Hi! I’m doing great thanks. I’ve been keeping pretty busy with lots of painting here in my studio in Central Florida.
Have you had any good waves lately?
Well, the waves are pretty non-existent here in the Orlando area, but just last weekend I took my dogs to Fort DeSoto Dog Beach (near St. Pete) for a beach day. They both love the ocean and would swim all day if we let them. The waves were a little choppy that day, but they had a great time anyway.
Let’s talk about art. What inspires you to create?
My inspiration comes from so many different places. From sunsets to vacations to films to conversations I overhear to simply walking around my neighborhood and noticing my environment… regardless, the inspiration for most of my paintings comes from actual experiences that I try to romanticize.
I don’t paint from photographs. Everything that winds up on my canvas is an image that is first painted in my mind … or a character that is developed by my imagination (except for my Disney licensed pieces, which of course are scenes and characters from the films).
Basically, I just want my viewers to smile when they look at one of my paintings. So, in that regard, . My paintings are not “thinkers” in the sense of having a hidden meaning that needs to be interpreted. With my artwork, what you see is what you get. If it’s a frog on a surfboard, then it’s a frog on a surfboard. I want to set a scene and let the viewer’s imagination tell the story. You can build a back story about how the frog got there (which I encourage and love to hear about), but the frog on a surfboard does not represent any profound message about the meaning of life.
As a matter of fact, my paintings fall into one of two categories of inspiration: “Places I’d Rather Be” (which are my seascapes and landscapes) or “Friends Along The Way” (which prominently feature my characters).
In each of my paintings, my character Beauregard (a tiny green frog) appears. Sometimes, he is the featured subject and other times he is somewhat hidden. A lot of my collectors get a good kick out of finding Beau in new paintings as they are released.
What are the perfect conditions for your creativity?
Any artist likes to be comfortable and inspired and I’m certainly no different. During my animation/video game making days, I absolutely loved a good thunderstorm to help me relax into my art. Nowadays, I have a couple of good dogs keeping me company at my home studio that often find their way into my paintings in various ways.
Who are your favourite artists in the surfing world?
There are so many great artists out there, but a few have really caught my attention. Jean Marie Drouet has a great way of painting that captures the daily lives of surfers and beach goers. There’s something about it that reminds me of growing up on Long Beach Island, NJ.
Walfrido is someone who I’ve met a couple times and he’s always so inspiring in both art and personality. His work with water is something I still aspire to many years after having seen his work for the first time.
Another artist is Tom Veiga from Brazil. I really love the lines of his work and how the composition flows. He really has a great grasp of breaking down to the essence of things. I love his use of color.
Aside from surf artists, my all-time favorite is artist James Coleman. When I was still in school, I desperately wanted to own a Coleman, but I couldn’t afford his pieces. So, I decided to paint my own Coleman to hang on my walls. I worked on my techniques by copying my favorite Coleman works featuring shacks on water, but eventually moved away when I found things that worked for me creatively.
I have a funny story about the first time I met Coleman. I went to a gallery where he was having a show and I hung around in the back of the crowd watching him paint (but not butting my way up front since I was not in a position to purchase anything). I guess Coleman’s wife took pity on me and engaged me in conversation. In my excitement, I showed her my “Coleman paintings” on my phone… she humored me in saying they were quite good replicas of James’ work.
Eventually, I got to speak to Coleman (who turned out to be super nice). I was thrilled to meet him, watch him paint and actually get to ask him a few painterly questions.
Later, on my way out of the gallery, I waved bye to his wife. She waved and nodded and then said (rather firmly), “Stay away from the shacks, kid.”
I laugh about it today, I knew it was time to develop my own style.
Being a surf artist sounds like a dream job. What are the challenges and what do you love about it?
You know, I wondered if I would ever tire of painting … or ever have challenges coming up with new scenes or subjects to paint. But nope, it’s never happened.
Prior to painting, I worked in animation (a few studios in town) and video game art (EA Sports). At the time, I knew those were dream jobs. And I really enjoyed being part of movies and games and having my artwork sort of immortalized in that way.
That said, I LOVE working for myself as a fine artist. It was a scary leap to move from being an artist on a payroll to working to myself. But, I love having full creative control. I love answering only to myself if I’m not happy with a piece. .
What are your favorite mediums and is there anything you’d love to experiment with in future?
I’m an oil-on-canvas kind of guy. It’s strictly my only medium. However, I made my living in digital art for about a decade and I have experimented with sculpture. I am really looking forward to adding that (especially sculptures of Beau) to my repertoire.
Is surfing an art, sport or lifestyle?
Pick just one? Surfing can be one or all three!
How can people buy your art and find out more about you?
My art is available in galleries, on select cruise lines, through DisneyFineArt.com and of course from my management team. Folks can inquire about particular giclees or originals via my contact form on my website: Rob Kaz Art