Portrait artist Robert Haldeman’s medium is torn paper. He talks about his work and inspiration.
ABI: You’ve created a lot of celebrity portraits. Tell us about them, and the buyers who collect them.
RH: My portraits are of many celebrities from all walks of life. They are mostly people I admire and in some cases are my heroes. John Lennon is a portrait that has a lot of personal meaning for me. His music and writings have greatly influenced me. There other portraits that hold more of a touchstone to a memory that is always pleasant. The portrait of Bob Marley reminds me of art school and the friends I made there, as the music of Bob Marley was always playing in class or at parties. Each portrait is researched and is as close to looking like that person as possible.
As for the people who buy my artwork, they are mostly fans and just want to have it to remember a moment of their past. Sometimes people buy my artwork because they are fans of my art style. All of the people who buy my portraits say they have never seen anything like them. It is very flattering to hear and I do appreciate it.
ABI: How have the inclusion of words enhanced each piece of your art?
RH: The inclusion of words in my portraits is something that I included in my senior show. All of my pieces were torn paper portraits and had no words but did have pictures from other sources. Someone told me that I should be careful using photos because of copyright infringement.
At the time I had a typography professor who had impressed upon me that type can be as beautiful as the most beautiful piece of artwork, so I started to research the people in each portrait. Instead of photos, I started adding words with different fonts and sizes. Everyone seemed to love them. Pretty good for creating portraits with old magazines and recycled bristol paper and glue sticks!
ABI: What is the best way you have found to sell your work?
RH: When trying to sell my artwork, it is sometimes a challenge. Because of the unique look of my artwork sometimes people think they are paintings or prints. I tell them that each piece is drawn freehand and traced, and usually starts with the eyes and just go from there. I usually include about 12 to 20 words about the person or persons in the portrait.
I also do a lot of commission work. I sell a majority of art through social media such as Facebook or Twitter. I’ve sold my work at shows in New York and regionally, and through several galleries. Many of my sales are by word of mouth. I just get out there and ask people if they want their portrait done, or a person who they admire. The worst thing they can say is no.