Just Ask! My Visit with Rob Szot - New York Artist

Oct 24, 2018

My visit with Rob Szot - a New York Artist

On my recent trip to New York City I had the unique experience and privilege of spending some time with a well known artist. I met Rob Szot at his Brooklyn studio on an incredibly hot and humid day in late September. His studio wasn’t what I imagined, probably because of images I’d seen online when researching him a day or 2 before. However, the colours of paint smeared on the wall and seeing a few finished pieces adjacent to his work area felt very familiar to me. The roaring fans on the floor were a welcomed addition. 

I purposely didn’t research Rob before our trip or even before I asked him for a visit. I began following Rob on Instagram several months before and loved his work as it’s very different than mine. I hadn’t noticed he had over 50,000 followers. All I knew was that looking at his work opened my eyes. When my husband and I started to plan our anniversary celebration trip to NYC I realized that what would mean more to me than going to a number of galleries and sites was to actually spend time with an artist in New York. One thing I didn’t want to do was create a bunch of stories in my head about what it would be like to meet a working and successful artist, or have worries creep in. Would I feel intimidated? Would I feel less than or try to prove myself worthy? Would he think I was wasting his time? These types of fears could alter my experience exponentially. As I get older I have realized and formulated ways of ensuring my mind doesn’t get a chance to go down that road. 

I reached out to Rob Szot and shared my hopeful idea with him assuring him I was not competition. When I think of that now, it’s rather funny because after meeting him I know that would have been the furthest from his mind. Meeting Rob, right from the start, felt like getting together with an old friend. He was welcoming and casual, polite, humble and kind. I remember thinking, as we climbed up the steps to his studio, that it all felt so natural. 

I mentioned my upcoming visit with Rob Szot to an international art group I’m a member of: The Connected Artists - a wonderful and incredibly supportive and information packed artist resource. The members were so excited for me and suggested I video my visit. I hadn’t thought of that and wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I also felt a bit concerned that I’d be distracted, my visit might feel like an interview and of course was cognizant of Rob’s privacy. I chatted with Rob about this. Being a little camera shy he welcomed me to do a sound recording. I happily set my phone off to the side knowing the roar of the fans may completely obliterate our conversation. 

It’s funny that I was a bit relieved. Was I concerned about disappointing my art group friends? Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint where ideas come from. Being true to yourself can be a tricky business. Time helps. And honest reflection. Beyond being an artist, the experience of just being human is full of people we don’t want to disappoint. Another blog post for another time. So I have a voice recording - loud fans and all - of our visit and couple fun photos of Rob and me.

Our chat lasted just under two hours. Rob showed us the studio and the area beside where he has a casual space set up to take those necessary breaks from painting. We spent the bulk of our time in his studio talking art, looking at his work, discussing the art world, having a good few laughs, whatever came up. Rob had also done a bit of background preparation for our visit, complimenting me on my work and art business. I very much appreciated the high praise. 

My intention for meeting Rob was driven by an innocent, humble and curious desire to spend time with an artist in New York. I wanted to see how that would feel and I had down to earth questions to ask. Me showing up as me, meeting Rob Szot. That’s it. Life and art, for me is about feeling my way through it. The more situations I can create to feel the depth of living the better. My husband planned to leave us on our own with our arty chats but Rob welcomed him to stay. Mark really enjoyed himself and posed several questions of his own and adding to that “chatting in a pub” feeling. It just felt like three friends gabbing. All that was missing were the drinks!

I left that visit with Rob feeling happy, satiated, validated, in good company, appreciative, wiser, on the right track, humbled, inspired. And I left with new questions about my own art practice. Meeting with another artist who is much further along than me was a stupendous experience, one I am incredibly grateful for. Chatting with Rob gifted me with several hardy nuggets, some of which weren’t captured in sound bites. A professional video wouldn’t have either. Besides the several words of wisdom he shared, I received a kind of understanding and opening of thought about art and it’s meaning in our lives. I believe I also left with an even deeper appreciation for my own art journey, and how that may evolve.

I welcome you to visit my Artist to Artist Interview page, to hear a few snippets I’ve shared of my visit with Rob Szot.

If you’ve experienced any similar adventures in your life, poignant moments with artists further along the path than you or moments with a respected mentor I’d love to hear about it in the comment field below. 

Thank you!

PJC Studio Notes: