Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 111 - ROB PRIOR

Rob Prior painting


"I don't know how to paint any other way." Rob Prior, pop culture artist






This week we welcome pop culture artist, sculptor, and director, Rob Prior, to the podcast. We met Rob a few years ago at a Walker Stalker Convention and have been fascinated by his career ever since. Rob talks about starting at a very young age and being published internationally, what it's like to create art with both hands and two brushes, and how he paints to loud music, even joining bands like Linkin Park on stage. Plus, hear how Rob is directing his first movie, his trip to Africa to paint animals in the wild, and his upcoming gallery show that features Stan Lee in a bunch of iconic comic book covers. Stan actually loved the art and signed many of the originals before he passed away in 2018.


This week we talk about the recent rocket test from SpaceX and a look inside the Crew Dragon capsule that will take astronauts to the space station. then, meet Rob Costello, Death Star fo the Week, and see pop culture artist, and this week's podcast guest, Rob Prior in action. Why we celebrate Groundhog Day is on The Roast and we remember when we went to Punxsutawney PA in 2017 to witness it first hand. Finally, hear the meaning behind our upcoming St. Patrick's Day mug and see pictures of the brand new coffee truck from The World's Strongest Coffee.


Jeff: Rob, let's start kind of at the beginning. Because I think for a lot of people who are just meeting you for the first time, I think it's a very interesting origin story of yours kind of, because you're not the traditional artist. And the way you got into art is not really a traditional track. Can you talk a little bit about how you got into creating art?

Rob Prior: Sure. I mean, originally you said in the beginning, so I was like well, first there was light. And no ... I was born into being an artist. I really, I actually didn't have a choice. My parents, before I was born, met with my grandparents and they were like, "Yeah, he's gonna be an artist." My entire family line are artists, but none by profession.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: So, they were like, "That's it. That is your chosen living."

Jeff: There you go.

Rob Prior: I gotta tell you, there were times that I fired like, "Hey, maybe if I'm a cop?" And they were like, "Nope."
"Can I do good in the world?"

Jeff: All right.

Rob Prior: "Just fuckin' draw, kid."

Jeff: All right.

Rob Prior: And no, but that was it. They ... Started training me before I could walk. They would put crayons in my hand, teach me circles, triangles, squares, everything.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: And so, yeah that sort of ... That's how it all began. I was practicing with like oil paints and charcoal and chalk and stuff at five.

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: Wow.

Jeff: And then, so your method is to create art with two hands. And I mean, I want-

Rob Prior: I don't know how to paint any other way.

Jeff: Right. When did that kind of start for you? When did you start using both hands to create?

Rob Prior: When I was ... I was born right-handed, so when I got to be about ten years old, I thought, "What if I lose my right hand? I'm done."

Dustin: Because that's a normal thought for a ten year old.

Rob Prior: It is. I think most ten year olds are going, "Hmm, what if I lose my right hand? What if I drive a race car off of a cliff?" No, so I thought, "Fuck it, I'm gonna switch." So, I switched my hands and made my left hand my dominant hand. Like for the next couple years I refused to use my right hand as my dominant hand. So, I switched playing guitar, I switched throwing a football, throwing a baseball, I switched it all.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: And my grades were like ... Because you couldn't even read my name on the corner of the paper anymore. They were like, "Who is this blob?" Me. And so, yeah my parents were ... At that point they were like, "Why are you doing this? This is ... Don't. Switch back." And I refused. And ... So, I was published at 13, and internally published at 15. And somewhere before I got published locally, I had math homework due and I had a painting due. And actually it was first, it was a local publishing job. And ... So I picked up two brushes just to speed things up and I was like, "Oh, I can do this." And then I realized I can do my math homework and the painting at the same time. I can paint two paintings at one time.
So, yeah. That was ... Sort of the impetus of it. I was just like, "I can do it." And that was it.

Jeff: And you never looked back.

Rob Prior: Fuck no. Drives my wife crazy every now and then, because even when I'm like cooking in the kitchen I'm consistently doing two to three things at once time, I'm like flipping eggs and unscrewing jars and ...

Dustin: Is there a hand that does math better?

Rob Prior: Anymore? I can barely add two and two. I remember when I used to be good at math and now I'm like, "I can't tie my left shoe." So, yeah. I think my ... I sign both hands and I write both hands, and they're completely different signatures. Except for if I start a signature with my right hand and finish with my left hand, my left hand will finish it like my right hand signs it.

