NJP (Nice Jewish Person) Sarey Ruden
Hello world! Meet Sarey Ruden, The Well's Nice Jewish Person of the Month for March! Each month, The Well proudly highlights an amazing (and eligible) individual, but this month's NJP has a bit of a twist! Sarey sat down with us to answer some questions about herself, as well as navigating the dating scene here in Metro Detroit and how that experience is reflected through her work.
TW: How did you decide to make your adult life in Metro Detroit?
SR: I grew up in Bloomfield hills, and after attending U of M, decided to try out NYC. I lasted there for a little over 6 years before realizing that my heart was home in Michigan. I missed my family, old friends, going up-north, more than 500 sq. feet living conditions. So I packed up and moved home to the midwest in the fall of 2009, and I haven’t looked back.
TW: You spend your days working as a graphic designer and art director-- tell us more!
SR: I recently started working at Taubman as a graphic designer. My background is in graphic design and art direction, so this role is perfect for me. I’m loving the people and culture and the fast-paced work environment.
TW: Have you always been into creating art and graphic design? How did that passion come about?
SR: I started drawing before I could even write! Unicorns and fruit bowls were my favorites. I was always a quiet kid, and drawing was how I expressed myself. I found my passion in graphic design and art history in the School of Art and Design while at U of M.
TW: You were recently selected as one of Metro Detroit's 36 under 36 for, among your many amazing contributions to our community, your work with Sareytales. How did that come about and can you tell us some more about what that has been like?
SR: If you insist :) The idea for Sareytales came about quite randomly. I had received a particularly cruel text message from a guy I went on one date with (from Jswipe actually) last year, and it just struck me, these words were poetry. How perfect would it be to take these mean words and turn them into something beautiful? So that’s what I did. I took his text message, and a bunch of other unsavory texts from exes and online dating app messages I had screen shot, and using my graphic design background, began turning ugly into art, and the idea really caught on.
Many of my pieces have been featured in exhibits from LA to Chicago to here in Detroit. I also sell Sareytales products on my Etsy page (etsy.com/shop/sareytales), and a boutique shop in NYC called Bulletin Broads. I’m also looking forward to being at the DIYSF (annual Ferndale street fair) again this summer. It’s been a liberating experience to take some rather personal, and often embarrassing exchanges, and display them for the world to see. But the reaction has been beyond rewarding. I am so thankful for all the love and support from friends and family, and all the new people whose paths I cross on a daily basis because of this project.
TW: What is some of your favorite dating advice that you've either given or received?
SR: “Don’t show them crazy too soon” - My brother, Noah Ruden
"I can't believe you're not divorced yet" - My mom, Joanne Schulman (keep in mind I've never been married).
"Over my dead body" - My dad, Andy Ruden
"If you think it, it is" - My step mom, Janis Ruden
TW: What is the dating scene like in Detroit vs. other places you've lived?
It’s obviously a LOT smaller here vs New York. But there are benefits to that. I can find out almost anything about anyone before we ever meet. Ok…so maybe that actually isn’t a good thing… I guess, for me, it doesn’t matter what city I am in. All it takes is one.
TW: What is your ideal date?
SR: I would say something casual. Drinks and apps during happy hour is usually best. It’s early in the evening, so if the date is a bust, the night isn’t lost.
TW: What tips do you have or what is the number one issue you see in your or other peoples dating lives?
SR: Be open-minded. As I get older, I have learned to appreciate qualities in other people I might have overlooked, or dismissed, in my younger years. That’s not to say you should lower your standards or settle, but maybe recalibrate your priorities when making judgements on someone.
TW: Why did you choose graphic design as your medium?
SR: It was a happy accident. I knew I wanted to be in the art field, but wasn't sure in what capacity. It’s pretty rare to make a living being a traditional fine artist, but with graphic design, you can fuse that artistic angle with a more marketable service. I am lucky that my path has come back around to the more artistic side of design.
TW: What's your favorite book and what about it moves you?
SR: It’s a pretty random book someone suggested my bookclub read when I was living in NYC, called “Shantaram”. It was an about an ex-convict’s epic adventure from Australia to the slums of Mumbai. I don’t even remember all the details (it was a reallllly long novel), but it really struck me as a modern-day fairy tale about love, deception and knowing yourself.
TW: Where would you most like to travel to that you haven't visited?
SR: Anywhere in Asia.
TW: How do you like to give back to the community / others?
SR: Time is a commodity, and also a sacred resource. But it’s with my time that I feel most fulfilled when giving back to to others, and the community. Art and design are my gift, and while you cant place a monetary value on that, I can donate my time and resources, to help make a difference.
TW: What's your favorite Jewish holiday and why?
SR: Yom Kippur. What can I say, I’m a glutton for self-deprivation.
TW: If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
SR: I don’t have a pet, but, if I could ask my child-hood pet Barney the hot-dog dog (rest his soul) 3 questions, they would be:
1. What are you barking at again?
2. Did you really just eat my underwear again?
3. Was it really a motorcyclist? (inside family joke and they would want to know too).
TW: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
SR: Being able to count on more than both hands the people I love in this world, and who love me back.
TW: How about a fun fact?
SR: We recently found out that my paternal grandfather changed his last name from Rudensky to Ruden when he was 18. I think Sarey Rudensky has a nice, strong ring to it :)
TW: When you've had a bad day, what do you do to make yourself feel better?
SR: Go for a long bike ride and try to get lost.
TW: Would you rather win an Olympic Medal, an Academy Award, or a Nobel Prize?
SR: Academy Award :)