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Rankin: The Artist

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John Rankin Waddell

John Rankin Waddell, better known under his working title Rankin, is one of the world’s leading portrait and fashion photographers. His subjects have included Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss and Queen Elizabeth II. With a vastly expansive portfolio career filled with portraits, advertising campaign and fashion photography, the growing reputation of Rankin as a photographer seems unstoppable. He currently lives in King's Cross, central London, with his ten-year-old son Lyle (Biography 2005).

Early Years

Rankin was born in 1966 in Paisley, Glasgow, as John Rankin Waddell. His high school directed him into accounting but he soon realised this was not his calling in life. In a 2002 interview with The Independent, Rankin explains that his first year of study changed his perspective on what he wanted to do: "I realised I was narrow-minded, that my parents had sheltered me a bit... I lost interest in accountancy and decided to be a photographer." (Rankin in Cripps 2002). With his newfound interest in photography, Rankin put together a portfolio and was accepted into the London College of Printing. It was whilst undertaking his degree in photography that Rankin met his future colleague Jefferson Hack. Together they produced the college magazine Succession. After his time at the London College of Printing, Rankin took a year out to work for the student union. In this time he continued to work on and produce Succession as well as delving into freelance work designing flyers and shooting amateur portraits.

Creative Products and People

Rankin's 'big break' came 1992 when he and Hack co-founded British style mag Dazed & Confused. Still considered to be at the forefront of popular culture, D&C focuses on youth based trends within music, art, fashion, film and literature. "Dazed & Confused was always about creating our own magazine, and then giving others a platform, letting them work for us...We helped others. We loved ideas. We loved life. We were young and excited" (Rankin in Cripps 2002).

Dazed and Confused generated excitement not only amongst its editors but also amongst a number of celebrities, the first of whom was BjÐ"¶rk, who featured on the cover of issue #16. A constant string of high profile celebrity photo shoots followed, including his iconic shot of Kylie Minogue lying naked and prostrate, and the Queen smiling enigmatically in front of the Union Jack (Biography 2005). Rankin continues to edit Dazed and Confused and also publishes Another Magazine and car magazine Intersection. In addition to this Rankin launched his own quarterly fashion magazine, RANK, in December 2000 (Rankin).

As well as producing magazines, Rankin is a renowned advertising director and photographer. One of his better-known advertisements was the immensely successful Dove Real Beauty campaign in 2003.

Following all of his success, Rankin then turned his lens to filmmaking and in 2006 directed The Lives of the Saints, a London-set gangster film written by Toni Grisoni.

Creative Career

Rankin’s range of creative activities spans from full-scale feature films and photo shoots with pop culture icons to the mundane and everyday. “I'm completely obsessed with taking pictures of my self in passport photo booths... I also love the fun photo booths were you can become Tarzan.... I never stick them anywhere; I always keep the sheets complete.” (Rankin in Hack, 21). His larger scale creative endeavours make up an impressive portfolio career (Hartley 2005, 3) which includes a feature film, advertising campaigns, photography, books, music videos, as well as being the creative director for Italian denim label Meltin' Pot.

Rankin is a self-professed workaholic. His book, entitled Rankin Works released in 2000, is entirely dedicated to his love of work. 'I do work hard… and I love taking pictures’ (Rankin in Golden,1998) While he claims his first love is photography, and is more commonly known for his portraiture, Rankin continues to work in a variety of genres and creative fields. He enjoys the challenge that a new venture offers and it is possible to attribute this to his success as a fashion photographer. Even though he claims it is all a вЂ?game’ for him and that he's вЂ?never going to take it seriously’, Rankin does benefit from working within the fashion industry; “You do meet incredible people in advertising, fantastic creatives with loads of ideas. It's challenging and inspiring” (Rankin in Creative Review, 2002).

Creative Places

Dazed and Confused started as a free street magazine before becoming the thick and lustrous monthly it is today and has now grown into somewhat of a mini empire for Rankin and cohort Jefferson Hack (Creative Review, 2002). His rapidly expanding creative portfolio includes; his publishing company Dazed, who are responsible for Dazed and Confused, Another Magazine, Intersection and Rank; as well as Vision On who publish Rankin's many photography books; The Shoemakers Elves, his retouching company; and Dazed Film, who in 2007 released Rankin's first attempt at feature film direction, The Lives of The Saints. Rankin has formed his own creative place by founding companies that compliment each other and each of his creative interests.

There is an inherently British theme within the work Rankin chooses to produce. This is not just evident in the number of British models and celebrities he has shot, but also through the themes that run through his work. Creative theorists have long deemed London to be amongst the world’s great creative cities, Graham Drake goes one step further and argues that the location of creativity can be narrowed down to �creative clusters’.

Rankin’s studio and offices are positioned on Old Street, Hackney. This is an area of London that was previously known for its drugs and violence but has now been adopted by those seeking alternative and creative lifestyles. "I like shooting here", Rankin says of his London based HQ, "There's a good atmosphere."

Creative Practise and Creative Purpose

Rankin’s photography is unique in a very particular way - he uses his art to question the definitions of beauty, sexuality, and to highlight issues surrounding talent and fame. This way of creating allows for more

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