PEOPLE: RP ROBERTS
We caught up with RP Roberts, a talented landscape artist from Manchester, to learn his story and how he ended up getting into painting for Jones Snowboards.
What’s your story?
Before I became a full time artist, art was my main hobby, so it’s been quite a transition to go in to pursuing that as a career. I tend to work as much as possible now to facilitate going away for walking weekends or holidays, so I suppose my hobby could now be classed as that. I’m also not adverse to a trip to the pub, but nobody wants to list that as a hobby!
How did you end up painting?
When I first moved to Manchester I was keen to try and connect with the graffiti scene up here, I was doing various jobs at the time, from handing out free newspapers to working in the TSA. I ended up doing some live spray painting at a couple of club nights and was introduced to a group of club promoters.
They were a small company who were running events for brands like Red Bull and Nokia, and these events had a ‘live graffiti’ slant.
So I ended up working for them. I pretty much learnt on my feet and ended up doing all sorts, event management, curation, sponsorship and all of the print graphics.
They used to run an arts festival that took place around Europe, so I was fortunate to get to work with them on some pretty big events on many aspects of the production, that gave me a great insight in to how to manage the relationship between the art world and corporate sponsors
I was still drawing and painting in my spare time though, but on more of a relaxed basis.
Due to various factors the company disbanded and I ended up doing freelance work, mostly youth workshops and working on various tender based arts commissions on the organizational front. Due to this slow down, I started to paint more of my own work to try to sell. I’d made the decision to not go down the route of graffiti/street art, so decided to pursue landscape painting.
I’d worked a lot over in Austria, and had painted a few landscape murals over there, so was asked by a few people to paint some landscapes on canvas.
As I was now in a situation where I was potentially dependent on an income from painting, I just decided to go all out and pursue it as a job.
I set up new online profiles, away from my personal ones, as I wanted to see what the reaction was from the general public. I painted and populated my online presence for a year before linking it to any of my personal profile, just as a way of testing the waters.
Could you share the story of how you ended up designing graphics with Jones Snowboards?
I was focusing most of my online presence on Instagram, and made the decisions to try and pin point a potential audience for my artwork.
I knew as a brand, Jones would have a slightly older customer base, and potentially a base that would be more interested in winter landscapes, so I started tagging my paintings with hashtags that related to the brand in the hope the Jones audience would see my work.
A couple of weeks later, I was contacted by their production manager Xavier, who said that Jeremy had seen my work and would I be keen on submitting some ideas for a board graphic. Initially it was just the one graphic, but it grew to three that first season.
It was a pretty long year, sitting on the news that I was going to have a three graphics with them.
Next season will be the third year I’ve done graphics with them, and I’ve also got a couple of shirt graphics, a hat and some neck warmers coming out. It’s exciting to have my artworks associated with such a great brand, I still can’t really get my head around the fact its real!
It’s crazy to see people on boards with my paintings on them, it’s a huge buzz.
Jones, along with snowboards also started the non-profit POW. Have you had any involvement in the great work the charity is doing?
I’ve done a few bits and bobs with them over the last few years. Jeremy asked if I could create a shirt graphic for them initially, and I’ve also created some paintings for them to use on Christmas cards.
I’ve been over to Munich the last three years to paint at the ISPO trade show.
The first year I painted a huge canvas on the Jones stand, but the last two years I’ve painted directly on to Hovercraft’s.
The one from last year was auctioned off, and raised $15,000 for POW, so I was pretty chuffed with that. The two I painted this year will be auctioned off again at a future date.
Climate change is the topic on everybody’s lips at the moment. What are your thoughts on how we as an industry can help spread the message on its prevention?
I think it’s an issue that needs to be addressed on many levels, I think educating the younger generation is key, and POW do some amazing work in schools and colleges highlighting what can be done to help, and how to engage with your local political leaders on the subject.
I think there should also be more emphasis on brands to try and influence and change our habits. What I mean by this is trying to get people to change their ways of interacting with what are seen as disposable items.
There are a few companies who are doing great work in this area. Patagonia with their Worn Wear campaign, getting people to repair rather than replace damaged clothing.
Mizu and Hydro Flask encouraging people to refill their bottles with water rather than buy bottled. I think it’s these small steps that can encourage larger change.
I’m still amazed that non-recyclable packaging is so prevalent; just think of one of the larger coffee chains for instance, the fact that their take away lids aren’t compostable is insane. The time it’s taken you to read this far, they have probably sold tens of thousands of drinks, all of whose lids are going to be stuck in landfill for centuries.
My local coffee shop use 100% compostable and recyclable take away cups, so it’s not like it’s impossible. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions as to why the huge coffee companies don’t use them.
So on a personal level, making small decisions like supporting a local independent retailer can indeed have a big impact on a larger scale, not just environmentally but socially as well.
Any exciting stuff planned for the future?
I’m currently working on trying to get a body of paintings together. I’ve mostly been working on commission pieces the last year, so trying to find time to sit down and paint a collection has been tricky, but I think I’m almost there.
Excited to get the work out there once its done.
I’ve also just finished another batch of paintings that POW are going to be using to raise funds, so I’m excited for those to come out as well.
Lastly, if you had any advice for somebody looking to get into your field, what would you say?
Work on trying to find your own direction and your own style. Other than that, just keep on going, keep drawing, keep painting and keep making connections with people.