The Early Days
Robert has fond childhood memories of drawing and doodling with his siblings. He took several classes in grade school but never pursued a formal education despite his instructors encouraging him to do so.
Robert graduated high school and shrugged off college to be an entrepreneur. He started several business and most notably a bicycle shop, Big Daddy's Bikes And Beach Sports, which he co-founded while living in Seagrove Beach, Florida in 1997.
The shop acquired a client, Quincy's Art's And Collectables, that hired them to assemble some novelty bamboo bicycles. He visited Quincy's one afternoon to deliver an assembled bicycle and noticed a plethora of art supplies they were selling. This reminded him of all the wonderful memories he had being creative as a kid and teenager. There was no time to shop that day so he left Quincy's with lingering images of watercolors, paints, papers, brushes and other colorful supplies that caught his eye.
It was only a few weeks after that visit to Quincy's that things went south at the bike shop. Robert decided to walk away from the business and thought it was time to relax a few months to reflect on his life.
To fill the void he revisited Quincy's and purchased some art supplies. He figured exploring his creativity and painting would help pass time. The occasional morning sessions quickly evolved into all day art bonanzas. His friends started to notice all the art around his house and encouraged him to keep at it.
The Big Move
Being a risk taker and entrepreneur his whole life, Robert decided to see how the public responded to his work. He came up with the idea of a 'Sidewalk Artist'. He approached Quincy's to see if they would allow him to paint outside their shop to attract the affluent walk-by traffic while promoting their products at the same time. The owners loved the idea and the 'Sidewalk Artist' was born. Success came very quickly as the tourists immediately started purchasing the art. He knew that this was a marketable product and quite possibly his next big thing.
Well the tourist season dried up and all the buyers went home. Robert decided to take a few weeks off to visit his folks in Virginia while things were quiet at the beach. During the visit Robert was reunited with his former passion - ballroom dancing. And things were about to change!
Robert had the great fortune of being raised around parents that were involved in the dance business. Robert's mother was a very successful dance instructor and taught him the art of ballroom dancing when he was in his early 20's. He had a very successful amateur dance career but gave it up when he moved to Florida and started the bicycle shop.
While visiting his folks he decided to venture into his mother's dance studio. After not dancing for many years Robert realized that he missed waltzing around the studio and more importantly, his parents. So he moved back to Virginia to be closer to home and to be around the dance business once again.
This time around, he decided to try his luck at being a competitive ballroom dance instructor. Success was plentiful as his students scaled the amateur ranks under his guidance and drill sergeant principles.
It was at a dance competition in 2009 that Robert realized this dance instructor business wasn't going to last forever. Being a full time dance instructor was clearly a young person's game and he needed to think long term.
The Aha Moment
The light bulb went off immediately. He decided to pick up the brushes and paint once again. Several months were spent getting reacquainted with his art. All the while he was also learning the basics of how to get discovered using the Internet. He slowly put together a website and online shop that became supplemental income. As more sales came in he slowly weened himself off the dancing. In 2009 he decided it was time to retire the dance shoes once and for all to pursue his art full time.