Rob Croxford is a Toronto artist whose paintings and mixed-media works playfully combine elements of graphic design and vintage 1950’s aesthetics with thought-provoking messages.
“I’m just grateful that I get to do this. I worked some terrible jobs over the years. I’ve got so much going for me already – I get to do what I love every single day. Even if things are not always as financially rewarding as I might like them to be, I get to do something that I’m passionate about and that’s amazing.
“It really helps when you love what you do. My paintings are really upbeat and positive, and I try to really be playful – and when you have that around you all day you can’t help but feel that way.”
But the consequences of the recent economic downturn can be disheartening for a professional artist, and focusing on the positives requires an occasional self-reminder, especially after a disappointing show:
Speaking of the process, how does he choose the phrases that make up are such an integral part of many of his works?
“I sit on some of them – there’s a few that I’ve been sitting on for some time, I can’t think of how to make them. I don’t want to be too preachy, and I don’t want to be too ‘cat of the month calendar’ either. So I sit on a lot of them until I find the right inspiration, the right imagery.”
Rob admires many of the authors of the clever, funny and thought-provoking quotes that accompany his paintings: “They come from people who are the person I would like to be […] I’d like to have the knowledge and experience it takes to say those smart things.”
He says it’s very exciting and rewarding when all the pieces of an artwork finally come together.
“I’m just finishing one right now. I’d started it one way and thought, ‘It’s a bit preachy, but ok, I’ll try that.’ Then I thought, ‘It’s not nearly funny enough,’ so I went back to the drawing board and made it a little bit funnier, a little bit sillier.”
Wanting to make his work more humorous, to “turn up the heat a little bit” sometimes makes Rob doubt its marketability: “Every now and again I get that voice in my head, ‘Don’t say that, Rob. No one’s going to hang that up in their house.'”
But his main concerns about turning up the humour in his work are not commercial. He worries that because his paintings are fun, they are sometimes dismissed as not being Art.
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