As part of Society6’s ongoing partnership with Bombay Sapphire to inspire everyday creativity, we’re highlighting the artists from our community who embody this spirit of imagination.

The goal of the eye-catching, powerful work of surreal photographer and creative director Aaron Ricketts is to constantly challenge the nature of human perception—prompting his audience to not only think about how they see any given piece, but how they see the world around them.

To give you a deeper look into his creative approach, we tasked Ricketts to find inspiration from the new Bombay Sapphire’s Gin & Tonic ready-to-drink cans. The result? A looping waterfall of G&T that not only exemplifies his ethos, but challenges the viewer to see things from a new perspective.

Here, we have a one-on-one chat with Ricketts where he shares his go-to sources of everyday inspiration, the ideation process, and how his Bombay Sapphire-inspired work came to fruition, from the initial idea to the final double-take-worthy piece.

Where do you typically find inspiration for your work?

I find inspiration from various places. This can range from looking back at my previous work, researching artists of the past like the surrealist painter René Magritte, and even Japanese anime.

Regardless of where my inspiration comes from, I’m driven by challenging human perceptions, conditions, and context. This allows me to create work that is playful, but also thought provoking.

Okay, let me back up a little. What does it feel like to be inspired as an artist?

To be inspired, in my opinion, feels like an itch you can’t scratch or having a tune stuck in your head. It’s constantly thinking about an idea until you’re able to execute it how you imagined.

Couple this with coming back to your work from taking a break, and it’s a refreshing sensation that makes you feel like you can do anything. This is why, above all else, I believe it’s important to know when to step away from your work.

So, what do you do when you need that itch scratched?

When I need inspiration, I like to do things that require little-to-no creative thought. This can involve meditating, cooking, watching anime, playing video games, and even exercising.

I like to believe that creativity and inspiration cannot be forced, so if I find myself in a rut, I don’t attempt creativity. For times like that, I believe self-care is the best option.

How do these acts of self-care push you to keep working even when you find yourself in a creative rut?

These actions not only inspire me to get back to creating work, but they also serve as a reminder that I don’t have to create work all the time. It seems as though when someone is working as an artist they can feel pressured to cater to their audience and pump out work endlessly.

This can lead to burnout, and can disconnect you from the work you do. When I know that I can create something at my own pace or not create anything at all, it makes inspiration come naturally.

So, where do you usually go for this inspiration?

Prior to the current state of the world involving the COVID-19 pandemic, when I needed outside inspiration for my work, I would go to the library for a few hours every now and then to look at books from contemporary and past photographers and artists to understand what their process was like.

I find that books are a great resource when looking for knowledge or inspiration because although we now have access to the internet, I feel as though there are some things that just cannot be found there.

I also enjoyed going to the movie theater. Seeing a film in the theater is a whole other experience than watching it at home—this makes me pay more attention to the work of the cinematographer and the lighting techniques used, which can ultimately translate into my own work.

For this piece specifically, what was your spark?

The inspiration for this piece actually comes from another popular piece of mine called A Thirst That Can’t Be Satisfied. In that piece, the viewer is presented with an unknown figure attempting to drink from a glass, but their thirst cannot be satisfied as they’re not “present” to catch the liquid.

By taking elements from that piece, the goal for this new work was to push the concept even further, while incorporating mirrors and the new Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic cans.

What would you say is the central theme of this piece?

The main theme for this piece is that one must always look at things from a different perspective. For example, there are noticeable differences in the opposing reflections, taking note of the Bombay Sapphire G&T cans with different labels, and a missing head. However, the feeling that this piece conveys can change depending on how it’s viewed.

How did you land on this specific theme?

I decided to hone in on this theme because I wanted to be able to show both of the G&T can designs at once without doing the obvious of placing them side by side. By making the cans become the reflection of the other, curiosity begins to take brew in the mind of the viewer.

This makes the piece more engaging, causing the viewer to have to spend more time dissecting the elements of the piece. Rather than looking at it from one perspective, the viewer can change the orientation, thus creating a new experience.

Once your inspiration sets in and you’ve honed in on your themes, what does the brainstorming process look like?

The ideation and brainstorming process for this project was very similar to some of my other work. There are times when I’m coming up with an idea and I have to sketch out my thoughts. But because I have such a vivid imagination, I was able to build images in my mind quite easily for this project.

During this thought process, I was able to visualize exactly what I needed to accomplish from a technical standpoint in order to achieve my goal. For instance, this piece for Bombay Sapphire actually consists of five individual images shot specifically to build out this final image, which is then taken into Adobe Photoshop and composited together.

And, did the finished outcome match what you originally imagined for this piece?

Yes, the outcome matched what I originally imagined for this piece. The approach I took for this piece was to visualize how I wanted it to look, then capture each of the necessary elements for the end result.

Of course there were different variations during the creation process, for instance: hand positions, liquid flow, and body orientation. However, regardless of these variations, the end result would inevitably be the same.

Photography by Tyler Borchardt

Stephanie Dixon

Director, Brand & Content