Taking two of your passions, combining them, and making a career out of both is truly an American dream. Dallas resident airbrush artist and childhood football player Rob Jackson did just that. Jackson may not be able to make jaw dropping tackles like linebacker Demarcus Ware, but he can create remarkably life-like paintings of players making tackles.
First introducing his sports-focused art to a player’s wife, Jackson has since painted for many professional athletes. Working with the likes of Patriots’ Vince Wilfork, Packers’ Greg Jennings, and loyal client Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware, to name a few, Jackson has established himself as the NFL’s airbrush “Painter for the Pros.”
Pro Player Insiders’ Theresa Villano caught up with this Jackson:
PPI: How did you start painting? What made you specialize in painting NFL players?
Rob Jackson: I’ve been artistic for as long as I can remember. I would always draw what interested me, most of the time that was football. For years, I tried different styles and techniques. Looking at the work of other artists is how I learned to paint. Doing so also served as inspiration to match the level of work they were on. I didn’t settle on the airbrush until 2006. My grandfather, a huge football fan, was one of my biggest supporters. Knowing I wanted to start using an airbrush he would always ask me if I’d tried it yet. I purchased my first one the day after he passed as a way to honor his memory. I got started painting professionally in 2007 after meeting a player’s wife, here in Dallas, who happened to love art. She kind of took me under her wing from a representation standpoint.
PPI: Do you get to interact with a lot of players? If so, which player was the most memorable meeting?
RJ: I work for players throughout the league. I have to ship most of my work so I do get to interact with my clients. Some call and express how excited they are after seeing it for the first time. It’s hard to narrow down the most memorable meeting. They all have some kind of a story behind them. I’ve had local athletes stop by in person to pick up their paintings, as well as making road trips to personally deliver out of state. It was pretty memorable however when delivering to a player at a radio show. When leaving the show he had to fit the painting into his Ferrari. I wasn’t sure it was going to work but he made it happen.
PPI: Which players have you painted? What player painting of yours has been the most popular to date?
RJ: I’ve painted quite a few since the word started getting out about my work. Recently, I have made paintings for both Vince Wilfork’s and Greg Jennings’ birthdays. I’m honored to say DeMarcus Ware was my first client. I ran into him in Indianapolis during Super Bowl week and he told me what he’d like for his fourth Rob Jackson painting. I average about two paintings a month, with most of those being done as gifts. I’ve become popular with the wives as they commission (request) me to do paintings for their husbands. Players get into the act of gift giving too! Whether it’s having work done as a Valentine or Anniversary gift for their wife, or even a group of guys going in together on a commissioned Christmas gift for their teammates. The most popular paintings with the players are usually the multiple image paintings. (*see featured picture)
PPI:Which team do you follow? Which player do you look forward to watching next season?
RJ: I follow everyone. I have to in order to know what’s going on around the league. I’m not biased to any one team because I love football. I was born, raised and reside near Dallas though, so naturally I became a Cowboy fan at a young age. Mostly, I look forward to watching all of my clients, especially when they’re on the field against each other. In a small way, I feel a part of those games.
PPI: Which player have you been wanting to paint?
RJ:I’m kind of a nostalgic person so I’d love the chance to paint more of the guys I grew up watching. Walter Payton is the reason I became a football fan, maybe even the reason I played football as a kid and why I paint NFL players today. The first game I sat and watched all four quarters was when he broke Jim Brown’s record.
PPI:As an Insider, you painted live at a Super Bowl 46 event. What event as it for? What did you paint?
RJ: Leigh Steinberg (well-known American sports agent and sports lawyer for clients including: Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Leinart, Steve Bartkowski, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Kordell Stewart, Jeff George, Myron Rolle, Mark Brunell, Ricky Williams, Howie Long, Eric Karros, Dusty Baker, Lennox Lewis, Oscar de la Hoya and John Starks) had originally asked me to paint for and attend his Super Bowl party. It wound up being cancelled so I found myself painting live at Ron Jaworski’s Cigar Party. (Jaworski is former Eagles,Rams, and Chiefs QB, current ESPN NFL analyst, and partial owner of AFL’s Philadelphia Soul.)
PPI: What did you paint live a Ron Jaworski’s Cigar Party?
RJ: I painted the title “Super Bowl SuperMen.” It was of the four QBs to win three or more Super Bowls (Bradshaw, Montana, Aikman and Brady) and was actually being bid on while I worked. I’m looking forward to doing it again in New Orleans! (*see feature picture)
PPI: Are there any paintings you are currently working on?
RJ: I’m always working on something. Beckett Media has asked me to work with them to produce original art on artist sketch cards for Beckett Auctions. (Beckett Media has been the pioneers in the collectibles industry since 1984 and the preeminent publisher of sports and specialty market collectible cards/publications in the world.) It’s exciting because it’s a way to reach fans and collectors between completing my player-commissioned paintings.
Rob Jackson’s paintings are displayed in NFL players homes and galleries across the country. More of Jackson’s latest, NFL insider pieces will be featured regularly on Pro Player Insiders as an exclusive painter for NFL players and their families. Stay tuned for more editions of “The Art of Sports.” Visit www.robjacksonart.com, follow him @RobJacksonArt, or find him on Facebook to see more of his work.
By Theresa Villano
Follow Theresa on Twitter at @Theresa_PPI
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