Rob studied for his degree at Bradford University in Graphic Design and Illustration. With its rich heritage of textiles, Bradford became a large influence in Rob’s work.
Now his inspiration comes from the dramatic architecture and moody landscapes found in and around the North West. Heavily influenced by graphic design and textile design, typeface and stitching often sit side by side with more traditional media, creating uniquely abstract pieces.
‘His distinctive work is described as ‘mixed media’ but this belies the complexity of his painting process which combines layers of paint, paper & print with stitching’ - Pure Buxton, Magazine.
In 2007 he received a Commendation for his painting ‘The Audience’ at the highly respected Derbyshire Open and went on to win the ‘Best Artist Award’ at the Buxton Festival Fringe.
Since then, Rob is fast building a reputation as one of the most exciting contemporary artists in the North West. Taking commissions from Old Trafford Cricket Ground and Manchester United FC. He had a sculpture installation in 2014 in London, as part of celebrations for the 'Year of the Bus' and has won first (2015) and second prizes (2014) in the Buxton Spa Prize Art Competition. More recently, Rob was approached and commissioned by Westminster Abbey to portray this magnificent, historic building.
His mixed media paintings incorporating paint, print, texture & lines of stitching, offer atmospheric interpretations of Peak District landscapes and these are complemented by dramatic paintings of the urban landscape.
The vibrant cityscapes of Manchester vividly depict the energy and drama of living and working in a metropolis. There’s a sense of immediacy, but links with the past are also evoked by the juxtaposition of Victorian buildings and modern architecture.
Rob Wilson is regularly commissioned; many by architects who recognise his unique ability to capture the very essence of a particular building or place.
As a popular contemporary artist Rob receives many requests asking about his influences and goals. As an aid for students he has answered some of the more common questions below:
- Who is your favourite artist? I have a few! but the main ones have to be Alice Kettle for her fantastic textile work and Liam Spencer for the way he captures atmosphere.
- Where do you go for inspiration? I'm pretty much inspired wherever I go! Manchester in particular, its a great place for inspiration. Also often on holiday, be it the South of France, Canada or Austria I get the craving to paint and usually come back recharged and full of new ideas.
- Is there an artwork you are most proud of? I think it's still 'The Cornerhouse'. It's one of the first I produced of Manchester on which a lot of the techniques I'd been practicing over the years came together properly for the first time.
- What was the first piece you sold? I first exhibited artwork from my degree show which sold in a small gallery in my home town, Knutsford. They were four small life studies mainly in stitching. They didn't sell for much but it was a great feeling!
- How long do you work on each piece? It varies depending on the size. Between 8-20 hours? I usually only work in 3 hour stints as it's surprisingly exhausting!
- What processes do you go through to take an idea to a finished piece? I work from photos. If the piece has been commissioned I would wait for the right light before taking the photos. I like strong light as it brings out the contrast of a building's architecture. I'm also very particular about the angle of the photo and like to have foreground interest (usually people) as it provides perspective to the scene and also gives the building a sense of purpose or context.
From this I produce a very quick line drawing on to canvas using watercolour pencil crayons. This becomes the rough layout for the painting and introduces pace and movement to the painting right at the start. I water down the pencil drawing using diluted glue before laying on the trademark dress patterns. Once dry I often use a wash of acrylic inks to start adding large areas of tone. I then use acrylic paint to define the areas of intense light and shade before adding cut sections of news print and leaflets which are often relevant to the subject. After more layers of print I finish with subtle wash of watercolour to fine tune the tones. Then the piece is ready for stitching. This stage is very important as it literally ties together various elements of the painting, without which the painting feels unresolved.
- I am interested in how you got started after you got your degree: How did you promote yourself? Did you enter competitions / approach galleries / use social media / internet etc? I studied Graphic Design and Illustration for my degree, so my main object was to forge a career in this area. So the art happened quite naturally without too much pressure. Having sold a couple of degree pieces I was introduced to the High Peak Artist group and applied to join their group who exhibited at the Pump Room in Buxton. My work consisted largely of life studies at first but an entry into the 'Derbyshire Open' in 2007 of a piece entitled 'The Audience' which featured crowds emerging from the Buxton Opera house led me down a whole new line of technique and subject matter - architecture! The piece received a commendation and also led to the award for Festival Fringe 'Best Artist'. This led to a couple of appearances in the local papers and magazines from which interest grew.
- How do you continue to promote your work? I realised early the importance of marketing and promotion and now use social media, newsletters, and encourage articles in relevant magazines to promote exhibitions etc. I also think it's important to produce good quality brochures, leaflets and invites.
- Have you been influenced by your target market? Does this effect and reflect in your work in any way? It always interested me, why artists choose to paint in a particular style or choose a particulary subject? Fundamentally I paint what visually pleases me. Sometimes my favourite painting might take longer to sell than one I would consider not as strong, which I find interesting, - different tastes? I think there's always a element, even if it's slightly subconscious, of the intended audience which must have some effect on the final outcome.
- Professionally, what’s your goal? To paint for the Royal Family ... See - High goals!
- Do you have any tips for budding artists? Simple determination! Experiment a lot. Try to find something unique, mix techniques to develop something different. Bare in mind what might work commercially. Present your work as professionally as possible. Set high goals and put in plenty of hours until you reach them ...and enjoy.
Winner of the Buxton Spa Prize in 2015, Rob Wilson has fast become one of the most exciting contemporary artists in the UK.
His mixed media paintings incorporating paint, print, texture & lines of stitching, offer atmospheric interpretations of the urban landscape.
Recently commissioned by Westminster Abbey, with previous commissions including The Ashes Series at Old Trafford.
Selected prints now available at John Lewis.
Rob Wilson Art
Phone: 0161 6377 490
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