Artist highlight with photographer Malik Ross

Malik Ross is a photographer and fourth-year communication design major. Ross came to California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) from Chicago, and pulls inspiration from surrounding art cultures such as films, animations and paintings. 

“I was never good at drawing, so I use photography to paint the picture I want,” Ross said. “I look at different animators and even artists in general. If there’s a pose or something that I see that’s interesting, I’ll put that down in my notes and save it for the next shoot I do, trying to recreate the post, along with whatever concept I’m going for in that shoot.”

Ross’ style is rooted from short films and animations, especially anime.

“I can’t pinpoint exactly what it does for me, but everytime I watch it, I get this urge to create something just because I like looking at animation,” Ross said. 

Like any artform, photography comes with certain limitations such as the type of camera one uses or how a shot is or isn’t staged. When it comes to his craft, Ross doesn’t like to see any limitations that may prevent other artists from creating, but instead uses it to help open his perspective. 

He believes seeing limitations as something that holds him back. 

“I’m learning to use whatever tools I have, and I apply that to my photography and not so much thinking about what I don’t have,” Ross said. “I don’t really see a limitation in my work or in art in general because it’s such a broad thing. I paint pictures with photos. A lot of people won’t see it that way [in their work] if they don’t try. You can’t really progress if you don’t try something new.”

When it comes to doing photoshoots, trusting the subject goes a long way in making it a successful piece. Thankfully for Ross, he’s able to find that strong foundation of people who believe in his vision. 

“The people I do work with always trust me. I feel as artists we tend to limit ourselves or not trust our visions fully and have doubts,” Ross said. “But having other people say ‘I trust you, just let me know what it is you want me to do and I’ll do it.’ That helps a lot.”

Ross hopes to go into more film-related work and capture behind the scenes moments on sets. 

“I don’t know a lot about film right now, but I think my style of photography definitely attracts a lot of people from different mediums,” Ross said. “I have a friend who told me he gets inspiration for his filming from my work which is crazy. I can’t see it from his perspective, but that’s his word.” 

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