In his career as a montage artist, one event proved definitive for Rob Shields. “I watched a film, How To Draw A Bunny, about a 1960s collage artist called Ray Johnson,” he explains. “He seemed really strange, and I thought, I’m really strange too; maybe I’m supposed to be an artist.”
Based in Philadelphia, Rob studied psychology and philosophy, and also did a stint as a writer before teaching himself design a few years ago. Most of his time is now spent on creating artworks for a range of clients, particularly in the digital design realm – this magazine among them.
Rob believes collage enables budding artists to find their creative voice quickly, though he concedes that what was once liberating has become somewhat limiting. “If I have an idea now, I have to find a photograph,” he says. “I’m trying to move away from that.” But his creations are anything but limited. They are snapshots of Photoshop at its most powerful.
“I usually start off by sketching really loosely in Photoshop, just the basic shapes or composition,” he says. “I use a tablet and I draw right into a layer.”
Rob places great emphasis on the precision of his cut-outs. “If you see something that’s poorly cut out, your expectations instantly go down. If you can tell the person’s spent time on it and didn’t just throw it together, I think that’s really a big thing for making a good collage.”