Born in Massachusetts and grew up with artistic influences in his life. Rodney Robinson always knew that one day he would get to the point where he would show his work in galleries and art exhibits. Getting accepted to Pratt institute in New York City in 1990 changed his life forever. New York City has the most amazing artists, museums and galleries in the world and would inspire him for years to come. Achieving the success of having shows in New York City, Rodney has sold work domestically as well as internationally.
Soulivity Editor and Soulivity TV's "Beauty+Gratitude" host, D'angelo Thompson, spent some time with him to ask about his life's journey and his passion towards being an artist.
DT: Rodney, we met at Pratt Institute almost 30 years ago, did you see your future then as a working artist?
RR: I did not see it as it's happening right now. I always saw myself as a working artist, it's something I always wanted to do. I never saw it as a sustainable career, hence that's why I went into banking. I always did shows through the years.
DT: When did you show interest in art?
RR: As soon as I could open my eyes and hold a pencil. My entire family is artistic with painters, musicians, etc.; it was all around me. I was always doodling, drawing, coloring, I still do it daily.
DT: Has your journey as an artist been easy?
RR: My journey hasn't been easy but interesting. When I had arrived at Pratt, I was a little older than you guys, but I always wanted to go to Art School.
I initially applied to Mass Art and was rejected, it was devastating. I didn't give up and decided to try some art schools in NYC. I created a new portfolio over a year and then applied to each school, but I tailored each submission for Parsons, SVU, Cooper Union, and Pratt. I got accepted into all four and decided on Pratt Institute because of the name and the prestige.
However, Cooper Union may have been a better choice and opportunity for me financially in hindsight. Eventually, I had to leave Pratt because it was too expensive and I wasn't eligible for any financial aid, so I truly was a starving artist.
Hence, why I ended up in the banking industry.DT: I know early on your work was influenced by Picasso. What other artists inspire you?
RR: I'm inspired by abstract and cubism painters/artists. Artists like, Picasso, Mondrian, Dali*, Keith Haring, and many others. I think I'm drawn to the colors and many layers of these artists.
DT: Do you think art education and exposure to art is very important in schools?
RR: I think art education is extremely important. Once I got to art school, the classes really expanded my view of art. Such as color theory, collages, painting, drawing, art history stretched my knowledge of the art world…It makes you more well-rounded.
I use all that knowledge in my work and it's extremely important. For instance, like using different materials like bleach, gels, pumice, and much more.DT: What is your first memory of seeing art?
RR: I lived outside of Boston, my Aunt Sharyn would bring me to the city on vacation and weekends. We would have outings to the Boston Museum of Fine Art, which was such amazing exposure, and I was so in awe of the art around me.
I would go the entire day there and go back to the museum as often as possible.
Also, I convinced my teachers in high school to take my class on field trips.
DT: How does your loved ones and the world at large influence what you paint?
RR: Family influenced me a lot because they are all artistic. I am always surrounded by creative people; it fuels my creativity as well and it brings love to others and joy to me.DT: Is being a working artist your passion and purpose?
RR: I do think being a painter is my purpose. I love the reactions my work evokes from others. I can paint for hours and hours, it brings me joy, and I feel like it is something I am meant to do.
DT: Can art influence social change?
RR: I think sometimes for sure; everyone has a different outlook on social change.
They can use art to visually speak about social issues. I have done pieces that I have given social commentary through my paintings and people who saw it, they got it.
DT: Who has been your biggest advocates and cheerleaders?
RR: Basically, my husband, closest friends, and immediate family are my biggest fans and cheerleaders, they push me to do more. I am surrounded by love.
I paint in waves, so when I do paint, I paint a lot.DT: Does being creative have an expiration date?
RR: ABSOLUTELY NOT, I couldn't imagine having an expiration on creativity. You can be creative at any age.
DT: Seeing the success of other artists makes my heart smile. If they are lucky to become wealthy to have compounds to create and archive their work even better. What are your thoughts?
RR: I think it's the perfect environment to have a compound or place to store my art and create.
I think it's incredible to see artists being successful and I welcome it as well. I'm just as happy creating what I am creating now, money is the cherry on top.
Like being exposed to Live Nation, through a post on Instagram that Joe Perra that I went to high school saw and his company, Live Nation commissioned me to do 8 large paintings which I just shipped in August. Some will be in the V.I.P rooms, corporate office, and music studios, that alone is so exciting to me. I am very grateful.Name: Rodney Robinson
Job Title: Artist