Thursday 13 July 2017

My Petite Bourgeois Revolution: Robert John Paterson

My Petite Bourgeois Revolution was held at Northern Contemporary Gallery in Toronto in May. We had a fantastic selection of artists for the show, including the inimitable Robert John Paterson.

His work is Constructivist design savvy crossed with Pop-Art fun, driven by sharp wit. And perhaps the ghost of the legendary Saul Bass.

I asked him some questions about his work, the show, and the future:

1) What's top of mind when your create? Composition, concept, craft, anatomy, color? What aspect fascinates you most?

Concept is always first and foremost. I lean more design than fine art, if something isn't done for a reason I really have a hard time investing. I feel the idea should be whats on display, and my illustration is more or less the vehicle to communicate it. When the illustration looks pretty that's a win win, but to me if the concept doesn't work no amount of polish can save it.

2) What kind of work do you usually do? Commercial, editorial, advertising, fashion, fine art?
I feel like I'm a mix of editorial and advertising. I do a lot of film and band posters, as well as magazine and online editorial work. I did my first book cover earlier this year and I loved it, to me its was pretty much a combination of those two fields. Concept heavy but still had to be bold and attention grabbing.

2) Why did you chose the First World Problem you did?
Mine was critique of the snacking habits of the first world, I wouldn't say its unique to the privileged because many lower income families have a similar if not worse sugar and super sized portion based diets. My piece was a diptych with a hand too big too fit into a Pringles can on one side, and a cookie too big to fit in the glass of milk on the other.

3) The rise of an oligarchical elite that threatens to undermine free, flat, fair markets and establish a new feudalism is a concern for many. What real issue are you most concerned about in the world today? What fires your jets and gets your blood pressure up?
Diet is a very scary issue to me. Its so easy to eat conveniently and the long term side effects of many harmful ingredients and food preparation practices are soooo long term most people (even experts) have no idea how we will be effected later in life.

4) What statement do you want to make with your work?

Statement is a tricky word. It sounds so defined and ridged. I'm more of a have you thought about this kind of person. People can be so strict in their politics, religion, opinions and criticisms. I don't make things to change anyone's mind or get everyone to think like me. More of a hey did you notice this or thought about this side of a subject approach.

5) We often build on the backs of giants. I know I try to, and I've been influenced by the Constructivists, Symbolists, and Bauhaus. What artists and / or art movements inform / inspire your work?
Big fan of 1960s Graphic Design, heavily influenced by Sal Bass and Milton Glaser.

6) If you could cross the world to see the work of one compelling creator and visit their studio (anytime, anyplace), which one would you chose?
No one specific but I would like to spend time in Europe and study typesetting and printmaking with more traditional tools and masters. I screen print my work here in Toronto, but other than pulling the screen my process is computer heavy. Would love to learn and work more traditionally.

7) Any advice for new artists, starting out in today's market?
Networking. Build relationships with people outside the digital world. Instagram popular doesnt always mean real world popular. Go to shows and make friends, build a scene rather than a following.

8) What are you working on now? What’s your next big challenge?
No big plan, lots of little ones. Working with some bands and short commissions. I feel like lots of smaller steps are more beneficial for me to keep getting experience and developing my illustrative voice rather than a few big ones each year.

You can see more of his work here.

And it's available on Etsy! I've always wanted a Crystal Lake Camp Counsellor badge...

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