Dustin: Oh, that's so-

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: I know. It's really weird. A ... Signature analyst came to me and he was like, "I want you to try this." And I tried it. And he was like, "I've never seen that."

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: Wow.

Rob Prior: So, yeah.

Jeff: So, when you said you got published at 15, where was ... How did that come to be? How did you get published so young?

Rob Prior: I was sending my portfolio out, my dad was pretending to be me.

Jeff: Oh, wow.

Rob Prior: Yeah so, there'd be a phone call that would come in, I was working for TSR at the time, Dungeons and Dragons at the time, and a few others. I mean, I worked for them, I worked for Steve Jackson Games, I worked for a bunch of gaming companies. And so, a call would come in and they'd be like, "This is the deadline." And my dad would be like, "Oh, yeah. I think we can meet this deadline." And he'd look at me and he'd go, "Can we meet that deadline?"
And that was it.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: I think when I was about 17, maybe 16, they sort of ... A bunch of companies found out ... And by then it was just too late. They were like, "No, fine. We'll figure a way around it and do it."

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: Oh, what? So they found out that it was actually-

Rob Prior: A minor.

Dustin: Really?

Rob Prior: Yeah.

Dustin: Yeah. Wow. Nobody got you in trouble or anything?

Rob Prior: No. I mean, we ended up finding our way around it. I thought I was gonna lose all the jobs and everything and they were like, "No, this is good. Because now you can come to conventions and you can meet people and we'll figure a way around it." They were like, "This is actually pretty good."

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: So, did you enter into the convention world pretty young then?

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah.

Dustin: Really.

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I was doing conventions and stuff in high school.

Dustin: Wow.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: And my ... Job, instead of going to work a second job or a job after school, it'd be just to paint and draw and do like illustrations for magazines and books and stuff.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: So.

Jeff: So, you're probably one of the perfect people to ask about the ... I don't know, the progression of the con world in the last 20 years. Like what it started as, and what it's turned into.

Rob Prior: It started as just fans, man. Especially with like Dungeons and Dragons. It wasn't about celebrities, it wasn't about any of that. I mean, the celebrities at that time were like, "Who's a professional Dungeons and Dragons player." That's ... And it was the artists and stuff like that. And over the years, I watched comic conventions turn from comic conventions to media conventions. And like San Diego Comic Con, when it first ... Man, it used to be ... God, it was so great. Like all the artists, we'd all go play card games and stuff together after the con and drink beers and get wasted. Well, maybe ... No, in high school I was doing that, too.

Dustin: Allegedly.

Rob Prior: ... Allegedly. Who knows? Maybe.

Dustin: I don't know. I don't quite remember. I do not recall.

Rob Prior: Yeah, "How can you draw with two hands?"
"Lots of drugs."

Dustin: And coffee.

Rob Prior: But yeah. And then it just changed. And over the years, then it became games and video game world started popping in a bit more. And then some TV celebrities would show up like Lee Majors and all of that. And then it just morphed and morphed and morphed until it became what it is today, which is which is let's face it, it really is a multimedia show.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: You can't even call them comic conventions, really.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: Which is fine. I mean, look, everything has its progression. I miss the old days of just being able to go and see ton of artists and stuff like that. Which I gotta say, the one thing ... Well, not the one thing, I love a lot of things that they do, but the guys at Heroes and Villains and Walker Stalker, man tons of art. Tons and tons of art.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: Yeah.

Jeff: They're really, really all about that, which is great. Were you always a fan of like, I guess as we call it in today, like of "geek culture"? Because you said you started working for like Dungeons and Dragons-

Rob Prior: Fuck yeah.

Jeff: Yeah? Totally, right?

Rob Prior: God, man. I collected comics. You know what really sucks though? Is I had like the ultimate comic collection that would probably be worth a million today, seriously, I had those kind of books. And somewhere in high school, like the end of high school, I sold it for beer money.

Jeff: Oh my gosh.

Dustin: Oh, no.

Rob Prior: I know, right? I was like, "Yeah, I don't need Spider-Man number one, I'll let it go." I'm like ... Now I think back on it and yeah I'm like, "Fuckin' moron." But dude, I've always been a fan. In fact, I was just talking ... You know Sideshow Collectibles?

Dustin: Love those guys.

Jeff: Oh, yeah. We actually we-

Rob Prior: Oh my God.

Jeff: ... Were at the facility and we did a couple shows with them, as well.

Rob Prior: Oh my God. Yeah. We're ... I've been in their facility like yesterday and a couple other times. And we're working on some projects that I can't really say just yet, but we're working on them together.

Jeff: Excellent.

Rob Prior: And I was talking with one of the owners, Tom, and we were talking about how things have changed and how all of this ... It's just sort of morphing into this crazy world and their toys ... The collectibles. God, don't call them toys.

Dustin: Sculptures.

Rob Prior: Their sculptures are just dope.

Dustin: Dude. There's nobody better.

Jeff: There's nobody better.

Rob Prior: No.

Dustin: Not even close.

Rob Prior: No.

Jeff: And that's really cool that they got you to kinda collaborate with, because I mean ... I can't even imagine what it's gonna be. Like I'm so excited.

Rob Prior: Man, there's like literally four or five projects.

Jeff: That's ... Wow.

Rob Prior: And then, they're gonna step onto this ... I think I told you guys a little bit about the Stan Lee thing, right?

Jeff: I don't think so.

Rob Prior: Ah. It's ... You guys are getting literally the advanced ... Literally the advanced word on this.

Jeff: Okay.

Rob Prior: It just popped out. If you type in Rob Prior Stan Lee memorial at the end of this month, you'll ... Everywhere. I'm doing a Stan Lee gallery show that Stan signed most of the paintings and he was like ... He'd wake up every day and he'd want to work on them and sign them and yeah. So, I was working on it with him. And it was the last thing he ever did, was working on my stuff.

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: Wow.

Rob Prior: I know. It's crazy, right?

Jeff: So, that's gonna be a gallery show?

Rob Prior: It's gonna be a gallery show. That won't be until April.

Jeff: Okay.

Rob Prior: And we're ... Finishing up the venues, we're finishing up paintings, like literally I'll take you around the studio and you'll see half finished paintings of like Stan Lee's stuff. And almost nobody knows about it yet. The very first people who are going to see it besides like you guys and stuff like that, live, will be on the 30th at the memorial. There'll be six or seven paintings framed.

Jeff: Oh, wow.

Rob Prior: And it'll be ... The very first. And then, we've got a tour planned for it. We'll be L.A., New York, Florida, I think Florida.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: London, Dubai, and maybe Australia.

Jeff: Oh, wow. And so, the gallery itself, the whole show is gonna tour? All the world and everything?

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: Oh, that's excellent.

Rob Prior: So, yeah. Here, I'll start.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: Okay, you're moving around the studio now. But ...

Jeff: Oh, wow.

Rob Prior: So ...

Jeff: Wow, look at that. It's so rad.

Rob Prior: It's Stan as pretty much every character in every book. And all from the ... Best books. And here, I'll give you a quick tour of the studio. You guys can say hi to [Gnome and Cat].

Jeff: Hi, guys.

Dustin: What's up?

Rob Prior: So, yeah. This is the studio and these are all Stan paintings waiting to be finished.

Jeff: Oh, so cool.

Rob Prior: And so, yeah.

Jeff: How many pieces are gonna be in the show?

Dustin: Oh, look at the Spider-Man. That's so good.

Jeff: That's so good.

Dustin: Oh my God.

Jeff: Do you know the total number of pieces that are gonna be in the show?

Rob Prior: 66.

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: Wow.

Jeff: That's a lot. That's awesome.

Dustin: Whoa.

Jeff: That's so good.

Dustin: Oh, wow.

Rob Prior: Infinity gauntlet.

Jeff: And he got the chance to see a lot of this before he passed away, right? That's what you were saying?

Rob Prior: Yeah. Well, he signed them. Like right there.

Jeff: Oh, wow. Oh, God. That's so great.

Rob Prior: So, yeah. Let's see. Ghost rider.

Jeff: Yup. Oh, man. That's so good.

Rob Prior: And I'll take you very quickly into the back room. There we go. So, yeah. This is all the stuff that's hanging.

Dustin: Oh, wow.

Rob Prior: But, so yeah, just to get you an idea.

Jeff: Oh, yeah. I just ...

Rob Prior: These are all of the Stan pieces right now, and everything that's up there goes into storage and ... Hot and cold storage stuff that's gonna go out to galleries, then all the Stan pieces are gonna go to the galleries. But I don't know if you guys remember Marvel did a Star Wars comic.

Jeff: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Oh, it is the number one, there it is. It's awesome. Oh, that's so good.

Rob Prior: So, it's basically me painting after all of the other artists.

Jeff: Right.

