Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Tru Art of Rob Small

Years ago, I met a fellow contemporary artist who's also a good friend of mine by the name of Rob Small. His art can best be defined as the air that we breathe... meaning that it can be everywhere and anywhere; which pretty much encompasses the fluid nature of his work, which seeps into the literal fabric of the things we wear to the pages of the graphic novels we read. His work runs the gamut from the readily urban and accessibly popular, to the more obscure and lesser known to a specific niche type of references. Whether it be a line borrowed from a movie serving as a new cache phrase à la guerrilla art motif, or a piece of clothing that has been modified and custom made with a word or two borrowed from popular culture, Rob Small's art is Tru (sic) in every sense of the word. I was fortunate enough to share a couple of words with him recently, and this is what he had to say... Enjoy!

PS: What artists, be they visual, literary, musical, etc. would you say have the most profound effect on you as an artist and/or as a whole? (Editor's note: I got a little tongue tied with the word literary, now I know what Barbara Walters must feel like on a bad night!)

RS: Hmmm...Well I would have to say, as far as music goes...I would have to say Portishead, I love that stuff! Kind of dark and melancholy, which is kind of funny 'cause some of my stuff is really colorful and bright, but at the same time... I like to you know; use it as a contrast to when I'm feeling down in the dumps. I listen to some Portishead, some Wu-tang, I like a little gangsta.

Visual... let me see, oh! I would say Shepard Fairey, (he's) very influential. I like the propaganda type of look and feel. If this was a video, you would see the shirt I'm wearing... it looks like a dictator tee! [laughs]

Tru Art Image 1

PS: [laughs] Would you say (that) Shepard Fairey's (brand of) guerrilla art movement has a profound influence on you as an artist?

RS: Hehehe!

PS: I know it's kind of redundant, but...

RS: Yeah, yeah, that's funny... Did you have to think about that?

PS: No, no... it's just that (Editor's note: Apparently I was speaking too fast to decipher exactly what I was saying here, but I think that what was said was basically just a general motioning towards the piece of paper on which the interview questions were on, which Rob just so happen to glance at during the entire course of this interview, which pretty much made everything be downright utterly predictable and not at all spontaneous... note to self: in the future do try to keep the interview questions outside of the field of view from the interviewee in order to maintain the integrity of the random set of questions!)

RS: Yeah, yeah, there you go... Shepard Fairey, very propaganda; know, kind of like...mixing in the guerrilla tactics, like how he used to post up all the stickers all over the place with Andre the Giant that said Obey on it, that was pretty cool. Mmmm hmmm...

PS: How long have you been a commercial artist and what prompted you to venture into this line of work?

RS: Well, I guess I wanted to do this, because... because it's the only thing I know how to do very, very well... [laughs]

PS: [laughs]

RS: ...that I could make money off of, anyway. Um, how long have I been doing it for? Making money off of it... I would say probably like three years, you know... selling little things here and there, doing portraits for people, and starting with the shirts and web design, things of that nature. Ever since I learned web design in college, you know I started to learn, messing with that, and a little graphics here and there; freelancing.

PS: So then... let me get a complete understanding, okay? Aside from you doing the comic books, you do the web design, and you also do like clothing.

RS: Mmmm hmmm...

PS: Which one would you say is your most favorite, you know... particular one to do?

Tru Art Image 2

RS: I would say the clothing, because I like the idea of being able to wear art or being able to present it on an everyday basis. I like art being practical art, instead of it just hanging on the wall for people to enjoy, I like practicality, that's what I like. Another thing is the dynamic to the sneaker culture; I kind of see sneakers as an architectural, artistic combination, and then you can also wear it out and put on your feet; and it's practical and useful...

PS: Okay, what genre would you say best describes the sort of your art that you do; would you say it's mainstream and commercial,underground and obscure, or is it relatively unknown with the potential of becoming popular?

RS: Hmmm... I would say it's relatively unknown style that I use. It's like a...

PS: But it's got potential?

RS: Yeah it has the potential to blow up because... well I like to describe it as very Renaissance; not in the sense of the Renaissance that we know. You know; Michelangelo, and you know those guys--- but Renaissance in the sense of like Renaissance man, like a... or mass appeal. Kind of like you know, just art that you could... you know art that you do rare; meaning that anybody from any culture or genre; you know if you're into Rockabilly stuff, I got some of that; if you're into hip hop I got some stuff like that; urban themes, I got Carribean themes, you know rasta stuff, I got you know...all kinds of stuff. I have a different section called Tru Art Noir Art I could go towards, most towards the dark... you know; emo types, you know---those kinds of people. So it runs the gamut, you know? Which is kind of like a cop out, but it's Tru (sic).

PS: So in that sense you would say that the Renaissance is kind of like a rebirth, you know... so to say? How do you say? A reproach to what's already been done?

RS: Right, right, kind of like a rebirth but in the sense that like uh... you know, the way that things are looking now; culturally in the United States and maybe the world, I would say that things are with a lot of melding, meshing of different cultures. You see, like Christian Dior had this whole rasta thing, you know... and this is high fashion, and he had this whole rasta theme, with the red, gold, and green as the primary colors; so he used that theme, and there's another designer, a fashion designer or fashion house called Etro, and they use a lot of native Indian looks and you know, they mix a lot of different things together, making the old line... that's what I'm into.

PS: And how would you say um... President Obama's you know, taking of the office, if you will... how much has that been an influence?

RS: Obama? Hmmm... well, I would say like uh... that the Obama thing is catching up with me in a sense, [laughs] being that the whole Shepard Fairey thing that you mentioned before, and he actually did a bunch of posters of Obama...

PS: Yeah...

RS: ...and so I was on that vibe a while ago, you know. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to get popular and blow up beforehand, but you know I would say that I was doing the same thing. But influentially, I would say that him being an icon is influential enough for me.

PS: What in your opinion... this one is difficult; defines as a work of art as Tru Art; like what is its characteristic, or continuous theme, if there is one?

RS: I would say that the continuous theme that every piece of art has a message of some kind; it is relaying an idea to you. It's not just art for the sake of art, you know just like pretty colors, pretty shapes, and contours of lines; you know, a lot of people can argue aesthetics...

PS: Mmmm hmmm...

RS: ...and you can say: "Oh! you know... Tru Art is actually just lines, and colors, and shapes!" But for me I would say that Tru Art is something that conveys a message, it conveys a story, almost like a narrative in every design I do... and that's pretty much a narrative; when you look at it, you interpret it, and it's not something that it's like... you don't have to be a major in art to be able to interpret it.

PS: Or appreciate it...

RS: Or appreciate it, exactly...

Well, there you have it everybody, Rob Small; guerrilla artist, graphic novelist, and fashion designer extraordinaire. For more of his artwork, please be sure to visit his MySpace Profile or add him as a friend on Facebook.

This has been P.S. Elliott (AKA: Dr. Gonzo XXVII) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog.

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