RB: I don’t really see my style fitting into a category. It’s the result of my imagination, so unique to me. It’s characterized by strong line, bold colors and balance.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
RB: My inspiration comes from my life and my curiosity. That interest in how things work and why, led to a doctorate in science where I studied the natural world down to the microscopic level. I am also partially sighted. These concerns and others such as creation and relationships appear. My process is to work directly from the subconscious so the immediate meaning of the work is often unclear to me but with the passage of time I realize what my inner self has revealed. My art is a portal into my experience.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
RB: Generally I try not to have one! For me, art has to be authentic. It must come from the heart and have emotion. I switch off my conscious thought processes by putting a movie on TV and just allowing my subconscious to take over. I have no idea what will come out or why. Occasionally an idea will be stuck in my head for a few days and I will sit down to draw it only to discover that my subconscious has decided to take the idea and do something different to that which I had expected. The key thing for me is to allow my imagination complete control.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
RB: It’s great when people engage with the work, especially at an emotional level.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
RB: I live to create, so I draw or paint everyday. I tend to use social media to share my work and to sell it, so keep an eye on that too. I also choose images and manage framing when I have exhibitions. There’s also the associated organisation involved. I try to get to galleries and love to read. Having spent so many years studying the science of the natural environment it’s good to get out in the countryside from time to time and connect back with nature.
RB: I’m 100% impulse driven. Plans are for architects and engineers as far as my imagination is concerned! I think there are two kinds of artists – those who work from the heart and those who work from the head. I’m definitely a cardiac fan.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
RB: The more you draw or paint the greater your facility. Another is what some people like or not. I find it fascinating to understand their reasons as it’s another way of looking at the work.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
RB: My style of art reflects my personality and that’s important to me. Anything else would be a pastiche of another artists work. Its really important for me to be authentic. For instance when I draw cells it’s important to me that it’s based on the experience of having studied them at length and then understanding them in order to play with the logic of what they look like and how they might work.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
RB: I love being an artist but you also need to be self-supporting to continue to work. So the business side is the harder. On the plus side it’s humbling and motivational every time a collector acquires an artwork.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
RB: The freedom to allow my imagination full control and the excitement of creating something new every day. Before I go to bed every night I look through the work that I have done and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. That’s a wonderful feeling.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
RB: As I mentioned before my work is driven from the subconscious so its not really inspired by other artists or art. I do however enjoy the work of many artists because of their understanding of emotion.
RB: From modern masters, Picasso for his sheer imagination and humour and Kollwitz for her ability to empathize, stand out. In contemporary art I love the work of Paula Rego. You really feel the power of her psyche and the magical world she conjures up.
RB: I think its important with new technologies to remember that they are the medium and not the message. Technology and art are old bedfellows at this stage. Dürer was using the invention of the printing press to sell prints in the 16th century and the Impressionists were studying photography in the 19th. New developments led to the creation of paint tubes allowing artists to leave the studio and more recently acrylic paints and inks have given greater convenience. Photoshop and other software programs are ubiquitous. Technology is great when it helps an artist express him or her self.
RB: In my own case I’ve employed an even wider use of technology as a professional scientist, such as, for instance, electron microscopes and spectrometry. I’ve peered into bacteria and yeasts on petri plates and studied the effects of radiation as well as measured environmental factors and investigated ecosystems. All of these are part of my subconscious and appear in my work. So technology has certainly aided my development. Understanding the scientific principals beneath our existence has given me a great respect for research as well. It’s important to me that science is intrinsic in what I do rather than a superficial aspect. So for me advanced technology has been very useful!
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
RB: Following a creative path doesn’t necessarily make you creative, in my experience. There are many people who don’t have the opportunity to spend their time making things but are very creative minded. A creative in my opinion looks at ideas and, crucially, has the ability to play with them as well as new ones. There are creative people in all walks of life – I’ve tended to find they have a sense of humour!
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
RB: I like arriving! I had this idea as a kid that it would be good to first know your own country and work outwards from there. I’ve been all over Ireland, as a result, and kept going from there. I want to understand the culture of a place so I travel, slowly!
RB: Amsterdam, at this stage, is my second home. I’ve been fascinated with Dutch art since I was in primary school and so I get an annual museum card and traipse around the galleries and museums each year, several times.
RB: At the moment Berlin is the city I am most fascinated with. It’s extremely friendly, I speak a little German and I have friends there too. The museums are great and the place is buzzing. My favourite places are the Kollwitz museum and the Nolde Stiftung. On my last visit I ear-wigged on a job interview between a Nobel Laureate and a research assistant as I ate my lunch in a little Italian bistro. They talked happily for over an hour on the latest breakthroughs in cancer research. Their enthusiasm and excitement are what makes it a great city I keep going back to.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
RB: My flat resembles an overstocked book shop! It would be impossible to cite one book. My shelves heave with art books and I do enjoy historical biographies and histories of places. I enjoy reading John McGahern novels not least because he and my late grandfather used to be good friends and occasionally I come across a character description that could only be my granddad.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
RB: I’m currently working on finding a partnership with a respected art gallery in Europe. I think the relationship needs to work both ways and I admire art dealers for their faith in their artists. With the vagaries of the market, shipping, insurance and overheads, artists are lucky to have them.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
RB: The freedom to allow my imagination to flourish.
CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?
RB: That’s got to be Harmony by Penrose. Penrose are the next big thing on the Irish music scene and I was really chuffed when they asked me to design their album covers. So in order to absorb their music into my process I played it over and over for hours to see how it made me feel and then drew it. I think it says a lot for Harmony that despite listening to it on replay for so long I still really like it.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
RB: I would hope that my work moves people and uncovers the world of the psyche.
RB: I’ve come to realize it’s a reflection of the times we live in where the rights of the individual are beginning to be respected by society. It’s the art of identity at a profound and personal level.