After such a lengthy journey abroad, Rocco recognized that the Santa Barbara area represented the ideal location for opening a gallery and studio for showcasing his own photography along with the work of the many other photographers and artists he had met during previous stays in the region. Since its founding, Rocco Basile Photography has come to be known as a hub of artistic innovation in which new, up-and-coming artists have access to the mentoring offered by Rocco as well as the many other established artists and photographers who frequent the gallery and studio.
Despite the frequency of his international travels and his status as a transplanted New Yorker living in Southern California, Rocco has managed to maintain the distinctive New York accent he developed during his youth. Even those who have not had the opportunity to speak with Rocco recognize the influence his New York upbringing continues to have on his work, and Rocco has repeatedly expressed a sense of pride that his artistic efforts are so thoroughly imbued with his own personal life experiences stretching back to his early years as a New Yorker hopping subway trains and visiting the city’s renowned art galleries and museums at every opportunity.
1. What was your best/favorite subject in school?
I always excelled in the visual arts, including photography of course, but I also enjoyed English, especially the courses focusing mostly on literature.
2. What was your first job?
I would take the subway down to Greenwich Village to sell some of my photography as well as some other artwork. I’d usually set up shop right in Washington Square or at least somewhere close by. It was fairly lucrative at the time, and it definitely gave me the early shot of confidence I needed to pursue a career as a photographer.
3. Where and how did you first get into the industry you currently work in?
I had a nice portfolio put together by the time I finished high school, so I was able to pick up a few freelance assignments and eventually attended Emerson University as an undergrad and then finished my MFA at the California Institute of the Arts.
4. How have those jobs prepared you for what you do now?
I’ve experienced the struggle every artist experiences at one point or another, and now that I’m in a position to give back, I feel it is both a responsibility and a privilege.
5. Describe the best day of work you’ve ever had.
The first day I set up my little booth near Washington Square, one of the artists came over and offered some strong words of encouragement and helped show me the ropes, so to speak. That early support was so important to me and really reinforced the belief that I had enough talent to pursue a career as an artist.
6. How do you keep yourself motivated?
I’m still thoroughly fascinated by different perspectives, so I’m motivated by the possibility of discovering something new and unique simply by looking at things in a different light or through a different set of eyes.
7. What kind of business ideas excite you most?
I prefer business ideas that are designed to thrive in a way that is still supportive of other similar endeavors as opposed to squeezing out anyone or anything that might be considered a competitor.
8. Have you ever tried any unorthodox techniques to attract attention to your business?
I always try to avoid anything approximating orthodoxy, so just about everything I do for my business could technically be considered unorthodox.
9. What personal achievement are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I had the patience and the foresight to educate myself well enough on the business side of things that Rocco Basile Photography is a profitable enterprise that has never had to compromise its artistic values in any way, shape, or form.
10. What wisdom you would have liked to share with yourself when you first started out?
It took some time for me to realize how important it is to let the work speak for itself, so I would tell my younger self to give the viewer the opportunity to find meaning in a work of art before launching into some lengthy and entirely unsolicited monologue.