Then one day I see a painting on ebay. It was titled "Cyborg 7". Something about this painting called to me. Literally. So I bought it. Loving the style of the painting, I kept in touch with the artist, Robert "Droid", the name he uses online for commissioned work, and learned he was actually a big time Henshin Fan. A short while later I commissioned him to do a painting for me of a Time Traveller.
ENIGMA FORCE 3
Beautiful as it is I opted for one of the other 2 paintings. Since then, I had always hoped to some day have a short interview with Robert Droid. But I am not a reporter and wouldnt want to make the mistake of asking misplaced questions. So I asked if he could supply some information about himself and the paintings he did for me.
I normally dont show artwork that isnt mine or if I dont have or havent asked for permission. And since it is related to this post, Mr Robert Droid has agreed to let me display one of the commissions he did for Dave Waugh and has also included a brief description of this as well.
Here now On Homeworld is the long awaited Interview/Bio of Mr Robert Droid.
It’s hard to know where to begin an Artist’s Biography; I suppose mine might begin when I was still at school. In the nearest city to where I grew up there was a comics/alternative clothing shop called The House on the Borderland where comic illustrators and writers would come to do signings of their work, and I remember meeting Alan Moore who wrote ‘Watchmen’ and Brian Talbot who was drawing the Nemesis strip for the British comic ‘2000 A D’ at the time.
Through various connections at the shop I found myself doing occasional illustrations for small press magazines, being a ‘guest artist’ at a science fiction convention, and producing illustrations for a comic strip written by the proprietor of the shop.
After some time it became clear to me that I wasn’t really interested in becoming a comic illustrator, my work wasn’t driven by narrative; I was more interested in what could be done with the singular image.
After school I entered formal art education and eventually studied for my Master’s degree at Chelsea College of Art in London. I was completing my Master’s in painting during a time when London seemed to be very much the center of the universe for art and I was taught by well-known practicing artists including Gavin Turk.
I’ve always stuck to a pretty traditional approach to art making but what I took from the tutors and visiting artists at Chelsea was the idea that an artist doesn’t have to work under a particular style and that it makes more sense (if you can do it) to use whatever visual or sculptural style best suits the subject matter of the project you are working on at the time.Even with complete freedom to pick and choose styles and subject matter I don’t recall anyone in my time in British art education picking up science fiction subject matter to work on, it seemed to be off the agenda during this time and it’s taken me a long time since graduating to come around to seeing the science fiction toys I grew up with as subject matter for painting.
I think I began the Micronaut related works as a way back into figure painting after a long period of working with a very precise and restrained methodology. The new paintings based partially on toys allowed me to jettison a lot of the self imposed rules I’d been working under and just loosen up.
Cyborg 7 was one of the first Micronaut-inspired canvases I made. The work wasn’t an attempt to make a painting of an existing Micronaut character or toy; as you can see from the choppy turbulent brushwork it was more about working through memories and intuition.
I began the work by just shoving the paint around the surface with a big brush until it coalesced into a figure which caught memories and brought together the influences of a number of Micronauts toy designs from Red Falcon to Acroyear. There’s even something redolent of Microtron in the almost wheel-like shoulder muscles and the way they are attached to the torso, as if they could be ejected at will and replaced with wings or missile launchers.
I generally paint ‘wet in wet’ which means things have to be drawn with the brush pretty rapidly to keep that sense of liquidity and spontaneity; the style is often referred to as ‘gestural figuration’ and it has a long history.
‘Wet in wet’ painting is a very effective way of capturing the luminosity and sheen of plastic; the right stroke of the brush can capture light and substance in one move. The visible brushstroke has been largely absent from science fiction art but its part of my project to see what happens when the human touch is brought into play with subject matter that is primarily about technology.
The most direct and democratic way of exposing the paintings to an audience was to show them online, so I put a few works up for auction on E-bay and in so doing I picked up a number of sales and commissions.
One of my first commissioned pieces was made for Dave Waugh. I was already familiar with Dave’s site ‘INNERSPACE ONLINE’ which is a great resource for fans and collectors. Most readers of ‘Home world’ will I think know of Dave’s involvement in the design process of the palisades re-issues. I really liked the sharp angularity of his design for the ‘V8’ time traveller chest plate and I knew exactly how I wanted to interpret the design in paint,
The crucial thing from my point of view was to attain the precision necessary for such a hard edged crystalline structure without losing the gestural energy that is present in the rest of the figure. Hopefully I got the balance right, Dave was very pleased with finished painting and commissioned another.
‘Enigma Force’ was commissioned by Austin who supplied some source material from the Micronauts comic.
The Time Traveller is my favorite Micronauts figure. I have always loved the transparency and uncompromising modernity of this toy. It’s not really like anything else except in its roots in the Henshin Cyborg toy-line of course. The figure was a challenge to paint. With this commission the task was translating a flat graphic illustration into something atmospheric and painterly.
The source material from the comic shows the figure rising off the ground, transforming through some kind of energy rush. That’s really what I wanted to describe in the work, not just through the subject/motif but through the visible energy and flux of the brushwork. There is a lot of paint in ‘Enigma Force’; the surface is very thick, particularly around the chest plate.
Something that’s increasingly a key to these paintings is the question of whether I’m painting a character that exists in the imagination (like in sci-fi and fantasy art) or a toy that exists in reality (like an object in a still life or pop art painting). I think the paintings are at their best when it’s uncertain and the boundary between these genres of painting is blurred.
Robert Droid 10.6.11
I would like to thank Mr. Robert Droid for his time and for allowing me to post a little about him and his paintings. If you would like to see more of Mr Robert Droid's paintings, he has a flickr account ...