Rob grew up surfing and skating in New Jersey. He'd always had an interest in art. He enjoyed painting and drawing as a hobby (a hobby that he admits helped him overcome shyness and talk to girls) while never exploring the possibility of a career in art. Following his high school graduation in 1996, Rob sought to escape the cold, snowy and gray New Jersey winters and decided to attend college in the polar opposite at the University of Central Florida. He earned a degree in Criminal Justice and set his heart on a career in federal law enforcement.
Upon graduation from UCF, and while he was still applying for jobs, fate stepped in and changed Rob's plans. A person interested in buying his family's FL home (they had relocated about year after Rob), saw some of Rob's work hanging on the walls while being shown the home. The person happened to be the owner of a small animation gallery and hired Rob on the spot as a color key. Knowing very little about animation, Rob was a quick study and excelled at what he thought was a temporary job. One studio led to another and eventually he had a fledgling art career.
Animation & Video Games
Rob worked for several years in small animation studios. Because Disney had recently closed their Florida-based animation studios and some artists chose to stay and work in Orlando, Rob found himself working "alongside quite possibly the most talented artists I've ever known, right there in those small studios. Their influence proved invaluable." In 2008, Rob earned a role at the well-respected EA Sports Tiburon (Electronic Arts) as a character artist where he created human likenesses for Madden and NCAA Football games - combining his love for art, gaming and football.
Fine Art Leap
Working in animation and video game art further inspired Rob's passion for art and oil painting. An empty bedroom in his home became his studio and he spent countless hours creating works that made him happy. Environments, atmosphere and backgrounds have always been his favorite parts of any animated film and he studied the works of his artistic idol James Coleman. With each new painting Rob finished in his home studio, he further embraced a new dream of building a career as a fine artist. On the weekends, Rob started showing his work at local art festivals. The feedback his work received from passersby fueled his new dream.
Finding His Style
Though his earliest paintings were inspired by his favorite artists, finding his own style was not difficult for Rob. His love for using character and light to tell a story are evident in every detail of his paintings. "I want people to be happy when they look at my work, so I create stories that personally make me smile or laugh. But I also want people to notice the technical side of my paintings. I put a lot of emphasis on lighting, composition and color when I paint. I think all of these aspects ultimately play a factor in deciding the emotional outcome of a finished painting." When he paints, Rob imagines "places he'd rather be" and he imagines "friends along the way." Both are recurring themes and have organically resulted in two aptly named collections of work.
With the success and popularity of his artwork and his characters continuing to grow, Rob appreciates the many opportunities he has received in the art world. He is fortunate to have been granted the license to paint some of his favorite films in his own style. Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm and Warner Bros. have all taken form on Rob's easel and his inner child and geek come to the forefront to pay homage to the moment. His alma mater the University of Central Florida recently called upon him to contribute artwork on a grand scale to the football stadium by painting and designing a club floor that will be seen in aerial shots during televised games. "I can't tell you how cool it is. For years, I've attended UCF games and now, even if in a small way, I get to be part of the game. It's amazing!"