Thanks – so, what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Above all else, I am an artist. Commercial photography pays the bills, but I will create with anything. I have a BFA in ceramic sculpture and photography and love to use my hands to build things. Over the last few years, I have narrowed my professional focus to celebrity portraiture and commercial advertising. I think my celebrity portraits would be the thing most would know me for as those tend to take on a life of their own once they are out in the world. It’s really hard to say what I’m most proud of as I think most creatives hate everything they do at some point. I definitely feel that a lot. I am always on the hunt for things I can do to make my work better in any field. I am constantly learning and exploring different creative outlets and seeing how I can cross things over. 

Alright, so before we go, can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I am always open to hearing out creative ideas for myself or the studio. Reach out. Come to an event. Supporting LA artists supports all of us. 

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Ben Cope

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