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NEVERLAND LAGOON Original Oil on Canvas by Rob Kaz
A self-trained artist, Rob Kaz grew up in New Jersey where he enjoyed surfing, skating and hockey. After many cold and snowy winters, Rob sought warmer weather when deciding on a college and wound up in Orlando where he earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida (go Knights!). After his post-graduation hopes of working for the government in criminal justice came to a halt with a hiring freeze, fate stepped in and Rob began working for a number of small animation studios in the Central Florida area. Because Disney had recently closed their Florida-based animation studios, Rob found himself working "alongside quite possibly the most talented artists I've ever known, right there in those small studios. Their influence proved invaluable." As his career continued to take a new direction with animation, Rob had the opportunity to work in many areas of film production. In particular, the time spent in character creation and environments heavily influenced his painting style. For some time, Rob worked as a character artist for Electronic Arts (EA Sports Tiburon), one of the leading sports entertainment brands in the world, with top-selling videogame franchises. While at EA, he created human likenesses in games such as Madden NFL football and NCAA® Football. When Rob took a leap of faith and began his fine art career, he knew one thing for certain. "I want people to be happy when they look at my work, so I create stories that personally make me smile or laugh. But I also want people to notice the technical side of my paintings. I put a lot of emphasis on lighting, composition and color when I paint. I think all of these aspects ultimately play a factor in deciding the emotional outcome of a finished painting." When Rob paints, he imagines "places he'd rather be" and he imagines "friends along the way." Both are recurring themes throughout Rob's body of work and thus his paintings easily fall into one of the two categories (if not both). One particular "friend" is Beauregard the frog. Since his inception with "Hey You" and "Hey Me," Beau has appeared in every single painting Rob has created. If a painting is not focused solely around Beau, Rob will often times hide him in the painting … a fact that fans have latched onto and seem to have a lot of fun with in being the first to find him in the release of each new painting. Today, Rob's work is a mirror of his background in animation. Rob is one of only a few artists granted the unique opportunity and license to paint Disney films (he is a Legacy artist with Disney Fine Art). "I am one of the biggest fans of animation art you'll meet and being able to paint Disney is really an honor," he says. "I have had the privilege of working with many Disney artists and they inspired me to make the transition from animation to fine art." With each Disney painting he begins, Rob sets the ultimate goal. "I want to have the story creators and animators of the movie see my work and give a thumbs-up. In no way do I wish to dishonor their masterpieces." Rob has held many jobs - candy maker, movie projectionist, bike repairman and bar back - but by far this is the happiest he's ever been … being an artist.