Rob Prior: So, it's Rob Prior after Steve Ditko, or Rob Prior after Jim Steranko, or any of that. So, that is the ... Secret show.

Jeff: That's so cool. So, when you say you're gonna take it on tour, are you gonna go on tour with these, or is it just going to be ...

Rob Prior: I'll go to the beginning of every single opening of every single show. And I'll do a live painting while I'm there.

Jeff: That's what I was gonna ask, yeah. That's awesome.

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: Because that's so exciting to see you work. I mean, your work is exciting to look at, but to see you work is even more exciting, so.

Rob Prior: You know, it's so weird because if you just said that seven years ago ... Or yeah, about seven years ago, I would've been like, "Fuck you. I'm not gonna paint live. That's never gonna happen. Whatever."

Jeff: So, well I did hear you mention out of the cities that the tour is gonna go to, you're coming to New York City, right?

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: Well, hopefully maybe we can come down and see you in person at the gallery show, because that's a hop, skip and a jump away from where we're based. We're in upstate New York, so that'd be amazing.

Rob Prior: Oh, dude. Yeah. I would hope you guys could come on down for that.

Jeff: Totally.

Rob Prior: That could be ... God, that would be dope.

Jeff: Yeah. We'll bring some coffee, it'll be a lot of fun.

Rob Prior: Yeah. If I drink coffee, you guys will see a whole 'nother me.

Jeff: I love it. Well, speaking of a whole other you, you kinda just alluded to this. Like so live painting is relatively new for you? Like seven years ago?

Rob Prior: Yeah.

Jeff: Really? Where did that ... Where did you kinda get to the point where, "Oh, I'm gonna give this a shot." Because that's a-

Rob Prior: Tech N9ne.

Jeff: Tech N9ne. Really?

Rob Prior: Yeah.

Jeff: Okay. Explain that a little bit.

Rob Prior: So, I did a book on one of his albums. I did the book for it, like a book of all his songs, so he gives me the lyrics and I do these illustrations to it and all of that. And so, I went and painted at Strange Music. And that's their company. And it's this massive headquarters. And so, I went and did that and painted for him and the crew and all of that. And so, he's got this idea and he started calling me. For like three months he'd be like, "Hey, do you want to paint on stage live with me?" And I was like, "No. I'm good. I'm good. I don't want to do that." And finally he asked me, he goes, "Well, why not?" And I go, "I have stage fright."

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: And he's like, "Oh, don't even worry about it man. The lights will be in your eyes, you'll never see anyone." He fucking lied to my face. I got there and I walked out, and the first thing I saw this sea of people. I'm like, "There's no lights. There's no fucking lights. No lights." And it was like ... I call it the Charlie Brown moment, because all I started hearing was, "Wah-wah wah-wah wah-wah." And like all their heads were growing really big, and I was like, "Fuck."
So, I thought ... I can't do this. I'm gonna go grab a bottle of Jack, I'm gonna go cry in a corner, and I'll apologize to him later. And I turned to leave, literarily I turned to turn off stage to walk off. And there's my wife.

Jeff: Good wife.

Rob Prior: And I was like, "Face my wife, or face the crowd?" I will take the crowd any day. Any day. And that was really it. That started it. And from then, I did a few more shows with him and then other bands and people started seeing it and I started doing more and more and more shows.

Jeff: So, were bands contacting you at that point, or was it the other way around, yeah?

Rob Prior: No, bands were contacting me.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: And I'm friends with a lot of musicians. Like guys from Shinedown, which I still haven't painted with yet. But some of my best friends. And-

Jeff: You're on stage, painting live with musicians. Do you do it for their entire set, or is it-

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah. I'll stay there for the entire set, and I'll paint ... Usually it's a four foot by eight foot painting. I've taken now to doing two paintings. So, I'll do one on one side of the stage, and then run across and then do another painting, and I run across, so I'm doing two paintings. At the ... One of the Linkin Park shows, it was Linkin Park and Steve Aoki. I painted ... There was an eight foot painting, two four foot paintings put together. I painted Steve Aoki on one and Linkin Park on the other, and then at 20 minutes before the show was gonna be done, they pulled the paintings apart and pushed up a new four foot by four foot blank. And it's the thing that tied the two together. And so, in the last 20 minutes I painted this sort of conduit between the two paintings.

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: Wow.

Jeff: That is so incredible. And you've gotten to do it I know with like the bands that you mentioned. You also had mentioned to me before you've been on stage with Jay-Z, right?

Rob Prior: Yeah.

Jeff: And most recently, did you do, now correct me if I'm wrong, did you do a piece either for or with Jeff Goldblum?

Rob Prior: Yeah. I did it of Jeff Goldblum, and we went and he saw it and we're talking about going and painting with him, because he is ... A ridiculous musician. Just ridiculous.

Jeff: That jazz album is crazy good.

Rob Prior: Right?

Jeff: The one he just came out with. It's so good.

Rob Prior: Oh my God.

Jeff: So, you're gonna get on stage with him maybe and do something?

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: That's so exciting.

Rob Prior: We're working that. And it's gonna be a little while, just because my schedule is insane, because I also direct movies. So ... I've got a movie I've gotta direct this year in November, it's just my life is insane.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: But we are ... We're planning it, we're all in the talks of when it's gonna be. He's in Europe right now, or he was in Europe. So, it's ... When he can do something somewhat local at least to start, then I'm gonna jump in and we're gonna do something.

Jeff: That's-

Rob Prior: But dude, he's cool.

Jeff: That's so cool.

Rob Prior: He's a cool cat. I really like him.

Jeff: Wow. I love watching you work live, it's so exciting and invigorating, and one of the things that I know when we've been able to moderate your panels that is a question you get all the time that I wanna kinda open up for our listeners and everything, too, is you not only when you're on stage with the band, but when you're not on stage with the band and you're doing it yourself life, you paint to loud music. And-

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: And like, has that always been a thing-

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: ... Creating art? You just can't do it in silence, right?

Rob Prior: No. In silence I get in my own head, and then once you're in your own head, you're your worst enemy most of the time.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: I mean, that goes with anything really. And so, the louder the music, the more just out of my own head I can be. And I used to be primarily, like a strictly a photorealist and back before Photoshop was prevalent. That dates me a bit. I like ... I have to have really loud music and I prefer after a while heavy metal, rap, stuff like that. But I mean, my playlist is really fucked up. I mean, you don't know what the hell's gonna pop up.

Dustin: That's true.

Jeff: One of my favorite moments is backstage with you as you're frantically getting your playlist together before hitting the stage. It's one of my favorite moments. But I wanted to kinda ask, too, like you do a lot of heavy metal, a lot of rock, a lot of rap, and you're creating ... Especially at like a comic book convention or like a Walker Stalker or something like that, you're creating something in that vein, whether it's video games or comic books or stuff. But I feel, and correct me if I'm wrong, I feel like the music effects the final product. Is that-

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: ... The case? Like if you-

Rob Prior: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: ... Would have a different playlist, it would look different, right, at the end?

Rob Prior: Every time. Every time. It absolutely affects the final product. Because ... The crazier the music, sometimes the more frantic I paint, or something like that. And if it's rap it's one thing, if it's heavy metal if it's one thing, death metal it's another thing. Yeah. I kinda let the music just sort of dictate it most of the time.

Jeff: I think that is so interesting in an artist sense, because here you are creating something with both hands, and creating that in real time, but you technically have three brushes on that canvas because the music is another brush. Because you really ... You're in the rhythm, you're in what that music is doing to your hands as you're working, and I think that that is an added layer that you don't even get it in [crosstalk][inaudible].

Dustin: By the way, not just hands, the whole body.

Jeff: The whole body, yeah.

Dustin: Yeah.

Jeff: Oh, yeah. Totally.

Dustin: When you're up there, you are dancing, I love it, man.

Jeff: Yeah. It's awesome.

Rob Prior: Yeah. I just ... Shit, I don't know how to do it any other way.

Jeff: I think that's the best thing.

Rob Prior: I just don't.

Jeff: Speaking of being so busy, you direct movies?

Dustin: Yeah, I wanted to go back to that.

Rob Prior: Yeah.

Jeff: I want to talk about that.

Dustin: Because I didn't know anything about that.

Jeff: How'd you get into doing that?

Rob Prior: I directed my first movie last year and then I just signed for a three picture deal. And then, I've got a couple pictures I'm still doing with the one that I did last year.

Jeff: What was the one you did last year?

Rob Prior: Well, it's just being edited right now.

Jeff: Oh, okay. It's not out.

Rob Prior: It's called Painted Beauty. Yeah. It's not out yet. The editor who did Get Out is editing it now.

Jeff: Oh, wow.

Dustin: Oh, cool. Great.

Jeff: Very cool.

Rob Prior: And yeah, it's crazy. It's just a little ... Movie, but I got the bug.

Jeff: That's awesome. Was it something that you kinda always were thinking about trying? Did you fall into it or?

Rob Prior: Always. I mean, when I first moved to California, I really got heavy into the business. I did story boarding, movie posters, fuck. I did everything. The last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I did just a ton of work on that.

Jeff: Story board wise, or like?

Rob Prior: Creatures, sculpting ... Because I sculpt as well.

Jeff: Oh my God.

Dustin: Oh, wow.

Rob Prior: And-

Dustin: Wait, is that what you're doing for Sideshow? Are you doing sculpting stuff for them?

Rob Prior: No. Nope. Nope.

Jeff: Good try. Good try. I like that, Dustin.

Rob Prior: That was. That was a good try.

Jeff: Good try.

Rob Prior: I literally, at two days ago for the Stan thing, I got asked if I might do one of the pieces in sculpting form. And I might go ahead and do that, depending upon time. But I did that ... I did application way back then, I art directed movies, and I always wanted to direct. And for so many years I was so close to directing, so close. And then, finally I was just like, "Fuck this. My art career is doing what I need it to do. I'm done. I'm not even gonna try any more." And like sort of the minute I actually stopped, the opportunity came up and came to me.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: With ... A company out of China. And same company I have a toy company with. I don't if you've heard of like Funko or Poplife?

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: Yeah.

Rob Prior: The owner of that and I have a company together that's a toy company.

Jeff: Oh, wow.

Rob Prior: So ... I know. I do a lot of crazy shit.

Jeff: You just can't stop.

Rob Prior: Dude, I can't stop.

Jeff: So, there's no retirement. There's no ...

Rob Prior: Dude ... It's funny, my wife and I always every year we're like, "Okay, you're on the five year plan." So, for the past probably five years I've been on the five year plan, and for the next ten years I'll be on the five year plan and you know. No, there's just ... I don't know what I'd do with myself.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: If I wasn't as crazy busy as I am. We have twin girls, four year old twin girls, and my wife always says that had I not been ambidextrous, the universe wouldn't have come in and gone, "All right, let's see how you handle this shit."

Dustin: Changing them both at the same time, feeding them both at the same time.

Rob Prior: [inaudible] and ... But yeah. So, and then my next film I'll be filming in London. And yeah, it's ... Gonna be crazy. It's gonna be crazy. So, I'm just really fortunate to do all the things that I love, man.

Jeff: That's awesome. Well, then that gets to the question that we come to on this show, and I'm dying to know. Through all everything that you do, through everything you've been able to achieve, accomplish in your career, and the stuff that you're still doing, like starting learning and all this stuff, what fuels you to keep doing it? What fuels you to keep creating?

Rob Prior: I'm never good enough. Ever. Never, never, never. I don't believe that you ever ... The minute you hit a plateau, that's death, man. That's the death of an artist. Because the minute you think that you're good enough, is when you stop trying to be better. And so, I look at everything and just go, "I wanna do it all." I want to learn it all. I want to do more paintings every year. I want to be able to turn out ... My goal right now is to hit over 400 paintings in a year.

Dustin: Wow.

Jeff: Holy crud.

Rob Prior: That's my goal.

Dustin: Are you close to that now?

Rob Prior: We're gonna ... Again, I'm looking at them and they're going, "Uh, probably." I think I'm gonna hit ... I'll hit over 300 for sure this year.

Jeff: Wow. Do you know what you hit last year?

Rob Prior: I think, I want to say I was 210 maybe?

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: Something like that. Scott probably knows. Scott's not here right now, so I can't ask him. But yeah, I'd say over 200 last year. And this year is ... It's gonna be damn close to double that.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: Yeah, because I have other gallery shows planned that ... And everybody in the background is laughing ... They're also crying. Yeah. A little bit of death on the inside on that one. Yeah, I think ... As we keep talking and as I see you guys, there's another show that I can't mention yet.

Jeff: That's fine.

Rob Prior: That's coming to an end this year, that I might be doing a gallery show with.

Jeff: Oh, wow.

Rob Prior: So ... We'll leave it at that.

Jeff: All right.

Rob Prior: And you guys can ...

Jeff: All right.

Rob Prior: ... Figure that one out.

Jeff: Okay.

Rob Prior: So, yeah. It looks like I'll be doing that and fuck, just doing it all.

