This week’s artist spotlight is dedicated to Rob Art, a talented illustrator with an clearly identifiable style. From celebrity caricatures to funky animal illustrations, Rob has mastered his illustration technique to suit the digital era. Scroll down to find out more about Rob’s intriguing background and the creative process of his work amongst other interesting facts. Have a pleasant read!
How did you find miPic?
I had been seen some of the ads on social media, but if I’m honest, my friend and artist Rosa Picnic was badgering me to join, telling me my art would be great on the site. I resisted for a little while, then eventually I set up an account. I looked at the interface and I was a little put off by the lack of controllability in the art (I am very precious on how my art is shown) so left my account blank. Rosa, being Rosa kept insisting I did something, so one day when I had a little open time from my commercial work, I started adding artwork. The fact it was so easy was a good factor in the process. Now, almost all my art is onboard.
How did you come up with your artist name?
Ah, a relatively easy question. Well, for years I have been going by several different names, which never really sounded right, so about one year ago, I thought I would reinvent my Internet presence and do all the styling and layout based on a new look and name. When I do logo design I really like simple. Like, the Apple logo for me is the best!!!
Anyway, with a slight tangent event path, some years ago I was exploring the etymology of my name; Robert. At first I was pleased with the meaning of the word because it came from the German historical roots and meant; “fame-bright”. Anyway, I did some lateral thinking from college days, I explored my name’s etymological roots and I looked at how it was pronounced: ˈrɒbərt’. Now being a graphic designer and using fonts a lot, I saw the ‘ə’ as a classic ‘a’ seemed to spell out ROBART. Later, when I was doing this revamp process, the word ROBART stood out as it played on the fact I do Art, most people know me as Rob, and at the same time it basically spells out my full name. So it stuck, I decided to call myself Rob Art.
Which of your pieces is most meaningful to you and what’s the story behind it?
I guess I have to say my first piece; ‘The Sneaker‘. It is what started my new phase of illustration off. I was getting disillusioned working in the education sector, and so wanted to start in Ernest doing my own art again. We had just taken Honey, a four weeks-old rescue dog, and she was almost a constant part of my daily life at that time. To keep fit I also do cycling, and it was on one occasion I returned from my cycle ride and was sitting down taking off my Nike shoes, when Honey bunny hopped over to me. At that moment I looked down and saw my Nike shoe that instantly popped into my head as the shell of a snail. The Lateral Thinking saw the ’sneaker’ as a slow creature moving! So, I guess Honey now is my favourite inspiration, and the reason I draw so many animals. Since then I have rescued 2 other dogs and have painted up to 70 animal illustrations.
“I guess I have to say my first piece; ‘The Sneaker‘. It is what started my new phase of illustration off. I was getting disillusioned working in the education sector, and so wanted to start in Ernest doing my own art again.”
Who are your artistic references/influences?
One of the main aspects I used to teach my students in my Lateral Thinking classes was that it was vital to not copy and be original. This is one of the key factors in the key factors that will make you a recognised face in art. I hope I have achieved that. People tell me that they can tell my style, so I guess in some aspects it does work. So, if I had to say influencers, I need to mention Dr Edward De Bono for his marvellous theories on Lateral Thinking.
“One of the main aspects I used to teach my students in my Lateral Thinking classes was that it was vital to not copy and be original. This is one of the key factors in the key factors that will make you a recognised face in art.“
As far as artistic influence, I really can’t say that there are any direct influences from any artists. I find amazing vitality in the life of Van Gogh. Who is in my mind the best artist that ever lived, but my style never draws from his work. I always promised myself that whoever I admire, I would never emulate. I also used to love looking at the work of Chris Foss and Syd Mead as a teenager, and it kind of got me started on my path in the college years. I really wanted to be a filmmaker or work in the film industry somehow, but life’s path made a slight diversion and I ended up as an illustrator. Not that I am sad about that.
Someone else I mention when I do talks is Walter Sickert, a British artist I encountered when I visited the National Portrait Gallery once. His art is again, not a direct influence, but his masterful way of using simple stroke to create complex images influenced my digital practice. I later realised that if I did large canvases in Photoshop I could loosen up the style of painting and when I zoomed out the detail was intensely sharp. This is all down to the persistence of vision the eye and brain do in reading images.
Where do you feel most inspired to create your work?
I have three basic workspaces. As I live in a tiny flat and haven’t got much space to swing a cat, let alone a pencil 🙂 I work on a desk at the end of my bed. This is my main “office”. There I have my iMac 27” and Cintiq 27QHD set up. I have built a special table that allows the Cintiq to be angled ideally for my work needs. With my iMac I have my trusted Epson scanner that basically scans a good image at 600dpi. All I need for my work. Then to the left of me are my art supplies: A draw full of Faber Castell pencils, art crayons, icing pens, etc. Close by I have my iPad at hand just in case I need to photograph an angle for reference, or use as a scrapbook of images to refer to, this tends to sit on a pile of A3 paper and a notepad. Essential art drawing items for a quick workflow.
My second drawing venue is the 100 year old antique table in the living room. I use this for large format drawing, which I do on Bristol paper on my drawing boards. Then come summer, I have my final workspace, which is the balcony. As I wake early, I really like sitting there and listening to the birds before the hum of human city life kicks in, and destroys any creativity in my mind.
The only media I can’t live without is the pencil. It may sound weird, but as I have been drawing since before the age of technology, I was always drawn (pun intended) to the simplicity of the pencil. I even take in the piney fragrance sometimes before drawing and it adds a element to my creative passion.
“The only media I can’t live without is the pencil. It may sound weird, but as I have been drawing since before the age of technology, I was always drawn (pun intended) to the simplicity of the pencil.”
