Bobby Vu (King Vuddha), was one of the first people I met when I moved to LA. His photography was different from anything I had seen in the world of fashion before. It is rare to see your favorite games and movies being weaved into high quality art such as his portraits. Just as his name implies he has an interesting balance between wisdom and grandeur. He talks about photography with a sense of authority, as though he has come to earn the title of photographer rather than just simply take it upon himself. I found through our discussions that after seventeen years he had earned it; he found balance and pleasure in his work that few photographers I have come across in the world of fashion achieved. Let's take a glance into his thoughts on the new age of art.
What inspires your art?
My art is a combination of all the things that I liked as I grew up. Stories, movies, games, art, people I’ve met. From classic European oil paintings to samurai culture to Hollywood classics like Kill Bill. I’ve taken a lot inspiration from all the different versions of myself throughout the years.
How do you go about creating your concepts?
When I create, I don’t sit there and come up with a concept. I used to be an extreme perfectionist and I’ve learned that sort of thinking slows you down. I now think of perfectionism as an excuse and somewhat amateur. When I create, I do everything completely on the spot, it’s much more organic and oftentimes more original. I no longer sit around and try to come up with the perfect concept. Instead, I prefer the expression that comes from my subconscious. When you do things on the fly you don’t have time to filter anything out, it becomes much more raw. That’s why I don’t think, I just do. I believe that this is the journey of an artist. We start with these overwhelming feelings of having to finish our passion project, write the best that we possibly can and then hope to be able to produce it one day. But then you begin to realize that just sitting down and creating now is much more fulfilling and productive.
When did you start photography? What was the turning point that made you think of it as a profession rather than a hobby?
I’ve been shooting for around seventeen years but I wasn’t active until 2013. That’s when I took the title of photographer. Before that I was a filmmaker, movies were always my first love. I had someone close to me who wanted me to teach them photography. At that point it was a hobby for me, but they were really good at marketing them self. Without even realizing it, I ended up working for them and felt used. One day they told me that I would always be the director and them the photographer and it would never change. It made me so ambitious. I wanted to be the best. I stepped away from that relationship even though it was painful and after I achieved the goals they had aimed for without any of their help they cut me out of their life. My art was my own again.
What aspirations do you have for your art?
Coming back to the journey of an artist, when Picasso was a painter he was much more of a realist painter. It was towards the end of his career he started to do much more cubism. I noticed his evolution as an artist was to skip all the perfect aesthetics and at the same time become more daring in his work. Originally for me, I wanted to be the best that there is to the point where I could just make a pretty picture from nothing, but it wasn’t enough. I had to take it to another level so my aspiration now is to dumb down the work. I want to break down my art to the core of the basics and bring out more of the raw stuff rather than focusing so much on details.
What do you think about new media in art and how it affects artists ability to live off their creativity?
I think it’s strengthening it as well as hindering it. Nowadays everyone is much more hungry, fighting each other for the best content on the internet. They are creating things for no money just to post on Instagram. It sucks for making a living but everyone is creating more and more. However, a lot of people now don’t really learn from the old masters. People appreciate them but I feel like they don’t have all the fundamentals of the work. They don’t have the traditional training so they create work out of intuition but I think you need a balance of both, skills and intuition.
Do you have any advice for up and coming photographers?
Don’t give up. A lot of people do because Instagram makes everyone want to be perfect and give up easily. But if it’s really what you love, no one could take that away from you. My mentor once said, "If anyone could convince you out of doing something, then it was never meant to be.” That always really stuck with me.
Thanks for reading!
All photos taken by Bobby Vu.
Check out Bobby Vu on Instagram!