Hailing from Harlem, New York, Bobby Hill is known as a painter, screen printer and illustrator. Fascinated by art since childhood, his broad spectrum of life experience, coupled with an experimentation of INNOVATIVE techniques give his work a unique range and depth unseen in today's plethora of cookie cutter imagery.
With art there is no one formula to success. There is no league such as in professional sports. There is no record deal such as in music. Every visual artist must find his or her own way to their own promised land. In his own words Bobby Hill describes his journey on that yellow brick road that will one day lead to his promised land.
"In 1996 I made my public debut at NYC Club Essos' Mad Wednesday's event. Once a week, party promoter, Maria Davis threw the dinner/ party/ showcase at the club where all the hip hop industry folks would party. Onstage, before a star studded crowd that included the likes of Jay-Z, Queen Latifah, Andre Harrell and hip hop pioneer Kool Herc among others, I announced an auction and to my discouragement nobody responded. When the showcase was over, I exited the stage to a decent round of applause and walked through the crowd towards the door. Before I could reach the door, Jay-Z complimented me on my work and later in the evening purchased a one of a kind print.
Two years later, with monies made from an illustration job for an apparel company, I purchased my own screen printing equipment. This allowed me to create original reproductions of art on paper, canvas and t-shirts. Everyone has stories about how they sold their wares out of a back of a car. I didn't have a car so I sold my wares off my shoulder. I would walk from the Bronx to Harlem from the east side to the west side with about 48 shirts on my shoulders in the middle of the summer. I eventually started going out of town to all the college homecomings and bike fests. Money was made but things wasn't moving fast enough and winter was fast approaching. Around this time, if you were not a hip hop artist, or had one endorsing your line, there was basically no chance of getting your clothing line sold in stores. I was not associated with any rappers and I didn't spit, so it looked like a wrap for the cold upcoming months.
With no money coming in, my stash got lower and lower, and I eventually got evicted from my Bronx apartment. However, not before mailing out samples of my artwork to several magazines and advertising companies.
Early 2001, while working a stock job at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) my moms received a letter from the publishing company of Slam basketball magazine and XXL hip hop magazine stating that they found the samples of my art in a corner of the publisher's office while cleaning up, and they wanted to do a studio visit. The studio visit happened and a month later my first editorial illustration appeared in Slam magazine.
I went on a four month run with those two magazines alone. I'm still working at FIT but I'm getting full page and half page editorial illustrations in national publications. I know people are out there checking for me, they just don't know where to find me. I decide to use my vacation time from my job at FIT and go to Las Vegas for the upcoming August Magic Show (which is a bi annual fashion trade show) to show my portfolio to all those interested.
While out there, several contacts are made and the future looks promising. When I get back to NY on Labor Day, I find out that I I had gotten fired from FIT. Ten days later on September 11th 2001 the inevitable happens and the World Trade Center gets knocked to the ground. So everything that I just worked on in Vegas came to a halt. The meetings that were set up once I got back to New York are all cancelled. All of a sudden the promising future begins to look bleak.
About a month and a half later I receive a call from the art director I worked with at the hip hop magazine. He said that he referred me to an ad agency that was looking for an artist to do some work for Coca Cola. I go to their offices, show my work to the art director and I end up getting picked out of several artists to create original commemorative works of art for their top NY brass. This is when I began to see the possibilities.
After I finish the job for Coca Cola, I was able to momentarily fall back and just create art for arts sake. I developed a range of new styles and images and eventually posted them for sale on Ebay.
Danny Boy of House of Pain fame happened to see my work on Ebay, sent me an email and suggested I enter an event called Gen Art. In addition to this advice he eventually featured my work in Mass Appeal magazine. I get picked for the Gen Art shows and from 2002 through 2003, my work was exhibited throughout NYC at Splashlight Studios, The Cutting Room, Trust, MaxFish, The Grey Worldwide Gallery, The Art Directors Club and several galleries in Europe.
In 2004, after seeing that the streetwear fashion market was opening up, I changed directions and went back to using clothing as my canvas. The bOB hiLL brand of tees, polos, hoodies and thermals was born. The brand got picked up by several retailers in New York City and is currently doing well.
I'm not much for giving advice but I can say this. To all you visual artists on the come up-never stop, no matter how bleak the future looks. Relentless Forward Motion is what you must keep in mind. Later."