I tend to think of the art becoming complete when I am rendering it. Whether it’s a commercial piece with a deadline, or a personal piece, the idea of completing a piece gives me the insight and drive to put good effort into the work in order to do the best job I can. Occasionally through my lateral thinking training, I sometimes conjure the next art piece in my head, in order to have something to play with in my mind.
I adore my companion friend; Honey, my rescue dog. I say this in this context, as a lot of my good ideas have been formed on our walks together. They say loosening up your thinking can actually open up the idea creating aspect of the brain. I have also thought of many ideas sitting on the buses, and up on my favourite place in Greece; Mount Olympus. This is so tranquil and quiet the mind plays a beautiful song.
“I adore my companion friend; Honey, my rescue dog. I say this in this context, as a lot of my good ideas have been formed on our walks together.”
What is your favourite social platform?
Is there a favourite social platform? I mean, it’s like the devil we know syndrome in the way they operate. There is not one that I feel is totally pure and useful in terms of being able to manipulate for the purpose of promoting my work. They all have flaws, and they all harbour people who are willing to copy, steal and be negative toward you.
That said, they are platforms that have helped me grow in my artistic career so I have to be able to acknowledge their value to some extent. In this path of revamping, I have made sure I am sitting on almost all the known ones so they can help draw attention to my work. Which is my favourite among them? Well, I guess due to the ease and the wonderful invention of the Flume app, I would say Instagram. Now that it is owned and integrated into Facebook as well, it helps some, but through the app I can deliver a great deal of content via my desktop, and have now even started getting art inquiries from the place.
“Which is my favourite among them? Well, I guess due to the ease and the wonderful invention of the Flume app, I would say Instagram.”
It would be better if I could figure how to raise my number to those of some artists with 100k followers, but I am slowly getting there. It would be nice too if POD sites helped this process by tagging artists they use the work of. As most of my time is looking to see which POD has used any of my work, whether via Instagram or Facebook. Every morning I spend my first 15-20 minutes doing the emails, social media and POD sites, and seamless and efficient services are key in that process, so I can then get on and do some creating.
Who do you dream to collaborate with?
Away from illustration I like to write. Some years back I wrote a story, which I am constantly modifying and I think it would be the most awesome Pixar film idea. I realise how hard it is to get a story idea into Pixar, so I basically have mentally shelved it, but it is a big dream to tell the story. Apart from that, I really can’t think of many individuals I could do collaborations with. There are too many really great artists out there in many fields that it’s hard to choose. It would be great to have a chance to illustrate a book or be chosen to do a film poster for a director I adore, but to work literally together I can’t think.
“Away from illustration I like to write. Some years back I wrote a story, which I am constantly modifying and I think it would be the most awesome Pixar film idea.”
Is creating art / taking photos your full time job? If not, what do you do 9 till 5?
This question was asked recently on a Facebook group. I find it weird in even trying to find an answer. Not sure which famous artists stated that if art ever became a job then the fun would be lost. Well that’s about it. I have been doing art since I was six years old, it was trouble through my school period as my art teacher told me to give up, my parents didn’t support my radical bohemian idea of life, and the education system wasn’t basically designed for me! However I managed to prove everybody/thing wrong and have been working in the business for over 20+ years now. Surviving on my freelance skills. The part that made me laugh is the 9 to 5 bit. There is no real border or barrier to my day. I can start at 6-7am, or even 11am, and finish whenever, or flow into the next day. Art and creativity is a way of life. It kind of acts like my therapy to keep me from being sane!
“There is no real border or barrier to my day. I can start at 6-7am, or even 11am, and finish whenever, or flow into the next day. Art and creativity is a way of life. It kind of acts like my therapy to keep me from being sane!”
Who else do you admire on miPic?
I have only been on miPic a short time, so I haven’t had time to explore all the artists on there, but I know two of my artistic social media friends are on board as I have seen their work. The first one I mentioned earlier; Rosa Picnic. I love her vitality and passion in exposing, creating and developing her ideas. Some of her works are really cool. I recently saw one called “Palestine”, which I enjoyed the feeling of it even though it’s ultra simplicity. Another person who I have great respect for is Lukas Brezak aka Surgery Minor Kunst. I am a traditionalist and respect people who are willing to put effort into the work. See it as a passion of life and not a quick means to making some money. Lukas has this strong characteristic style that shows he has talent and shows he has a love for the art.
“The first one I mentioned earlier; Rosa Picnic. Love her vitality and passion in exposing, creating and developing her ideas. Some of her works are really cool, and I recently saw one called “Palestine”, which I enjoyed the feeling of even though it’s ultra simple.”
What music are you listening to right now?
If you literally mean what music I am listening to while I type, then nothing! However, on a broader pass of my musical appreciation then I am into some soundtracks, like Babel, Taboo, Cinema Paradiso and Amelie, as well as being very much into Jazz. You know, the classic sort, with Chet, Charlie and Miles and Thelonius, Mingus, Sonny and Coltrane, etc. Apart from that I am wild about Pink Floyd and RHCP!!! What else is there?
What’s your favourite food?
This is a tough question. Tough as two years ago I decided to turn vegetarian. It was a New Years resolution I had been thinking of for over 6 months. I did it for moral reasons, in order to feel less conflicted in the idea that thousands of animals are ruthlessly tortured and killed for human consumption. This came after watching a very striking documentary film called “Earthlings”. That said, I still have those likes of my history, but most look forward to my chosen path of culinary delights. Luckily I am a very good cook. At present I have a great fondness for dishes with red lentils in them. I like their texture, flavour and adaptability. With this I love all types of beans, and just started making my own black garlic for the health benefits.
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