We 💛 artists. YellowDog has collaborated with many talented artists over the years — usually by making prints of their original works. We’ve helped artists productize their art with everything from giclee prints on canvas and archival posters to stickers and postcards.
In this series, we interview a new artist each month and talk to them about the life and business of being an artist here in Colorado. Today we’re talking with Robin Faye Gates, the artist behind the award-winning ‘Hug Your Dog’ mural in YellowDog’s entryway.
YellowDog: Hi Robin! Can you briefly tell us what kind of art you do?
Robin: I paint whimsy — characters, line, and texture– in acrylic and oil on wood panels, furniture, instruments and other 3D objects.
YD: What has been your journey into an artistic career?
RFG: I stared at this question for a while, and all I could come up with was an astute “I dunno.” But I sat and thought about “the journey,” and it finally clicked to me. Fear. Fear has been my journey to making art.
Like I imagine all artists when they are young, art was a favorite class in school. But when I headed to college, it was a time when “artist” equaled “starving artist,” and there was no in-between, so I did the sensible thing and pursued a degree in Business. After all, art was something I could do in my spare time (which happened about once a year). When I started my career in the hotel industry, it was fun, but I still felt a calling. I decided if it didn’t make sense to DO art, then I could be AROUND art, so I left the hotel biz and took a seasonal job with the Cherry Creek Arts Festival.
It was heaven to me–to be around all those artists and talking about art all day. But, with my still sensible and cautious hat on, I decided to go back to school to pursue a degree in Digital Media. If I could make a career out of THAT, then I would be in good shape. Art + paying work = good. The bulk of my career has been spent in graphic design, which I do love, but now, after all these years, painting has become a joy that I make time for, without living in fear of paying my bills.
YD: Describe your artistic style in three words.
RFG: Colorful. Whimsical. Sarcastic.
The business of art
YD: Do you sell your original pieces?
RFG: Yes, but lately I’ve dedicated a lot of time to commissions.
YD: Do you sell prints as well? Why or why not?
RFG: I do. I sell them through my website robinfayegatesart.com
YD: How do you get the word out about your art?
The artist life
YD: What has been the proudest moment in your artistic career?
RFG: In 2017, I received an amazing opportunity to paint a baby grand piano, as a live auction item, for The Global Down Syndrome Foundation Gala. Actor Jamie Foxx signed the piece and played the piano at a private party the night before the gala.
YD: What part of being an artist do you like the best? Least?
RFG: I will start with “the least.” My least favorite part is working on a piece, getting into that stuck mode, re-working and re-working until panic steps in and thinking,“This. Is. Horrible.”
The best is working your way out of that situation, getting into a groove again, seeing your “horribleness” start to unfold, and ultimately stepping back and thinking, “I just did this!” (There might also be a victory cuss word in there.)
YD: Where do you go (virtually or in-person) to experience great art?
RFG: Oh gosh, Pinterest and Instagram are big ones, but I try and not spend TOO much time on those platforms because there is SO much great art out there, and it can sometimes turn into sensory overload. They are great platforms for inspiration; you can admire different subjects, techniques, styles and color palettes to tie into your own work, but they can also cloud your unique personal style to a fault.
I also find a lot of inspiration from personal conversations, particularly random conversations of “nothingness.” Conversations with my kids often create humorous impressions in my head that show up in my artwork.
Are you a dog person or a cat person?
100% dog person
Early bird or night owl?
Go-to drink of choice?
Best party trick?
Hmm, showing up
Any book you’re currently reading?
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
What do you miss the most about pre-pandemic life?
Kids in school
YD: Thanks so much, Robin. We’re some of your biggest fans here at YellowDog, and the ‘Hug Your Dog’ mural brings us so much joy every day. Never stop painting (and hugging dogs).
Would YOU like to be featured as an Artist We Love? We’re always looking for local artists, makers, and designers to feature in this series. Get in touch to find out more!