“I became interested in art as an adolescent,” says Mario Robinson. “My fifth grade teacher gave me the task of drawing several portraits of United States presidents for an open house. I had no prior knowledge of my drawing abilities, although I had always been enamored with the artistic talent of fellow classmates. It was that chance suggestion by my teacher that lead me to begin a Talented & Gifted Program at the high school the following year. From that point on, all my other interests fell by the wayside. I knew that creating art was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
“I attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I was particularly interested in studying Art History. It was intriguing to view the works of great masters who lived in various parts of the world. As I learned more about the artists’ lives and the conditions in which they worked, my appreciation for their work grew exponentially. I also developed the discipline to fully commit to a project and wisely manage my time.
“I decided to become a full-time artist upon leaving art school. The concept of deferring a career in art and working in another field generally means that the practice of art becomes a hobby. My decision to make the sacrifice to fully commit to art as a profession seemed totally logical, at the time. I had the support of a few close friends who allowed me to sleep on their couches for a brief period of time, as my career became more stable.
“Today, I paint seven days per week. My work day begins at 8 AM and ends at 4:30 PM. There are days that side projects require my attention and I usually work on them at night. It is crucial that I maintain a strict working schedule, as it places a priority on my creative process. In the age of social media, it’s easy to give in to distraction. I am less likely to get sidetracked once I begin to focus on the nuts and bolts of my work.
“I market my work through my newsletter, my personal website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and three galleries throughout the country. I have appeared regularly in art magazines, where I discuss my various techniques. It’s a delicate balance, as marketing is necessary to sustain a career in art, however the creative process requires a lot of time.
“My advice to newer artists is to be sure that a career in art is what you really want. There are rewarding moments and recognition for the established artist, which can be tantalizing to an up and coming artist. The career of an artist is demanding and the competition among peers is fierce. Artistic merit is only one component to thriving in the art world. It is a retail business and most decisions are based upon the artist’s ability to generate commerce. If you are fully committed to your art, these factors will not deter you. Your passion will fuel you through the highs and lows of your career.”
Mario Andres Robinson has studied the great masters but it’s the work of the American artists of the 19th and 20th century that have truly provided the foundations for his style. His work has a sense of realism but is universal and as his website states, “exhibits a distinct turn-of-the-century stylistic aesthetic.” In the early 90s, Robinson turned his artistic eye to rural Alabama where he began a series of personal portraits. By developing a relationship with the sitter, he was able to reflect the uniqueness of the his or her personal story in the painting.