Not even an experienced buccaneer could predict the talent of Robert Peterson lurking behind a simple cross of lines, "X" marked the spot and it would take a leap of faith for Peterson to realize his buried treasure was right in his hand. As I sat with Peterson for his first tell all interview, he effortlessly sketched his nerves away with a single crayon sharing childhood memories, his infamous injury and journey to become a household name. Peterson is rapidly growing popular through all sources of social media and has an elite celebrity following including Rick Ross, Fabolous, Emily B, Darrel Rivas, Cash Money Records and many more. His art has been appraised by top art collectors and sold for thousands of dollars throughout the world yet this fresh face artist is still trying to wrap his mind around a recent text from his new mentor rapper and producer Swizz Beats. Less than a calendar year has passed since Peterson bought his first six-dollar art set but with determination and much dedication, Peterson has mastered the spectrum by mimicking famed artists such as Warhol and Da Vinci. This family man has launched a successful career with his distinct style of sketches and limited marker selection, all credited to a simple Instagram request gone wild.
Peterson peeled layers of his life while explaining his pain and urgent hunger for success. His personal mission to support his children stems from years of curiosity for a relationship with his father. His biological father shared counted moments with his new son before abandoning and relinquishing his name. Peterson's military presence came after his mother remarried and gifted Peterson and his older sister a new father. This military brat feasted on bratwurst in Germany, revisited the dusty walls of The Alamo and marched into the Mile High city of Denver when Army orders called upon his father. Peterson's father led his family to believe that he was a dedicated soldier and leaped to new ventures, later uncovering his true motive when he signed a birth certificate with a Kentucky native. During his marriage with Peterson's mother they had a son who was often favored leaving Robert neglected and alone. After escorting his mother to sign divorce papers, Peterson then 18, his two siblings and mother returned home to Oklahoma.
As the saying goes "home is where the heart is" and without hesitation Peterson credits Lawton, Oklahoma to be home base. There resides his childhood sweetheart and their three children in awe of the Good Year employees new found talent and rapid success. Peterson's priority to his family as a man is to honor and support them, with this in mind he managed to work endless hours to support his two sons and daughter for the past thirteen years. Spreading himself thin between various job opportunities Peterson's talent was never considered for steady income since he was unaware of his ability to interpret intricate detailed portraits. It wasn't until a routine trip to the gym landed him in the hospital and changed the fate of this local factory worker. A quick decision to purchase a basic paint kit and small canvas led Peterson to his first painting, dissatisfied he remembers thinking, "Painting is not my thing, it's not gonna work."
With no intention other than to gain a celebrity follower, this new vision for color led Peterson out of his realm and launched his creative career. By posting a simple comment on rapper Fabolous's Instagram account he promised a quick sketch of this musical genius wearing a fashionable Gucci shirt. Moments after submitting his request, rapper Fab retweeted, followed and sparked a media frenzy. Followers started pouring in and Peterson stepped up to the plate. Tackling holiday boxes, Peterson sprung to attention and destroyed his ultra-tidy attic while hunting for the eight signature markers and sketch pad that created the first red, white and blue inspired image of Fabolous. Recovering from surgery, Peterson worked around the clock to prioritizing family time, complete projects and recover from his high risk surgery. The artist returned to work and focused on honing his craft endlessly finding himself in stock closets for those last minute touch ups. Receiving offers for commissioned work, Peterson started to discover his natural talent one sketch at a time. It was now when he gained the attention of big time hip hop producer Swizz Beats.
Peterson credits his creative curiosity mostly to Swizz for introducing him to legendary artist through his music. Growing up in Oklahoma, Peterson lacked culture and fine arts. It was through lyrics that he became familiar with Basquiat and Haring.Just a few of his most popular paintings sold to executives and celebrities throughout this past year were inspired by these famous artist. Through this harmonious relationship, Peterson crafted a few iconic portraits of the queen of the ivory keys herself, Alicia Keys and son Egypt. Swizz and Peterson both had the honor of unveiling their art through the Smile Design Gallery raising thousands of dollars for charity. I had the honor of meeting Peterson at his first Art Show debut in March and pushed elbows with his exclusive new client fan base. He recalls the first time Swizz contacted him for a portrait and offered almost five times the amount Peterson had been quoting, he laughs as he exclaimed "I felt almost rich that day!" Since then he has happily submitted eight pieces to him and counting. He remembers turning down the NFL and Cash Money when they asked for paintings afraid that he could not live up to his consistent marker pieces.
Earphones blasting musical influence into his soul and locked in a bathroom, this inspired prodigy states "I work hard at this and in less than a year I have pieces all over the world." With no background in art, Peterson reminds me that he has made mistakes but they all led him to where he is today. With only a few semesters at Parsons Fashion School in NYC, a younger Peterson set out to become a designer. Unsuccessful, broke and with a new baby boy his wife believed in his passion. Peterson told me of his failed attempt to make it in New York City years earlier and how he poured his heart in his hands sitting in the last train back home. Admitting to his wife that day that he had given up and returned home to Lawton was his last resort. Standing on line attempting to accept assistance led him to where he is today. This failed designer laughs as he reminds himself of his old classroom sketches and how he never felt comfortable enough to draw a simple faces. The artless "X" marked the spot where Peterson's gold mine sat undiscovered.Tucked away in a New York City garden alley, Peterson sits in the same district that rejected him years earlier. I asked him to project his next 12 months of success and he boldly expressed to me his gratitude to everyone who has help uplift his talent and who believed in his first sketch. He is humbled by the thought of his Basquiat-inspired portraits now displayed original side by side originals. His hunger to become a world renowned artist speaks volumes of this new age Warhol Pop artist. Admired and inspiring a nation to dig deep and give in to their natural talents, Peterson is coined the title "Trailblazer" cause in his own words he stated, "I'm blazing my own trail"... and indeed this boy is on fire!
To see more of Robert's work, follow him using his Twitter and Instagram handle: Caleblee81
Also visit www.devintristangiveback.com for his involvement with various charity events throughout the year.