Sunday, March 31, 2013

Joseph Arruda (Zeruch)

Name: Joseph Arruda (Zeruch)
Website: or

What do you do?
By day, I am a “Senior Product Manager” at a software company; I’ve worked largely in technology for the last dozen years, and its something that surprisingly has lead to discoveries about concepts I can apply to creative work.  I’m educated as a political wonk, and even though I’ve rarely used the knowledge professionally, I still am an active consumer of political research materials.  One day I hope to move to something like the Congressional Research Service or the State Department, assuming I can ever get past the idea of DC winters.
Otherwise, I have moonlighted as an illustrator and fine artist.  My sole departure from this was 18 months as a principle conceptual artist for a now defunct video game startup in the early 2000s...and experience that nearly killed my creative spark.

Where can we find your work?
It’s predominantly online, with a few private owners (mostly in the Bay Area, but a few in far afield spots like Washington DC, Portugal, Australia, Netherlands, Scotland and probably a few other spots; people buy my prints, but I know not always where they end up).

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
It’s axiomatically a compulsion, so I just do it.  Motivation rarely factors in since I usually have more ideas than I can ever execute on. If I don’t feel like creating, that’s ok (although that’s an unusual state, I’ve had spells where I’ve walked away for a few months at a time, only to come back and produce at a ridiculous clip) and if I am, I just do.  Different projects have different secondary motivators; some commissions are very pecuniary, others are only labors of love that happen to be paid for.  I generally work the same way regardless in terms of execution -- the only difference is the cathartic effect I get from the activity.
When the muse is there (and she is there often, in a lot of forms, because I am just as apt to get an idea from following the curve of a womans figure as I am from the curve of a teapot design, or the curve of a beach or...yeah, it just works).
Maybe that’s why it works: since I never force it, ideas/motivation mostly self-regulates to the “on” position.  I keep sketchbooks in every room of the house, including the bathrooms. I jot stuff down all the time.

What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process?  
I don’t have that type of separation.  The process is the compulsion, so it MUST get done.  But I view works as things that can have many lives; you can “finish” something, and then as your technique or approach changes, you can revisit that as many times as you wish afterward.  The objects one create have lives that can extend well past the initial potential.

Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
I’m a fan of the arbitrary top 10 lists, so here is my (un-sorted) top 10 list:

Bill Sienkiewicz
Pablo Picasso
Antonio Lobo Antunes
Kent Williams
Miles Davis
Vernon Reid
Alvaro Siza
Jasper Johns
Akira Kurosawa
Mark Romanek

If you could be any fictional character who would you be?
George Smiley.

When do you get your best ideas?
Because I'm responsive to contexts more than specific triggers, it really could be anywhere and at any time (its why I keep small sketchbooks in every room of the house). That said, there are some times when the good ideas seem to materialize more concretely, and thats usually deep in the night or otherwise very early in themornings when I'm waking up (I sleep minimally and at 6-6:30 when I wake up it strangely can often be a time when at least a lot of big project ideas seem to just "show up" in myhead).

What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
I use a pretty broad array of items, depending on the size and type (representational or abstract), and I made a small blog post that takes a swipe at laying it out visually:

Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
I have taken some formal courses in college, and was an AP art student in high school, but most of my studies were self directed.  Lots of library visits for books on art history and techniques, and heaps of trial and error in the studio.  I got more out of trying to learn formal rules and ignoring them as I needed than just being indoctrinated from the get go.

What would your creative work taste like?
A multi-course Chef’s tasting menu, with wine pairings.  It would be pretty savory, and hopefully leave you very sated.

When you are not creating what do you like to do?
I play with technology, mostly in the Open Source space.  I probably qualify as having a half-assed “active” lifestyle (I like things like trail running, doing “Tough Mudder” type events, and otherwise fooling around outdoors).  I read lots of really wonkish stuff in terms of international politics, and otherwise am never “bored”...I keep busy every moment I can.  Life simply is too short to sit on your ass.

How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
I didn’t.  It was my negation of confidence that helped me along.  I always am both my own worst critic and biggest egomaniacal advocate.  My work is almost exclusively for my own edification only.  When you feel confident you’ve addressed your own needs, putting it out there regardless of what reaction may come (or the absence thereof) seems pretty easy to handle.
Frankly, I am still amazed when anyone notices my stuff, positive or negative.  It means I in fact have inspired some kind of reaction, which I assume is something that only works on me.  Often the reaction interprets what I’ve done differently than how I experienced it.  But its not my place to correct someone on how they experience/perceive what I’ve done.  Their experience is just as valid.  Its theirs, and based on whatever context they happen to be in.  

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures?
This is one of those questions thats just hard to even wrap ones head around.  You have to be open enough with yourself to look for the path you need to take to get where you want to go.  Maybe thats bunkering in a basement for weeks at a time, maybe thats putting yourself out there in the public eye every moment you can. Maybe you work with a mentor. You have to be honest enough with yourself to define what that is...then take steps to do just that.
There are no cookie-cutter steps.  You make your own adventure.  You can be scared or unsure of yourself, but you just keep at it.  To grossly mis-paraphrase my favorite Henry Rollins-ism, “Get Up, Go Again”.

1 comment:

  1. I highly recommend checking out Joseph's work, he is amazing. Period. San Jose is lucky to have him in the creative community.