Jeff: That's excellent. I mean, what's great is, is that you love the business, you love the game, and you love what you get to do. And I think that's inspiring, because I mean you could just be going through the motions and churning out two, three hundred paintings a year. But you really enjoy it. You enjoy what you get to do, and what you're put on this Earth to do, and I think that's-

Rob Prior: Every day, man. Every day.

Jeff: ... That's super inspiring. What's some advice you could give to somebody who's looking to create, to get out there and do it?

Rob Prior: Buy a taser and tase yourself daily.

Jeff: All right.

Rob Prior: No.

Jeff: Let me right that one down.

Dustin: Check and check. Is it weird that I'm already doing that and not creating a fucking thing?

Jeff: Oh, man.

Dustin: That's bad advice, Rob.

Rob Prior: Damn it. No, the biggest thing I'd say is ... Most artists who come up to me, they're always like, "Yeah. I got turned down and I just stopped art." If you're turning in artwork, it's perseverance. Because if you can persevere, just like with movies, I was like whatever, but I worked my balls off on trying to do it, so ... Luck is preparation meets opportunity. So, you've gotta be prepared for it, and so an artist needs to be prepared.
And if they're sending stuff to an art director to get hired, most people stop after maybe ten tries. But who knows? Maybe ten of those times that they sent it, they were the 1000th portfolio that day, or he woke up in a bad mood, or she has a hangover. There's a million reasons to get turned down. Or just maybe you're not quite good enough yet. Which, what I tell everybody to do is, write the art director and say, "Hey. Can you take two seconds and just tell me what it was about my portfolio, and what can I fix? What can I do?" And they might just say, "Get better." Or they might give a real gem of information. But no one's gonna get better unless they try to get better. And if you stop sending, who knows? You send a portfolio a thousand times, you don't know, maybe it would be that thousand and first time that you finally get picked.

Jeff: Right.

Rob Prior: And so, that's the biggest bit of advice. And don't look at your work and go, "I'm good. I'm good. I mean, I'm great." You can say, "I'm good," but don't look at your work ever and be satisfied, because it's that that stops you from growing.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: So, always strive to be better, and people notice that. Art directors notice that all the time. I mean, when I first sent my portfolio out to TSR, I was rejected three times. I will say there was a book company that I really wanted to work for. And this is the other thing, is be creative. And I was like, "How can I get them to open this box?" So, I took a battery pack, I took Christmas lights, and I wrapped it and then I saran wrapped it, and I overnighted it to them so it would still be like glowing, flashing, when it got to their ... Of course they opened it. That was way back in the day. Now they would probably-

Dustin: It's a bomb.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: But that was just one of the ways that I got somebody to open one of my portfolios.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: That's smart.

Jeff: You just keep trying. I think that's something that's lost on a lot of people is ... Because rejection can be crippling and it shouldn't be. It should be that fire that ... Try for that 1000th and first time.

Rob Prior: Yeah.

Jeff: Like I think that's ... I think that's really, really cool.

Dustin: I'm curious, would you ever advise anyone to attempt becoming ambidextrous like you did?

Rob Prior: I get asked that so many times. And I get people who are like, "Look, I did this with my left hand." And here's the thing. If you're doing it to get noticed, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. If you're doing it and you're really trying to have a career, and you stop and you take the time to learn ... Use your left or right hand, then you're taking time away from what's really important and that is to learn your process. That's what I always tell people, is yeah it makes me faster, but I've been doing it since I was ten. So, God I literally have been doing it over 40 years.

Jeff: Yeah. And like you said, it's not ... You didn't set out to go, "I'm gonna be an ambidextrous artist," you-

Rob Prior: No, farthest thing from my head.

Jeff: ... A, you had math homework to complete, and B, like you just ... It became your process, so you just embraced that. That's ... I think that's really cool.

Rob Prior: And that's what I tell everyone, is like, "Don't do it just to do it." If it really is something you're like, "This is what I wanna do and it really helps me." Then absolutely, I wouldn't dissuade anybody from doing it, but I also wouldn't be the first person to go, "Yeah, do it. Because it's great."

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: I'll tell ya, if I'm painting with one hand, just one and it's completely locked down ... Because I'd blown a tendon, so for three months I could only use my right hand.

Jeff: Oh my gosh.

Rob Prior: And I was ... Like I could barely finish a painting in five days.

Jeff: Wow.

Rob Prior: So, don't ... Rather than create obstacles, create pathways.

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: That's really the thing.

Jeff: You've ... And I just wanted to ask, you've mentioned this to us before that you can do four paintings at once? You've done that?

Rob Prior: I can.

Jeff: Do you still attempt that from time to time?

Rob Prior: Yeah. Not as much right now, just because my studio space isn't there for it. But I'm actually ... It's funny, I just talked to my manager who's gonna put a separate wall in, because I need to speed up. But he's gonna put a ... Portable wall behind my studio in my painting space. Because I have two painting spaces. And that way I can do that a bit more. It's more ... Right now it's more about logistics and how I'm set up and I just didn't set myself up to do it. But yeah, I mean, I just went and painted in Africa, and I set two paintings up and I did two paintings at one time.

Jeff: Ah, I wanted to ask you about that. So, how did that come to be, you going out to Africa to do paintings there?

Rob Prior: There is a group called EDGE and they're protecting elephants and rhinos and teaching village kids you don't have to go out and be a poacher, you actually have things you can do. So, I went out and I not only painted in the wild, which was so fucking intense.

Jeff: I bet.

Rob Prior: Because ... Hold on, I'll give you the story. But I also was teaching village kids that they could paint. And the question I got from most of them is, "Wow, there's other things we can do?" And I was like, "Absolutely. You can do anything you want to do it you want to do it bad enough." So, I got to do that. But there was one point that I was drinking with some of the rangers there. Because I was always surrounded by rangers when I would paint.

Jeff: Where in Africa was this again?

Rob Prior: Kruger. Kruger Park, South Africa.

Jeff: Yep. Okay.

Rob Prior: And it looks like by the way I might be going back to Africa with the BBC to do a documentary.

Jeff: Oh, wow.

Dustin: Oh, cool.

Rob Prior: So, yeah. That's ... It's shaping up more and more daily. But I was back and I was drinking with the rangers, and at the end of the driveway and I heard this whimpering. And I turn around and it's a fucking hyena. Now ... How I pictured a hyena, and what I saw, were two different things. I'm picturing this little dog thing from like The Lion King and they're like, "Yip, yip, yip." That thing was like chest high and easily the width of my shoulders if not more.

Jeff: Oh my God.

Rob Prior: And I mean, it sloped down to ... It's a really ridiculous looking animal. But I was like, "Okay, this is how I die. All right. Cool."

Jeff: Holy crap.

Rob Prior: And they told me, the rangers that were there sorta laughing, they were like, "They're scavengers, not hunters, so unless you got a corpse by your feet you're safe." And I was like, "That doesn't make me feel any better."

Jeff: Yeah.

Rob Prior: Nope.

Jeff: Oh my gosh. That's ... Such a cool experience and I hope you do get to go back and do stuff with the documentary.

Rob Prior: I do. I do. I want to be able to help the ... Kids out there, and dude, painting in the wild, there was nothing like it. There was nothing like it.

Jeff: So cool.

Rob Prior: It's so crazy.

Jeff: Well, with everything that you've got going on, the stuff we talked about, the stuff we can't even talk about, I just ... I want all of our listeners and viewers to be able to follow you and follow your journey. Where's the best way to do that, would it be your website, or would it be social media?

Rob Prior: Well, you can go to my website and I think it has all my information of ... It's funny, I haven't even been to my website. You ... I think it has all of my information on there, but there's ... Prior to Art, Prior P-R-I-O-R, the number two, art A-R-T on Instagram. And what am I on Facebook? Is it Rob Prior Official?

Background: I don't know. No. I don't know.

Jeff: Yeah. It's Rob Prior Official. And I'll put all that up.

Rob Prior: You know. You know better than I do.

Jeff: I do. I do. I just-

Rob Prior: Holy shit.

Jeff: ... Didn't know if there was one that you utilized more than the other. Because-

Rob Prior: Instagram.

Jeff: Instagram.

Rob Prior: I like Instagram a lot because-

Dustin: Yeah, makes sense.

Rob Prior: ... Yeah. And they don't like ... I hate Tweeting. I hate Twitter because they give you x number of words and it's like ... And a picture takes up most of those words. So, I can put a picture on there and then just say, "And the."

Jeff: Yeah. Exactly. Well, I'll have all that info in the show for all of our listeners and watchers.

Rob Prior: Awesome man. Awesome.

Jeff: I can't thank you enough for taking the time to talk to us.

Rob Prior: Thank you for having me on.

Jeff: Hell yeah.

Rob Prior: And fuck ... And thank you guys for making kick ass coffee.

Voiceover: This has been Fueled By Death Cast, a Death Wish Coffee Company podcast production. Thanks for listening.